Consider the last time you searched for an Italian food restaurant in a new city.
You’re unfamiliar with the area and don’t have any personal recommendations to rely on.
You likely open your phone, conduct a Google search for [italian food near me] and find several restaurants.
Do you choose the first restaurant that pops up?
The answer to this is probably no.
Instead, you will most likely look up customer reviews and select the restaurant where patrons have had a positive experience.
And, you’re in good company.
For local businesses, 98% of consumers read online reviews.
Additionally, 81% of consumers turn to Google as their business review platform of choice to solidify their purchasing decisions.
While customers can control the content they post in their reviews, businesses, unfortunately, cannot.
However, businesses must monitor their Google reviews consistently and ensure spammy reviews get deleted as soon as possible.
In this post, we’ll cover when or if you should delete Google reviews, what to do if you can’t delete poor reviews, and the steps your business must take to flag a review for removal.
When Should You Delete A Google Review?
Not every negative review your business receives is eligible for removal.
If a customer genuinely had a poor experience with your business and voices this opinion in the form of a review, you can’t ask Google to remove this review.
Instead, Google will only remove a review if it violates Google’s policies.
Luckily for businesses, Google takes its review removal process seriously, and there are quite a few types of content it deems inappropriate.
Here are a few types of reviews that qualify for deletion.
“We don’t allow users to post content to harass other people or businesses, or encourage others to participate in harassment.”
It also does not tolerate hate speech or offensive content in a review.
Offensive content may include “content that is clearly and deliberately provocative.”
Google will also delete reviews containing personal information – such as credit card details, medical records, and more.
It is considered deceptive if the content is not based on a real experience or does not accurately represent your location or product.
Google shares that content with impersonation, misinformation, misrepresentation, or fake engagement can also be considered deceptive.
Google will remove any explicit content that uses profanity, is sexually explicit, uses adult themes, or includes violence or gore that constitutes mature derogatory content.
Regulated, Dangerous, And Illegal
Content with calls to action to products or services that may face local legal restrictions or content that promotes dangerous activities are eligible for removal by Google.
This also includes inappropriate content that is not safe for a child to view.
As stated previously, Google’s content policy states that review content should be “based on your experience or questions about experiences at a specific location.”
It does not allow content that is political in nature, a general rant, information related to COVID-19, and more.
Advertising a product, service, or a particular business in a review is also not allowed.
In short, if your business receives bad reviews, this isn’t necessarily grounds for removal.
Instead, your online reviews must include one of the factors above to submit a request for removal.
If your review content includes any of the above, it is warranted and recommended to ask Google to remove the review.
What Is A Google Review?
It may seem straightforward. However, with the countless online review directories available, it’s best to clarify what is considered a Google review.
A Google review helps your business highlight what customers think of your brand and what prospective customers can expect.
These reviews appear on your Google Business Profile in Search and Maps.
A five-star review means a customer was highly pleased with their experience with your brand.
Conversely, a one-star rating means a customer had a negative experience with your business.
To view reviews on a Google Business Profile, click on the business’ star rating or the blue hyperlink with the number of reviews the business has received.
You’ll then see a breakdown of the number of ratings per star, and top keywords used in reviews, followed by all the reviews left for that location.
You can sort reviews by most relevant, newest, highest rating, and lowest rating.
Can You Delete A Google Review On Your Own?
Google doesn’t enable businesses to delete reviews on their Google Business Profile.
This helps prevent businesses from deleting poor reviews due to bad experiences.
To have a review removed, the person who wrote the review can delete the review, or a business can ask Google to remove an inappropriate review.
Businesses can report a review for removal through Google Maps or Google Search.
Here are the steps to take for both.
How To Flag A Review On Google Maps
- Open Google Maps on your computer.
- Find your Google Business Profile.
- Find the review you’d like to flag.
- Click more, flag as inappropriate.
How To Flag A Review In Google Search
- On your computer, go to Google.
- Find your Google Business Profile.
- Click Google Reviews.
- Find the review you’d like to flag.
- Click more, report review. Then select the type of violation you want to report.
How To Flag A Review In Your Account
- On your computer, sign in to manage your Google Business Profile.
- Choose the review you’d like to report.
- For a single business: Open the Google Business Profile you’d like to manage. On the left, in the menu, click Reviews.
- For multiple businesses: On the left menu, click Manage reviews. Then use the drop-down menu to choose a location group.
- On the review you’d like to flag, click more, flag as inappropriate.
It will automatically detect a spam or fake review and remove those reviews on its own.
“These measures help improve people’s experiences on Google and ensure the reviews they see are authentic, relevant, and useful.”
Once you have flagged a post for removal on your Google Business Profile, Google notes it can take several days to remove the review.
For hotel brands, it’s also worth mentioning you can’t flag third-party hotel reviews, even if policy violations are made in the context of the review.
What Should I Do While I Wait For Google To Remove A Review?
Whether your business receives positive or negative feedback, your customer service team must respond to all reviews.
Responding to reviews shows others you care about your customers’ experiences and want to provide the best experience possible.
Develop a thoughtful response for every review you receive, especially negative customer reviews where you have the opportunity to reshape a customer’s perception of your business, and respond as soon as possible.
This applies even with spam reviews while you wait for Google to remove them.
Your Google Business Profile is the digital storefront of your business location.
It also serves as an opportunity to share insight from your customers directly through reviews.
However, you want legitimate reviews to appear on your profile.
Therefore you can (and should) flag any reviews that violate Google’s review policies to maintain an overall strong review profile.
Take action on reviews that meet the above criteria to remove these reviews from appearing on Google Maps and Search when a prospective customer searches for your brand.
Featured Image: Irina Shatilova/Shutterstock