In today’s online world, it’s essential for businesses to understand how to remove fake Google reviews. Failing to remove a negative review can put your business name and reputation at serious risk. Fake Google reviews can lead to negative publicity, loss of potential customers, decreased profits, and other consequences.
Businesses can remove unwanted Google reviews in four ways:
- Asking the original author to remove the negative review,
- Flagging the negative review to Google,
- Pursuing legal action against the person who posted it, and
- By using Online Reputation Management and SEO.
Below, we’ll walk you through each of these methods in more detail.
If your business has recently been hit with a bad review, DON’T WORRY! Every company gets bad or fake negative reviews eventually. You can have perfect service, provide a money-back guarantee, and never make a mistake. Yet still, someone is going to be that… unhappy, crazy, dumb, or downright malicious of a person that it will occur no matter what you do.
Whether it’s a disgruntled client, competitor, a vengeful former employee, or an anonymous online troll, it happens to every business at some point. What’s important is how you respond and to get the bad review removed as quickly as possible.
My law firm has worked with hundreds of businesses to get negative online reviews removed. It’s what we do. So we know what works and what doesn’t. Below I go over four proven methods to remove Google reviews that actually work.
Have the Original Author Remove the Google Review
A surefire way to remove a customer review from Google is to convince the original author to remove it. If a customer can put a Google review up, they can just as easily take it down.
While this might seem like common sense and too easy of an answer, it can actually be one of the most difficult paths to take for a successful resolution depending on the circumstances. This is especially true when dealing with fraudulent reviews. These are reviews not written by a real customer and published anonymously. We cover that scenario more in later sections below.
Assuming this is a situation involving a real client of your business, the best solution in most situations should hopefully be obvious…
Customer service! You’re a business after all, aren’t you?
Excellent customer service will always result in fewer bad reviews. A happy customer never leaves a bad Google review. It is the best long term strategy and solution for businesses to prevent bad reviews and get bad reviews removed quickly. As they say, “The customer is always right.” And, when handling bad reviews on Google, it’s good to adhere to this mantra and always take a customer-first-approach.
When deciding on how to approach and deal with requests to remove a review, consider the following advice:
Responding Directly to the Review on the Website It Was Posted is NOT the Best Approach
Unless your business is facing a PR disaster of epic proportions, is a big brand, or is in an industry with high volumes of traffic and reviews (travel, food, etc.) then we usually tell our clients that responding to a negative Google review directly on the online review platform where it is left is usually NOT a good idea for several reasons.
For starters, responding to a review in the wrong way can wind up doing more harm than good. A bad response will only serve to make a negative situation worse. Additionally, responding to a review usually leads to a significant rise in the review’s prominence and visibility in your online business listing and search results. Platforms display reviews with more activity, comments, and responses first on a business’s profile. So responding only brings more unwanted and unnecessary attention.
Responding also promotes something we refer to as the “monkey see, monkey do” effect. Future customers see the prior review response and come to the conclusion that it’s a good channel to air their grievances to remedy their problems with your business. I.E. it encourages more bad reviews.
Another problem is that responding decreases the chances that a website will remove the review for a term of service violation (covered next). When platforms like Google evaluate whether to remove a review and see responses, they usually tend not to remove it. They take the position that the business’s response addresses the situation adequately, so no further action is needed by the platform to remedy the situation.
Finally, there are potential legal consequences. A bad response can put you in hot water legally if you say the wrong thing. No different than in criminal law, in civil lawsuits what you say can and will be used against you later if litigation is pursued. Responses can be especially troublesome for professions like doctors and lawyers who have strict confidentiality obligations. It’s a minefield of trouble waiting to happen.
Responding to a negative review on the website it was posted should be a measure of last resort. It should be reserved for extremely harmful reviews or ones that you are dead certain there is no other way to remove.
The Speed of Your Response Matters
Whether you respond to a review through private channels or publicly, you should do so quickly.
According to a ReviewTrackers’ study, roughly 52% of customers expect to hear back from a business within 7 days after posting their review, while nearly 25% expect a response within at least 3 days. Therefore, as a general rule, businesses should respond to a customer’s review and concerns within 48 hours of posting. Customers are anxious to receive a response, so don’t keep them waiting!
It’s Best to Respond to Reviews Through Direct & Personal Methods of Communication
How you contact a reviewer about removing a review can significantly impact whether the review is removed or remains online.
