Fake Google reviews are a common occurrence with small businesses and can be from competitors, former employees and people who’ve never used your business – or even just one disgruntled customer with too much time on their hands. When this happens, it’s all too easy to feel disheartened or angry at the thought of someone deliberately sabotaging your business. However, if you can prove a review is fake, you may be able to have it removed and bump up your rating in the process. In today’s blog, we look at ‘are fake Google reviews illegal’, the tell-tale signs of knowing when a negative review is fake and how to report fake Google reviews.
Are fake Google reviews illegal?
Wondering ‘are fake Google reviews illegal?’ – Yes, but it can be hard to prove. Unless a review is created using a real name and the comment states false information, reviews under fake names can make it virtually impossible to find the culprit.
How to tell if negative review is fake?
You can’t find the customer’s name in your database
If you can’t find the name of the person who added the review anywhere in your database, there’s a chance the review could be fake. However, remember a person may have also used an alias to write the fake Google reviews, in fear of retaliation.
The reviewer has left a lot of other bad reviews
If a person has left multiple 1-star reviews, you may be dealing with a serial bad reviewer. Typically, three or more bad reviews within a short time frame is a big indication.
The reviewer has reviewed a few companies at the same time
If you’re dealing with a clever troll, they may leave 5-star reviews for a few companies at once. You can see this by clicking on the user’s profile and seeing the reviews they’ve left with other companies, which should also provide a time frame.
There’s no comment
When a reviewer is genuinely angry with your product or service, they usually provide a comment. If all they’ve left is 1 star and no comment, it could be a sign the review is fake.
If the review refers to products and services you don’t offer or names of staff members you don’t employ, the person leaving the review may have gotten the business name wrong.
How to respond to fake Google reviews
Though you may feel anger at the thought of someone purposely damaging the reputation of your business, it’s important not to respond emotionally. This will make your business look worse and as though you can’t take constructive criticism.
There are a few ways you can respond, which include:
‘Thank you for providing feedback. We’re sorry to hear you had a poor experience with our company but cannot seem to find you in our system. We’d appreciate if you could provide more information about your experience so we can rectify any mistakes. Please let us know by emailing [customer service email] and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.’
Or if the reviewer has left no information:
‘We’re sorry to see you had a bad experience with our company. However, we’re unfortunately not able to offer any assistance without more information. If you could please email [customer service email] as we’d love to hear more feedback and try to resolve any issues.’
How to remove fake Google review
You can report fake Google reviews by clicking ‘flag as inappropriate’ and can be clicked on by anybody viewing your business. This will take you to another page where you’ll be asked to select a violation type and provide information on why the review is inappropriate. When doing this, it’s important to add as much detail as possible as a simple ‘this is fake’, likely won’t work.
Google pays more attention to reviews that have been flagged numerous times, so try to get other people to report it as well. This won’t guarantee your review is removed but can significantly increase your chances of getting noticed.
What do you do if you can’t remove fake Google reviews?
Unfortunately, even if you suspect a review is fake, you may not always be able to prove it. In this case, the best thing you can do is try to encourage customers or clients to provide positive feedback. The more people add good reviews, the higher your overall review score will be.
Many companies choose to send customers a feedback form as part of their email marketing strategy. You could also ask your customers in person if they’d like to add a review or ask for reviews on social media platforms. Essentially, try to make it as easy and straight-forward as possible for customers to provide feedback. Just note, you shouldn’t offer incentives for positive reviews to keep in adherence to Google’s post guidelines.
Interested to Learn More?
We hope our article on how to report fake Google reviews has answered your questions. If you need help managing your online presence or would like more information about Google My Business, contact your Brisbane digital marketing team at Resurge Digital by calling 1300 659 035, emailing [email protected] or via our online form and one of our team members will be in touch shortly.