Is Deleting Negative Reviews Illegal?
Deleting negative reviews may have unintended consequences. Learn more in our guide below.
If you own a restaurant or your own business that provides goods and/or services to the general public, you naturally attempt to do your best to offer the finest experiences and receive top reviews. You might even have set up a Google Business Profile where Google reviews can be added or contact Google Local Services about purchasing ads to bolster business.
Good reviews are the keystone to running a successful business, but, as the saying goes, “you can’t please all the people all the time.” Negative or false content online can significantly impact the reputation of both businesses and individuals and people depend on local legal regulations to ensure that a business owner’s reputation is not falsely denigrated.
As a business owner, you rely on positive feedback, and just as a positive review can improve your business, a bad Google review could have an adverse effect. Each Google review should stand on its own merit, and questionable or fake reviews on Google and other sites, such as Yelp or Amazon, should not remain online if their sole purpose is to discredit your business in an unfair way. You should monitor your business account and learn the steps required to delete a Google review that has only been written to cause undo harm and defame your operation.
Reasons Why People Write Bad Reviews
People write bad reviews because of bad experiences for the most part. With this in mind, you must be prepared for someone unsatisfied with some element of your business to voice their dissatisfaction by writing an online review about their negative experience on Yelp or Google.
You also have to be prepared to respond. By not responding, you not only give life to these bad reviews, but you also might be missing out on an opportunity to have the person retract their negative comments simply because you took the time to address the issue.
This is perhaps your best opportunity to have your customer service team, if you have one, manage customer reviews, which could even lead to more positive reviews. Remember you’re dependent upon your brand’s online reputation, and negative reviews on Yelp, Google, or any number of websites, including social media sites, can greatly impact how your business is perceived, based on customer experience, good or bad, and can dramatically impact revenue and sales.
Examine Each Negative Review Carefully
Read any review at least twice. Does the Google review seem legitimate, meaning that the person actually had a meal at your restaurant or used your company’s services and have a legitimate beef? Does their review contain off-topic rants and have nothing to do with any specific service you provide? Does the review contain profanity?
Most websites frown upon inappropriate reviews, including posting multiple times, reviews containing any restricted content, as well as off-topic posts that don’t concern themselves with anything pertinent about their so-called “bad experience.”
There are plenty of online trolls, as well as competitors, or even a current or former employee, who will go on personal rants, post fake content about you to manipulate ratings, or post negative reviews having nothing to do with any actual customer’s experience.
People will even stoop to using different accounts on Google. This includes posting Google reviews, even fake reviews that are highly unfavorable or even posting a number of times in order to discredit you. It may even be someone who knows nothing about your business, but they did a Google search of your business listing and wrote a bad review. This is all done in an attempt to destroy your brand’s online reputation and perhaps boost competitors’ ratings. If you can prove this to be the case, then you can take steps to try to remove reviews that are untrue, or fake and solely posted to cause harm and possibly affect future purchases.
Google will take these intentionally malicious reviews into account and will rectify the situation, if requested, as long as your request falls within their terms and conditions regarding harmful and defamatory reviews.
On the flip side, if it is indeed a legitimate negative review, then you can take steps to ensure that this isn’t repeated by addressing the issue yourself and in turn, hopefully turning a dissatisfied customer into a happy one.
Steps Taken to Delete Google Reviews
It’s important that you do everything you can to get a bad or negative Google review about your establishment taken down. Each website or search engine has its own protocols for dealing with complaints or requests to remove negative reviews.
In Google’s case, a number of steps need to be taken to remove Google reviews, especially fake Google reviews. If you want to have a review removed, start by opening google maps and signing into your Google account:
- Open Google Maps.
- Search for your business.
- Choose to view your business reviews on Google.
- Select All Reviews.
- When you see the review (or reviews) you want to remove from Google, click the three dots in the top right corner.
- Select “Flag as inappropriate.”
Google should review your request, and if they side with you, for example, in the case of such restricted content in use, they should delete Google reviews flagged by you.
Ultimately, it’s actually good to have a mix of both good and bad reviews on Google and other sites that offer users the opportunity to leave reviews. In fact, having a negative review or two, if the majority of reviews are mostly positive ones, is a good thing. This illustrates the fact that you are a real business and not that your reviews were written by your friends or employees in order to say nice and positive things about your business. A couple of negative reviews show authenticity.
Even top-rated businesses in your area will have a small percentage of negative reviews appearing on Google, simply because it comes with the territory. It shows as a business owner that not everything is always perfect and that some things are just out of your control.
Removing Unfair Amazon Reviews
Keep in mind that not all negative feedback can be removed, so it may be wise to choose reviews that potentially could cause the most damage to your business and take the effort to have those removed.
For example, Amazon will review and remove feedback where the reviewer has used obscene language or included personally identifiable information pertaining to you, as both are a violation of their rules and standards for all reviews.
Transaction feedback that contains an Amazon product review can also be removed rather easily from your feedback profile because, according to Amazon guidelines, such reviews should be added to the product review section. If this is the case, simply visit Seller Central and open a new support case in support of your argument.
To request removal of a biased, fake, or unfair bad review, perform the following steps:
- Select Account Settings > Orders > Customer feedback problems
- Comment on why you believe the feedback should be removed, giving some details but keeping it concise — then send the message
No one likes to receive negative feedback, either in life or when on their ecommerce site. Getting negative feedback on your Amazon seller account can seriously impact your sales, profits, and Buy Box percentage, so you should act quickly to keep your high rating intact.
Social Media Can Have a Huge Impact on Businesses
Social media accounts are buzzing with millions of users and their comments can affect the reputations of individuals and businesses alike. Facebook is perhaps the most popular platform for businesses to show their brand’s worth, as well as attract new customers. So having negative content removed can be tantamount to your business’ good rating.
So, you might ask yourself, how can I delete a review on Facebook? There is no short answer and it’s not always an easy process; plus, you might have to wait in order to get the desired results.
- Go to the click menu and click reviews, and comment on the offensive review. On Facebook, page owners cannot simply remove individual reviews themselves, it requires intervention by the Facebook Team.
- Flag the review. To flag a review, navigate to the top-right of the post and select the arrow pointing downward.
- Wait for Facebook’s team to review the request, and if accepted, they will remove the review.
Seek the Help of a Professional Online Reputation Management Company
There may be plenty of reviews and comments online that you would like to remove, especially any inappropriate or bad reviews, but understand that the process can be rather tiring and time-consuming. You may, through a series of search results, find that the time you might have to spend in order to delete many Google reviews would be better spent on improving your business model or issues that have cropped up.
That’s why it’s recommended that you seek out an online reputation management (ORM) firm to help you remove inappropriate Google reviews or delete bad reviews. An ORM is experienced in dealing with negative Google reviews, as well as other sites, to help to delete reviews that are false or unflattering.
After all, you don’t want to have false or negative information that may seriously impact your ability to get potential customers on board, as well as the real possibility that you could even lose existing clients. They will make the extra effort to remove bad reviews so that any top reviews will stand out even more.
Contact ReputationSciences Today
Whether you are a business owner or an individual, you know that maintaining a great online reputation is a complex and challenging process. That process has to be comprehensive. It has to include not just your website, but a variety of outlets (such as review sites) that tend to rank highly across industry searches. But that doesn’t make it impossible.