No business owner wants to see a negative review suddenly appear on their page after they tried their absolute best to build up their reputation. Especially when you’ve been trying so hard to optimize your digital assets for reviews.
But, if you see a negative review: don’t panic.
It’s typical to receive negative reviews. The real problem with removing reviews is: was the negative review warranted?
Various platforms showcase business reviews, but Google Business Profile (GBP) is one of the most important digital assets to improve your ranking and reputation. Why?
Google is the top review site online, making it the go-to source for customers looking for local businesses they can trust. This means that sites like Yelp and Facebook are placed on the back burner for most online users when it comes to searching for reviews. This is because you either have to go open your app or find Yelp ON GOOGLE in a section underneath where local business lie.
On top of all this… reviews help you rank on Google’s Map Pack (the top 3 GBP listings visible when searching for a localized keyword).
Reviews on Google Business Profile are one of the most important ranking factors when it comes to ranking in Google Maps. So, when a negative review comes your way, of course, you’re going to be freaking out. You might even think about finding the reviewer in person and telling them a thing or two.
Just don’t. I’ll explain why…
The Side Effects of Negative Reviews
Now, it’s true, negative reviews directly affect your business in a multitude of ways.
- You’ll likely lose your ranking
- You may lose customer trust
- You might lose business
However, that’s only when you have a very skewed negative-to-positive review ratio. The majority will always hold the most weight.
Let’s say that you have 100 5-star reviews and you just got your first 1-star rating. Your 5.0-star rating will probably move down to 4.9, but only for a moment. If you have such an outstanding reputation online, a single 1-star review won’t hurt your reputation in the long run.
On the other hand, let’s say that you have 5 reviews and 4 of them are 5-stars while the last is 1-star. In this scenario, you’ll move down to a 4-star rating tier.
You see, the more high-rating reviews you have on your GBP, the less impact the negative review has on your business. The only time that it makes a huge impact is when what’s said is just over-the-top horrible - like someone saw your employee smacking a customer and wrote about it is considered a really bad scenario.
So yes, negative reviews can have negative effects on your business profile and performance, but there are ways to work around this problem.
How to Remove Negative Reviews
Let’s be clear, this guide won’t help you remove a review that you rightfully deserve. Sorry, but if you are trying to find that “secret sauce” to remove a warranted negative review, there’s no such thing.
Also, I encourage you to stop trying.
Rather than hiding or fighting the review, it would be better to handle it responsibly by just responding and apologizing. Trust me, that works!
If you didn’t deserve the negative review or the person has the wrong business listing, you’re in luck! You can totally have these removed, however, it could take some time before Google removes them. And, sometimes, it takes proving to Google (as it’s a 3rd party review site) that the review should be removed.
There are a couple of ways to remove negative reviews.
Flag or Report Negative Reviews
The most common way to remove a review is by flagging it. This is as simple as clicking on the 3 bullets on the right-hand side of the review under the Reviews management section in your GBP dashboard.
Click “Flag as inappropriate” then follow the prompts until you make it to the reason why page.
Following Google’s policies and guidelines for flagging inappropriate reviews, choose the most relevant reason why it should be removed. You need to be very truthful about the reason, otherwise, Google won’t have it removed because you selected the wrong reason. Remember, you can only choose one reason for each time you flag the review, so make it count.
After you’ve chosen the reason, click on the “Report” button, then wait for Google to (maybe) remove it. You won’t be notified if it’s been removed, so just keep checking back in to see if it’s gone. Keep doing this process until it’s been removed.
You can continue flagging the review if Google responded to you stating that it couldn’t verify your request for removal. However, spamming the flag button won’t increase your chances of having it removed.
My suggestion to help the process go smoothly is to just respond back to the review as soon as it appears on your listing. Be respectful, even though you’re upset, and directly include the reason(s) as to why the review is inappropriate for the listing in the response. This helps Google Support understand both sides of the story.
What’s also helpful is when the reviewer doesn’t include a comment or reasons for the review and just selects a lower star rating. Then, Google only has your story to go on.
Details definitely matter!
Contacting Google Support
If you’ve already flagged the review and it hasn’t been removed, then the next step is to directly contact Google Support.
WARNING: They’re not the best at helping you and they’ll typically take up loads of your time. You can either call them or send in a contact request. Then, pray that they contact you. Or, just hire someone who is experienced in GBP management to take care of it for you so you can keep more of your important time on other matters.
No matter what, if the flagging didn’t work, trying to contact and persuade a Google Support member is going to be very difficult. They will typically want even more details than what’s already in your response. Also, they just really don’t want to remove reviews because they’ll claim that they are a “3rd party review site” that can’t “prove the review is wrong.”
After some battling with them, you can get it removed. Just expect to spend a lot of time working with Google on the removal process.
Add More Reviews
If the previous tactics didn’t work, never fear. While you might not be able to get the negative review removed, you can definitely push it down and clutter your listing with so many positive reviews that the ratio takes a turn for the better.
How can you do this? Get more 5-star reviews!
As I said previously if you have more 5-star reviews and continuously acquire them, your rating with automatically climb, and the negative review will be pushed down.
Eventually, you’ll get so many reviews that the 1-star review will almost be invisible.
Remember, you can’t remove a negative review if it was warranted. The deed is done, now it’s time to move on with dignity.
Respond to all reviews. Users that see reviews will see your response to each review. If you keep up your character and tact in your responses, customers will respect you more. Also, this sends signals to Google that you are interactive and engaging with your local community.
Flag reviews first, before you contact Google Support to save yourself a headache.
Finally, always be pushing for positive reviews and ratings. If you are funneling 5-star or even 4-star reviews constantly, that one negative review won’t do much.
Keep hustling and good luck!