How Does a Business Deal with Fake Reviews?

Joined
Mar 28, 2019
Messages
57
Bit late, but a tip for responding to potentially fake negative reviews is to respond to them the same way you would to a normal upset customer. Acknowledge their issue, apologize, and offer them a way to contact you, especially a specialized help email address. The benefit of this is two-fold: On the off chance the review is real, it won't upset them any further, and it makes you look professional and thoughtful to people browsing your reviews. While the temptation to call out people who post fake reviews is very real, spilling the tea only makes you feel better for a moment. Actual customers rarely want to see that kind of behaviour and it runs the chance of making them so uncomfortable they go elsewhere. When I see a business has responded to a negative review in a thoughtful way and attempted to make it right, it gives me confidence they'd do the same for me. For many customers, the fake reviews matter less than the way the business conducts itself in response to them.

Best of luck with getting these removed!
 

LocalSEODat

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Joined
Sep 11, 2015
Messages
27
Thank you @Annika Neudecker that's sound advice! What I did in my replies were not angry just curious facts about their name and profiles. Left an email. And as the attacks became more frequent, starting numbering them. We have three left that we'll submit to Google next week. Hope it stops, it's been very distracting and stressful.
 

LocalSEODat

Member
Joined
Sep 11, 2015
Messages
27
This is like Local Search Groundhog Day for me. 4 Fake Reviews this morning.

I sent DM to GMB Support and replied to all the reviews and flagged them as ad spam.

That's 16 fake reviews since Sat.Aug31st, it's only Sept26th.

Has anyone ever seen anything like this with a client before??
 
Joined
Oct 13, 2019
Messages
2
This is like Local Search Groundhog Day for me. 4 Fake Reviews this morning.

I sent DM to GMB Support and replied to all the reviews and flagged them as ad spam.

That's 16 fake reviews since Sat.Aug31st, it's only Sept26th.

Has anyone ever seen anything like this with a client before??
I have a customer who has had a vindictive competitor post over 400 fake reviews over a 9 month period!! While we are trying to pursue legal action it has taken a significant toll on his business.
 

keyserholiday

Administrator
Local Search Expert
LocalU Faculty
Joined
Jul 27, 2017
Messages
380
I have a customer who has had a vindictive competitor post over 400 fake reviews over a 9 month period!! While we are trying to pursue legal action it has taken a significant toll on his business.
I’d definitely contact a lawyer and pursue legal action.
 

LocalSEODat

Member
Joined
Sep 11, 2015
Messages
27
That's too stressful @keyserholiday !! We're at 31 and over 3 months now. 4 are within last 2wks. We got 27/31 removed, so that's the bright side I guess but daily stress, esp for the owners.
 
Joined
Apr 22, 2020
Messages
3
In our experience, flagging fake reviews to Google in the hope of removal is a complete and utter waste of time.

Here's what happened with our latest - a 1 star wordless rating by a Twitter troll who admitted it was a fake review and who has never submitted any other reviews.

We messaged Google with detailed explanation and screenshots from Twitter of the perpetrator admitting what he'd done and gloating about it.

First response from Google

However, the review have been thoroughly vetted with the Google Policies and were found not to violate any of them.
Our response

We pointed out - reiterating the evidence already supplied to Google - that this was a clear breach of at least two of those policies:

(1) Spam and fake content

Your content should reflect your genuine experience at the location and should not be posted just to manipulate a place’s ratings. Don’t post fake content, don’t post the same content multiple times, and don't post content for the same place from multiple accounts.


This review clearly breaches that policy. It is not the poster’s genuine experience as he has never had any experience with the company.
(2) Impersonation

We don’t allow individuals to use Google Maps to mislead others. This applies to deceptive content as well as false representations.


The review is clearly intended to mislead others and is deceptive. Again, the poster has never had any involvement whatsoever with the company, he is posting simply to make a false representation of the company’s competence.
Google's response

We understand the inconvenience you are facing and we are doing our best to resolve this for you. Google uses automated spam detection measures to remove reviews that are probably spam. These spam prevention measures helps to improve people's experiences on Google by ensuring that the reviews they see are authentic, relevant and useful and we were not able to find any spam content in the reviews you were referring to. When we have performed the checks, we found the review to be experience by the customer and Google doesn't get involved when merchants and customers disagree about facts, since there's no reliable way to discern who's right about a particular customer experience.
This is clearly nonsense. What checks could they possibly have performed that would have established that a wordless rating by a one-time reviewer reflects "genuine customer experience"? And, in this case, from a reviewer who is on the public record admitting that this is a malicious confection??!

We reiterated all of this to Google:
  • We understand the inconvenience you are facing and we are doing our best to resolve this for you.
I genuinely appreciate your prompt replies. However, Google does not appear to be doing anything specific that would actually resolve this problem. Am I wrong?

  • Google uses automated spam detection measures to remove reviews that are probably spam.
Your last email assured me that the fake review had been “reviewed thoroughly” against Google’s published policies. That does not appear to have any substance. Anda thorough review is a mile away from “automated spam measures”. Further: (1) how can “automated spam measures” possibly identify a malicious manual action?, and (2) how does the posting of a single 1 star review with no text by a user who has never posted any other review not trigger those “automated spam measures”?

  • These spam prevention measures helps to improve people's experiences on Google by ensuring that the reviews they see are authentic, relevant and useful
I have provided you with clear context and evidence that shows unequivocally that this review is neither authentic nor relevant. It is also very difficult to comprehend how it could possibly be considered “useful”.

  • … and we were not able to find any spam content in the reviews you were referring to.
The “content” is a malicious 1 star rating without even any explanatory text. How can a responsible review service possibly consider that as anything other than spam?

  • When we have performed the checks, we found the review to be experience by the customer
That makes no sense. I have provided clear evidence that the poster has never been a customer and that he has never had any experience with the company.

  • .. and Google doesn't get involved when merchants and customers disagree about facts, since there's no reliable way to discern who's right about a particular customer experience.
Again, the poster has never been a customer. There has been no customer experience. There is no disagreement about facts. You have seen the poster taunting us about his fake review on Twitter. You know that Twitter deleted his account because of his abusive behaviour. You know that his employer disciplined him for this behaviour. I suggest it is pretty clear “who’s right” in this context.
Final response from Google

We understand you have a query regarding review associated with your business profile. We would like to inform you that we have escalated the concern to the team and have received response from the team that the review cannot be removed as it does not violate Google My Business policies.

If you have further questions, revert to this email and would be glad to address them for you.

For more information, you can read through our New Google My Business feature and Google My Business Help Center to understand the product better.
After that great big "f*ck you" from Google we gave up. They clearly don't care. It looks like their systems are tuned to detecting false positive reviews only. They are not bothered about the the way that false negatives impact on businesses nor that allowing such practice to be rampant discredits the whole Google Review platform. If you try to get resolution you'll be fobbed off with boilerplate BS and false platitudes. After all, the only reliable mitigation for an affected business is to try to get lots more positive reviews and/or to spend on Google Ads, both of which work out well for Google.
 

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