If possible, we recommend opting for a phone call rather than a written message. Turning an impersonal situation into a personal one helps assure consumers their complaints are being taken seriously. It’s extremely easy for a message to be misinterpreted online.
Or, even if a phone call isn’t possible for whatever reason, it’s good to still offer some kind of a direct line of communication that is more personal (ex. video message, text, a direct message over Facebook, Instagram, or Skype.).
However, be careful not to write anything that you wouldn’t want to see later as an addendum to their original post.
Truly Listen to Customer Feedback & Be Prepared to Offer an Apology or Solution
Usually, the reason a person posts a complaint online is that they want their voice to be heard. So when contacting a customer regarding a bad review the most important thing to do is to sit down, shut up, and listen. Let them talk. Let them be heard. Make them feel like their concerns and problems are appreciated. Sometimes letting the person know that their complaints have been heard and the problem is being addressed is all that’s needed.
Just listening though may not be enough. It’s important to also offer solutions. Is the customer just seeking an apology? Or what about a refund? Asking the customer what will resolve the situation directly is important.
A 2015 customer rage study found that businesses that offer both an apology and monetary refund scored twice as high for customer satisfaction than those that only offered a monetary remedy. Be prepared to offer some sort of remedy. However, don’t offer a monetary remedy or credit in situations where the customer’s behavior is clearly extortionate.
Always consider customer privacy or professional confidentiality restrictions when responding to a customer. Be certain what you can and cannot discuss or divulge in a public response.
Doctors and lawyers, among other professionals, should always think twice before responding to reviews at all. Check out our past blog post on how to respond to negative & fake patient reviews of doctors to better understand the implications for specific professional classes when responding online.
Do Everything Reasonably Possible to Resolve a Dispute, But Never Succumb to Bullies or Extortion
Should seeking feedback, giving an apology or refund, or constructive dialogue fail to yield the removal of a review, consider one last time whether there is anything else you can reasonably do to right the situation. Don’t think that just because you can maybe get a review down by other means will be the end of the problem. Oftentimes it isn’t. It’s very easy for someone to just write another review on dozens of other platforms. Resolving at the source is the best solution and ensures it never comes back.
However, it’s also important to remember that sometimes people are just too difficult or irrational to be reasonable. In these cases, getting a review down isn’t an option. Nothing you say or offer will suffice, and reaching out could, in fact, make the situation ten times worse!
It’s also equally important to stand by your principles and not fall victim to bullies, extortion, or other malicious consumer tactics. We usually advise businesses that if a giving into a customer demand will create a bad precedent or is tantamount to relenting to extortion, its best to pursue other avenues to deal with the situation.
You do have other options, which we discuss more below.
Google Review Removal Tip: Google’s Contributed Content Policy prohibits the offering or acceptance of money in exchange for reviews. Make sure not to cross over into this territory by offering customers money to post good reviews.
Get Google to Remove the Review For Guideline Violations (Flag Review)
If you can’t persuade a person to remove a bad review or the person never responded to you or you don’t know who the person is to begin with (i.e. its fake or a competitor), and you’re still left wondering how to remove a Google review, it’s time to involve Google.
Interestingly, Google’s guidelines provide that Google automatically reviews all submissions to its review platform to detect an inappropriate review. However, Google’s automatic screening process is far from perfect. Direct communication with Google regarding its guidelines is often necessary to get a bad review taken down.
Below we go over what Google’s guidelines are that allow for reviews to be removed. Once policy violations are identified we list two ways you can alert Google to let them know it violates its guidelines and should be removed.
Identify What Google Policy Guidelines Have Been Violated
Once you’ve carefully assessed the review in question, it’s time to get to work.
Flagging a fake Google review is the first step towards having Google remove false online reviews. Think of it as sending a smoke signal to Google to alert them, “Hey! Something isn’t quite right here. Please come take a look!”
However, don’t get trigger happy with your review flagging finger just yet. Always make sure you check Google’s review guidelines first to figure out what Google considers an inappropriate review. Google’s policies prohibit the following types of reviews:
Spam & Fake Content
Google review policy prohibits spam and fake content. Google requires reviews to reflect a person’s genuine experience at a location or business. Google removes reviews when they are posted fraudulently to manipulate a business’s rating (like fake one star reviews) or where it’s clear the person’s review is not based on a person’s direct personal experience with the business.
