Can I delete negative Google reviews?

User reviews, particularly in Google search results, have an undeniable influence on your business: potential buyers often search online for the opinions of others who have bought your products or used your services. But what happens when, instead of a well-founded criticism, a disproportionately negative or even intentionally malicious review is given, damaging your company's image? Obviously, you'd simply like the criticism to go away. In some cases, this is possible.

Why are Google reviews important for your business?

Google continues to dominate the search engine market. No wonder: the IT group's declared aim has always been to provide its users with the best possible search results for their queries. That's why Google is constantly working on developing its search engine.

One result of this effort is the "Knowledge Graph", introduced in 2012: if, for example, one searches for a specific company name, a clear summary of all the important information about the company searched for, including photos, address, contact details and opening hours, appears to the right of the search results.

In addition, it is possible to view all Google ratings (from 1 to 5 stars) and reviews that the company has received from customers and business partners. The same information is also displayed in the company's search results on Google Maps, provided a corresponding entry has been created.

The impact of these reviews should by no means be underestimated: according to a recent study by market research company Growth from Knowledge (GfK), 66.4% of those surveyed used online reviews as the basis for their purchasing decisions, and 31.9% said they were strongly influenced by them.

Today, reviews on search engines and comparison portals are considered almost as important to your company's sales as direct recommendations from friends and acquaintances.

Company risk: negative Google ratings

Just as positive reviews can have a positive effect on your business, it's also true that negative reviews can have a negative effect on your business, as on the one hand they drive potential customers away, and on the other they can also affect your Google ranking.

The danger of negative reviews should not be underestimated, as experience has shown that unhappy or angry customers are the ones who report their experiences the most on the internet.

Since positive reviews are also subject to a kind of general suspicion of counterfeiting or buying from dubious service providers, they often enjoy less credibility than negative reviews. A single 1-star rating can cost many potential customers who then turn to the competition.

Negative Google reviews: what you can do

As soon as your company profile is rated, you'll be automatically notified by e-mail via Google My Business. If the review is negative, you should immediately take a screenshot, in case you need proof. At this stage, it's all a question of timing: the negative review is visible to your potential customers, which has negative consequences for your business. So you need to act quickly.

Responding to Google reviews

First of all, as a responsible, customer-oriented entrepreneur, you should always try to get in touch with the author of the review. You can write a comment directly under the review: as it will be displayed publicly, make sure you remain friendly and objective.

If it's one of your customers or business partners, your aim should always be to help them have a pleasant customer experience, at least in retrospect: apologize for any errors or inconsistencies and, if the criticism seems appropriate, seek a joint solution to the problem. Show your regret, but don't allow yourself to be blackmailed.

The biggest problem isn't even that negative reviews of your products and services become public (after all, no company is perfect); the real risk comes from the fact that virtually any user with a free Google account can post a review, even if they've never dealt with your company. They can also post their review completely anonymously, for example by entering a false name and not taking a profile photo. Google does not verify the identity of its users, and cannot know if and how they have interacted with your company.

If the issue is more complex, or if sensitive data is part of the communication, you can also suggest that the customer contact you via the messaging function in your My Business account, or by telephone. Bear in mind, however, that a publicly resolved dispute can have the greatest advertising impact and signal your direction to the customer. You can also persuade the reviewer to reconsider your initial review and modify it accordingly.

If the person who wrote the review cannot be reached and you feel that the negative review is well-founded or inappropriate, try contacting Google directly.

Contact Google

After several data protection scandals and, more recently, with the entry into force of the European Data Protection Regulation, the internet giant seems to have realized that it needs to take users' interests seriously in order to avoid complaints and disputes. If you don't agree with a review on Google, the service offers you several means of action.

