Got Some 1 Star Reviews on Google? Business Owners Can Fight Back

The responses to 1-star reviews from a business range from anger and frustration to defensiveness and resignation. But something to remember, It’s not necessarily what is said in a bad review but more importantly how the business replies to that which has the opportunity to instill confidence in customers,

1-star reviews are as common as 5-star reviews now and some, of course, are deserved when a business drops the ball but many are not deserved. The problem is whether fake or not a 1-star review that is left and stays public shows up on your Google results. It can sometimes be the one tiny thing that drives the person to search for another business with a better rating or more positive reviews showing. They can be caused by price changes, miscommunication, or any number of issues. As a result, 1-star reviews can really hurt your business. But what is the best way for you to deal with them?

You should never argue with a customer about their review or their opinion because if you do this you will come off as defensive and hurtful. Instead of arguing on a publicly posted review, best practices according to Google Business Profile support advises that to deal with 1-star reviews, you should reply to them in an empathetic and compassionate way. Also, it is very important to show the customer that you are listening and are committed to providing the best customer service experience possible. Responding to 1-star reviews in a sincere and empathetic way makes a difference and instills confidence in the customers.

Many business owners are frustrated with 1-star reviews. They ask themselves “How do I get rid of a 1-star review?” and “How do I respond to a 1-star review?”

To address this, there are 4 things that you can do:

1. Responding to the Reviewer in a professional manner

2. Review your own business to prevent future 1-star reviews.  Simply upping your customer service game can prevent many bad reviews.

So Your Business Got Some 1-star Reviews that are now hurting you in the Google search results, now what?

First, it is not possible to simply delete an existing 1-star review from a business’s google profile without going through several steps and waiting to see if Google will remove it. In order to prevent any further damage to the business, it is best to reply to the review as stated above and then you can begin the process of trying to have it removed. In the reply, it is always a good idea to provide an email or phone number so the reviewer can contact the business one more time about resolving the matter. Sometimes the matter can be resolved and if so, then the reviewer is usually willing to change their 1 star to a 5 star or just delete it.  Only the reviewer themselves have the power to instantly remove a review from a Google Business Profile.

But what do you do when you get 1-star reviews that you know are either fake, spam, or just blatantly untrue? Ok, let’s talk about the ways a business can request that Google remove a 1-star review.

First, you can flag the review as inappropriate. There are actually two ways you can do this. One way is from inside the Google Business Profile admin dashboard. The other is from an external Google account that is not a manager or owner of the business profile.  Find the review and click the three dots to the upper right of the review (see image above). Then choose the most appropriate reason that appears to violate Google reviews policy. Let’s talk about the 7 different reasons or “violations” that Google will remove.

1- Off-topic – if the review is talking about anything other than a direct experience with the business they are reviewing then it is an off-topic violation. These would include talking about an experience someone else had (friend or family member but not them). It also includes reviews for the wrong business. It is very common for local competitors with similar looking/sounding names to get a 1-star review that is actually for the other company. Again you would flag all of these under off-topic.

2-Spam – If the account posting the review appears to be a fake/bot type of account then you can flag it and Google will remove it under a spam violation. An example would be if you see an account that is clearly from another country posting a review that should be a clear red flag. Also, if the reviewer is using the review to promote another competing business in any way or offering some kind of promotion to take the visitor away from the business being viewed it can be removed as a spam violation.

3-Conflict of Interest – If the reviewer is a past or current employee of the business or is employed with a competitor’s business then they should not be posting any reviews for that business. This also applies to contractors working directly for the business. All of these situations produce a clear conflict of interest which is a violation of Google’s review policies. If the reviewer mentions anything about working there either as an employee or contractor (past or present) then flag it for this reason and Google can remove it. Also in the reply it can be stated that this was a former disgruntled employee or contractor.

4-Profanity – Ok this one is pretty cut and dried. If someone uses profanity in their review or anything referencing that or anything of a sexual nature then it is considered a violation of Google’s policies under profanity and it can be removed.

5-Bullying or Hate – This particular violation is not hard to identify. If the reviewer is calling out someone specific from the business by name from the business they are reviewing and calling them names or belittling them as a person then that is a clear bullying/hate violation. If the reviewer seems to be more focused on hurting a specific person at the business vs. simply reviewing the business itself then flag it for bullying.

6-Discrimination – Again this one is not that hard to spot if you read the review. If the reviewer is accusing the business of being racist or discriminatory in any way then it can be flagged and possibly removed under a discrimination violation. If the reviewer is making any accusation that they were discriminated against due to race, age, religion, or sexual orientation the review can be removed.

7-Personal Information – This violation is most likely the fastest and easiest to spot. If the reviewer is leaving any personal information from someone at the business they are reviewing such as their private phone number, home address, personal email, or other personal information that is sensitive/private then Google will remove that review.

When someone is flagging reviews externally and choosing a reason there is another reason there which says “not helpful”. Just know that if you flag a review as not helpful Google will not remove any review for that reason. So if removal is what is needed then do not flag any review for that reason since it will not be any violation.

Ok, so what is the best way to decide which reason and flag them? Well, this is kind of up to the individual business but the most successful way is to flag each 1-star review at least one time for ALL reasons and let Google decide if it is a violation or not. There will be some reviews that Google removes that probably should have stayed up as well as some Google does not remove which probably should be removed. So doing it this way does even things out for the business over time. But to do this you need seven different Google accounts. You stay logged into all 7 accounts and then just flag using each account one time per reason. A side note: if you can flag the reviews with accounts that are Google local guide accounts there seems to be a slightly better success rate on removals. This is for externally flagging not from inside the admin of Google Business Profile. The combination of the two flaggings, externally and flagging from inside the admin together seems to be most effective for getting the most 1 and 2-star reviews removed from the Google Business Profile. Some people may argue over ethics here however as stated before many times Google will leave a fake or spam review or a 100% untrue review up no matter what a business does. So it is in the best interest of the business to flag all 1 and 2-star reviews and remove as many as possible.

Keep in mind that Google typically takes between 1-3 business days (or longer) to decide if the flagged review is a violation or not. For the reviews that are flagged from inside of admin, the business receives an email as soon as the review is flagged saying it is under review. Then another email usually within 1 to 3 days later with the decision either to remove it or leave it up. Sometimes flagging multiple times from multiple accounts can have success but in the end, Google has its own internal system to decide the outcome of any review that has been flagged. The accounts that are used to flag reviews externally will only get one email from Google saying thanks for bringing it to their attention.  External flagging there is no acceptance or denial email later as with the admin.

Ok, so once all the bad reviews have been flagged internally from admin and externally using the 7 different accounts and 7 different reaons what happens if Google determines a review that should be removed is not a violation? Well, the business still has one more shot to get it removed using Google’s appeal process. Going into the support console a business can view all reviews that are eligible to appeal.

The business has the ability to submit an appeal with a description explaining exactly why the review should be reconsidered for removal. Now you should know that appeals there is no rhyme or reason to how Google actually processes these. Some appeals are processed in one day. Some will stay in “pending” or “escalated” mode for days or weeks before a final answer is given. Once an appeal has been submitted if it comes back as denied then the process is over and the business can no longer appeal that review. There is one shot here and one shot only so make it count and make the description as specific and detailed as possible to help the appeal.

For every appeal that you file it is a good idea to copy and save both the review URL from Google Maps plus the case number of the appeal that Google provides so you can track the progress.

When you go and check the URL of the review that has successfully been removed this is what you will see on Google maps when you click the review URL.

If you need help removing 1 and 2-star reviews from your Google Business Profile contact Erase My Trax today and let’s get started.