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August 4, 2021

How You can Change the Impact of Negative Google Maps Reviews

Hannah Arroyo

When you’re starting a business, Google reviews can make or break you. When starting up, everybody wants to know how to edit bad Google business reviews left on their business profile.

Unfortunately, you can’t edit Google reviews that someone else posted about your location. However, you can request the review be changed by the poster, or you can ask to have the review removed by Google if it meets certain criteria. 

Discussion 

The best way to deal with negative Google business reviews is by responding to them. Responding can show that you have taken ownership of the review and also updates more recent reviews in a conversation thread format, which will help improve your profile.

If someone has posted a negative Google business review because their expectations were not met, you can reach out to them  to help them better understand your product or service. This may not spur them to change the review, but it may prompt other customers to do more research before committing to a purchase.

If someone has posted a negative review because they weren't able to find what they were looking for on your site, you can work with them (if possible) so that people searching for similar topics have an easier time finding things. People who search your reviews through your profile can also find better information on your business.

It's important that when you respond, you aren't defensive or confrontational. Remember that Google is a public platform. You want to remain professional and level-headed so your Google business review section doesn’t get more grievances! You can offer to take the conversation elsewhere, such as email or the management office, but always remain respectful.

Be sure to let them know that you understand why they're upset and show that you have a listening ear. It may be worth offering the person with the grievance an incentive to fix the error that was made and possibly get the negative review off of your business profile.

Reach out to Google Support

For concerning situations, you're able to get advice and direction from Google Support. To contact Google’s support for businesses, go to https://support.google.com/business, select “contact us” → “customer reviews and photos” → “manage customer reviews." From there, you can receive assistance or direction on the proper protocol when reporting comments and reviews.

You can also tweet to @googlesmallbiz on Twitter and get tips from the Google Small Business community this way. Although they might not be able to provide some know-how for editing reviews, they may be able to help you flag or respond to a review. Remember that Google will not remove a review unless it violates one of their policies.

Flag Posts

When you do need to flag a post, you do so through Google's system. Google has a strict set of policies about what people or companies cannot post. There are ten sections stating what type of review can be flagged for removal:

Spam and False Information

Reviews are primarily filtered for spam and false content. You can use Google Support to get information about their automated spam detection.

Off-Topic 

The review must be about the company, person or place, or it qualifies for removal. If the review has social commentary or "rants," it can be flagged.

Restricted Information

Reviews that contain promotion of a competitor's business or links to external sites should not be published on Google My Business.  Reviews that contain personal information such as direct contact info can be flagged on Google My Business. If there is any mention of deals, coupons, pricing information or other promotions for a restricted product or service near your review, then it can be flagged.

Content of a Terrorist Nature

Google does not allow terrorist organizations to use its services for any purpose, including recruitment. Google also prohibits content related to terrorism, such as promoting terrorist acts or inciting violence. Any responses with terrorist nature should be flagged.

Sexually Explicit 

Any sexually explicit material is grounds for flagging a response. 

Offensive 

Posts containing swearing, vulgar language, offensive gestures, insults, or profanity should be flagged for removal.

Dangerous or Derogatory 

Google Maps reviews containing hate speech or intimidation can be flagged as well. Any review suggesting age-restricted activities, especially the content is targeted to minors, as well as reviews that contain profanity and other inappropriate content, can be flagged.

Impersonation

Google Maps reviews and posts cannot be used to mislead others. Dishonest content and untrue claims can be flagged for removal, especially if an individual claims to represent Google. 

Conflict of Interest Bias

Reviews are moderated to ensure that all reviews represent the author's personal experience and not someone else’s.  For example, if an associate or non-client posts a review about your business on behalf of their employer or friend without visiting themselves, Google may remove this information from search results as it does not meet criteria to be a Google review.

Illegal Activity

Reviews that encourage illegal activity need to be taken care of with Google’s legal team.

How to Flag a Review

If you receive a review on Google that you feel is inaccurate or in any way offensive to your business, company, service and/or product, it can be flagged for removal. 

To see your reviews, you need to have a Google My Business account. The review will be associated with the business profile. There, you can flag each review individually. 

On your Google My Business page, use the left menu bar to select "Reviews" and then click on "All Reviews." The three dot menu next to each of the Google Maps reviews on your profile lets you flag the review. This will pull up an option menu for you to select what the policy violation is and will ask for some more information on what happened.

If the review contains multiple violations, make sure to flag only the violation that concerns you the most and include that as the reason for your concern. Be patient with Google Support; they will get back to you in due time. You are able to flag the post again later if you do not hear in a reasonable amount of time.

Reporting Illegal Content

If the Google Maps reviews posted have or promote illegal content, you'll need to take some different steps when you make the report. Reviews with this content have to be addressed higher than just being flagged, and you'll need to submit a legal removal request. This will go to Google Legal Team and be treated with higher priority.

To make a request to remove illegal content, go to https://support.google.com/legal/answer/3110420?hl=en and select "Create a request." Select "Google Search" for the platform containing the illegal content, and choose "Other Search Features" when prompted.

You'll select "Local listings" in the following section. The next page will give options you can select so you can be specific about what illegal behavior your reporting, such as posting personal information or people infringing on a copyright.

Utilize Google!

Being able to reach out to Google for assistance, as well as using your Google My Business to attract attention and receive reviews, makes your business stand out and be known and recognizable. You won't want to be recognized for the bad review, so take these steps to remove the bad review. Make sure that you are delivering quality to your customers so that bad reviews aren't likely.

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