Online reviews are crucial for establishing social proof and getting potential customers to trust and advocate for your brand. Unfortunately, they also carry numerous risks. Negative feedback — especially when it’s not valid or warranted — could potentially keep some customers away, even when your page boasts a wealth of positive reviews. Therefore, there are inherent risks and rewards in local search engine optimization service tools such as Google My Business that you’ll have to manage.
While many review sites and services offer options for responding to or managing feedback, the options available tend to be limited in scope. They also take a considerable amount of time to navigate — time that, in today’s fast-paced business environment, you simply can’t spare.
The good news? A viable solution is finally available for one of today’s most important review sites. Google’s new GMB Review Management Tool could change how you handle reviews, especially the ones you suspect are fraudulent. This tool will help you make the most of your GMB presence, improving further with help from a local SEO agency.
Google My Business recently implemented this management tool that helps you expedite the process of reporting reviews for a takedown. This solution also increases the likelihood of Google responding to your request promptly, which has been notoriously slow in the past.
GMB’s new takedown request tool — along with the recently added “new” label for your most recent reviews — could influence how you handle negative feedback or suspicions of fraudulent reviews. While typical online reputation management best practices still apply, it’s essential to keep a close eye on how customers speak of your brand online. Equipped with GMB’s new tool, you can do precisely that.
Below, we explain how this feature works, when it’s worth using, and where you might run into limitations. We’ll also highlight options for responding to negative reviews when removing a review isn’t a realistic option.
How Google’s Review Management Tool Works
The process for checking and handling online reviews with the new Google My Business tool is simple. Follow these basic steps to get started.
First, visit the Google Support Center to initiate a review removal request.
Visit the “manage your reviews” page from the GMB help center. (this link can be hard to find so make sure to bookmark it)
- Select your business name from the display.
- Select whether you’d like to report a review for removal or check the status of a previously reported review.
If you choose to initiate the process of reporting a review, Google will provide a list of recent entries to examine. These should be displayed chronologically in a table. There, you’ll find the star rating, the specific comments from the review (or the entry “no review text” if relevant), and the date on which each review was initially posted. Additionally, you can follow links to check out reviews on Google Maps or report any observed problems.
When you’re ready to check the status of a previously reported review, you can use the new GMB tool to examine a similar table with chronological review information. This table should also include the status of the review. For example, if Google determines that no policies were violated in the flagged review, it will indicate as such.
Regardless of their decision, Google advises patience, as takedown requests typically take at least 72 hours to assess. Status updates may be available not only through the new tool but also via email.
Once you’ve completed the initial takedown request process, an easy-to-navigate option allows you to see more information about each reported review. You can even use this tool to begin the process of submitting an appeal for any takedown requests you believe were improperly rejected.
When Should You Request a Review Removal?
While GMB’s new tool makes it easier to manage problematic reviews, it doesn’t mean that the response you desire from Google is guaranteed. You’ll simply hear back sooner than you would previously — and you’ll find it easier to keep track of pending actions.
As before, it’s essential to consider the circumstances behind your desire to have a review removed. It’s not good enough to simply disagree with the reviewer’s opinion — even when that individual has little to offer other than decidedly negative feedback.
Keep in mind that even if the reviewer in question is factually incorrect, Google avoids getting involved in factual disputes. As the help center explains, “there’s no reliable way to discern who’s right about a particular customer experience.”
Your chances of a successful request are most likely if it’s clear that a particular review violates Google’s policies. Google provides a thorough overview of prohibited and restricted content, so be sure to take a look before you proceed. You may be surprised to discover that, as undesirable as it seems from your perspective, a seemingly problematic review might still abide by all of Google’s policies and is therefore unlikely to be removed.
Limits on the New Google My Business Tool
Some concerned GMB users have reported that they cannot see all reviews or Google’s responses to takedown requests. Joy Hawkins of Local University points out that, when checking an account with just 33 listings, she received the following message: “Based on the number of Business Profiles you manage, this process is not available.”
We also confirmed this was the case when we tried to use this tool from our corporate account that manages hundreds of locations.
For small businesses with a limited number of reviews and/or a small number of locations, there should be no issue using this powerful opportunity to stay on top of an otherwise fragile digital reputation.
Tip: For larger accounts, we recommend creating a separate Gmail address for each location managed. Then assign that email address as a manager or owner level access to one location.
Other Options for Dealing with Negative Google Reviews
Because the scope of GMB’s new review tool is limited, it’s essential to make the most of other reputation management strategies. If you’re unable to persuade Google to remove the review, leave a well-written reply to the review promptly to minimize damage to your reputation.
Finding ways to be kind when responding to negative feedback can be challenging. Still, a polite response that addresses the customer’s concerns will demonstrate that you’re empathetic and willing to make amends when necessary or even own up to whatever shortcomings they mention that were true. No business is perfect, so own up to it!
Most users expect to see an occasional bad review — and seeing a response even to negative feedback is better than no response at all. Some prospective customers may distrust a company that lacks at least a few negative reviews. Most will be glad to know that, in the worst-case scenario, you will go above and beyond to address areas of dissatisfaction.
As Google My Business becomes more sophisticated, new features will make it easier for businesses to present themselves in the best light. Reviews should be encouraged and respected, but it’s also essential to take advantage of GMB tools that help you limit the damage from fraudulent or otherwise problematic feedback.
Managing Your Online Reputation with Vinci Digital
Would you like to learn about additional options for managing reviews and customer feedback online? The new tool for Google My Business is just one of several solutions available for handling your digital reputation.
Our team at Vinci Digital can help you make the most of various reputation management opportunities. We’re also pleased to provide local search engine optimization services. To get started, contact us at your earliest convenience.