9 Violations that Allow Businesses to Remove Negative Google Reviews
31% of customers will spend more money when a business has excellent reviews, while 86% of them will refuse to buy a product or service from you if your local listings have negative reviews. Not only will reviews have a direct impact on how much your customers spend, but with 93% of them reading reviews to determine if a business is good or bad, they can be the influencing factor as to whether or not customers choose your business.
At a time when every review matters, the ability to remove negative Google reviews and bolster your positive reputation online can be a game changer for local businesses. When monitoring your reviews, keep an eye out for any of these 9 review violations that will allow you to flag and remove negative reviews.
- Inappropriate content, profanity and racial terms
Any use of inappropriate content or profanity and racial terms in a review is grounds for removal. This also includes explicit content, offensive content, hate speech, harassment, and bullying. Google’s content policy consists of many different guidelines restricting this content from reviews.
- Fake reviews
Fake reviews have been a growing problem online. First brought to the public’s attention after the mass amount of fake reviews on Amazon, local businesses are also starting to see an uptick in fake reviews on local search directories like Google and Yelp.
Most local search directories have automatic filters that attempt to mitigate fake reviews being posted on local businesses’ pages, however, some still seem to slip through the cracks. In these cases, you can flag the reviews in order to bring the reviews directly to Google’s attention. You will need more evidence than just saying ‘This is a fake review” in order to get suspicious reviews removed. Look for signs like overly generic reviews, ridiculous usernames, fake/non-human avatars, nearly identical reviews left by the same person for different businesses, and multiple reviews posted by the same reviewer in a short period of time.
- The same person using multiple identities to leave multiple 1 Star Reviews
Sometimes, one person will use multiple Google accounts in order to leave more than one review for the same business. They could ask friends to use their accounts or they could create multiple fake accounts. However, they decide to do it, using multiple accounts to leave multiple negative reviews about one experience with a business is against Google’s review guidelines and should be flagged for removal.
- Fraudulent reviews from competitors
Sometimes businesses go to drastic measures to beat their competitors in the local search results. At times, this may result in attempts to hurt competitors online reputation.
If multiple businesses in the same industry and in the same general area receive a bad review from one person in a relatively short timespan while leaving one competitor a glowing review, this is usually a sign the person behind the reviews is the competitor.
- Oops! Wrong business
There has been some circumstance where a customer clearly, but accidentally left a review for the wrong businesses. They are talking about services that are completely unrelated to what your business does. In this case, you can either respond to the review and politely ask them to remove it or dispute the review with Google.
- Leaving reviews at locations they didn’t visit
This is something that is specific to brands with multiple locations. One bad experience at one location could cause a customer to go on a tear of writing bad reviews at multiple locations in attempts to harm the brand’s reputation as a whole.
Google’s review guidelines state that you can only leave a review with a business location that you’ve actually had a customer experience with. It’s pretty unlikely that a customer visited more than one location on the same day and had the same negative experience at each location. Another good clue is the location of the user versus the location of the business. For example, if the user were in Florida, but they wrote a review about a business in Ohio and Texas in the same few days.
- Reviews from Current or Former Employees
Whether the review is good or bad, reviews from current and former employees violates Google’s review guidelines under the Conflict of Interest section. This also means that employees aren’t allowed to post reviews about their competitors either.
- Reviews Not Relevant to an Actual Experience
Digital media is enabling the distribution of news and other stories. However, this means that if your store or location becomes the subject of a news article or story, you may begin to receive reviews from people all over the country. The problem comes when these people are commenting on news stories, voicing their opinions, making personal rants, etc. Reviews are meant to contain content that is only based on customer experiences which means reviews anything off-topic or unrelated to that is against Google’s review guidelines.
- Inappropriate Images
Reviews can include more than just text. Many of the guidelines that apply to the text in reviews also apply to any visual content uploaded along with the reviews. Images should only depict the experiences being had at the actual location where the customer is leaving the review for.
How to flag and remove Google reviews
For reviews that violate Google’s terms of service:
- Open Google Maps and Search for your business location.
- Click to view all of your business reviews
- Click the three dots in the top right corner of the review you wish to remove and select “Flag as inappropriate”
- Fill out the ‘Report a Policy Violation’ form and submit
For removal of reviews that violate applicable laws – like slander or copyright infringements – submit a legal removal request. Follow the directions on this page where Google walks businesses through the legal removal process.
Take control of your reviews and learn how to handle negative ones. Stay on top of your reviews, always flag and report fake reviews, and focus on driving positive customer experiences. If you need an audit of your reviews, Chamteter will walk through an audit of your listings and reviews with you where we can help you identify reviews you can remove and ways to optimize your listings.