Getting bad or 1* reviews for your business online can be extremely stressful and frustrating, particularly when you know that they’re fake customer reviews being posted, as the reviewer has never been a client of yours or never even approached your company. The good news is that each platform has its own policy specifically dedicated to getting fake online reviews removed. However, there is a certain process you have to go through for each platform whether it’s Google or Trustpilot before the review can be removed and these are often different from one another and very specific. In this post, we will be particularly focusing on how to remove a fake Google review and also how to get Trustpilot fake reviews removed too, with expert tips on initial damage control when it comes to fake online reviews across all platforms.
Initial damage control for fake online reviews
There are three things you need to remember when you are initially seeing a fake review being posted on your online business listing:
1. Always respond
Although you may be tempted to broadcast to the world that you are being trolled, or targeted by a fake review or set of reviews, you must remain in control and it’s up to you to control the conversation. You need to respond with the same tone as you would a legitimate negative review, thanking the customer for the review, and asking them to email you for further assistance. If you don’t have any record of the reviewer ever using your services or approaching the business, then you can put this in the response. However, be sure to be careful of your tone. Here is an example of a response you could give:
Thank you for your review; unfortunately, we do not have any record of anyone under your name ever using the services you mentioned in the review, or being a client of our company in the past. We always take any legitimate customer reviews seriously and are always happy to help these customers. If you would like to please email us on … with any previous correspondence or record of sale you have obtained from us, we can discuss the issues in your review further. Kind regards, ….
If you would like to know more details on how you can craft the perfect response to negative reviews that are legitimate, then please read our guide on how to respond to negative business reviews.
2. Stay calm and think of the bigger picture
Furthermore, panicking and going on a witch-hunt for these online trolls isn’t a productive initial response, if possible and relevant you can try and bring these fake reviewers to justice once you’ve done some damage control and feel calmer.
Instead, it’s a much better use of your time whilst reviews are under investigation by the relevant platforms (explanation to follow), that you try and bury the fake online reviews with legitimate positive ones. Sending an email or campaign to past or current clients/customers, inviting them to review your service on the same platform as the fakes, can have a great effect on the overall rating and also help to move the latest negative fake reviews much further down the page.
3. Remember your current and future customers
This is an important point, no matter how many fake reviews you are receiving. It’s important that every move you make to either get them removed and buried is always carried out thinking about how things look to your current and future customers. Although the fake reviews may feel personal and you may be worrying how it will affect business, you need to think of how things look from a different perspective.
For example, if you’re receiving numerous fake reviews across multiple listing locations you have for your branches, then you need to remember that a potential customer realistically is only going to be looking at one location. Therefore, they will be none the wiser to any of the other multiple fake reviews. In addition, take a look at your listing’s rating on the review platform as it’s more likely that a potential customer will look at this rather than reading through every single review.
If they do scroll and spot the negative fake reviews as a first impression you’ve given the best you can give by providing a professional response to the review, whilst also highlighting to the reader that the review they have read could be fake, as you have stated politely you have no record of ever dealing with them. Potential customers are not as easily dissuaded as you think, particularly after you’ve launched your collection of legitimate recent reviews.
How to remove a fake Google review
So, as mentioned in the damage control section, the way to remove a fake Google review is to flag it to Google, for them to then investigate whether the review is in breach of their policy.
In order to flag a review, you need to click “read review” on the email you get from Google initially notifying you of the review, or you can access the review via your reviews section on your Google My Business (GMB) page.
You can flag the review as inappropriate via the three vertical dots on the top right corner of the review.
You need to follow the steps, choosing an option as to how it violates Google’s policy, entering details of who is reporting the review, and how you are related to the business.
As part of the policy, Google gives a timeframe of 7 days for the review to be investigated (previously 72 hours) and they should get back to you within this time frame, even if it’s to update you that the investigation needs to be extended.
However, there is a chance they may not get back to you, and your review may not be removed. If this happens, you need to go to the support section on GMB and follow the steps to request a call from Google. They call within 1 minute, and you can explain everything to the advisor. They will send you an email after the call. This email is your tool to communicate with Google over this case, and they will escalate the case for you to a specialist team via this email, for you to then hear a determining response of the team’s outcome from the same advisor within 24-48 hours.
If the fake review isn’t getting removed there is another level of escalation that can be taken in the form of a legal removal form. However, we would only recommend doing this if you are familiar with the law or are able to seek advice from someone who is, this will be very useful. Part of the process requires you to cite specific provisions of law which identify why the content is unlawful in your description on the form. You will also need to provide URLs for all the content you have flagged. From our experience of this, you may not hear back from Google regardless of the outcome, so be sure to monitor the reviews yourself via a spreadsheet and also request a call (mentioned previously) to try and get more information on the matter if you haven’t heard anything.
Removing a fake Trustpilot review
As part of Trustpilot’s policy whilst they are investigating reviews, they blur or distort the review so that they can’t be viewed by the public. Again when it comes to investigating the fake reviews, Trustpilot has its own guidelines it follows to determine whether a review gets removed or not.
When you initially report a review by clicking the report button on the review a screen pops up as below:
Before you continue, you need to be aware of what details and reasoning you give to Trustpilot if you continue, as it will be made public on the distorted review as to why it’s under investigation.
You will then receive an email from Trustpilot once you’ve reported the review confirming the report, they will also mention that reviewing the report may take several days. In this time, they will contact the reviewers to see if they have any evidence to support their review. If you have any evidence to support your claim that the reviews are fake, such as the language being copied and pasted from a review they’ve left elsewhere, then email it back to Trustpilot as this will help your case.
Trustpilot will contact you with the outcome once the investigation is over, which could be several days later, with an update on whether the removal of the review complies with their policy and their decision to remove the remove or not.
Other review platforms
It’s worth checking a host of other review platforms, ones you may not even realise you are listed on. For example, Yell’s policy once reviews are reported to them as fake, is to have the removed temporarily while they investigate they then email you with the outcome. As many of the platforms state, it can take several days to get a fake online review removed, so patience and trust in the relevant processes are key. While you wait, you can do the appropriate damage control, so that quick, positive changes are happening. This will make you feel much better about the reviews in general and will give you peace of mind that you are doing all you can to help the situation.
We have a wealth of experience in how the digital marketing environment works, with the knowledge of the best methods to rectify frustrating situations. For more information on the services we offer and how we can help you grow your digital reach, please contact us.