Examples of violations of this policy include situations where the same person posts multiple reviews from different accounts, or posts experiences and information that are based on information they heard or read from other sources or are opinions that do not come from their own direct personal experiences with a business.
However, just because a reviewer’s name is not listed, it’s anonymous, or they use a fake name or alias, that does not mean a review violates this policy. The important thing to pay attention to is not the person’s name, but whether the substance of the review reflects information the person gained through direct and personal interaction with your business. If your only complaint is that the person wasn’t a customer of your business because their name isn’t one you remember or recognize, this will rarely be enough to get a review taken down. More information is typically required to make your case.
Google prohibits posts that aren’t related to the location or business in question. This means that reviews about the wrong business or service posted accidentally to a business’s review page violate this policy (it happens).
Likewise, reviews are not meant as a place for general discussion of politics, social commentary, and other personal rants or vendettas. The off-topic exclusion can also come into play when businesses are the subject of a viral incident that causes people to leave reviews based on reports in the news or on social media.
In some areas, services offered by businesses are restricted by local laws and ordinances. This varies by your business’s location considerably.
For example, in some states, there are strict limitations on how businesses can advertise and sell their products and services. This can include but is not limited to, the sale of alcohol, guns, tobacco, health and medical devices, regulated pharmaceuticals, adult services, financial services, legal services, health care services, gambling, and others. In places where these types of restrictions are in effect, Google will generally abide by local laws and ordinances and remove content that it deems in violation of these policies.
In reality, this restriction probably applies more to good reviews being removed than negative ones and messages and advertisements published by a business. Regardless, Google’s Restricted Content Policy explicitly prohibits reviews with: (1) Links to landing pages where it is possible to purchase a restricted good or service; (2) Email addresses and/or phone numbers to contact for the purchase of restricted goods; or (3) promotional offers for restricted goods or services, like information about coupons, sales, offers, deals, or other pricing information. Incidental depictions of menus or displays that are not the main intention or focus are not prohibited.
Illegal, Sexually Explicit, & Terrorist Content
Reviews that display information, content, or images that are illegal or display activities that are illegal and are prohibited under Google’s policies will also be removed.
Examples of this type of content may include, but are not limited to, content that infringes on someone else’s legal rights (defamation, copyright infringement, trademark infringement, etc.), all sexual abuse imagery or content that presents children in a sexual manner, content displaying illegal acts (rape, organ sale, assault, arson, human trafficking), content displaying illegal products and services (illegal drugs or endangered animal products), images of graphic or gratuitous violence or that promote violence, and content that is produced by or on behalf of terrorist groups.
Requests of this nature can also be made through Google’s legal removal request form.
Offensive & Obscene Language & Gestures
Simply put, Google does not allow obscene, profane, or offensive language or gestures in reviews or photos. Foul language is not allowed. Reviews that use inappropriate language are against policy and Google will remove them. If a review uses bad language, flag it for this reason.
Dangerous & Derogatory Content
Google wants reviews to endorse safe behaviors, not dangerous ones. Therefore, reviews that contain threats of physical violence or other threats of harm to others or oneself are strictly prohibited.
Likewise, reviews that contain language that Google considers harassing, bullying, intimidating, incites hatred, promote discrimination based on race, ethnicity, religion, disability, age, sexual orientation, gender, and other similar characteristics will be taken down.
In our experience, review language typically has to be pretty extreme to qualify as a violation in most situations to be removed under this rule. These types of violations, along with offensive and obscene language are usually weeded out by Google automatically prior to publication.
Google strictly prohibits “impersonations.” Google’s impersonation policy is often confused with its Spam and Fake Content policy. At face value it appears to address the same thing (i.e. fake reviews). However, unlike the fake content and spam restriction, Google’s impersonation policy is actually prohibiting things like trademark infringement, unfair competition, and deceptive trade practices by other businesses.
These are situations where people or businesses will in essence pretend to be a business or person they are not by “knocking-off” the goodwill and reputation of the brand that’s being impersonated. The impersonator uses images, marks, and other unique identifiers that are confusingly similar (or identical) to the brand they are impersonating. This is what Google’s impersonation rule is meant to guard against. This is different from a situation where someone is posting a fake review, pretending to have had an experience that never happened by a name or person that doesn’t exist.
