Your Questions: Negative Google Places Ratings/Reviews

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Getting Rid of Negative Google Places ReviewsContinuing our Series, Your Questions, we received an email question today from Dr. Rob Garfinkel of Bellmore, NY.  His question was in regards to a ‘negative’ rating/review that was posted on his Google Places listing.

We chose this question because we get a lot of inquiries around the topic of negative reviews. How do I get rid of negative reviews? But someone just made something up, why can’t I take it down, etc.

A Review is a Review

As far as Google is concerned, a review is a review. Whether it is positive or negative, whether it is real or not, Google will show it.  Which reviews Google chooses to show is not based on how nice of a guy you are or how great your business is. Instead it is based, among other things, on whether the Google robot thinks it will be useful to the user. It is important to understand that there isn’t an actual person sitting at the other end approving (or disapproving) the reviews.

If someone has a legit BAD experience at your restaurant, who is Google to say, “ya know what, this review is bad for business so we aren’t going to show it”. And for the user, if all they saw were positive reviews everwhere on the internet, the whole integrity of the system would clapse.

His Question… How do I get rid of this review?

As you can see in the screen shot below, Dr. Garfinkel has plenty of positive reviews.  “a fabulous chiropractor”, “highly recommend”, etc are just of few snippets about Dr. Rob and his practice.  Unfortunately, on top of all these positive remarks there is 1 negative. Here’s the verbiage in case you can’t read it.

“FAKE RATINGS!!! SCAMMER!!! haven’t been to this guy but look at all his ratings… they are in a 2 day span in november… he obviously gave himself 14 good reviews! UNTRUSTWORTHY”

Negative Reviews on Google Places

Well that sucks, doesn’t it? It sure does, and unfortunately, it cannot be removed easily (if at all). But let’s take a quick look at the review from a user’s point of view.

“Haven’t been to this guy” – well then who are you to say if he’s any good or not. To us, this immediately kills all of this person’s credibility. Right away, anything else he has to say will be taken with a ‘grain of salt’. One comment he makes does raise a good point though.

“They are in a 2 day span…” – this is a good point. We spoke with Dr. Garfinkel and he acknowledges that he asked his patients in November to post reviews. There is NOTHING wrong with this at all. In fact, this is highly recommended. Having happy customers post reviews/ratings in multiple locations across the web will help build your presence.  However, it may have been a better idea for him to spread the reviews out a bit.

So can we remove the Negative Review?

The short answer is NO. As we said, a review is a review. However, there are a few steps that Rob can take in order to push down that review or downgrade it’s significance.

First Step: get more POSITIVE reviews. Continue to ask your happy patients to post good, genuine reviews. It would be advisable to spread these reviews out as well. Having posts made every few days/weeks. In addition, have reviews posted on sites OTHER than just Google (yelp, citysearch, etc)

Second Step: as the owner of the listing (having already Claimed the Listing) Rob should be able to respond to the comment within his Google Places profile. We always recommend taking the ‘high road’ when responding to negative reviews as you do not want to seem (or be) argumentative, immature, combative, etc. Instead, take the approach of, “we are sorry you feel this way and we hope we can make it better”. In this particular instance, we told Dr. Garfinkel to post something along these lines:

“Hello Jay, we are sorry you feel this way. Rest assured that these reviews are all authentic and genuine. We asked our clients to put up reviews, if they felt comfortable doing so, in an effort to increase our online exposure. We are sure that if you gave us a chance, you would find you would be just as happy as they were with our service”

This response is completely professional, honest and invites this person to “give us a chance”.  There is nothing wrong with telling people that you asked for reviews from your patients.

Third Step: We would suggest that Dr. Rob have his willing patients click “NO” and “Flag as inappropriate” next to where it says “was this review helpful” (annotated with the red arrows). This should let Google know that this review is not relevant and doesn’t offer the user a genuine representation of the business.

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