What do you do when you get a fake review?

A company is only as good as its reputation. In today’s world, businesses live and die by their online reputation. But what happens if you get a fake review? Unfortunately, sometimes these things happen.

A good reputation is critical in this day and age. Unfortunately, using fake reviews to discredit competitors’ are surging. Thankfully, we know how to flag fake reviews on Google for removal in a way that increases the likelihood of success. Now, we’re sharing this insider information with our customers.

Online reviews can make or break a business. Both the quantity and quality of reviews is important to potential customers. This is because reviews reinforce trust in a company. This is a major determining factor among prospective customers when they’re determining where they want to take their business. In fact, a study by BrightLocal in 2017 showed us:

  • 85% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations
  • Positive reviews make 73% of consumers trust a local business more
  • 79% of consumers have read a fake review in the last year, but a worrying 84% can’t always spot them.

The last bullet point is particularly concerning for business owners. These fake reviews are often difficult for consumers to spot and may influence their decisions. Even Google has a hard time tracking down fake reviews in some cases.

Where does a Fake Review Come From?

Fake reviews come from a number of different sources. One of these sources was through one of Google’s own review systems. Back in the summer of 2017 Google launched a system that allowed Local Guides to earn points each time they left a review. Originally, a review received 5 points. However, this was amended to reward Local Guides who left reviews consisting of more than 200 characters. Since then, this past spring, they doubled the points.

Their efforts to encourage people to leave more reviews actually created a review economy. High leveled Local Guides monetized their standing with Google and started to sell their review services. This led to an avalanche of individuals and business owners gaming the system. Groups offering fake reviews began to spring up on Facebook. In turn, business owners would buy reviews or offer incentives. This eventually led to review swaps and fake defamatory reviews on competitor’s listings. But that isn’t all.

Fake reviews come from more than individuals trying to game the system. With millions of individuals on social media, it doesn’t take much to go viral. This is wonderful when the cause is just. However, in some cases, it’s possible to start a movement without everyone having all of the facts. We’ve seen this in more than one instance where the mistreatment of a customer launched a massive attack on the offending company’s reviews. Unfortunately, when this happens, occasionally innocent companies are caught in the crossfire. When this happens it’s important to know what you can do to combat fake reviews.

Fighting Back Against a Fake Review

Before you launch a counterattack against fake reviews, it’s important that you read the platform’s guidelines for reviews. This ensures you understand if the reviews do in fact violate the platform’s policy. How you respond to reviews, fake or otherwise, is equally important.

Taking on a Fake Review using Google My Business

Before you start the fight against fake reviews you may want to consider responding first. One good reason for this is that the review may not actually get removed. However, responding in a respectful manner shows your customers and potential customers that you care and take reviews seriously. But if you’re going to respond – there are a few things to keep in mind:

Don’t take the review personally. Look into the problem reported in the review and be professional every step of the way. Don’t get personal. Be nice. Even if you can’t fix things with the complaining customer, your responses will speak volumes to other potential customers. Your response should be useful, courteous, and readable. It’s also best to answer in short, genuine answers. If you’re unable to answer in a polite way, it’s best not to respond at all.

If the review is indeed fake, then flag the review. You can do this on Google Maps or in your Google My Business Account. You simply click the flag icon next to the review. Flagging the review from inside Google My Business is actually much more effective when it comes to having the review removed.

While you’re waiting to hear back about the fake review, write a concise explanation as to why you believe the review should be removed. It’s also a good idea to document the review’s URL. In addition to these things prepare the following information:

  • Business name, phone number, address, website, and Google Maps link
  • Calmly and professionally state why the review should be removed
  • Point out which policy is being violated
  • Explain why you believe the review is fake
  • Include documentation supporting your claim
  • Get your Case ID

Getting Google’s Support

After you’ve flagged the fake review wait three days. If Google doesn’t respond then head over to Twitter and send Google a direct message including the information listed above. It may take up to a week to get a response. If you don’t use Twitter you can also go through the Google Online Chat or call and speak with a representative. After you’ve escalated your case you should receive an email with a Case ID. Write this number down – it’s important!

If you still haven’t received a response from Google, or if you’re looking at multiple fake reviews rather than one, you can try asking the Google My Business community for help. Chances are one of the Top Contributors can evaluate the problem before escalating directly to Google. To get their attention, visit the Span & Policy section of the forum and create a post. Just like every other part of this process, it may take a while to get a response. Including your Case ID’s will increase your success.

Once you’ve done everything you can then try to relax. At this point, it’s the only thing left to do. The last thing you want is to let frustration build and do something you might regret. Remember that negative reviews are not the end of the world, particularly fake negative reviews. No business is perfect and has the ability to knock the socks off of every single customer.

The best thing you can do is continue to work on your marketing plan to ensure your business reaches the right customers. Effective SEO techniques can go a long way when it comes to reaching your target customers and Portside Marketing can help.

Call Portside Marketing today at (972) 979-9316 to learn how you can combat a fake review and reach your ideal customers. We offer a reputation marketing & management service that allows you to focus on your business, while we watch your reputation!

Fake reviews can destroy a business, but you aren’t helpless. Follow these steps to learn how you can combat fake reviews through Google My Business and get things back on track. Then turn to the experts at Portside Marketing to learn how you can reach your ideal customers to give your business a boost and build up your positive reviews.

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