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Fake reviews can damage your rating and your reputation. The next time you receive a fake review on Google, follow these steps to address it and potentially get it removed.
Fake Google reviews are incredibly frustrating. Especially because you, as a savvy business owner, are well aware of the increasing importance of your online reputation. You monitor and respond to reviews, say thank you to customers who are happy, and follow up with those who aren’t.
But what steps should you take when you receive a fake review? Follow our suggestions below to address it properly and potentially get it removed.
Angry customers, former employees, and competitors may be inspired to post fake reviews, but it can be challenging to tell their posts apart from genuine feedback.
First, search for the name of the reviewer in your database. Once you’ve determined that it’s not in your system, click on the reviewer’s Google My Business profile. If they don’t have a profile photo, have only posted one review, or have posted many 1-star reviews, their account might exist purely to attack businesses.
Finally, if their review relies on vague accusations rather than details about a specific experience, it should be seen as suspicious.
What about when the account doesn’t seem fake?
Occasionally, reviewers post their feedback onto the wrong GMB page. This is easy to spot if they mention staff members who aren’t part of your company or products you don’t sell.
There are also times when your real customers will use their review to paint an inaccurate picture of what actually occurred during their visit to your store. Both of these issues can be addressed in your response.
As with all reviews, it’s important to respond quickly.
This becomes even more important when dealing with a fake negative review as you want to limit the time that misinformation stays on your page. Have a system in place to monitor reviews so that particularly loathsome ones are noticed immediately and then treated as a priority.
Here at Widewail, we have developed a technology platform that immediately brings our clients’ review content from all across the web into one place. That means reviews from Google, Facebook, CarGurus, Cars.com, DealerRater, Edmunds, and Yelp are collected and then addressed in nearly real-time.
While speed is vital, don’t sacrifice the professionalism of your response. It doesn’t matter if the review bashes your company or includes offensive language, answering in anger will only make things worse. Triple check your response or have another person proof it before posting to ensure that you aren’t egging on the reviewer or representing your business in a bad light. Using a third party review service can also ensure a professional response.
Further, fully research the issue before responding. The last thing you want to do is accuse the reviewer of lying only to be proven wrong online.
This last point is an important one, and we take it seriously. We will never respond to a negative review, either real or fake, without first running it by your team. When a negative review comes into our feed, we draft a response and then send it to your team for approval and advice. This ensures that the answer reflects the entire story.
Use your response as an opportunity to politely explain the truth. If you believe the person posted their review on your page accidentally, offer your help along with the statement “Was this review meant for a different business?” If the reviewer posted misleading information, describe your point of view on the scenario so that future readers will have the full story.
If you are dealing with a truly fake review, a statement like “We are unable to locate your name in our database nor do we have knowledge of what you’ve described here” helps cast doubt on the reviewer.
Unfortunately, Google cannot be relied on to remove fake reviews. They aren’t able to determine who is or who is not your customer and thus can only act when a review clearly violates their policy.
Although it may not have the result you want, we still recommend reporting any review that clearly hasn’t come from one of your customers on the off-chance that it gets removed.
For more information about reporting Google reviews, read our article.
Most businesses deal with fake reviews from time to time and ultimately they aren’t something to get upset over. By taking the proper steps to reply you will limit the damage of the fake review and maybe even get it removed. Once you’ve done all you can do to respond, return your attention to assisting your customers.
Remember, “85% of consumers think that online reviews older than 3 months aren’t relevant” With time you will gain more positive reviews and the bad review will lose its impact.
Widewail is a one-stop-shop for all your online review needs. Through our Engage service we respond to positive reviews with personalized messages and SEO rich text, increasing your GMB ranking. For negative and fake reviews we work directly with your team to address the issue quickly and efficiently. Our review generation product Invite will help your business get more Google reviews by automatically sending out review requests. The software integrates with your point of sale system, making it easy to reach all of your customers in just a few clicks.
I’m a New Jersey native who joined the Widewail team during my brief stint in Burlington. Now living in Jersey City, I currently serve as the Response Team Lead and Content Specialist. My background is in writing and my work has been published by Thrillist, Reductress, McSweeneys, The Rumpus, and more. I occasionally update my own blog No Meat, Some Potatoes, and in my free time I hang out with my dog Jake.
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