Fake Negative Reviews on Google: What to Do?

Fake Negative Reviews on Google: What to Do?

What Are Fake Google Reviews

Millions of consumers around the world look at reviews all the time. They may be planning to book a table at a restaurant, organize a party in a specific place, or pay for goods and services. The importance of the reviews launched fraudulent activity. Their high popularity is enjoyed by dishonest marketers. Companies can decide to pay for Google reviews for their business or arrange with third-party agencies to write fake reviews about a competitor’s products and services.

What are fake reviews? These are published statements from people who are not really familiar with the company’s products or services. They can be ordered for the following reasons:

  • Young businesses need clients.
  • The business has been running for some time but there are only a few clients.
  • There are clients but they do not leave reviews.
  • The company has negative reviews, and they want to raise the rating on the search network or on another platform.
  • You need to undermine the competitor’s reputation by ordering negative reviews about their company.

Everyone needs reviews such as online stores, industries, food establishments, and a personal brand. How do I fake negative reviews on Google? Or how can my competitors do it?

Employees of PR-services of companies, reputation agencies, SEO-studios, and business owners are looking for the creators of reviews. They buy fake Google reviews, and they are written by copywriters, Internet users, acquaintances, or former employees. Additionally, no evidence is required to confirm the authenticity of the reviews.

CNN research shows that roughly one in seven TripAdvisor reviews are fake. Several highly-rated hotels in 10 tourist cities provide reviews like this. This raises their rating and puts them in the list of the best in the region.

According to a study by The Washington Post, 61% of Amazon reviews for electronic products are fake.

55,000 paid reviews appear on Facebook every month. There are many groups on Facebook that specialize in writing purchased reviews. Their members generate around 3000 fake reviews per day.

Are fake Google reviews illegal? From a legal point of view, false reviews are illegal and punishable. Platforms or companies that fall victim to fake reviews can block the reviewer and claim damages.

At the same time, in case of publication of false information about an organization, its products, or services, both the organization that bought the fake reviews and their performer are responsible.

Proven Expert

Google’s review specialists state:

Support Google

The Value of Google Reviews for Business

Consumers trust online reviews. They make decisions that directly affect the profit of local businesses based on reviews. Related article – Local SEO Checklist 2020. According to Podium research, 93% of Internet users view reviews, which determines their intention to make a purchase or refuse it.

Statements are also referred to as ranking factors. This affects the company’s visibility in search results. For example, the Search Engine Journal writes that reviews were the most significant factor in search rankings in 2017.

The conclusion is that business comments are important for both sales and SEO. Meanwhile, numerous studies show that fake reviews, in particular bad Google reviews, are becoming more and more common.

This affects businesses and consumers. Consumers are more likely to encounter paid reviews and businesses are increasingly at a disadvantage if dishonest competitors fake comments about the company.

We need bad reviews removed from our company. Where can you begin? First, determine if the review is really fake.

How to Tell if Reviews Are Fake

According to data collected by The Washington Post, The Guardian, CNN Travel, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, there are two key criteria for determining fake reviews:

  1. Exclamation marks: Repetitive exclamation marks are more likely to come from reviewers who have never purchased from a brand.
  2. Generalizations without details: Fake reviews more often contain generalizations about a product or seller and almost never have any specifics.

As a rule, purchased reviews are written in an aggressive tone. They can also be written by a template with certain keywords or the name of the company repeated several times. When you go to the reviewer profile, you can find positive reviews about a competitor company which is a sign that the reviews are fake. If the reviewer’s account has been registered recently and there are no other comments, most likely this is also a fake.

In fake reviews, you can often find intricate phrases, emphasis on one pro or con, a link to a competitor’s website or comparison with a competing organization, as well as a dubious story (“I couldn’t lose weight after giving birth but suddenly my friend advised …”, etc.).

Still not sure if the review was submitted for fraudulent purposes? Pay attention to the avatar of the reviewer. Often, the creators of fake reviews use an image of a cartoon character or an emoticon and also publish a review under a pseudonym. This allows them to hide their true identity.

Slang, emoticons, emotions, mistakes, and jargon evoke trust in reviews. Honest company reports are more like an overview of a place, product, or service, rather than an expression of negativity or delight.

Can a Google Review Be Traced

You can view Google reviews after logging into your Google My Business account. Set up automatic notifications there. They will come after the company is mentioned on the Internet. Monitoring the reviews will keep you informed of what people are saying about your business.

There are also a number of services and tools that allow you to interact with the feedback you receive.

  • Free Google Alerts tool tracks all mentions of your business on the web.
  • Reputology lets you analyze new reviews from Google, TripAdvisor, Facebook, app catalogs, and more. Automatic notifications of new reviews are sent to the owner’s email.
  • Trustpilot Business helps businesses rate and analyze new reviews in real-time and identifies fraudulent reviews.

Business Trustpilot

How to Remove a Bad Google Review

Check history for fake reviews. If you are sure that a review was written by a competitor or your product/service was not paid for by a reviewer, contact Google My Business. Click Contact Us in the upper right corner, select ‘Customer reviews and photos,’ and ‘Manage customer reviews’:

Please note that the Google My Business team may refuse to review your issue if the review does not violate the terms of service. If you receive a refusal to delete a review for the first time, please wait to try contacting support again. Let’s say you were denied help with the at hand. Then move on to the next option.

