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5 Ways to Spot and Remove Fake Google Reviews

Kevin James Curran
Jun 27, 2021 3:06:53 PM

Customer feedback is the currency of credibility in the world of business. They help you understand the needs of your target demographic and improve your product or service.

However, with the rise of online ratings, most companies have been encountering fake reviews. This can hurt your company, especially if you are a new or a small business. 


So, how do you spot fake Google reviews? And how do you remove them? 


This article explores all of that.


How much do reviews matter?


Think about the last time you bought something. Did you consult the customer reviews first? Most probably, yes. Consumers want reliability; they want to invest their money in something that other people trust, even if they are strangers on the internet.


Naturally, if there are any negative fake reviews against your business, potential customers can make decisions based on them. One convincing fake review can be enough to damage your enterprise. If you own a small business, it’s even worse.


Google reviews hardly need any verification processes. Anyone can post a review as long as they have an account. This has resulted in a surge of fake Google reviews, either from competitors trying to slander your reputation or from trolls who, well, just want to troll.


Either way, such bad players can damage the reputation of your brand, which is why it’s essential to know how to spot fake reviews.


How to spot a fake review?


There isn’t one foolproof way to spot fake Google reviews. However, there are certain trends these reviews tend to follow. We can focus on these trends to find the bad apples in the basket.


1. Research the reviewer & verify the account. 


The first step in spotting fake reviews is to research the reviewer and verify their account. Many times, fake reviews are written by accounts that have minimal presence on other websites or social media outlets. 


If the reviewer has a robust online presence and looks legit, this could be enough verification for you. But if something appears off or suspicious, it’s important to do further research and double-check before you make any decisions about removing the review.


2. Check Other Reviews


These reviewers often open fake accounts simply for the sake of posting multiple 1-star reviews. Hence, after the first step, your next best option would be to look for any other reviews this person might have posted. There are three broad things you may come across:


  • They have posted similar negative reviews for other companies as well. In that case, they are probably a troll.
  • They have only posted a negative review for your product, but seem to be overtly (emphasis on “overtly”) appreciative of some other competitive brand. This certainly looks dicey and you would need to look into the matter more.
  • They have other reviews, but those seem genuine. This can be because of several reasons. The review might be genuine, and in that case, you can look into the criticism more carefully. Or perhaps they simply posted it for the wrong company – a rare scenario, but it happens. You can post a reply asking further questions if this happens.


3. Notice the content, tone, and language used


As overcompensation for lies, fake Google reviews might use very simplistic and generic language, have lots of exclamation marks, or mention information completely irrelevant to the product.

report suspicious Google review

They might also be making entirely false accusations- let’s say about the material or a specific function of the product. If such accusations seem outright impossible, you will need to take steps to try to remove them.


Do they have a picture attached to their comment? Then it might be real. If they don’t have images on your review, but on others, it simply might be a biased customer or a competitor. You can further examine the content of the review again to get a clearer idea.


4. Empty Ratings


One-star ratings with no comments attached neither help you understand what went wrong nor help other customers get a clear idea. These might certainly be genuine since people can be too busy to really comment on anything. This is why it isn’t ideal to flag every single empty rating.


So, in order to give them the benefit of the doubt, you can crosscheck the name, and if it’s not there in your customer history, you can flag it. You may also ask them what went wrong in a reply, but if they don’t have time to post a comment, they probably won’t check your reply.

report a 1 star review

5. Use a review management tool to track reviews.


A review management tool can help you keep track of reviews on all your platforms, including Google. With a review management tool, you’ll be able to easily identify any suspicious or fake reviews and respond quickly — with one click, you can report the reviews and have them removed by Google. 


Additionally, these tools will provide analytics so that you can gain insights into customer sentiment and make sure your reviews reflect accurate feedback.


How to remove fake Google reviews?


Google's review policy does not give you the option for deleting reviews for the obvious reason that companies might simply be deleting legitimate criticism. But there are steps you can take to remove a fake review.


Firstly, you can flag the review as inappropriate. Check out Google’s review policy to see if the review violates any of the rules mentioned. Some of the things Google’s policy does not allow any reviewer to write are as follows:


  • Fake reviews (broad category)
  • Reviews that are intended to manipulate your Google star rating (Empty ratings might qualify for this one)
  • Irrelevant or “off-topic” reviews
  • Reviews that contain promotional content or links
  • Reviews with offensive language intended to bully or harass anyone
  • Reviews written by competitors, current or former employees, or yourself (the last one qualifies as a “conflict of interest” as well as the others)


Find out which one this specific review violates and then you can report it using the following steps:


  1. Sign in to your Google My Business account.
  2. Click on “reviews” from the left bar (for desktops), or find the “customers” tab and then click on the “reviews” option
  3. Pick the review you want to report and click on the three-button icon on the side.
  4. Select “flag as inappropriate”.
  5. If you do not get any response from Google within a few days, try contacting Google through the “support” option available on your account.
  6. Respond to the review.


It might take a while for Google to respond to your support request; so what do you do with the fake review during that time? 


As we have already mentioned, responding to these reviews would be the prudent thing to do. A professional, straightforward but polite reply can show your customers that you actually care.


Besides, responding quickly to any negative feedback is good for any business. It helps you improve your product and hence your business as a whole. This makes your platform reliable for users. 


It is also a good, if not perfect, way of judging whether a review is real. It deters fake reviews since they would hardly have any reply ready.


respond to a fake Google review

Flag suspicious reviews to Google for removal consideration


To make sure your business’s reputation isn’t damaged by fake or inaccurate reviews, you can report them to Google as spam, reviews in violation of Google’s policies, or as a conflict of interest. 


Once you’ve flagged the review as one of these suspected issues, you will be given more information on whether the review is eligible for removal according to Google policy. If they find it is in violation of their policies, it could be removed from your page.


Know what types of content are considered fake reviews. 


It’s important to know what types of content are considered fake reviews. Look for reviews that have multiple typos, reviews with generic information, links to other businesses, or reviews that contain hate speech or offensive language. 


If you notice any of these red flags in a review, then there’s a good chance it’s not legitimate and should be removed.


Respond quickly and gently to complaints or criticism.


Negative reviews should be treated carefully, as responding too harshly or too quickly can backfire. Acknowledging the customer’s feedback lets them know that you take their comments seriously, so take your time and craft a response that addresses their concerns calmly and professionally. 


Set yourself apart by offering thoughtful solutions or even a pathway for further communication, for example by providing users with an email or phone number.


Summing Up


Fake Google reviews can have a lasting, negative impact on your business reputation. Fortunately, you can take steps to tackle malicious feedback and protect your online image by identifying and removing fake reviews from your page. 


Some fake reviews do not get flagged even after several tries. That’s okay, even though it certainly feels unfair. As long as you are responding to negative criticism in general- perhaps to correct the mistakes or improve your business model- customers will notice that. 


Fake Google reviews cannot win a battle against good customer service.


As a business owner, we understand that you want to focus on daily operations. At NewReputation, we specialize in online reputation repair so you can focus on growing your business. 

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Do you want to improve how you look online?

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