So for example, if someone used brand logos for their profile images, content, or photographs that made them look like they worked for the government, Google, or some other organization or affiliation that was not accurate, this would be considered deceptive and violate Google’s impersonation policy.
It’s rare that this type of prohibition would come into play when contesting a negative review. In most situations, it will only apply when a competing product or service is using a logo, colors, and other materials and information that look deceptively similar to other brands and products when there is no actual affiliation.
Conflicts of Interest
As is the policy with other review platforms like Yelp, Angie’s List, or the BBB, reviews that present conflicts of interest are frowned upon and will be removed.
This can include a variety of different situations, but typically applies to scenarios where a business owner posts a review about their own business, reviews are written by a current or former employee of a business, or a review is written by a competitor. Google considers these to be conflicts of interest and are a violation of its guidelines because the person writing the review is inherently biased and will naturally be writing a review that is good or bad, depending on their inherent disposition.
Oftentimes these types of violations are not present by looking at the review language alone and additional evidence is needed to prove a violation and remove a review for a conflict of interest. So these will usually require more than just flagging to prove and remove. However, conflicts of interest are not just limited to the categories mentioned above, but can potentially apply to a range of situations where underlying bias is naturally present.
How to Flag a Fake Google Review
Once you’ve identified an appropriate violation the next step is to flag the review. When flagging reviews, there is something to be said for “strength in numbers,” meaning, if you have several users flag the same review, it may lead to a greater chance of it actually being removed by Google.
Additionally, don’t just flag a review because you disagree with it for a guideline it clearly doesn’t violate. Figure out what’s actually wrong, or attempts to remove the review by flagging it or contacting Google will fail.
If something seems fishy or you believe the situation is not right, dig a bit deeper into Google’s policies and the profile in question to see if the review or reviewer actually violates them. Try to find evidence to validate your suspicions and beliefs. Investigating the facts matters a lot. The evidence you have to contest the review can often make or break a removal request’s success. This is a place where it’s often great to get legal help and assistance.
Local business owners and companies can flag reviews in two (2) different ways; by flagging the review via Google Maps or through managing one’s Google My Business reviews.
Flag Fake Google Reviews in Google Maps or Your Google My Business’s Review Profile
In order to flag a defamatory or fake review about your business, simply Google your business or head on over to Google Maps to find your business listing.
- Find the review in question that you want to flag
- Locate the flag or three vertical dots next to a review
- Click the flag or three dots
- Flag the review as inappropriate
After flagging the review as inappropriate, you’ll be directed to a page to ‘Report a policy violation’, There, you can identify the nature of the violation, fill out your email address, and submit!
After flagging the review as inappropriate and selecting which Google policy it violates, you’ll receive a follow-up email letting you know they are looking into it.
Now you’re finished with the flagging process! You generally will not receive any further messages from Google concerning the review. And, in our experience as Internet defamation attorneys, we’ve generally found that this method of flagging reviews really only has success in the most obvious of cases. However, if you’re looking to remove Google reviews in a comprehensive manner, it’s important you exercise all options that can potentially lead to a review’s removal.
Flag the Review From Within Your Google My Business Account
If you’re a business owner, you can also flag Google reviews by way of your Google My Business Account. In our experience, reporting reviews through your Google My Business account has historically proved more effective than the last flagging option we discussed. All you need to do is:
- Log-in to your Google My Business account
- Open the location you’d like to manage (for companies and businesses with more than one location)
- Select ‘Reviews’ from the menu bar
- Identify the fake review in question
- Click the three vertical dots and flag it as inappropriate
Do understand that after flagging a review, the review in question will be escalated to a Google Business review team of specialists to be analyzed. Flagged reviews are NOT assessed or analyzed by artificial intelligence or auto-detect filters.
Google’s review flagging process will usually take 72 hours before any action is taken regarding the review. You will also receive an email confirming this.
As opposed to flagging a Google review via Google Maps or a business’s public review profile, we’ve generally found that most people have better success rates having reviews removed through this method.
Just always remember, it’s a process. Patience truly is a virtue when removing Google reviews.
Contact Google Small Business Support Directly
In a perfect world, every fake and defamatory online review would be removed immediately after being flagged, and every legitimate review would remain online. However, that’s an ideal and far from the reality of Google’s review removal landscape.
