People now consider online reviews as the new word-of-mouth. In fact, 84% of consumers trust reviews in as much as personal recommendations. They need reassurance that your product or service will give them the value they’re looking for, and one way to set their expectations is by checking the reviews.
But because anyone can leave feedback on Google, any business can be a victim of fake negative reviews. It’s easy to create a new account and use it to ruin your hard-earned reputation. Even though Google is taking steps to combat fake and spam reviews, it pays to be proactive in monitoring what your customers say about your company as well.
How to deal with fake reviews?
No matter how great you’re doing, it’s impossible to please everyone. It’s normal to feel frustrated and defensive when someone is propagating lies about your business, but first things first: don’t act in the heat of the moment.
Responding while emotional can only add fuel to the fire, so take your time to blow off steam. Don’t take it personally, and act when you’re already calm. Remember, you can turn the situation around – there are several ways to deal with them!
Have the fake review removed
The quickest and most efficient way to fight fake reviews is to flag them. Sign into your Google My Business account, then select “All Locations”. If you have more than one business location, choose which one you want to manage and go to the “Reviews” menu.
Click the “flag as inappropriate” icon, which is typically displayed when your cursor is hovering over a review. Google’s review policy team will then investigate the issue and take action as necessary.
Make sure to enter your company email address so you can directly receive notifications from Google. They’ll follow up when they need more details or if they have additional information to share.
Respond to the review
While you may not be able to remove the review by yourself, you can bring the odds into your favour by responding to the review. Even if you know it’s fake, the rest of your customers may not be able to discern it. This is why addressing the complaint can make a difference. When you take responsibility, you show to your prospects that you care about your customers.
We understand that replying to fake reviews can be tricky. However, you shouldn’t let them sit for too long. We suggest doing the following:
- Be professional and apologise for the discontent
- Indicate that you can’t find them in your records
- Offer to remedy the situation and provide them with your contact details
Below shows a great response from a business owner. Before you flag reviews as inappropriate, try countering the negative review to prove that the review is fake.
You can also check the reviewer’s profile to see if the account is fake or not. A perfect example would be the image below. Apart from the username, the reviewer has left negative reviews for two different companies in the same industry. We can assume that this fake account is from a competitor, and while it’s unethical, it happens a lot.
Keep in mind that Google doesn’t remove flagged reviews sometimes, believing that these don’t violate their policies. That’s why you should respond as much as you can.
Google didn’t remove my business’ bad reviews. Will this affect SEO?
As long as you overturn the situation in a timely manner, it won’t completely harm your SEO efforts. In fact, prospects are more likely to seek negative reviews because these allow them to see the bigger picture. In case they are not satisfied with your product or service, they want to know how you’ll address the issue. If a business has too many perfect ratings, some people would doubt if the reviews are genuine or fake.
Apart from building your brand image, reviews play a major role in boosting your bottom line. The key here is to report fraudulent reviews immediately and turn negative feedback into a positive engagement.
Not sure where to begin? At DigitalMaas, we can help you monitor your customer ratings and reviews. We perform a comprehensive audit to assess the quality of client feedback linked to your business and provide recommendations on how to use it to your advantage. To learn more about online business reviews and SEO, get in touch with us today.