Competitor trying to defame clinic with fake reviews :(


HurricaneK8

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I hate when people have nothing better to do than to try to ruin good, hardworking peoples reputations because they can't seem to build themselves one of their own! </rant>

Our client has been a victim of defamation by a competitor twice now. It happened over 6 months ago on Yelp, and we were able to get them to clean up the reviews. Now the competitor has taken to Google and figured out how to leave multiple 1 * reviews from accounts with fake names.

Here is the page: https://plus.google.com/108792736735440567571/about

The fake accounts are: Lilly Wa, Irene Bn, Maria Antsi, Colleen A, and Darci L

If you look at the accounts, they are all new accounts with 1 positive review on a coffee shop or something small and local, and then a 1* review on Dr. Judys page. We've notified Google and were told these reviews don't break any of their guidelines, which is untrue as it's easy to see from the account activity that they're fake. They have also looked through all their patient files, just to be sure, and these names do not match any patients within the last 25 years!

We've flagged them, emailed Google, and spoken to them on the phone. Is there anything else we can do? We've advised the client to respond to the reviews with this message:
"We have checked our records and this person has never been to our
office. Someone is trying to defame our clinic and we have been in
touch with Google to get these fake reviews taken down. If you would
like to see photos of happy patients with veneers, please visit our
smile gallery at Before and after photos of cosmetic dentistry, porcelain veneers, dental implants and more! or call
us and we would be pleased to give you some references from our many
satisfied clients, with whom you can chat personally."

We also advised her to keep asking patients for reviews to hopefully push these ones down, but whenever someone comments with a positive review- the spammer comes back with another 1 * from a fake account.

Any other advise would be greatly appreciated!
 
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I think the only thing you can do is respond to the reviews in a polite and respectful manner. As many have said (Mike Blumenthal, Phil Rozek - to name a few experts on this subject), people usually have a pretty high BS meter when reading reviews. If they look fake, then people will most likely ignore them.

Keep getting actual patients to write reviews after they visit and be proactive about it. Flood the page with good reviews from real customers, and people will be able to pick the fake ones out and ignore them.

Personally, I only pay attention to reviews in the 2-4 star range. Those typically will give me the most realistic view about the business. 5* just seems too happy and too likely the review is inflated, 1* is usually a really angry customer after an off day or something. If I see a lot of 4* reviews, then I feel like those are honest and are pretty accurate how the business functions normally.
 

HurricaneK8

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Thanks...
We're already advised the patient to do both those things, as was in my post.

"We also advised her to keep asking patients for reviews to hopefully push these ones down, but whenever someone comments with a positive review- the spammer comes back with another 1 * from a fake account."

So basically the spammer is sitting there watching for another 4-5* review, and then posts another fake one. The client doesn't want to play the "cat and mouse" game anymore, and quite frankly I don't blame her. It takes alot more effort to get a real review than it does to pop in and post a fake 1* review.

I guess we just keep flagging them to Google and hope someone with a brain actually sees they're fake and takes them down :/

---------- Post Merged at 08:29 AM ---------- Previous Post was at 08:28 AM ----------

Typing too fast for my brain today! We've* already advised the *client to do both those things
 

HurricaneK8

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Thanks :)
It's so frustrating because it's not really our job as an SEO to be involved in the reputation management side, but it is a side-effect of being a top ranked clinician-- people are going to try to take you down! I feel for the client, she's having a really hard time not taking it personally, as she's very old-school and knows little about the internet (and its dark side).
 
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Ugh, I hate to see this. Review fraud--whether for or against a given business--is pissing in the proverbial pool. And dammit it's my pool! ;)

Ha ha, I'm kidding, but not really.

The only bit I would add to the discussion above is that the owner responses in a case like this really ought to be more vigilant. I see that of the 5 or so fake one-star reviews, only one has an owner response attached. The response is good and calls into question the legitimacy of that one review, but by singling it out, it may make the other 4 fake reviews seem legitimate by default!

As for being an SEO doing Reputation Management work, I hear that a lot. Time to invent a new service tier and upsell this client to it! Seriously, issues like this are huge pain points, do real damage, and require the services of a professional. Best if that includes you managing her G+ account for her, too, to address the lack of vigilance.
 

Chris_Tax

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Negative SEO done by a competitor is taken very seriously by the courts. My nephew in law had bad reviews writed by a competitor. He got an audit trail who did it and went after them, I would get some legal advice here. I do not think sites should allow any refers. Fraud is too easy. SEO etc will punish you big time for bad reviews
 

HurricaneK8

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We've actually written a generic response to for the reviews, we're just waiting for her OK to reply. We want a generic response, because repsonding to each one personally sounds like each profile is a different person-- which they're not.

Here's what I suggested:
"This person has never been to our office and our records show that veneers have never been created for anyone who goes by this name. Someone is trying to defame our clinic and we have been in touch with Google to get these fake reviews taken down. If you'd like to see photos of happy patients with veneers, please visit our smile gallery at Before and after photos of cosmetic dentistry, porcelain veneers, dental implants and more!"

We've gone to our google contact AGAIN and he agrees they should be taken down. He's going to try again to convince the team that deals with reviews.

Thanks for everyones responses :)
 

HurricaneK8

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profiles-support@google.com seemed to work!!! YAY!!! It looks like all but 1 review has been taken down.

We also flagged them & had contacted Google Support, but they had communicated that they would not take them down.

Thanks for everyones help :)
 
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So sorry to hear it! I feel your rage. I wish there was a way to exact justice on the perpetrators. Negative review spammers are THE lowest form of life.
 

johncrenshaw

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You guys just need to get more positive reviews. In 25 years I'm sure this dentist can find enough patients to completely overwhelm any negative reviews.

Posting neg reviews at scale is expensive - really expensive. One or two here and there maybe not so much, but if this is a real competitor paying someone to post negative reviews, they can't possibly keep it up without having a seriously huge system of IPs (likely botnets) that could be worth quite a bit if you were willing to do that so I don't see someone charging less than a LOT to utilize that network.

Overwhelm them with positive reviews and I'd be really surprised if they could keep up.
 

HurricaneK8

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Well it's funny you say that, because every time we get a positive review posted-- another negative one pops up!

Interestingly, she got a call from a reputation management company right after the first bad review. I find it very suspicious that this company happened to find the bad/fake review the same week it was posted, and then when she turned down the services her page exploded with negative reviews (all but 1 taken down by Google, until last week when another one popped up).

Has anyone else heard of a reputation management company doing this (posting fake, negative reviews and then trying to scam people to pay them to get them removed) ? She can't remember the companys name :(
 

johncrenshaw

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Right but you guys only have 6 reviews total on Google. Get a lot more - like I said, writing lots of fake reviews and doing so at scale is expensive and complicated.

Get 20 or 30 reviews and I'd be really surprised if any fake posters were able to keep up.
 

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