How to fix Bad Google Reviews (Or remove Fake Google Reviews)

  • December 3, 2018

Hey, it happens. Even the very best business can get a bad or fake Google review (or Yelp or Facebook or other platforms). What should you do in these situations?

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Step #1: Remember that it’s not the end of the world

You have to understand that even the very best services, and I’m talking about solid brands that have been around since forever, can and do get less than stellar reviews. Well, let’s be honest, sometimes they get really bad reviews.

The truth is, every business runs the risk of serving somebody who is just impossible to please. It doesn’t matter how much time, effort and energy you put into your company and how dedicated you are to customer service. There may be a situation where your company will get reviewed by somebody who is just impossible to please.

Maybe they woke up on the wrong side of the bed or they just have an ax to grind. Still, it’s understandable that you are upset.

It’s perfectly okay for you to get upset because of all the time and effort you put into building your reputation. All of a sudden, with one bad review, all of that seems to go up in smoke.

Maybe it takes the form of a negative Yelp, Facebook page, or Google Review. Whatever review platform you see your business’ negative review on, it’s very easy for you to feel your blood boiling and your tears flowing.

The good news is that this is not the end of the world. You can reduce the damage negative reviews can have on your firm’s online credibility as well as your site’s search engine rankings. You can do this in such a way that boosts your customer’s trust in your online brand.

Whenever a customer of our service catches a less than positive review online, we ask them to take the following simple steps.

Sub-Step #1: (This step) Remain calm

Sub-Step #2: Be clear on the entire situation

Sub-Step #3: Share your side of the story quickly

Sub-Step #4: Determine if the review you got is fake. If it is, flag it so it can be removed by the platform.

 Sub-Step #5: Take remedial action

 Sub-Step #6: Monitor the situation

I am happy to report that when any of our firm’s customers follow the steps above, their problem went away. In fact, these steps are foolproof.

What follows is a more detailed description of each step.

Step #1: Remain Calm

I understand that you got a bad review, okay? It’s very easy for all people to get where you’re coming from.

You probably want to push back. You probably want to tell the bad reviewer off. You probably might even want to physically, shall we say, engage that person.

It’s really important, at this point in time, to keep your presence of mind. Doing any of the above is not going to help your online brand one bit.

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Remember that even gold standard companies get bad reviews. This is not the apocalypse as far as your company’s reputation and ability to generate business are concerned. In fact, according to some studies, getting negative reviews actually boosts sales.

If that doesn’t excite you, think back to the long standing saying that, “Any publicity is good publicity.”

Relax. Allow yourself to calm down. Take a look at the big picture and go to the next step.

Step #2: Get a Big Picture View

Take a look at what’s actually going on. I know you’re emotional right now, but read the review. Is it obvious that it’s fake? Or was it left by a genuinely frustrated and disappointed customer? There is a difference.

Also, keep in mind that fake reviews are oftentimes posted by your competitors. Competitor bashing is not exactly unheard of. Sometimes, really negative reviews are just left by random people.

How Do You Spot Fraudulent or fake Reviews?

Well, when the reviewer talks about details about your service or your products that do not exist, that’s a dead giveaway. If they talk about a branch location or mention an employee that you don’t employ, these are also telltale signs. Whatever the case may be, fake reviews usually leave clues that give away the fraudulent nature of the review.

Check your company’s transaction records to see who could possibly have left a review. This is not always possible. If your business is a fast-food joint that serves hundreds of customers per day, this might be a problem. Still, you should check your reviews to verify whether you actually served the person who left the bad review.

If the reviewer turns out to be a legit past customer, try to pin down the exact time this person ordered from you or got your services. If you provide services over the phone, take a look at your phone records. What’s important is for you to get all the information you need about this sad situation so you can handle it properly with the next step.

Step #3: Always give your side of the story… quickly

A lot of businesses have an “ostrich head in the sand” strategy for dealing with negative reviews. This can be fatal to your business. Instead of just wishing, or instead of ignoring the negative review or wishing it away, confront it head on.

When you respond directly, firmly and clearly with facts, several things happen. First, you let the negative reviewer know that they matter. They didn’t just waste their time writing that negative review.

The second benefit of quick responses involves the public messaging that you’re sending out. You’re making it clear to all your customers that you quickly respond to whatever negative experience they have.

By choosing to respond quickly, you demonstrate to your existing and potential customer base that customer service is actually important to you. Believe me, there are tons of companies who make a big deal about their supposed dedication to customer service, but just like with most things in life, people pay attention to you when you actually walk your talk.

When they read your proactive and positive handling of unhappy customers, prospective customers can’t help but respect your business more. Let’s put it this way, if you compare your handling of a negative situation with your competitor’s avoidance of negative reviews, you stand out like a hero.

What If the Reviewer Left a Fake Review?

Quick recap. What are fake reviews? Fake reviews describe things that didn’t happen. Maybe the person never dined at your restaurant or bought your merchandise or were served by your business.

Follow this sequence when dealing with fake reviews:

First, address the negative experience reported and apologize. Let them know that you are saddened by the fact that they were not satisfied.

Second, (and this is very important) make it abundantly clear that you have absolutely no record of them doing business with your company. You have to back this up with facts.

Ideally, you should ask them questions regarding time and place. If they give you these details and your records cannot produce a match, say so.

