Can I Remove Negative Reviews on Google?

Note: This article was updated on July 20th, 2020.

A scathing review about your business can be detrimental. If there is a negative review front and center on your Google My Business page, this could turn a prospective customer or client away from your business. 84% of people trust online reviews as much as reviews from their friends.

Businesses call into our agency frequently asking if there’s a way to get rid of negative reviews on Google. Below are common reasons they feel the review should be taken down: 

  • Inclination the review was from a competitor 
  • The review came from a name that wasn’t in their customer database 
  • The review was not an accurate depiction of what took place 

You know the saying that the customer is always right? This isn’t always the case. When it comes to getting rid of negative reviews on Google, this is the mindset you must have.

You can call into Google and fill out a form to try and get your review removed. We outlined below in further detail on how to do this. We’ve seen a much better success rate by following our proactive strategy. 

REACHING OUT TO THE CUSTOMER 

If you are lucky enough to know who actually left the review, we recommend reaching out to this customer directly. Don’t blatantly ask them to remove the review as this will come off as inauthentic. Go into the conversation acknowledging their pain point while seeing if there’s a way to rectify the situation. If the customer sees you are trying to improve, they naturally might remove the review.

For example, a client of ours got a 1-star review because the prospective customer felt the salesperson gave them two different prices over the phone. It ended up this was the salesperson’s first call and clearly had more training to do. After the 1-star review was left online, the business owner reached out to the prospective customer and apologized profusely for putting a sales rep on the phone that clearly needed more training. That 1-star review turned into a 5-star review. The business owner didn’t even have to ask for the review to be removed, it happened naturally. The customer respected the business owner’s apology and pro-activeness. It was evident this business cared about its customers and wasn’t shy to admit a mistake was made. 

Not all business owners are lucky enough where the review will naturally get taken down after a phone or email conversation where there seems to be a resolve to the situation. You can kindly follow-up several days later asking them to remove the review by following a similar script to what’s below if the 1-star review is in place even after you spoke with the customer: 

“I’m so sorry that you had a bad first experience. I’m glad I was able to talk to you a couple of days ago to better understand your pain points. I know there’s nothing I can do to change your first impression but I hope the 20% credit helped.  I can assure you the wait time you originally experience won’t happen again. If you feel like we still deserve a 1-star review, I completely understand. I’m hoping your overall experience changed after speaking with me. If you feel we are worthy of more than a 1-star review, we’d greatly appreciate it if you update your Google review. If not, we understand. Thanks and we hope we get the opportunity of serving you in the future.”

NOTE: If you need help with your online reputation enhancement, our team can help

WHAT IF YOU CAN’T CONTACT THE CUSTOMER? 

If you are unable to contact the customer, we recommend responding directly to the Google review within your Google My Business page. Unfortunately, many reviews are left by fictitious names or competitors.

Don’t panic if you get a negative review by someone you don’t know. People actually don’t trust 5-star reviews [learn more]. If you have enough reviews, customers even trust companies with either a 4.8 or 4.9 rating over that perfect 5-star rating.

If you can’t contact the customer directly, replying to the review will send this “customer” a notification on the Google account where they left the review from, which could entice them to remove the review if you respond in a cordial manner. The response to the review will also be public-facing, which will show your business cares.

Let’s say your hair salon got a 1-star review from a name that’s not in your customer database. They complained about a rude staff member and you’re suspicious it’s coming from a competitor. How should you respond? Below is an example:

“Hi Kimberly, we are so sorry you had a bad experience. Our customer service is of the utmost importance. I tried looking you up in our customer database so I could reach out to you directly and I’m not seeing your name as a customer. That being said, after reading your review, I spoke with our entire staff reiterating our core principles. We feel we deliver on A+ customer service 99% of the time but clearly, the ball was dropped when you were at our salon. If there’s anything else you’d like to discuss, feel free to call into our salon at any time.” 

HOW TO CONTACT GOOGLE TO GET THE REVIEW REMOVED 

If you feel a review is spam left by a competitor or someone who isn’t a customer, you can always call into Google and ask them to review an unsatisfactory rating. Google Support will guide you through next steps of removing an illegitimate review. There are two ways to contact them:

That being said, we’ve only had a couple of reviews get removed by Google. One instance was when a painting company got a bad review for one of their drivers running through a red light. This obviously had nothing to do with their business practices and Google was able to see this. Generally, you’ll want to work with the customer to solve their issue and potentially turn their frown upside down. Very few reviews are removed by Google, but if you have a good case to present, it’s worth taking a stab at erasing the review from your Google My Business listing. 

