If you’ve ever purchased something online, or made a reservation at a restaurant or hotel, then it’s more than likely that you’ve also spent a little time reading through reviews of that establishment. Reviews and testimonials provide an excellent opportunity to learn more about the quality or a product or service from people that have actually experienced it.
There are a number of online platforms where people can leave reviews of a business or service that they’ve purchased including Facebook, TripAdvisor and Trustpilot. One of the most popular places to leave a review is on the businesses Google My Business page, from where it is then shared to millions of people around the world.
What is Google My Business?
Google My Business was launched by Google as an online platform for businesses to claim ownership and manage their business profile. If you are a business owner, then it’s very important that you have a business profile at Google. For already established businesses, the profile will have been automatically created by Google, and you simply need to claim yours.
If your business is new or can’t be found, then you’ll need to submit your business information so that it can be added. You’ll need a Google account to either claim or submit your business, and verification is usually done with a code number that you’ll receive on a postcard sent through the mail to your business location. This is the most common method of verification as Google wants to make sure that your business is real and is located where you claim it to be.
Your business listed in Google maps
Your business profile once it has been verified will start appearing in Google maps and in the results for local searches of your business in the area you are located. For example, if you are a dry cleaner situated in town A, whenever someone from that town does a search for dry cleaners, they will see what’s known as the Map Pack, which is the block of results with the Google map of the area and the first three business profiles.
It’s important that you fill in all the information about your business in your profile, and make sure you include your opening hours. These are very important in terms of ranking your business when it’s being searched for a specific time during the day.
Getting reviews on Google
Once your business is listed in verified and appearing in local results and on Google maps, people will be able to leave reviews about your business, as well as read reviews left by other individuals.
Reviews are the lifeblood of many businesses, so it’s important that you encourage your clients to leave you a review over at Google, and Facebook if possible.
Remember, it’s against the terms and conditions to offer something in return for a review, so simply check with your customers if they are happy with your service or product, and if so, could they please leave a review for you.
Dealing with negative reviews
Unfortunately in life, you can’t please everyone. You could be the best at what you do, but there’s always the chance that someone won’t be satisfied, no matter what you do. You’ll occasionally see that you are sometimes left a negative review on Google. The problem with negative reviews is determining whether or not they are genuine. If necessary you could go through the Google Review Deletion process and try to get any damaging reviews removed.
If you have received any fake negative reviews on Google, then there are a few ways to tackle the issue. One is to simply reply to the negative review and say something such as “Thank you for your review, but we can’t find any record of your customer at our business. Maybe you’ve posted this in mistake. If you’d like to reach out and contact us to discuss the situations, we’d be happy to help”.
By leaving such a reply, you are showing the reviewer, as well as anyone else reading the review, that you don’t have any recollection of the incident or customer, and that you are more than willing to help them with the matter. This puts your business in good light, and shows you to be someone who is honest and considerate.
If a person really didn’t like your service or product and want to leave a negative review, that’s entirely their right to do so. The problem arises when you start receiving reviews that are clearly fake.
Reasons for fake and negative reviews
There are a number of reasons why businesses receive negative and fake reviews on their profiles. Firstly, you could be the victim of a troll who simply goes around leaving 1 start negative feedback for random businesses.
However, another reason, which is a lot more sinister, is that the reviews are being left by your competitors, or associates of theirs. Business can be a dirty battlefield sometimes, and leaving fake negative reviews is sadly something that has been happening quite frequently over the past few years.
If you have a huge number of reviews, and some businesses can have numbers in their thousands, then the occasional bad review isn’t really going to do you much harm. But if you are a new business, and only have a couple of reviews, all or most of which are negative, then this is going to have an impact on your business.
Removing bad reviews from Google
If you start receiving a large number of fake negative reviews, then you’ll need to flag those up with Google and explain that they are clearly fake, and that you’d like them removed as they are potentially damaging your business and reputation.
It’s also a good idea to have some friends of yours also flag up the reviews and tell Google that they should be removed. Unfortunately, there is no guarantee that they will be removed, but in the circumstances when you’ve suddenly received 14 negative reviews overnight by random people who all have new Google accounts, then it’s more than likely Google will take action.
Some final words
Trolls exist everywhere online, and they can cause a lot of damage to one’s reputation and business. It’s important that you don’t stoop down to their level, and any replies you leave on the negative reviews should be calm, collective and show that you believe they are mistaken as there is no record of them having any dealings with your business. Avoid any name calling or threats – it won’t do any good and will show you in a bad light.
Finally, it’s important that you keep persisting to Google that the reviews are fake and should be removed. Sometimes you might need to submit a removal request multiple times before any action is taken. Stick to it, and eventually with a little luck, Google will remove the fake reviews from your business profile.