Step 1. Sign in to your Google My Business account. Go to the reviews section.

Step 2. Find the small flag icon next to the overview (for the desktop version). Using a smartphone? Click on the three dots and select the “Report review” option.

Step 3. Enter your email address and select the appropriate violation type using Google’s verification policy as a guide:

Add a screenshot of the fake review as additional evidence. Adding information to the complaint about why the review is not true. For example, if you determine that the reviewer has not used your business’s products or services, prove it. This will also increase the chances of the review being removed.

Google Support may contact businesses after filing a complaint to get more information.

What to Do if Google won’t Remove a Review

Tell your friends, colleagues, and relatives about the incident. Once you’ve formed a simple instruction on how to report fake reviews on Google, ask them to tag the review as well. The more tags a review gets, the higher the chance that the search engine specialists will pay closer attention and remove it.

You also have the option to submit a legitimate request to remove the fake review.

5 Violations for Which Google Can Remove a Review

According to Google, the following characteristics of a review are considered invalid:

  • The review contains offensive language or profanity. Any manifestations of hatred, insults, profanity, and racial terms are grounds for removing the review from the Google directory.
  • It is written maliciously by the current or previous employer. Regardless of experience they had, comments from former or current employees violate Google’s Conflicts of Interest guidelines. Employees are also not allowed to leave feedback on competitors of the company in which they work.
  • A review was submitted by someone who has never paid for a service or product. For example, this Italian was sentenced to nine months in prison and fined for publishing fake reviews on TripAdvisor. Other platforms or online directories can do the same.
  • Duplicated statements are posted by the same person. To do this, the user can use multiple Google accounts. For example:

User #1: Great Good Application 

User #2: Great Brilliant Android Application 

User #3: Good Brilliant Android Application, etc.  

  • The review is addressed to the wrong company. This review is noticeable because it refers to products or services that your business does not offer. In this situation, you can respond to the review and politely ask it to be removed or disputed.

Google also removes comments containing images that are not relevant to the organization. Photos should reflect products or experiences gained from interactions with a particular brand.

How to Boost Your Company’s Google Ranking

If you receive an undeserved, negative review, contact the current and previous customers. Ask them to leave a review if they have previously visited your establishment or used the services of the company in hopes that they had a positive experience. With a large number of positive reviews, a potential client can ignore the negative reviews. This way, you don’t have to think about how to remove bad reviews from Google local. In addition, it will increase your company’s online rating.

Google Reputation Management

There are ways to minimize the impact of fake reviews on Google on a company’s reputation and SEO. Have you received negative feedback?

  1. Assess the situation.
  2. Respond to the review.
  3. If it’s fake, delete it.

Some people think that bad reviews increase sales, as no ad is bad.

What reviews do you need to respond to? Each company has its own strategy for processing statements. Some respond to every review, others respond primarily to positive comments.

After receiving a bad review, check to see if the reviewer is your client. We recommend responding to a review before removing bad Google review. This will show other clients how you deal with objections.

Avoid standard answers. This tactic may seem insincere.

The prompt response demonstrates the service level. It’s important to reassure potential clients that they won’t get the same problem as an unhappy reviewer even if it is a fake review.

My Google reviews history showed a fake review, what should I do?

What should you do if the reviewer has never been to your restaurant, never purchased a product, or never used your company’s services:

  • The user left a review by mistake. Please reply politely that you are not offering the products or services mentioned. Check in the answer if the reviewer was not mistaken by the company and if they can provide an order number.

An example of a response to a review that is not displayed in the customer base

  • Ask forgiveness for negative experiences. It is important to emphasize that every review, enthusiastic or dissatisfied, is important to you because it helps the business to grow. Indicate that you did not find a customer with that name in your posts, or explain that you do not see that there was a person who paid for a product or service in the dates of receiving a negative comment.
  • Check the review and report fake Google reviews

How to act if someone was not satisfied with the support, product, or service of the company:

  • Respond to feedback as quickly as possible, preferably within 24 hours of receipt.
  • Don’t write long messages, and keep your tone polite.
  • Don’t make excuses. A long monologue with many apologies and explanations of the reason is unnecessary.
  • If there is a real reason why a service or product did not satisfy the consumer, make sure the negative experience does not happen again in the future. Explain to the reviewer that you will make an effort to solve the problem as soon as possible.
  • Offer to fix the situation. If possible, exchange goods if there is a manufacturing defect,  or serve a disgruntled visitor for free. Do this if the negative experience occurred through your fault or the fault of the staff of the establishment.
  • If you want to get additional information from the client or want to work out the appeal in more detail, include the company’s email address in your response to the review.

An example of the response

Reviews are an effective marketing tool for your business. Additionally, customer feedback shows how consumers perceive your company. Keep in touch with customers online, promptly respond to comments about the organization, and develop employee skills. Excellent service and quality products can keep the brand position. Have good online customer service even if a competitor decides to use your failure as a personal benefit and order fake reviews.

As a business owner, have you encountered fake reviews on Google and other platforms? What attempts have been made to remove such comments? Share in the comments below the article.

About author
Since 2017, Mary has been actively engaged in marketing and SEO. She closely works as a freelancer with IT companies that focuses on the American markets. Years of work in copywriting led her to online marketing and its constituents such as SEO.