Should your flagging of a fake or negative review go unnoticed or unanswered, it’s time to contact Google Small Business Support directly by phone or email to discuss it with them further. This step is critical. It’s often your one big shot at getting a review successfully removed by complaining to Google about a possible violation.
However, the unfortunate reality of this situation is that you are essentially going to be asking the same department and people to remove your review, which already determined the review should remain online. So this is not as easy as it sounds. When you present your case for a second time to the same department of specialists that ruled against your initial flagging, it’s absolutely essential that you come prepared with strong documentation and evidence.
At Minc Law, we do NOT recommend clients going at this alone. Reporting fake and malicious reviews to Google should be done with experienced attorneys who have proven success removing reviews and comprehensive knowledge of Google’s content guidelines and policies and what evidence is needed to succeed.
Best Possible Outcome for My Case
If you want a law firm that will do whatever they can to save your online reputation, choose Minc! Minc took extreme care in regard to delicate matters. The representative that handled my case was always prompt at responding to my questions even before the decision was made to go through with the process. Best of all, they handled my request expeditiously and even when a step further contacting Google and Microsoft! I’m very happy with the outcome and with the help of Minc, I once again have peace-of-mind!
Anonymous, April, 25th 2019
Working with an experienced internet defamation attorney will help make sure your business is thoroughly prepared before speaking to Google. Specifically, we can help you explain:
- Why the review is fake,
- How it violates Google’s policies and review guidelines,
- The harm that was done to you and your business.
- Provide all relevant images, links, and supplemental evidence to support your claim.
To report fake or malicious reviews to Google directly, do the following:
- Login to your Google My Business account
- Click on ‘Reviews’ in your menu bar
- Locate the ‘Support’ bar on the left side of the page (a pop-up Support bar will appear)
- Select ‘Need More Help’, then ‘Customer Reviews and Photos’,
- Select ‘Review Removal Issues’ and then ‘Contact Support’,
- Select your method of contact – either email or phone
- Fill out your contact information
- Paste the text of the inappropriate and fake review and select ‘Automatically include a screenshot’,
- Include the Google Maps link of the review
Now, just sit back and wait. You’ll generally hear back from Google within 24 to 48 hours or sooner. You will then have the opportunity to speak with a support specialist and make your case.
IMPORTANT: We’ve come across numerous online guides on how to report Google reviews, which advise that businesses contact Support and then simply choose a method of contact (phone or email). While this was the correct way to report reviews in the past, Google has since changed their Google My Business layout and process for reporting reviews.
This is why we recommend reaching out to an experienced Internet defamation removal attorney when reporting fake reviews to Google, as they can help identify the correct process for reporting reviews, better sift through relevant content policy guidelines, and explain why the review in question is fake and why they violate Google’s review policies.
Documentation & Preservation of Evidence is Essential For Making Sure a Review is Removed
Throughout this process, make sure to document all evidence which is relevant to the review you are seeking to have removed.
It’s essential you keep an extremely detailed log of the communications you had with the customer, the flagging of the review, reporting, and disputing process. This way, you’ll be able to check up on and dispute the review with certainty. It’s also important if legal action is eventually taken. Especially if the review is taken down, edited, or more reviews appear. In our experience, Google does not preserve copies of this information.
When it comes to preserving evidence of the reviews themselves, we suggest taking the below 3 steps.
- Locate the Google review(s);
- Click the account holder’s user name;
- Screenshot the review and copy the URL of the exact review and the reviewing account.
Let’s use the Cleveland Browns’ FirstEnergy Stadium Google Business profile as an example. Note that we’ve blurred out the account names and portions of the URL address to preserve anonymity.
Step 1: Locate the Google review
Step 2: Click on the account holder’s name
Step 3: Screenshot and Copy the URL
Make sure to timestamp all screenshots and compile all evidence into a chronological timeline. Preservation and documentation of evidence is essential for filing an internet defamation lawsuit.
A great way to preserve online evidence is to ‘Print’ via your browser (ex. Google Chrome), but instead of paper printing a copy select “Save as PDF” as your printer. Not only is the screen copy captured by a PDF typically higher quality than a paper printout, but it also automatically timestamps the evidence and records the URL location in the saved PDF E-format.
Additionally, if you’re willing to pay a small fee for a service that will ensure your evidence stands up in a court of law, we recommend using a service called Page-Vault. Our firm uses Page-Vault for every case we handle. We also use the following software programs to track changes and updates on webpages and entire websites:
- PageFreezer.com: a website and a social media archiving solutions program.
