How to Deal with Bad or Fake Google Reviews -

How to Deal with Bad or Fake Google Reviews


Let’s be real- negative reviews happen.  It’s impossible to please everyone, all the time, no matter how great your business is and how supportive your customer service is.  What’s worse is that fake reviews happen as well.  Fake and spammy reviews are more common than you might think, and whether they’re fake or real, negative reviews will absolutely hurt your company’s SEO.  And seeing as how Google Reviews are some of the most important reviews on the Internet, a negative one could really do some damage to your business.  The good news is that you don’t have to take this lying down.  There ARE steps you can take to remedy a negative review and save your company’s reputation and it’s SEO.

How to deal with a negative review

First off, don’t panic.  It might be your initial instinct to reply back and defend yourself, but anger matched with anger won’t appease anyone and it won’t help the situation.  Instead, take a step back, calm down, and think rationally before taking action.

Once you’re in a positive place emotionally you can begin to craft a response.  Whether a review is fake or real, you want to respond within 24 hours.  A prompt response reflects positively on your customer service and other consumers will take that into account when reading your reviews.  According to, “52 percent of customers expect to hear back from brands within 7 days of writing an online review, particularly one that’s negative or critical. 1 in 4 customers are more demanding, expecting a review response within 3 days, while 21 percent expect brands to have a response time of 24 hours or less.”  In addition, “78 percent of consumers say that seeing management respond to online reviews makes them believe that the business cares more about them.”

Then you need to determine whether the review is real or fake.  Has the reviewer never been to your business?  Have they never purchased your product?  Then it’s a fake review and you need to flag it as one immediately. (We’ll explain how to do that further down.)  You should respond to a fake review accordingly:

Address the complaint and apologize for any errors that have been made.  Then, make mention of the fact that you can’t find any record of them being a customer or making a purchase.  You want other people who are reading your reviews to realize that this is most likely a spammy comment.  Finally, offer a solution to their problem or encourage them to contact your business so that you can resolve the issue, and provide direct contact information.

If the review IS real...even if it’s exaggerated and only partially true, you want to address it in a similar manner.  Respond immediately, but rather than insinuating that the person is not a customer, take full responsibility for whatever error or grievance that they’re claiming.  Don’t make excuses, and offer to fix the problem.  Then, assure them it won’t happen again.  Bad reviews happen, but if customers see that you’re honest about it and quick to remedy the situation, one or two negative comments shouldn’t break your business.

The following is an example of a well-crafted response to a negative review left by an angry patron of the Stamford Plaza Hotel in Brisbane.  The customer posted the review on TripAdvisor, a very well-known and widely-used site for travel, complaining that the hotel was noisy and the staff was rude.  The General Manager of the hotel responded promptly to the review in a polite and sincere manner; he took responsibility for the problem and stated that it’s unacceptable, and he offered a solution (to put a note in the customer’s file to not have a room by the elevators).  He also noted that he would contact the customer directly to offer further assistance.  If I was planning to be a guest at this hotel, I would be satisfied with this review in that it’s clear the hotel manager values his guests’ experiences as well as the quality of the hotel’s employees and customer service.


How to Flag a Fake or Spammy Review

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  1. Hover your curser over the review and a small gray flag icon will appear.
  2. Click on the flag and you will be taken to a page where you can “Report A Policy Violation”.
  3. Enter your business email address and select the type of violation you’d like to report.
  4. Submit and you’re done!

Sometimes Google will contact you if they want more information or details, but most of the time you won’t hear from anyone.  Most of the time the review will be removed within 3-5 days.

Tips and Suggestions

It always helps to have multiple people log on and flag the review; Google is more likely to notice it and take action quicker if they hear from a group of people as opposed to one individual.  So have your family, employees or coworkers get online and start flagging ASAP.

If the review is grossly inappropriate, ie: full of profanity, hate-speech or sensitive content, you should flag it and then contact Google Support immediately.  You can do this by logging into your Google My Business page and then clicking “Support”, or by tweeting the problem to @GoogleSmallBiz.

It’s also important to note that it’s against Google’s guidelines for a current or former employee to leave a negative review about a business they work, or have worked, for.  So if you know or believe a review to be written by an employee make sure to flag it immediately.

At the end of the day it’s almost guaranteed that if you’re a business owner, you’re going to have to deal with an angry client (or 2, or 3…).  And because this is the digital age, chances are you’re going to have to do it online, with an audience of thousands of other people who have the opportunity to read your reviews and judge your business based on them.  But if you take the steps described above, your company will survive whatever attack is sent your way and hopefully you’ll even come out ahead in the eyes of potential customers who see your response and are impressed by your customer service.

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By Amanda Disilvestro on January 31, 2019

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