Third, make a clear offer to resolve their unhappy situation. Give them a direct contact info.

Fourth, remember to report or flag the fake review post as fraudulent.

If you follow these steps, you cover your assets.

You have to remember that not all reviews that are flagged as fake or fraudulent actually get removed. You can’t just rely on flagging to make the negative review go away. You still have to leave a public record of you proactively seeking to address the needs of the poster and the issues that person raised.


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How to Deal with Unhappy Customers

Assuming that the review is real, here’s how to handle customer dissatisfaction in negative reviews:

Sub-Step 1: Address the issue that they raise. Take ownership of it. Don’t duck it, don’t deny it, don’t come up with excuses. Even if most of the things that they’re saying are exaggerations and flat out lies, if the complaining customer is even 1% accurate, own up to it.

Sub-Step 2: Avoid making any excuses or rationalizing the problem away. Your prospective customers are not going to be impressed by your blame-shifting and finger-pointing. They may refuse to do business with you because they might find themselves in the shoes of the person who left the negative review. Avoid making excuses or justifications.

Sub-Step #3: If any of the complaints or problems raised by the negative reviewer are true, choose to be honest regarding these. Say to them, “Yes, the design was lousy” or “Yes, the wait at our restaurant was 15 minutes or more.”

Let it be clear to whoever is reading that you are being honest and that you see the problem and you have to make a promise that you will fix it. Tell the reader that, “We will get to the bottom of it and please be assured that this is not going to happen again in the future.”

The Final Step: End your response with an offer of a specific action.

For example, if somebody is unhappy with a product they got from you, offer a refund. If somebody got lousy service, give them a 50% voucher for their next visit. Whatever the context of the negative experience, make it clear that you are ready, willing and eager to resolve the problem.

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Step #4: If you received a fake Google review, make sure you dispute or flag it (always seek to remove these)

Google makes it easy for business owners to flag fake feedback. Once a review is flagged, Google’s staff can then remove the fake review after their investigation. Here are the steps to doing so.

  1. Go to Google Maps and find your business through their search box.
  2. Scroll through all the reviews that your business received and find the specific item you would like to flag.
  3. Look for the vertical dots (there’s three of them) at the upper right side corner of the problematic review. You will see the phrase “flag as inappropriate.” Click that.

If you want to escalate this problem so Google can fix the issue much faster, take the following steps.

  1. Call up Google directly and ask for an update of the review you flagged.

How do you find Google’s phone number? Check out your “Google My Business” home page. Look to the left side of the page. You will see a menu. Check out the bottom and look for the support option. Click that link.

  1. Ask your lawyer.

Get a lawyer in your jurisdiction to read the review. Can it be interpreted as fraudulent and slanderous? If the answer is yes, Google gives you an option to fill out a legal removal form.

This is a request that has to meet fairly high legal standards. You do this as a last resort. You don’t do this because you’re just offended somebody had a tough time in your business. Ideally, you should get a lawyer to counsel you through this process.

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Step #5: Fix the situation

This is the hardest part. You have to understand that when people leave a negative review, it’s actually an opportunity for your business to become aware of certain things that you’re doing.

Maybe you assume that the way you do business is 100% legit and perfectly okay. As the old saying goes, the squeaky wheel gets the grease.

If you get a nasty google review, it’s a wake up call. Maybe you’re not conducting business in the most optimal way. Maybe you’re not as transparent with your customers as you could be.

I understand that all of this can be frustrating. After all, you’ve done things a certain way for so long. Why change?

Well, the truth is, if you keep getting less than positive feedback or you notice a big surge in negative reviews, it’s no longer the problem of that random crank reviewer. It’s no longer about them. Instead, it’s about your business or how you do business.

If you notice a pattern, you have to roll up your sleeves and make key changes in the way you do business so this type of thing doesn’t happen again.

The sad reality is that these negative google reviews might just be the beginning. If your business doesn’t change on a fundamental basis, these harsh reviews might actually be the tip of the iceberg.


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Step #6: Monitor your reviews

Now that you got “burned” by a negative google review, learn from it. This means that you can’t assume that everybody who walks through the physical doors of your business is extremely happy or is okay with your business practices. Treat the negative review as a wake up call. Monitor the review trends

Also, by monitoring the progress of the negative review, follow up with the customer. See if your proposed solution fixed their problem. Ask for a follow up.

If you do this right, people looking through the reviews can see how it was resolved positively. This makes you look like a hero.

So don’t think that just because you gave an offer to fix a problem and the customer took that opportunity that the problem is solved. No. Make sure you get it in writing. Make sure it’s reflected in the review thread itself.

Avoid getting bad reviews on Facebook, Yelp, Google and other online business directories. Let’s get one thing clear, one bad review is enough to wipe out tons of positive reviews. This is why it’s crucial for your business to maximize the number of positive reviews it gets.

Still, the best way to deal with all of this is to avoid getting a negative review in the first place. How? Take your business’ customer service to the next level. Invest more resources and time in proper employee training.

It can also help tremendously if you get a professional to handle negative reviews. If you don’t have the time or expertise to do this, call us NOW.

We don’t just offer digital marketing services. You also stand to benefit from our training service suite for online customer satisfaction training. We can also help you put together customized answers for each negative review of your company on Google, Facebook, Yelp, and other online platform pages.


One of our experts is online, she will get back to you

Tanya Mendes

Marketing Manager