- Visualping.io: a web detection service for monitoring website changes.
If you are unable to convince Google to remove a Google My Business review, then it’s time to bust out the big guns by taking legal action.
Google Review Reporting Tip: In today’s day and age, Twitter is used for almost everything. Google is no different. Tweeting at Google Small Business Support (@GoogleSmallBiz) is also an effective way to get their attention and escalate the matter and review in question.
Pursue a Legal Action to Have the Review Taken Down
Convincing Google to remove reviews isn’t an easy task, and it’s not too uncommon for Google reviews to sometimes skirt Google Small Business’s review escalation process and remain online. Especially if the issue you are facing is one of defamation. Google doesn’t respond well to allegations of defamation to remove reviews. They don’t like to take sides in factual disputes. They also aren’t liable for defamation because of a law called Section 230 of The Communications Decency Act.
It’s also in Google’s interests that business patrons provide all types of feedback. Google also likes to have more reviews and information for people to find on its platform than less. So when it’s a close call or not clear who should win, they are usually going to defer to the poster and not take content down.
This is when it comes time to pursue legal action and get a court order to remove content.
There are two primary situations where you will need to pursue a court order to have a review taken down:
- When a reviewer’s identity is known
- When the reviewer’s identity is unknown or anonymous (also referred to as a John Doe lawsuit)
Pursuing litigation over a review is a serious decision that should only be sought as a last resort after you have exhausted other options.
When a Reviewer’s Identity is Known
Lawsuits can be highly effective tools to have negative reviews removed. They allow for a meaningful and fair adjudication of alleged legal violations, like defamation. Most of the time, legal disputes involving fake and defamatory reviews get resolved without ever having to go to trial. However, there are certain risks and issues involved with pursuing legal action that must be carefully weighed and considered.
When dealing with a known reviewer (defendant), there’s always a chance it’s going to be a contentious lawsuit, where defenses are asserted, the evidence is picked apart, and people’s principled stances on issues and disputes are tested.
Filing an Internet defamation lawsuit requires both tact and strategy, so it’s critical to discuss the potential risks, expenses, actionable claims, defenses and privileges, and more (ex. Where to file your Internet lawsuit, how to prove defamation damages, etc…) with an experienced defamation lawyer before jumping in.
This is not something you should tackle on your own.
You might not even have an actionable claim. That’s why it’s imperative to reach out to an experienced Internet defamation attorney to advise you on the best course of action and respective costs and risks of seeking legal action.
When a Reviewer’s Identity is Unknown & They Are Anonymous
If you’re dealing with a fake or anonymous reviewer, then removing a review will likely be a more complicated process – requiring you to file a John Doe lawsuit. A John Doe lawsuit is best practice when a poster’s identity is unknown and requires a plaintiff to adhere to specific filing criteria to subpoena Internet service companies and determine their identity.
For example, when reviewers and defendants are anonymous, plaintiffs will need to thoroughly consider the best place to file their lawsuit for purposes of discovery and relief. They’ll need to be able to provide sound reasoning for why a lawsuit is being initiated in X state.
A John Doe lawsuit is then followed by the registration or filing of your case in an out-of-state jurisdiction to subpoena respective webmasters, Internet service providers (ISPs), and site administrators for the anonymous reviewer’s IP addresses and account information.
These processes can become extremely complicated, and need to be done fast to preserve and obtain necessary evidence properly. I cannot stress this enough, but it’s incredibly important to work with an attorney who knows what they are doing and has experience with these types of procedures and protocols.
Use Online Reputation Management & SEO For Review Removal
At our firm, we’ve found in most cases, getting a bad review down can be done using the methods described above. Even in cases where some people claim or believe it may be impossible. And at the end of the day, no remedy is a better remedy for a bad review than getting it taken down.
However, there are certainly some circumstances where removing an unwanted review might not be possible, or worth it. In these situations, where negative reviews ultimately can’t or won’t be taken down, reputation management and SEO campaigns are usually the last remaining option to get negative online reviews removed.
What Are ORM & SEO?
Online reputation management (ORM) means taking action to improve your reputation on the Internet. It’s the process or combination of strategies, techniques, and tools that people and businesses can use to create a positive image for themselves online.
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. SEO involves using tools and techniques to make changes to websites and online content that makes websites and content more attractive and rank better on Google.
