So, what can you do about it? Is there a way to remove bad reviews from Google?
The quick answer is Yes, you can delete Google reviews. The longer answer is, naturally, a bit more complicated and subtle than that. Below, we’re going to walk you through the only four ways to remove negative reviews from Google search results. By the time we’re through, you’ll know exactly how to clean up your brand’s online reputation at the world’s most popular search engine.
1. Removing Inappropriate Google Reviews
Some people just like to watch the world burn. Those same individuals are frequently the ones behind negative, inappropriate, or even fake Google reviews of businesses, large and small.
Luckily, Google has some steps in place to remove this sort of content once and for all (or, at least until the next time it happens). There are, in fact, 10 different types of content that aren’t allowed on Google reviews:
- Spam and fake content
- Restricted content
- Illegal content
- Terrorist content
- Sexually explicit content
- Offensive content
- Dangerous and derogatory content
- Conflict of interest
Google does not allow these types of material to be posted on Google Reviews, Google Photos, or Google Videos. If someone has written a review of your business that includes any of the above inappropriate content, you can request to have it removed from Google search results.
How to Get Them Removed
The first step is to check the Google policy. This way, you can be 100% certain that the review’s material is not allowed by Google’s inappropriate content policy.
Second, flag the review in your account. Here’s the step-by-step process for requesting an inappropriate review to be deleted from Google:
- Sign in to Google My Business.
- Open the listing you want to manage and click Reviews.
- Click More, then click Flag as inappropriate.
Phone or Tablet
- Open the My Business app.
- Tap Customers, then tap Reviews.
- Tap More, then tap Flag review.
- Open Google Maps on your computer.
- Navigate to your business listing.
- Locate the review you want to remove.
- Click More, then click Flag as inappropriate.
2. Ask a Customer to Edit or Delete a Negative Google Review of Your Business
Learning how to respond to bad reviews might take a little longer (and a bit more energy), but this method for removing negative reviews of your company can be majorly beneficial in the long run. If successful, you will have deleted a negative review and potentially converted a customer from a liability into a lifelong promoter of your brand. Here’s a step-by-step process for making the best of a bad situation:
When you notice a bad review of your business on Google Reviews, first take a moment to thoughtfully consider the customer’s point of view.
Ask yourself these questions: What exactly are they complaining about, and is it something that you can make right, now that you’re aware of the problem?
After you’ve assessed the situation, and assured yourself that the review is not fake or inappropriate, the second step is to write a response to the customer’s review directly on Google.
People have different opinions as to exactly what to say here, but the general gist remains the same.
- First, recognize and name the customer’s problem. Example: “It sounds like you had a difficult time with the product you purchased.”
- Second, express to them that you would also be frustrated given the same situation. Example: “I would be upset, too, if this happened to me.”
- Finally, guarantee that you can and will fix the issue for them as soon as humanly possible. Example: “I would love the opportunity to make this right. Please let us know the best way to get you a working product.”
Once you’ve written to the customer, the third and final step is to wait for their response (aka, be patient…again). With any luck, you’ll hear back from the customer and can begin a dialogue about what exactly went wrong and how to go about mending that relationship.
After you’ve addressed the issue with them, you can courteously ask for the customer to edit or remove their negative review on Google. If you’ve been successful to this point, it’s very unlikely that they’ll deny your polite request. However, if they still refuse to remove the review, you can always flag it for Google to assess; even if it’s not removed, the comments section will show that you — as the business owner — tried your best to remedy the problem as soon as you became aware of it. This can often speak even louder than a positive review by itself!
3. Tweet to @GoogleSmallBiz About Removing the Negative Review of Your Business
If you have exhausted the above two options and nothing seems to work, you can always resort to that age-old medium for discontent: Twitter.
Let’s say you’ve already flagged the review as inappropriate, but you never heard back; perhaps you even flagged it multiple times, to no avail. Maybe you also responded to the reviewer, but they never wrote you a response in return.
When you’ve done your due diligence, it certainly can’t hurt to complain to Google itself on a public medium. People can see what responses Google receives there, so it behooves them to address those concerns when they arise.
However, tweeting @Google isn’t your best bet. Instead, tweet about your situation to @GoogleSmallBiz. Follow them as well, so they can Direct Message you in return about your problem.
If you have any screenshots available, attach those to your tweet or DM (along with a short description and a link) to Google’s Small Business department. This can help them get a better overall picture of the issue and address it directly and quickly.
4. File a Legal Removal Request for the Bad Review of Your Business
There’s one final option that exists to remove negative Google reviews of your company, but it will only apply to a limited number of cases. Google allows individuals to formally request content be removed if it’s illegal.
In the case of your business, this would potentially in the case of possible slander against you or your brand, which is illegal in the United States.
To report an illegal review, navigate to the Content Removal Tool and select Google My Business. On the following pages, Google will ask you questions relating to the review and your complaint about its specific content.
Google notes that “a copy of each legal notice we receive may be sent to the Lumen project for publication and annotation.” They go on to say, “We may also send the original notice to the alleged infringer or, if we have reason to suspect the validity of your complaint, to the rights holder. We may also publish similar information from your notice to our Transparency Report.”
In other words, Google takes these complaints very seriously, and with good reason. If you submit one of these reports, you might be alleging illegal activity or wrongdoing, so Google has to be sure that they follow the right protocol from start to finish.Finally, be aware that if you have multiple complaints you want to file through this system, each one has to be submitted separately “for each Google service where the content appears”.
Summary: Four Ways to Remove Google Reviews
These are the only four ways to delete Google reviews about your business:
- If the content is inappropriate or inflammatory, flag it as such.
- If you can address the customer’s issue, they may edit or remove the review.
- If these don’t work, you can always tweet to Google’s small business team.
- And, lastly, if the content is illegal or slanderous, you can submit a formal legal request for Google to take the post down.
At the end of the day, a negative review should not be a major cause for anxiety, especially if your customer review management pipeline is generating a much larger number of positive reviews to outweigh it. Google provides multiple avenues of support to get potential issues resolved in a timely manner.