You open your Google Business Profile, only to see that someone has posted a new, and not particularly glowing, review.
Having put your heart and soul into your business, one- and two-star reviews can really sting as an owner. It can be hard not to take this feedback personally, and it can be even harder if you don’t feel as though the review was warranted, as it can do real harm to your online reputation.
The obvious temptation is to remove the review… but is this possible? Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, is it wise?
In this guide, we’ll walk you through all you need to know about deleting Google reviews: whether it’s possible, how you might be able to do it, and whether there’s perhaps another, better option.
Can you remove a Google review?
First things first: is it possible to edit or delete a review on Google? The answer for editing a review is no – unless you wrote it. The answer for deleting or removing a review is sort of.
You won’t find a ‘delete review’ button anywhere within your Google account, which means there’s no easy and instant way to remove a review. That said, if you feel a review is unfair or goes against Google’s review policies, you can flag it and try to get Google to remove it.
In order for Google to seriously consider removing a review, it needs to violate the Google Maps User Contributed Content Policy. This policy outlines the types of inappropriate reviews that Google will take down, which include those that are:
- Offensive, hateful, harassing or contain personal information.
- Fake, misinformative or otherwise deceptive.
- Obscene, profane, violent or sexually explicit.
- Restricted, illegal or otherwise dangerous.
- Off-topic, solicitous, nonsensical or repetitive.
Google has an automated system designed to delete reviews that violate its policies, but like all such systems it’s far from perfect, so questionable reviews still make it through.
It’s also important to note that a review you may feel is unfair may not necessarily fit neatly into any of the boxes above. Sure, you might think that a review is offensive, deceptive or irrelevant, but these terms are all subjective, so Google won’t necessarily agree.
How to delete a Google review of your business
A Google or Google Maps review removal can be approached in two main ways:
Through your Google Business Profile
- On your desktop, sign into your Google Business Profile.
- Navigate to ‘Reviews’.
- Find the review you want to flag and click the ‘More’ button (the three vertical dots).
- Click ‘Flag as Inappropriate’, then follow the prompts to tell Google why you believe the review violates the company’s policies.
Through the purpose-built Reviews Management Tool
- On your desktop, navigate to Google’s Reviews Management Tool.
- Sign in with your email address and select your business.
- Click on ‘Report a new review for removal’.
- Click ‘Report’ on any reviews you’d like to flag.
- A new tab will open up where you can advise Google on the specific violation.
Once you’ve flagged the offending feedback, it’s down to Google to decide whether to remove the review. You can check the status of a flagged review in the Reviews Management Tool – it will either show as ‘decision pending‘, ‘Report reviewed – no policy violation‘, or ‘Escalated – check your email for updates‘.
If the status is marked ‘Report reviewed – no policy violation‘, there is still an opportunity to appeal the decision through the Reviews Management Tool. If the status is marked ‘Escalated‘, check your email to see the final decision, which you will not be able to appeal.
Should you delete negative reviews?
If there is a genuine reason to delete the review – it’s entirely irrelevant, patently false or particularly offensive – then flagging it for removal is obviously the best course of action. But often bad reviews won’t violate Google’s policies and may just be unreasonable or mean.
In these cases, having the review removed may prove impossible… and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
When a user browses your business profile on Google, they’ll automatically be attracted to negative reviews. The one-star pieces of feedback aren’t just the juiciest to read – they also give the user an idea of the character of the business, for better or worse.
Side note: having zero negative reviews and a wealth of five-star reviews can also raise red flags amongst potential customers, because no business is perfect, and this suggests that any negative review might somehow be deleted.
Because it’s where the eyeballs of your potential customers will point, responding to negative reviews is one of the most powerful ways you can sculpt your online reputation. Google offers you a right of reply, and you should spend yours wisely. Replying in a fair and level-headed way, whether that means accepting blame and promising to improve, or offering your perspective on a situation, can help to transform a one-star review into something that actually attracts new customers to your business.
In 2019 TripAdvisor conducted a consumer survey about review responses. It found that:
- 77% of respondents were more likely to book when business owners respond to reviews.
- 89% said a considered response to a negative review improved their impression of a business.
- 90% said seeing a polite and respectful review response made them believe the owner truly cares.
In short, a good response can turn a negative into a real positive. The next question: how do you write one?
Tips for responding to a bad online review
So you’ve received a bad review from a customer, and while you may not like it, it doesn’t explicitly violate any of Google’s review policies.
You have two options: leave it sitting on your profile, or respond. You should always choose the latter.
How you respond to the review will depend on whether you thought it was fair or unfair. Here are a few review response tips for both situations:
If you feel the review was generally fair:
- Thank them: The reviewer took the time to offer their feedback, so get off on the right foot by thanking them for that.
- Accept responsibility: Be accountable for the experience that the customer had. Offer an apology if one is warranted.
- Empathise with the customer: Put yourself in their shoes to understand how they feel. Acknowledge the frustration or disappointment they may be feeling.
- Promise to do better: Explain how you’ll avoid the situation in the future.
- Offer solutions: Think about what you can do to make the situation right. Consider offering a replacement product or redelivering the service.
- Follow up: Give the reviewer your name and contact details and ask them to get in touch.
If you feel the review was unfair:
- Thank them for taking the time to review: This may feel counterintuitive, but thanking an unreasonable reviewer can allow you to take the high ground in the dispute.
- Acknowledge their argument: You need to show that you read their review, so consider repeating back some of the points that they made.
- Offer your point of view: If the review is fake or intentionally vindictive, point that out and offer up any supporting evidence. If the review is misinformed, calmly offer clarification on the situation.
General review response tips
- Give yourself time to cool off: Receiving an unfair review can be infuriating, but your response can’t hint at that fact – it has to be level-headed. Give yourself 24 hours to cool off before forming a reply.
- Stay level-headed and professional: Avoid getting personal or fighting fire with fire. As a business you must remain professional, so try to be as objective as possible.
- Use ‘I’ over ‘we’: Where the glow of positive reviews should be shared by your whole team, an individual, ideally a leader, should personally respond to negative reviews, whether fair or unfair, as this puts the responsibility for action on an individual’s shoulders.
These tips apply to all review reponses, whether on Google, social media or any other review platform. But they don’t necessarily need to be employed by you, as an expert marketing team can take care of this often disheartening work for you.
At Traction Marketing we have spent years helping Kiwi businesses manage their reputation. We know how to make a case for Google to take down unfair reviews, and we know how to respond to those that aren’t found to violate Google policies.
If you’re ready to turn negative into positive, we’re ready to help. Get in touch with our friendly team today.