Getting bad Google reviews is a terrible feeling! A bad Google review hurts no matter what, but it hurts even worse when you don’t deserve it.
I have a confession to make…
We’ve spent the last few years helping our clients build and improve their online reputation. Unfortunately, we’ve failed to do the same for our business. Today, that came back to bite us.
I woke up to a terrible message in my inbox from our reputation marketing software. “David, Uh-oh! A customer has just reviewed you and left the following negative review:”
What’s more pathetic? The use of a generic theme bought on ThemeForest to promote themselves as developers, or that they didn’t even take the time to install ContactForm7 correctly to make their contact page work. Any True Expert in conversions would make sure customers can actually… ya know.. convert… – Darren W.
It looks like someone (possibly a competitor but most likely just an unhappy person that was bored at 4 AM) decided to leave us a bad Google review based on the way our website looks. None of the things he mentions are true but none of that matters. The beauty of the internet is that anyone can say anything, at any time. Some of us use that to help people, others use it to hurt people – I’ll let you decide which type of person Mr. Darren is…
What to Do About Bad Google Reviews?
As local businesses that rely on the internet to find new clients, customers, and patients, we all have to be prepared for anything because it can happen at any time. As a business, we weren’t prepared – like we teach our clients to be – for bad Google reviews, but now we’re inspired to take action and restore our 5 star reputation. Below are some tips to help any local business deal with a bad review and even try to remove bad business reviews from Google.
1. Make the Customer Happy Again. Then Ask Them to Update or Remove Their Negative Review
This is often the best and fastest way to get a bad Google review removed. Contact the customer directly and try to fix their problem in private. You’re probably going to have to suck up your pride but making that customer happy again is much better than a bad review hanging over your business’s head forever.
If you are able to fix the problem, then make sure you ASK them if they’d mind removing their bad review. Many people won’t offer to do this so you have to come out and ask them directly. If they aren’t willing to remove it then ask them if they’d be willing to update the review. Reviewers can adjust their ratings and comments at any time. The good news is that most customers are happy to remove or update their review once their concerns have been heard and addressed by the business.
Unfortunately, Google allows just about anyone to create an account and leave anonymous reviews so this isn’t always an option. In our situation, this person isn’t a client of ours and we don’t have their contact information so there’s not much we can do to make him happy or remove the review.
So, we’ll move on to our next option, flagging the review.
2. Know Google’s Guidelines and Flag the Review
Once in a while you’ll get a review that is filled with so much hate and anger that it actually works in your favor!
There are certain posting guidelines that Google will enforce. Here’s a quick summary of those guidelines:
– This post contains hateful, violent, or inappropriate content: Have a reviewer calling you names, bringing your race or ethnicity into the post, threatening you or an employee, or using profane words? There’s a good chance your argument for removing the review will be heard by Google. Flag it.
– This post contains advertising or spam: You can’t advertise special offers or deals in reviews so if you get a negative review that tells people to take action or do something for or against your business. Flag it.
– Off topic: We once saw a dental clinic have a bad review talking about how bad the food was. If it’s not relevant then it’s probably off topic.
NOTE: we’re going to try this approach to get Google to remove our bad review. We’re not optimistic but it’s worth a shot.
– This post contains conflicts of interest: If a competitor down the street leaves a review for your business telling readers to come to their business instead, it could be “advertising” but, if we can prove it then we’ll go with conflict of interest. Flag it.
Below is a quick video on how to flag a review that violates Google’s posting policy.
3. Respond to the Negative Review
Responding publicly to the bad Google review is very important because you’re only talking to the reviewer, you’re also talking to potential customers that may read the review in the future. Businesses mess up, but you want potential customers to see that you’re a responsive and understanding business or medical practice.
In most situations, it won’t help you to point fingers or get emotional in the response. Thank them for the feedback, apologize to them, slide in some marketing, and then ask them for a few minutes of their time to discuss and fix the problem.
Even if you’ve flagged the review, it’s very important that you post a public response for the potential customers that may see the review before it’s removed. Responding to the review on Google should be one of the first actions taken to make sure your voice is heard while you’re waiting for the other things to happen.
4. Hide the Bad Review with Dozens of 5 Star Google Reviews
This is where most local businesses mess up and where we messed up.
Most local businesses don’t have a plan for getting great 5 star reviews on Google. The problem with that is it only takes one irate customer’s review to be the only review available for your business. However, if that review is just one bad review in a crowd of amazing 5 star reviews, then it becomes a lot less relevant.
Avoid a 1 star reputation by creating a plan to flood Google with great reviews from your happy everyday customers in order to hide that one bad review.
Dave, how do I get good reviews on Google? The answer isn’t easy, but it is simple. You need to ASK for them.
You have to start asking your customers for reviews. EVERY customer. This is where we failed and weren’t practicing what we preached – until today.
Here’s a blog post we recently wrote that will help you put together a plan to get more online reviews – How to Ask Customers to Write Reviews for Your Local Business.
The Bottomline: Like Most Local Businesses – We Weren’t Prepared
We’ve told hundreds of local businesses to build their 5 star reputation BEFORE someone comes along to destroy it. This situation has proven that no business is exempt.
People are out there waiting to bash your business. Mr. Darren bashed our business and we’re here to thank him for waking us up. We’re on offense now and our new goal is to hide his bad review with amazing 5 star reviews from our REAL clients.
If you have questions or additional tips, contact us using our contact form or join us in the comments below.