Think about the last time you traveled. After you arrived at your destination and checked in at your hotel, what did you do next? If you're like me, you probably thought about where you were going to eat. But when you're new to an area, how do you find a good spot?
Rather than asking the hotel clerk — who's probably a local and has eaten at every place nearby — most of us take out our phones and do a quick Google search. Studies show that 82% of customers won't patronize a business until they've read the reviews. And, since Google is the preferred review site for 64% of consumers, that means just one poor review could determine whether or not you choose to eat at a restaurant.
Every company hopes to receive positive feedback, but the fact is that customers who have poor experiences are more likely to write an online review. It's your customer service team's job to keep track of Google reviews and remove the negative comments that are harmful to your business.
In this post, we'll break down what a Google review looks like, how to delete them, and what to do if you can't.
What is a Google review?
Before we jump into how you can delete Google reviews, we should first clarify what a Google review is. Other review sites can be confused with the Google review interface. Google's review site is unique because it's integrated directly into the search engine as well as its apps and business tools.
To identify whether the review you're looking at is a Google review or not, look for the following elements:
- A hyperlink next to the star rating reads "Google reviews" or "# Reviews". This link will take you to individual reviews that users have written.
- There are no other company names on the review.
- A rating scale numbered from one to five. This won't always be visible, but it can help you recognize a Google review if you see one.
For example, take a look at the Google review page for HubSpot. You'll notice each of the elements we listed above. This review appears in Google Maps, so it's integrated into the Google interface which makes it more clear that it is a Google review.
Can you delete a Google review?
Unfortunately, Google doesn't offer a simple "delete" option for its reviews. Instead, there are only two ways that a review can be removed. The person who posted the review can delete it or your business can "flag the review as inappropriate." Flagging the review alerts Google that the review is fake or that it doesn't comply with Google's review policies.
After that, you'll be guided to the landing page below where you'll need to complete a brief report of the issue and submit your email for follow-up communication.
It's important to note that Google has built-in spam checkers that automatically analyze a review for inappropriate, irrelevant, or misleading content. While this feature is pretty reliable, inaccurate reviews are sometimes overlooked which can lead to negative perceptions of your business.
In this case, you'll want to take matters into your own hands and report the review yourself. Here's how to do that.
How to Delete a Google Review
- Open Google Maps and locate your business.
- Find the review on the Google reviews page.
- Click the three vertical dots to the right of the review.
- Select the option Report Review.
- Choose an option for the question: What's wrong with this review?
- Report the Google review.
1. Open Google Maps and locate your business.
2. Find the review on the Google reviews page.
3. Click the three vertical dots to the right of the review.
4. Select the option Report Review.
5. Choose an option for the question "What's wrong with this review?".
6. Report the review to Google.
When to Flag a Google Review
According to Google, the topics below are against its user terms and conditions. Therefore, if you notice a review that falls under one of these categories, your team can request to remove that content.
Google wants to make sure its users are getting accurate information about your business. So, if you're seeing comments that don't pertain to your organization or a customer's experience, you should flag these reviews for Google to remove.
Some businesses provide products or services that are illegal in certain locations. Google accounts for this by prohibiting users from posting reviews that contain links to websites or email addresses that sell illegal products. This also includes images that promote products or special offers.
Google will remove any content that it views as "obscene, profane, or offensive." It will also remove reviews that are threatening or contain derogatory comments. If you come across any reviews like these, be sure to flag them immediately to protect your brand's image.
Conflicts of Interest
Google wants its reviews to be as unbiased as possible. Therefore, you can't post a review of a company that you own or work for. You also can't post a review of your competitor, as this would allow you to manipulate their rating in your favor.
Google values the accuracy of its reviews as well. It doesn't want to misrepresent a business or provide deceptive content to its users. Because of this, all Google reviews must be published by the person writing the review. You can't publish the review on someone's behalf or pretend to be someone else when submitting your review.
Disadvantages of Reporting a Google Review
As you can imagine, this process is slow and doesn't guarantee that your review will be removed. And, even if Google does decide to remove it, there's no telling when it will actually be taken down. In that time, your business could lose thousands of customers if you wait for Google to handle the issue.
The other major setback is that Google won't remove a review just because it's negative. The point of Google reviews is to provide users with unbiased feedback from other customers' experiences. If those experiences are poor, Google wants its users to be aware of them. So, if you're upset with a customer's opinion, the odds aren't in your favor for a removal.
Instead, your customer service team needs to take action if you want to remove a negative Google review.
Ways to Handle Google Reviews
1. Respond to the customer's review.
The most effective way to handle a negative customer review is to respond to it. If your team made a mistake that inspired a negative review, a genuine apology can go a long way in changing the perception a potential customer has of your brand. If it's a positive review, an appreciative response makes an impact, too. Remember, these reviews are public for the customer as well as your business, and customers don't want to look like the villain when your team responds underneath with a polite message.
2. Ask the customer to delete it.
The customer may respond positively to your team's comment but choose to leave the review up anyway. They may think the matter is closed and that other users will see the review as an example of your great customer service. While we appreciate the sentiment, you and I both know we'd rather have the review removed so other customers only see the positive experiences at your company.
In these cases, reach out to the customer to see if they will remove the review. If possible, message them on a private platform like email, so the customer doesn't feel pressured by your request. Thank them for reading your reply and ask them if they will consider the removal of the review in light of their recent experiences with your company. Be sure to remain patient and don't make any demands on the customer.
3. Solve the customer's problem.
This one may seem obvious, but customers often leave negative reviews because their original need from your business was never fulfilled. For example, you may enjoy the customer service at a restaurant but hate the food they serve you. Even though your beef — pun intended — isn't with the restaurant's staff, your review still gets counted all the same.
It's important to recognize the problems that customers are reporting in your negative reviews and take action to correct them. Once you do, follow up with the customers who left poor reviews and see if they're willing to try your product or service again. Make it clear that you have taken steps to correct your past mistakes and you still value their relationship with your business. While you may not win every customer over, this promotes a customer-centric culture for your brand's reputation.
4. Follow up with customers.
One common statistic that customer service experts like to point out is that 85% of customers believe reviews older than three months are irrelevant. However, this stat neglects that these older reviews still count towards your business's overall rating on Google. That rating is extremely important because 52% of customers will not buy from a business if it has less than a 4-star rating.
Additionally, a lot can change with your business as you grow and develop over time. A Google review that was posted two years ago may not be as accurate today. If the user is still active, try to contact them via the review and see if they would be willing to edit their post. Or, offer them an incentive to try your product or service again in exchange for an updated review.
5. Authenticate the review.
Believe it or not, some people on the internet are deceitful. It gets worse. Some people will even write fake reviews to sabotage their competitors' business.
If you're dubious of a review's authenticity, look for signs that would confirm it is a fake. Fake reviews often lack details and seem like they could apply to almost any business. Check to see if the reviewer has left any other reviews and if they have a picture listed with their account. Then respond to the review. If you don't get a response, flag the post as inappropriate and wait for Google to review your report.
The Power of Google Reviews is in Your Hands
Waiting for Google to remove a review from its search engine can be time-consuming and tedious. However, the steps listed above should help your customer service team quickly address negative Google reviews and improve your relationship with new and existing customers.
Editor's note: This post was originally published in January 2020 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.