Before we begin, let us understand what exactly is a fake review, why do people post them and how to spot them.
What is a fake review?
A fake review is a review written by a person who has not used your products or services. It is usually written by your unhappy employees, friends, or relatives. Fake reviews can also be written by bots or companies. Yes, there are companies which take money from the people for spoiling the online reputation of others.
Why do people write fake reviews?
There are a couple of reasons why people write fake reviews. Let us explore all.
- Envy: There are many people around you who envy you. They can be your friends, neighbours, relatives, colleagues, classmates, etc. who don’t like to see you in a good position.
- Competition: There is stiff competition over the internet. Therefore, business owners usually try to take themselves up. However, we also have some business owners who try to push others down by writing fake reviews.
- Grudge: Sometimes ex-employees hold a grudge against you for firing them. This grudge motivates them to write fake Google reviews.
How to recognize fake Google reviews?
You can deal with fake Google reviews only if you spot them. Here are a few ways to spot fake Google reviews.
- Check the customer base: The first thing you need to do after getting a negative review is to search the reviewer in your customer base. If the reviewer is not present there, you have most probably received a fake Google review.
- Check reviewer history: If the reviewer has posted the same kind of reviews on the other Google My Business profiles, it means he is a serial fake reviewer. The best thing to do here is to isolate your business from these people.
- Focus on the name: Most of the time people make use of fake email IDs to post negative reviews. These IDs will usually have weird, fancy or uncommon names. For example, Tony Stark, lonely walker, Internet avenger, Wonder man, Jigsaw, etc.
- Check out reviewer’s picture: Normally fake reviewers do not use their original picture. They take the help of no face images or no person images.
- Review length: Online reputation management experts say negative reviews are lengthier than the positive ones. In fact, most of the positive reviewers are no longer than two sentences. If you get too many one line negative reviews, consider that your reputation is under attack.
- Review frequency: Check out how many reviews do you get in one month on an average. If you find an unexpected rise in the number of reviews over a short period of time, you have a problem.
- Go into the depth: Read the content of the negative review fully and ask yourself – does it make sense? An unsatisfied customer is more likely to tell you why he is unhappy. Whereas, a fake reviewer will write a general review and skip the details.
- Keep an eye on timing: You may notice an increase in the number of negative reviews after firing an employee or having an argument with an employee or a customer. Here is the tip. Be good with everyone and take hard decision politely.
How to deal with fake Google reviews?
Fake reviews have a great tendency to harm your business. A potential customer who is reading your business reviews will not bother to think what if the review is fake. In fact, most of the customers do not think fake review exists. Therefore, a potential customer is more likely to believe the content of the fake review.
You can take certain steps to minimize the damage or nullify the effect. Here are the steps for how to deal with fake Google reviews.
1. Make a list of fake reviews
We have already told you how to spot fake Google reviews. Once you spot negative reviews, make a list. If you get reviews frequently or large in number, it is very easy to miss some fake reviews, even after spotting them.
Here, time is the most important factor. Act soon, so that, you remove bad Google My Business reviews before they harm your business. If you act lately, your customers will read the fake review and opt your competitors.
2. Report the fake review
Once you make the list, report the fake reviews. Here is the step by step guide.
- Step 1: Open the fake Google review.
- Step 2: You will find a flag icon above the star rating. Click it.
- Step 3: You will be taken to “Report a policy violation” and will be asked to enter the email id. Enter it.
- Step 4: You will notice 4 violation types. Select the one which is more relevant.
Be patient, usually, the search engine giant takes time to delete bad Google reviews. If the review is not removed, Go for the next step.
3. Contact Google support associate
Here is the step by step guide for how to delete negative Google reviews with the help of Google support associate.
- Step 1: Take a screenshot of the fake review.
- Step 2: Gather pieces of evidence that prove the review is fake.
- Step 3: Go to Google My Business dashboard and click on reviews.
- Step 4: Select support and add the previously taken screenshot of the fake review. Also add proofs, if you have gathered any.
What if this also doesn’t work? Well, in that case, we have a tip. Tweet the small business team through Twitter. As far as we are concerned, these three steps should be more than enough to delete a bad Google My Business review.
However one should not stop here. There are some more steps that you must take to minimize the damage.
4. Respond to fake reviews
Replying to fake reviews is essential since people want to know what you have to say. A fake review can make you lose your cool. Do not reply when you are angry. Do not take it personally and reply only when you are cool. Here are some of the best practices:
- Without arguing make it clear that the reviewer cannot be confirmed as your product or service user.
- Take the issue offline and try to fix it as soon as possible.
- Do not defend yourself.
Here is an example of an ideal response:
“Sir, your feedback is important to us. Unfortunately, we have no record of your business transaction with us. We would like to investigate the matter. If you have done business with us, please send us your contact number and email id.”
5. Put it on social media
Sometimes GMB profiles are flooded with bad Google reviews. Buy the time you repair your reputation, things might get late and you might lose your reputation. So, it is best to be transparent. That is, take a screenshot of most obvious fake reviews and post it on social media. Your audience will get to know the issues faced by you. Here are the advantages of taking the matter to social media.
- Your customers will know why your star rating has gone down.
- Minimizes the reputation damage.
- Your loyal customers and happy customers may leave positive reviews to help you out.
- Improves customer relationship.
6. Bury the negative reviews
If you can’t get rid of negative Google My Business Reviews, you can bury them. Here we mean, you should dilute the impact of bad google reviews with the help of good ones. If you got 10 bad reviews, you should aim to get 50 positive ones. Here are the tips to obtain good Google reviews.
- Ask happy customers to leave a review
- Send follow up email with a link to review page
- Incentivise the customers who post a review
- Provide exceptional customer service
- Convert bad reviews into good by resolving the issues
- Flag the reviews that violate Google guideline
7. Keep track of reviews
This is the last and least followed step. One of the most fundamental best practices in online reputation management is to monitor your reviews. In other words, you should be ready to act at any time. If you are not monitoring your review, you will come to know about the bad reviews after the damage has been done. There are several free and paid tools to monitor your brand mentions. Google Alerts is the best tool for this job. TweetDeck, TweetReach, SumAll, Broadreader, HubSpot, Native Analytics tools, Followerwonk, etc. are the other social media marketing tools to monitor your brand.
8. Follow online reputation management best practices
Online reputation management is not a one time process. Your job doesn’t end with the elimination of Google My Business negative reviews. Just like search engine optimization (SEO), ORM is a continuous process. Here are the online reputation management best practices you need to continuously follow.
- Never ever be rude to anyone or get into an argument. Ask sorry and take the conversation ahead.
- Be active on social media and join online conversations. It will help you achieve a good customer relationship.
- Encourage your customers to leave a review on Google My Business page via social media, email marketing, SMS reminders, or direct talk.
- Provide incentives for the people who leave a review, including a bad reviewer.
- Be professional and show how you take the reviews seriously. Showcase the changes made using before and after review pics.