Spotting and reporting fake Google reviews: a step-by-step guide

fake google reviews

Spotting and reporting fake Google reviews: a step-by-step guide

Table of Contents

Introduction to fake Google reviews 

62 percent of customers claim to have spotted a fake Google review last year. The number is alarming in itself as it demonstrates the prevalence of fake Google reviews that possess the ability to tarnish a business’s online reputation. Every Google review that is posted about a business acts as a vital tool to acquire leads. It is unbiased feedback that helps potential leads make their purchase decisions. While positive Google reviews help build trust in a brand, negative reviews create doubt in the minds of potential customers. Irrespective of the nature of the reviews, fake reviews are the ones that do the most harm. It is usually the competitors that post fake negative reviews to bring businesses down. Since Google is a third-party site, businesses do not have the authority to take those reviews down. They need to appeal the fake reviews by following the reviewal process of Google. 

The question ultimately arises: How can you spot fake Google reviews? 

Well, here are some scenarios that you can also implement to understand the reviews that you have on your Google profile: 

  1. Spotting fake Google reviews is not usually easy as the reviewer would not want to know that the review is fake. If someone posts a fake review, they will not have anything specific to write about the service. Pay attention to the details that you see in a review. If the reviewer is beating around the bush, not explicitly mentioning what went wrong, and is talking about personal stories; then it is a fake review. Here is an example: 
  2. Creating fictional stories needs more hard work. So, for a reviewer also, writing a fake review would mean more use of simple language. They want to make the story look believable and write as if they’re recalling an experience. So, in that case, check whether you had a customer with that name and if you find nothing in your records, then the review posted is fake. 
fake Google review

3. Did you know that exclamation marks are the differentiating factors between deceptive and genuine reviews? A study from MIT justifies this fact. Always look for exclamation marks in your reviews. The more exclamation marks there are, the higher is the likelihood of the review being fake. 

4. Another way to check fake reviews is to see if the reviewer has reviewed any other business or any of your competitors. If they have reviewed more than one business, you’ll be able to see it on the map on the side panel as you click on their profile. If you see more reviews, know that yours is fake. 

5. Make sure to flag reviews that only show star rating and no comments. Since Google allows users to review businesses without having to add any description, people take advantage of the same and post lower star ratings. 

How to remove fake Google reviews? 

What can you do if you receive fake Google reviews? Can you save yourself from those? Above all, can you remove those fake reviews? Well, the best you can do is flag those, after which Google will follow up with you. 

As we mentioned before, you cannot remove reviews on your own as they’re being posted on a third-party site. So, to request the removal of fake Google reviews, follow these steps: 

Step-1: Check if the review is fake. 

Before you get into the whole process of flagging fake reviews, we’d like to warn you that there is no guarantee that the suspected fake review will be removed. Google takes its own time to determine the nature of the review and only takes it down if it is illegitimate. So, it is important to be absolutely sure of fake reviews before you go ahead and flag them. You can go through the aforementioned parameters to determine fake reviews. 

Step-2: Login to your GMB account 

To initiate the review removal process, log in to your Google My Business account and through that, you’ll be able to access all the reviews that people have posted about your business. 

Step-3: Go to the review tabs from the list of options 

Once you log in, you will be presented with a couple of options in the menu, from which, you need to select the review tab. Clicking on the same will direct you to all the reviews that people have left for your business. 

Step-4: Select the review that you want to flag 

Scroll through the list of reviews and select the review that you feel is fake. On the right-hand side of each review, there will be three dots. Click on those dots and you’ll see ‘flag as inappropriate’ as the option. Click on it and your selected review will be flagged. 

Step-5: Complete the follow-up survey post flagging

What you need to do next is tell Google why you have flagged the review. The survey that follows will offer you a list of options. Click the one that is the most relevant to your request for review removal. This is what the list will look like:

fake google review

Step-6: Hit submit

Once you’ve selected the most appropriate reason for flagging the review, just sit back and relax. If Google wants any justification with respect to flagging the reviews, they will contact you through email. 

Step-7: Make sure you respond to the review 

Whether the review is positive or negative, fake or genuine; make sure to respond to each review that you receive. Apologize to the customer for any inconvenience that your business might have caused, and ask how you can resolve the issue. If the review is fake, the chances are that you won’t receive a response. 

How to report fake Google reviews? 

Apart from the process of review removal requests through GMB, there is also an alternate way to report fake Google reviews: the Google review workflow page. From there, you can not just check the status of the reviews that you have already reported but can also report a new review that you feel is fake. Reviews that fail to comply with the Google Review Policies will be removed by Google. 

You need to simply head to the Google review workflow page and log in. While logging in, select your business from the listings. Select the location and then hit continue. 

You will be then prompted to select one option from the two shown in the image below: 

If you wish to check the status of your previously flagged reviews, you can opt for the first option. Once you click on it, the status of those reviews will be displayed. If you select the second option, you will be directed to a new page that will have a list of all the reviews. On the right side of each review, there will be an option to report it. You can simply select that option and you will be presented with the same reasons to report the review that we mentioned earlier. Select the option that seems the most relevant to you and hit confirm. Then just return to the initial workflow tab and click continue. Voila! Your review removal request is submitted. 

Conclusion 

Removing fake Google reviews is not as easy as it seems. Even if you flag a review, Google will take time to analyse it, see if it complies with its policies, and will only remove it if it finds any discrepancies. After you’ve done your part reporting the review, all you need to do is just sit back and wait for Google to follow up with you. While flagging reviews always remember to flag only those reviews that you think are fake. Just don’t randomly flag a review that highlights the weak points of your service. You can benefit from negative reviews big time. By improving on those areas, you can deliver excellent customer service and change the perception of those people. Whatever the case may be, always remember to respond to reviews, irrespective of their nature. Responding to reviews will demonstrate your brand in a positive light and will enhance your online presence. So, the next time you get a demeaning review, make sure to assess it and flag it without any hesitation. 

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