An easy way to differentiate the two is to think of ORM as being about content creation. SEO, on the other hand, is what you do with the content after it is created. Ideally, any good online reputation management campaign includes a good focus on SEO and local SEO techniques to be successful.
How Does ORM & SEO Remove Bad Reviews?
Reputation management works to remove reviews by drowning out the negatives by creating positive content and information about a business to the point where the bad review is no longer visible, i.e. making it effectively removed. This involves a mix of creating good content through ORM and then making sure it ranks high and shows up well in search engines using SEO.
Proactively creating a good reputation for your business name online is the first line of defense against bad reviews. It also makes the job of getting bad reviews removed easier when they do happen because it makes your business look more credible.
ORM & SEO Tips, Tools, & Strategies to Remove Fake Google Reviews
Below are is a list of our top tips and recommended strategies to purse an effectively remove unwanted Google Reviews:
1. Seek Feedback From Customers Regularly
As stated at the beginning of this post, having a customer-centered approach is key to preventing and removing Google reviews. This starts by having a policy of regularly seeking feedback from your customers.
Businesses should proactively check-in with their customers regularly to see what’s going on and how things are going. This is the first line of defense to bad reviews.
2. Get More Positive Reviews
Getting more good reviews is a proverbial no-brainer. Getting more positive reviews helps attract prospective customers, drowns out bad reviews, and makes it easier to get bad reviews removed when they do happen because it improves your business’s integrity and reputation.
There are dozens of services and tools that help companies get glowing reviews from consumers. The one our law firm uses and we highly recommend is called Review Inc..
3. Get Social
Unless you’ve been living under a rock the past decade it should be no surprise that being active on social media is good for business. As of 2020, 54% of all social media users research businesses, products, and services across social media platforms before engaging with them, while over 60% of customers and clients expect businesses to offer customer service via their social media channels.
An active and positive social media presence reaches customers and clients via the channels that they most regularly use and shows them that your business is both engaged and responsive.
4. Publish & Create Positive Content
Google’s search results and algorithm prioritizes the most constructive and relevant content to a user’s query and ranks it accordingly. Creating and publishing positive content stands to not only position your business as a trustworthy authority in your industry, but can more importantly serve as a foundation to protecting against future negative and fake content.
Common examples of content that your business can produce include:
- News write-ups on relevant industry trends;
- How-to guides and best-of lists;
- Cost articles about your business, product, or service; and other
- Brand-related content.
Now, instead of Internet users reading information about your business that was created and curated by others, you now have a direct hand in controlling your online narrative and message.
Buying your own domain can be done for as little as USD $10 per year. Even if you lack the resources and time to create content and fill out your website, you can still use your domain as a “linking hub” that points users to all of your related professional accounts – such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Glassdoor.
5. Actively Monitor Your Business’s Online Reputation
Actively monitoring your business’s online reputation and presence is an ongoing effort. Knowing exactly what Internet search results reveal about your brand and business is critical for removing (and responding to) fake online reviews and negative content in a timely manner.
Five effective ways to monitor your business’s online reputation include:
- Googling your business in incognito mode;
- Creating a Google Alerts account to monitor mentions of your business;
- Reviewing social media accounts for damaging content, mentions, and comments;
- Claiming all online business profiles; and
- Purchasing exact match domains.
The longer fake and negative content stays online, the more likely it is to do damage to your business, so it is imperative to stay on top of what others are saying about you.
We Can Help You Remove Fake Google Reviews & Damaging Content
If you are in business long enough, you are likely to encounter fake online reviews. It is just the name of the game. How you respond to fake reviews and approach their removal is what will separate your business from competitors and enable your business to stand the test of time in your industry.
While there are steps that you can take to protect your business against fake Google reviews, we do NOT recommend clients going at this alone. Reporting fake and negative online reviews to Google should be done with the assistance of experienced Internet attorneys who have proven success removing fake Google reviews and a comprehensive knowledge of Google’s content policies and guidelines.
At Minc Law, our practice is dedicated to removing fake online reviews and other defamatory Internet content. We know what it takes to not only remove fake online reviews, but put an end to the online attacks for good and help your business put its best digital footprint forward.
If you are ready to speak with an Internet defamation attorney, you can reach the Minc Law team by calling us at (216) 373-7706, or by contacting us via Chat, email, or our online contact form.