BEING PROACTIVE 

Dealing with an aggravated customer directly can help establish credibility on Google among other users and let them know you worked to remedy the situation. By reaching out to them, you can accomplish the following:

  • First and foremost, according to Chatmeter, 33% of customers who left a negative review ended up leaving a positive one after the company responded to their feedback. An additional 34% ended up deleting the bad review. 
  • Google and potential customers can see that you’ve reached out to get more details about what caused the user to leave a bad review.
  • After taking this step, it’s clear that you’re using proactive measures to resolve the problem and get feedback on how to improve customer satisfaction.
  • A lot of people look at responses from business owners on bad reviews. Customers realize that some people are stubborn and these responses portray your proactive efforts to the Internet.

It’s important to have a proactive approach to generating and responding to reviews, because, let’s face it, customers are more likely to leave a negative review versus a positive one. A poll of 1,000 US respondents by Street Fight found that 19.1 percent of respondents are more likely to write a review after a poor experience, and 16.8 percent after a pleasant one. Another 42.5 percent said they’re equally likely to write a review regardless of the experience, and 21.6 percent said they’re not likely to write a review at all.

Let’s dive into what you can do, as a business owner, to have a review strategy in place to generate more positive reviews. It’s important to address negative ratings, but consistently generating positive reviews will reduce the effects of a poor rating on your overall business sentiment. 

HOW TO GENERATE AND INCREASE POSITIVE REVIEWS

There are several questions to ask yourself when formulating a strategy to generate more positive reviews for Google. 

  • Which customers will leave a positive review? 
  • How do I know they won’t leave a negative review? 
  • Can I automate emails so my staff doesn’t have to send manual emails to every customer?

Having a solid review strategy in place can be the difference between having very few Google reviews. We use several types of reputation enhancement software, including BirdEye and GatherUp to generate more reviews. These types of software automate emails with customized templates for past customers. 

Once everything is set up, all you need to do is upload new customer data and emails with requests to leave reviews on Google will send automatically. To avoid overwhelming your Google My Business profile, there’s a setting to limit how many emails you can send each day.

A question we get from a lot of clients is how to determine which clients can leave a positive review, if you send an email to all customers? They are nervous their detractors will leave a negative review and this will outweigh the positive ones. That’s the beauty of a software like GatherUp, they take this into consideration by following the process below: 

  • An email is sent off to your customers asking them to grade your business on a scale of 1-10 
  • A landing page is served. If your customer gives an 8 or above, it will take them to your most popular review channels (example: Google and Facebook). If the review is below an 8, the customer will be prompted to leave feedback directly through our platform, so it won’t be published publicly. 
  • After submitting feedback, customers are served a page that includes links to selected 3rd-party review sites. As a result of the rating received, a positive or negative page version is served.

HOW DO I KNOW THEY WON’T LEAVE A NEGATIVE REVIEW? 

You don’t. Using either of the above software will help prevent angry customers from unleashing their wrath on your public profile. Sending out emails like this one will help your business settle customer issues while directly working with the customer offline

Many don’t realize their internal feedback, if their rating is below an 8, isn’t viewed publicly or accessed by anyone but you. It allows them to communicate with you directly and turn their frown into a smile, without the public seeing their disdain on your GMB listing.  

There’s also no way to prevent users from going directly to your profile and leaving a review, so this is something to keep in mind when coming up with a strategy to increase reviews. While preventing negative reviews from being shown on your profile is a tall order, there are several things you can do to grow the number of positive ratings, so the bad ones won’t tarnish your online reputation. 

IMPORTANCE OF ONLINE REVIEWS 

According to Constant Contact, 90% of consumer’s online reviews do have an influence. This statistic proves the point that your online reputation does make a difference! Yet so many business owners and marketers ignore this crucial component of digital marketing. Additionally, reviews play a big part in local SEO.

Benjamin Franklin had one of the most famous quotes about reputation, “It takes many good deeds to build a good reputation, and only one bad one to lose it.”

Don’t let one negative review ruin your online reputation. Be proactive with your outreach strategy so you stand out within your industry with all of the positive feedback about your company.