Google let’s just about anybody leave a review, whether you want them to or not. The idea is to provide transparent business reviews that people can trust, but like many ideas, it’s not always as good in practice as it is in theory. If you want to take control of your online reputation, here’s what you need to do.
Can I Turn Off Google Reviews for My Business?
You cannot simply turn off Google reviews. Sorry, but it’s just not something Google will let you do. We know this isn’t the answer you were hoping to find, but it’s the honest answer.
Back in the day, a business had to have a good reputation in the local community because word-of-mouth could make or break them. Now that businesses can conduct transactions on the Internet, so how can someone in Boise know whether a company in Tallahassee is trustworthy? Google reviews are meant to provide an online version of the old-fashioned word-of-mouth recommendations (or warnings).
And as the concept grew, however, people in Boise stopped using internet reviews just to judge companies on the other side of the world. They (and everyone else) started using the internet to evaluate local businesses, too.
The problem is that online reviews just aren’t the same thing as talking to someone in your community.
Why Are Review Such a Problem?
If someone stops you in the grocery store and asks you what you think of a business, you’ll probably be happy to spend 90 seconds telling them. But online reviews aren’t like that. It takes effort to leave a review; in most cases, a lot more than 90 seconds.
For that reason, most customers who’ve only had a satisfying experience can’t be bothered. They just don’t have any reason to leave a review unless their interaction was spectacular. Dissatisfied customers, on the other hand, feel cheated and aggrieved (rightly or wrongly), and they love the fact that the Internet allows them to “get back” at a business they think has hurt or offended them.
All this means it’s always going to be easier to get negative reviews than positive ones. Plus, you always have to worry about unscrupulous competition putting up fake reviews to try to destroy your reputation.
But Wait: You Need Google Reviews
You really do. The vast majority of consumers check online reviews before they do any business with a company. Where are they finding most of these online reviews? At Google.
This means that actually turning off Google reviews wouldn’t be a good thing for you. It would mean that, in Internet terms, you would basically no longer exist. That will destroy your business just as surely as bad reviews.
And Some Good News!
When you see a single bad review about your company, it hurts. After all, this is your company. It’s your baby. Your future. But there’s some good news here: consumers are much savvier about reviews than they used to be.
For one thing, they are getting better at separating genuine reviews from fake ones and reviews by people who have an ax to grind. For another, consumers are now aware that some businesses fake their reviews to boost their reputations artificially, so buyers these days won’t trust you if they don’t see a few negative reviews.
The sweet spot is somewhere between 3 1/2 and 4 1/2 stars. Anything under 3 1/2, and most people are going to avoid you. Anything over 4 1/2, and people will assume all those good reviews are fake.
How to Take Back Control and Get Transparent Business Reviews
You can’t just turn off Google reviews, but that doesn’t mean you’re powerless. There are things you can do.
It doesn’t matter whether a review is negative or positive: when a business responds to that review, people sit up and take notice. For one thing, this tells them that you’re real and care about what people think about you. For another, it gives you the opportunity to turn happy customers into loyal ones and potentially fix a problem with an unhappy customer.
Even if you can’t actually turn that customer’s attitude around, if you respond well to a negative review, other readers will notice and think better of you.
Dealing With Honest Negativity
Sometimes, you just mess up (or at least your people do). When that happens, be polite, admit that the customer’s experience wasn’t what you strive to provide, and offer to work with the customer to put things right.
Dealing With Fake Reviews
Some people post when they’ve never actually visited your business at all. You can attempt to have fraudulent reviews flagged by Google, but if they won’t take it down, you can still do a lot for your reputation by replying with something simple like this:
“Hi, Kris. I’m the manager, Bill. I’ve talked with our staff about your experience, but nothing like what you’re describing took place. We also have no record of you ever visiting us. I’m getting in touch with you privately to find out more.”
Dealing With Lying Reviews
Finally, sometimes you have to deal with unreasonable people or those who want to blame you for their own problems. When this happens, stay polite, but don’t be afraid to tell the truth.
State facts only, avoid foul language, mention that you have proof if you do (like receipts, witnesses who intervened, or security cam footage), and avoid making any personal judgment comments on things like the person’s character, looks, or intelligence.
It might not feel as satisfying as “letting them have it,” but potential customers who are sizing you up will take notice and think well of you.
Flag a Google Review
Log into your My Business page to flag any review to Google. They will consider taking down anything with defamatory language, personal attacks, or that you can make a good case is fraudulent.
Ask Reviewers to Change Their Review
If someone has genuinely had a negative experience with you, and you are able to fix it, don’t be afraid to ask them afterward if they would at least consider amending their review to let people know that you worked with them to make things right.
Need help? AgencyHub is your source for all the products you need to take charge of your content, SEO, and online reputation, whether you’re a business owner or an agency managing the online life of other companies. Visit us at AgencyHub today to find out how our expertise can make your life easier and help you grow.