To remove negative reviews from Google, focus on adapting a proactive strategy to protect both your SEO ranking and your brand reputation.
Online review platforms give customers an easy way to publicly share their feedback about businesses. But it’s important to stay on top of what’s being said about your business online.
It can sting to see a negative review left for others to see, and you’re right to be concerned about how it might hurt your business. Customers often check reviews online and they put a lot of value on the opinions of other consumers.
The annual Local Consumer Review Survey from BrightLocal shows 81 per cent of consumers used Google to evaluate local businesses in 2021, up from 63 per cent the year before. When it comes to local search engine optimization (SEO), the Local Search Ranking Factors survey from Whitespark highlights online reviews as the fourth most important factor in their ranking.
Let’s look at how you can remove negative Google reviews, how they affect your business, and why they happen in the first place.
What are Google reviews?
First, let’s clarify what Google reviews are and why they are so powerful in brand reputation. Google has a built-in platform where you can create a Google Business Profile so people can easily find you online.
Getting found online is only part of the search platform. Google allows people to rank and leave reviews about your services. These detailed customer opinions can offer potential customers information about your business. However, customers are free to leave both positive and negative feedback, so you’ll need to be aware of both.
How do bad Google reviews affect SEO rankings?
Google puts value into the feedback and ratings offered by customers, meaning any reviews will have an impact on your SEO. It’s wise to have a proactive strategy to respond to Google reviews promptly and efficiently. Any mention of your business online can affect how customers perceive your brand. You’ll want to monitor your reviews and address any that could be driving down your search rankings or turning potential leads away.
Negative reviews can hold a great deal of power over consumer perceptions and your search ranking. Information shared about your business in online reviews is considered relevant by Google, and negative feedback means the search engine will rank your site lower in its results, meaning your site will be seen by fewer people.
For example, when someone searches for a business like yours, Google will provide search results of trusted websites that provide the best possible experience for people searching for information. Google will choose these options based on many factors, including three main categories:
Imagine you’re a customer looking for a local drywall company to do some work in your basement. Google will sort through search results to offer you the best choices based on these parameters. It will provide you with listings of companies that offer the service you’re seeking (relevance) in your area (distance) and who are likely to be a reliable resource based on reviews (prominence).
Every time a user clicks on a search result and finds a suitable option, the search engine takes note and will continue to recommend that business.
How do I remove negative Google reviews?
A challenge with Google reviews is that anybody can write anything about any business. With millions of business listings, Google’s ability to monitor and address false or harmful reviews is limited.
There are only two ways to have a negative Google review removed. You could have the reviewer take it down or you can report the review to Google if it goes against the company’s rules. Google has policies for people who leave reviews, and you can ask Google to remove negative reviews that don’t fit within its acceptable limits for content.
Google’s prohibited and restricted content policies help protect you from a long list of questionable content in reviews, including spam, offensive or irrelevant content, and reviews with a conflict of interest. If a review falls under one of the listed categories, you can appeal it. Google also has built-in spam checkers that automatically remove reviews that are flagged as offensive. The algorithm, of course, is not foolproof.
Tips to speed up the removal of a negative review
If you’ve tried flagging online reviews before without success, you may need to ramp up your efforts. Here are a few tricks to try to nudge things along:
- Try reporting them as soon as possible
- Flag them multiple times, citing each breaches of Google’s policies
- Report them from multiple accounts
Being more strategic in your reporting can help get attention on your review more quickly, resulting in faster action if it qualifies for removal.
What if a negative review is inaccurate or fake?
You can also flag a fake review as inappropriate if you’re sure it’s false. This action can protect your business from harmful attacks from spammers or competition.
Remember, not all negative reviews are fake, so careful discernment is needed when reporting them. Google won’t remove a review just because the business owner doesn’t like the comments. And keep in mind, you can do more damage to your ranking if you flag too many reviews simply because you don’t like the content.
If a customer had an unsatisfactory experience with your business or misunderstood your policies, that’s an unhappy customer you need to manage. They’re likely expressing their concerns personally and in other forums, so address it if someone is genuinely unhappy. You’ll probably get further with a sincere apology and an attempt to make things right.
How to tell if a review is fake
Reviews that mention competitors by name or directly recommend them should raise some suspicion. A sudden flurry of negative reviews that seem to come all at once are also a concern. To help verify reviews, you can check to see if the reviewer is in your customer software or if they’ve emailed or messaged your customer service contact information. These details can help bolster your reporting if need be.
Why is my business getting negative reviews?
There are a few reasons why your business might get negative reviews. In some cases, mistakes or misunderstandings are unavoidable. When they happen, apologize and address your customers’ concerns, and do what you can to have the review updated or removed, as may be appropriate.
However, as a business owner, you can watch for patterns or repeated customer feedback that signals a more significant problem. For example, a change in suppliers could cause quality concerns, or a gap in employee training might create misunderstandings with customers. Monitoring customer feedback can help you pinpoint these issues to address them and minimize future negative reviews.
Customers pay close attention to online reviews, and it’s clear Google does as well. So, managing your online reviews can be well worth your time, resulting in happier customers and a better ranking in search results. Download our SEM e-book to learn more about search engines and your business.