By |Published On: June 3, 2015|

Ever been the victim of a false, unjustified or spiteful review? Businesses now have more options than ever to challenge—and even remove—them. Learn about what you should do before challenging a negative review.

In 2013, I wrote about How to Combat Negative Reviews. In it, I outlined three steps:

  1. Determine if the review violates the community guidelines
  2. Respond to the review
  3. Solicit positive reviews to offset negative ones

Since then, review sites like Google and Yelp have come under scrutiny for allowing anonymous reviewers to post negative comments. As a result, they’ve revised their policies.

This means you have more options for challenging negative reviews than you did in the past. Here’s five questions to ask yourself before challenging that bad review.

1. Do I Deserve the Bad Review?

Before challenging the review, be completely honest with yourself. If you messed up, skip the next three questions. Respond to the review and make it right.

2. Is the Review Anonymous?

Google and Yelp no longer allow users to publish anonymous reviews. But sometimes an old one will pop up. When we challenged an anonymous Yelp review, they took it down immediately.

3. Is the Review Inaccurate?

The anonymous Yelp review we challenged was also incorrect, complaining about a product we don’t sell in a state where we don’t do business. Clearly, this person was never a customer of ours.

4. Is the Review Hateful?

A review containing hate speech, bullying, graphically violent or sexually explicit comments or content violates Google’s Community Guidelines. To report it, first flag the review as inappropriate:

Negative GooglePlus Review

Then complete and submit the policy violation form:

Report a Policy Violation

5. Is the Review Defamatory?

Defamation law seeks to strike a balance between one person’s right to freedom of speech and another’s right to not have their reputation damaged by false statements. But what qualifies as “false”?

Opinions Aren’t Considered Defamation

Opinions can’t be proved to be objectively false. So a comment like “the service man who repaired my air conditioning had B.O.” wouldn’t be considered defamatory. However, falsely claiming the technician installed used parts and charged for new ones is.

If the review is defamatory, then it violates the law, which is why Google placed this gray box in the policy violation form:

Get More Google Reviews

Clicking on the link allows you to submit a legal removal request to get the review taken down.

Managing Your Online Reputation

These changes have empowered businesses victimized by false or misleading reviews. But don’t stop there. Take control of your online reputation by claiming your Google listing and monitoring what others are saying about you online.

Claim Your Google Listing

There are many benefits to claiming your Google listing. One is that Google provides support to challenge reviews within the Google My Business dashboard.

Claiming your listing gives you access to your business information and lets you respond to reviews, good or bad. If you haven’t claimed your listings, do so right away. Or let us do it for you.

Monitor Your Reputation

With hundreds of online directories, review sites, and social media platforms, it’s impossible to know if and when someone posts a negative comment about your business.

Reputation monitoring tools let you know exactly what others are saying about you online, as soon as they say it, by scouring the web for all mentions of your brand and notifying you via alerts and detailed reporting.

Don’t Leave Your Reputation to Chance

Consumers can leave reviews about your business on websites you’ve never even heard of. And other consumers will believe those reviews as much as a personal recommendation. Need help? Call or contact us today.

Find Out More

Good reviews are useless if no one can find you online. Learn seven ways to be found by local consumers:


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