Receiving a fake Google review can leave you seeing red. As a hardworking business owner, there’s nothing quite as frustrating as having someone randomly torpedo the reputation you’ve carefully built, especially if they weren’t even a client in the first place.
As a team of Vancouver SEO consultants and copywriters, cultivating Google Reviews is something every business should be actively pursuing. Pro tip: link to Google reviews from your website for a great SEO boost. Google reviews help Google verify that your business is real—and that it’s respectable.
Of course, no business gets a 5-star review all the time. Bad Google reviews can be a learning opportunity—if they’re authentic. It provides you with an opportunity to reach out and show off your customer care skills. But what happens if a review is fake?
Sadly, there are a few random people who are just out to sow chaos. But even more problematic are the third-party companies hired to post bad reviews and ruin online reputations thereby making competitors appear more favourable. It’s sordid, but in high stakes industries like law, real estate, medicine, construction—it certainly happens, and it’s happening right here in Vancouver.
Naturally, Google doesn’t condone this. After all, if everyone is getting blitzed with fake feedback, a review service becomes worthless. Unfortunately, it usually falls on the business to prove that the review/reviewer is fake. And this can be frustrating, as much as receiving the review itself. However, if reviews were easy to remove, there would be nothing to stop businesses from simply removing the feedback they deemed unfavourable.
Starting the Removal Process: Responding to the Reviewer
When a bad review is posted about your business, it can feel like the world is watching—and you should behave accordingly. Reach out and show that you’re serious about remedying the situation. If the review is fake, it’s unlikely the person is going to respond. Keep your response pleasant, brief, and professional. Your sole purpose of this correspondence is making the situation better. This can often be difficult as fake reviews are often purposely vague, which makes them hard to disprove.
For example, “I had a terrible experience with this business and do not recommend them at all!”
An appropriate response would go:
Thank you for taking the time to discuss your experience on Google Reviews. We take all matters concerning our business seriously and would like to help remedy this situation. Unfortunately, no record of your name or customer experience exists in our records. If you were a customer/client of ours, please allow us to investigate this issue further. Let us know your business contact and any relevant details of your experience. Please contact our customer manager (name) directly at (email), so we can resolve this in a timely manner.
Staying calm and professional when responding to these emails is vital. If you can’t, get someone else to manage correspondence. How you act is a reflection of the company, and showing an admirable, can-do attitude is more important than having the last word.
If the reviewer doesn’t respond, and they often won’t if it’s a fake review, then it’s time to flag the review as spam and alert Google.
In the unusual circumstances that there is a response, check for inconsistencies. For example, does the reviewer’s name ring a bell? Who did they meet? Was the employee/representative available at that time? Is the experience consistent with company policies? Check the reviewer’s Google profile—are there any other reviews? If not, it could be suspicious. Many fake reviewers will create a one-time account, leave the review and then forget about it.
You may need to write a detailed letter of your account to send to Google. It’s trying and time-consuming—and in some cases, it may not be worth it. Use your discretion.
Flagging a fake review in your account
If you find a review that you believe violates Google review policies, you can flag it for removal. The review will be assessed and possibly removed from your listing.
- Sign in to Google My Business.
- If you have multiple listings, open the location you’d like to manage.
- Click Reviews from the menu.
- Find the review you’d like to flag, click the three dot menu , then click Flag as inappropriate.
- Open the Google My Business app.
- Tap Customers, then tap Reviews.
- Find the review you’d like to flag, tap the three dot menu , then tap Flag review.
Flag a review in Google Maps
- Open Google Maps.
- Find your business listing.
- Find the review you’d like to flag.
- Click the three dot menu , then click Flag as inappropriate.