Even if they’re years old and obviously unfair, bad reviews affect your bottom line. One negative review might not sink your business, but it can certainly lead people away to your competitors. Without a customer review management strategy in place, a series of bad reviews could turn nearly everyone off to your company.
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 some Google reviews.”
The longer answer is, naturally, a bit more complicated and nuanced than that. Below, we’re going to walk you through the only four ways to remove negative reviews from Google search results. Additionally, we’ll tell you the only guaranteed way to offset negative reviews, even if you can’t get them removed!
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 steps in place to remove this sort of content once and for all (or, at least until the next time it happens). Google does not allow the following types of material to be posted on Google Reviews, Google Photos, or Google Videos:
- Civil discourse
- Hate speech
- Offensive content
- Personal information
- Deceptive content
- Fake engagement
- Mature content
- Obscenity & profanity
- Sexually explicit content
- Adult-themed content
- Violence & gore
- Regulated, dangerous, & illegal
- Restricted content
- Dangerous content
- Illegal content
- Child safety
- Terrorist content
- Information quality
- Advertising & solicitation
- Gibberish & repetitive content
- Civil discourse
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 Inappropriate Google Review Content 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:
Flagging Inappropriate Review Content on a Desktop Computer
- Sign in to Google Business Profile Manager.
- Open the listing you want to manage and click Reviews.
- Click the 3 small dots on the top right of the review you want to flag, and select “Flag as inappropriate”
- Select the reason for flagging the content
- Wait up to 3 business days for a possible resolution
Flagging Inappropriate Review Content on a Phone or Tablet
- Open the My Business app.
- Tap Customers, then tap Reviews.
- Tap More, then tap Flag review.
Flagging Inappropriate Review Content on Google Maps
- 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.
The last step in each of these, as Google advises, is to be patient. It can take several days for each flagged item to be assessed by someone on Google’s content review team.
2. Ask a Customer to Edit or Delete a Negative Google Review of Your Business
Responding to bad reviews takes a bit of extra time and energy, but this method for removing negative reviews of your company is majorly beneficial in the long run.
When 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 guide to 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 your 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 is:
- Recognize and name the customer’s problem. Example: “It sounds like you had a difficult time with the product you purchased.”
- Express to them that you would also be frustrated given the same situation. Example: “I would be upset, too, if this happened to me.”
- 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.”
Resist the temptation to be snarky or sarcastic – even if the customer is in the wrong! Your response is going to be publicly visible and future customers will see your response as a representation of your brand.
Once you’ve written to the customer, the 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 your 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.
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 publicly 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 the review 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 expressing discontent: Twitter.
Let’s say you’ve already flagged the review as inappropriate, but you never heard back. 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 forum. People can see what tweets 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 that content be removed if it’s illegal.
In the case of your business, this generally applies to 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 Business Profile Manager. On the following pages, Google will ask you questions relating to the review and your complaint about its specific content.
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 must 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.
The Best Solution to Bad Reviews: More Good Reviews
At the end of the day, a negative review is only cause for concern if you don’t have enough good reviews to offset it! If your customer review management pipeline is working effectively, then your company should have ample positive reviews to easily overwhelm the occasional negative review.
The best way to get more reviews is to use an automated review management solution. These web-based solutions connect directly with your customer management software and make the process of requesting reviews seamless. Additionally, these tools can automatically reply to positive reviews and notify you in the event of a negative review so you can take action.
Our automated review management system lets you take back control of your Google reviews. When you’re backed up by 100s of good reviews you’ll never lose sleep over a bad review again!