How to Delete a Bad Google Review in 4 Straightforward Steps
Bad Google reviews happen, even to the best of us. Here’s how to fix, resolve, and remove Google reviews so you can protect your business’ growth and reputation.
Google reviews are an essential and unavoidable fact of doing business. As much as 91 percent of consumers read them, and 84 percent trust them as much as a real friend.
Service business clients use Google reviews to choose who they hire. That means service providers like you rely on positive reviews to win jobs and ultimately stay in business.
But what happens when you get a bad Google review? Whether it’s from a customer who had a legitimately bad experience, or completely fake review left out of spite, everyone gets a bad review eventually. And you need to deal with them, ASAP.
The bad news: There is no single “Delete Review” button. Getting a review removed takes time and strategy.
The good news: You can fix bad Google reviews. And doing so can actually help you build stronger customer relationships and turn those detractors into happy business promoters.
There are Two Ways to Get a Google Review Removed:
- Flag the review to Google as being inappropriate. Only reviews that violate Google’s policy will be removed.
- Ask the person who left the review to edit or remove it themselves. For this method to work, you’ll have to do everything in your power to resolve their problem, give them a good experience, and ultimately change their mind about your business.
A bad review isn’t the end of the world. Whatever you do, don’t lash out or let emotion take over. Take a deep breath. We’ve got your back.
How to Delete a Google Review and Get your Business Reputation Back on Track
Step 1: Determine if the Review is Real or Fake
You can’t deal with a negative review until you know where it came from.
Fake reviews are, unfortunately, all too common. They may be left by competitors, disgruntled employees, or online trolls acting out of spite. Sometimes they are even left by accident by people who meant to review another service business. (Oops!)
Here’s how to spot a fake Google review:
- There’s little or no detail (i.e no names, places, or dates)
- The reviewer has left no other reviews, or they only leave negative, 1-star reviews
- The name of the reviewer is not in your CRM or customer database
- There’s no call or email history, or none of your employees can remember the incident
- The reviewer mentions or even recommends a competitor
- The review is completely off topic and/or nonsense
If the review is real, look into the client’s profile and take notes. Speak to employees who were involved. The more you know about the case, the better you can handle it.
Step 2: Flag the Review as Inappropriate
If you determine that the review is fake, inaccurate, or otherwise violates Google’s review policy, you can flag it for removal.
This is the easiest way to get a review removed forever. But remember: it’s not guaranteed.
Google reserves the right to determine if the review does in fact violate their policy. Here are the most common violations:
- Spam and Fake Reviews: If the review is clearly fake, does not represent a real person’s experience, or does not represent a real person, Google will likely remove it.
- Off-Topic Reviews: Personal rants, political views, and opinions have nothing to do with your business. Is the reviewer upset that you wore a pink shirt and brown pants? You can flag that.
- Restricted or Illegal Content: Google takes restricted content seriously. Illegal, offensive, profane, dangerous, and hateful content can be flagged and removed.
- Conflict of Interest: Current or former employees and competitors are not allowed to leave Google reviews. If you think this is the case, flag it.
Other instances of Google reviews you can flag include innocent mistakes. For example, if someone accidentally left a review for the wrong business, or for the wrong location.
How to Flag a Bad Review to Google:
- Make sure you have claimed your Google my Business and that you are logged in
- Open to Google Maps and find your business listing
- Find the review you’d like to flag
- Click on the three vertical dots in the top right corner, then click “Flag as Inappropriate.” (Note that it can take Google several days to review and respond to your request.)
- Finally, respond to the review.
Even if you believe the review is fake and/or inappropriate, you still have to respond.
Why? It can take a few days or weeks for the bad review to be removed. In that time, real clients and prospects are finding you online.
Respectfully responding shows prospects that you’re willing to work with all of your clients in the event of a dispute, instead of ignoring them or getting defensive in public. It’s a great way to impress clients and potential clients, and elevate your service business’ reputation.
We’ll show you how in the next step.
Step 3: Respond to the Review
How you handle this step can make or break your business’ reputation.
As mentioned above, you should try to always respond to negative reviews—even the fake ones.
This is especially true if you don’t have that many reviews yet because it’s more likely prospects will read all of them.
Remember: your goal is to show prospects that you care about your client satisfaction and are easy to work with, even in the case of a dispute.
If the negative review was left by a legitimate customer who had a bad experience, you are also trying to win back the customer, give them a good experience, and ultimately change their mind about your business.
How to Respond to a Google Review:
- Make sure you’ve claimed your Google Business Listing and are logged in.
- Select “Reviews” from the menu, then click “Respond” next to the review you would like to address.
- Type your response. Always be polite and professional. Address their complaint and how you intend to resolve it. If you believe the reviewer has made an error, politely point it out to them.
- Offer to fix the problem. The best way to do this is to take the conversation offline. Give the reviewer a few ways to reach you so you can discuss and resolve in private.
→ Want to see real life review responses? Check out these examples of real responses to negative Yelp reviews.
Step 4: Ask the Reviewer to Edit or Remove the Negative Review
This is our favourite method of removing a bad review, because you clean up your business’ online reputation, and you can actually gain a customer for life.
After you have reached out and resolved the issue, send them a follow-up email to ask if they are satisfied with the resolution.
If they answer yes, this is your money shot: ask the customer if they are willing to edit or remove their negative review.
Be genuine both in your effort to satisfy them and in your request. If you impress the customer and turn the situation around, they’ll not only might their negative review. They might even change it into a glowing, positive review that will show all future prospects just how much you care about your customer service.
If the customer has agreed to edit or review their review, ask them to follow these instructions:
How to Edit or Remove a Google Review (Left by You):
- Log into Google Maps.
- Select the icon for the Menu in the top right corner (three horizontal lines in the top left corner).
- Go to “Your Contributions” and click “Reviews.”
- Find the review in question and click on the three vertical dots next to it
- Edit or delete the review and click “Submit.”
It Is Possible to Fix a Bad Google review
Even in the worst case scenario — your business made a mistake and left a customer unhappy — you can take action and get good results.
The truth is, most people who leave negative reviews just want to be acknowledged.
They want you to own up to the mistake, and they want their problem solved. If you do this nicely and professionally, it’s not unlikely that they’ll change that 1 star to 5 stars, and tell their friends about it, too.
Take your reviews to the next level with these tips:
- It takes time. It can take Google several days to review and respond after you’ve flagged a review. If you don’t see any activity after a week, you can also report the fraudulent review to Google Small Business Support. Click on “Contact us” then “Customer Reviews and Photos.” You may get help within 24 hours.
- The best offense is a good defense. You can prevent bad online reviews by following-up with customers after a job is complete to ask if they are 100% satisfied. If they aren’t, offer to fix the problem before they take to the Internet to vent. Use client follow-up software to automate this, and you’ll save yourself a lot of time and (panic attacks.)
- Positive reviews boost your bottom line. 70% of people will leave a positive review if you just ask. And, 70% of consumers are confident about a business after reading less than seven reviews! The numbers are in your favour. Build a review process into your service business to win more clients and build a solid online reputation.