Firstly, there's the "report flag", located right next to the corresponding review, which you can use to report content as "inappropriate". What is considered inappropriate is defined in Google's guidelines. For example, ratings are not allowed if they:

  • Contain obscene, vulgar or offensive language;
  • Express hatred towards minorities;
  • Are repeated several times with the same content;
  • Are created with different Google accounts for the same company;
  • Are created with the aim of manipulating the final rating;
  • Are not based on genuine personal experience.

As the last two points are particularly difficult to prove, it is unlikely that the assessment will be cancelled for this reason. The situation seems particularly desperate for one-star reviews without further comment, which contain no text and therefore cannot contradict the guidelines.

You can also contact Google Support, which can be reached by phone or chat. Even if the customer service representative can't carry out a deletion, he or she can review your request and forward it "to the appropriate department", provided it's a significant violation of Google's policies.

The final and most promising possibility is Google's legal department, which is responsible not only for internal guidelines, but also for all other legal issues. To be heard, however, you need to fill in a fairly detailed online form. In addition, Google requires the user to be able to indicate the precise legal provisions that would justify the cancellation of the disputed rating. So, to be on the safe side, it's a good idea to familiarize yourself with the current legal situation.

Familiarize yourself with the legal situation

Customer reviews and comments are generally protected by the right to freedom of expression. So you can't prevent someone from reviewing you on the Internet and making that review public and accessible to others. Nor do you have the right to have an unpleasant review deleted.

The situation is different if the review in question meets one of the following two conditions:

  • It asserts false facts: i.e. it misrepresents objective and demonstrable circumstances and is therefore defamatory.
  • It expresses defamation: such criticism exists when the opinion, instead of addressing the problem, aims exclusively to insult and denigrate the entrepreneur or his company.

Reviews that fall into these categories are not only not protected by constitutional law, they are actually prohibited. This means that Google must compare the respective author with the position of the criticized company and request a statement. Google is then obliged to remove the notice. So it's always worth asking whether a negative review is a lie and whether the author was a customer or business partner of the company.

The problem lies in clearly distinguishing between a factually false statement or slanderous criticism and a legitimate value judgment protected by freedom of expression. For example, a subjective judgment such as "I found the atmosphere in the restaurant unpleasant because the red light was really annoying" may be inadmissible if there are no lamps emitting red light in the restaurant.

On the other hand, an argumentative and exaggerated statement such as "The consultant was absolutely stupid and incompetent" can be admitted, provided that the author of the assessment presents an understandable justification, such as "He didn't know the common technical terms and wasn't able to provide a clear answer to my question, even after several attempts".

Choose a module that lists all web reviews on a single platform

To better meet the needs of companies concerned about their online image, Certishopping offers an innovative solution: a centralized module that brings together all web reviews on a single platform. This approach not only enables efficient management of customer feedback, but also the detection and reporting of defamatory reviews.

1. Centralization of online reviews

Some reviews are scattered across various platforms, making it difficult for companies to track and respond to every single customer feedback. Certishopping offers a centralized module that compiles all reviews from different sources on a single, easy-to-access platform. This enables companies to better understand customer feedback and react quickly. Certishopping offre un module centralisé qui compile tous les avis provenant de différentes sources sur une seule plateforme facile d’accès. Cela permet aux entreprises de mieux comprendre les retours de leurs clients et de réagir rapidement.

2. Efficient customer feedback management

The Certishopping platform not only collects reviews, it also offers advanced management tools. Companies can categorize reviews, track trends, and implement continuous improvement strategies based on customer feedback. This proactive approach helps companies to constantly improve their products and services.

3. Detecting and reporting defamatory reviews

A company's reputation can be seriously compromised by defamatory reviews. Certishopping incorporates advanced malicious content detection algorithms, enabling you to quickly identify reviews that could damage your image. What's more, the platform offers automated reporting capabilities, simplifying the process of protecting your online reputation.

Certishopping is the complete solution for managing online reviews. By choosing Certishopping, businesses can benefit from complete visibility over their reviews, advanced management tools, and protection against defamatory reviews. The platform adapts to all sizes of business, offering optimum flexibility and customization.

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