Google Managing Your Online Reputation: Should You Delete Google Reviews? 14 min read MuteSix • January 3, 2022 Back to Articles Managing Your Online Reputation: Should You Delete Google Reviews? Every business will encounter a negative Google review at one point or another. The real issue is how you deal with a bad review or any form of negative feedback, really. Deleting the review of your business to edit your company’s public image is definitely not encouraged, so what can you do? Here are some tips on how you can effectively manage your online reputation with Google Reviews. Introduction to Google Reviews Google Reviews is one of, if not the, most reputable online review systems out there. The purpose of Google Reviews is to provide consumers with trustworthy information about a business based on the experiences of existing customers. An unhappy customer at a business often leaves a negative review, and these reviews sometimes include personal rants and even offensive language. However, rest assured, Google’s review policies can help protect companies from harassment, online bullies, and other issues. Google’s review system is based on a five-star scale, with five stars representing excellent service, four stars representing great service, three stars representing average service, two stars representing poor service, and one star representing awful service. How Do Google Reviews Work? The basic premise of Google Reviews is simple: A customer navigates to your Google business profile, clicks “Write a Review,” gives you a star rating, writes a comment, and adds a picture. However, the business side of Google Reviews is a bit more complicated. In the past, Google considered a number of different factors when calculating your star rating, using a concept known as the Bayesian average (a method that estimates the mean of a population with outside information). These days, however, Google uses the-all-simple arithmetic mean to calculate your star rating. Why Are Google Reviews Important? But why should you care about receiving that 4.3-star rating on a platform on your Google My Business account? Here are some reasons why Google Reviews are so important and why you should take them seriously as a business owner: 1. People Trust Google Reviews For starters, Google Reviews are important because they are highly trusted by consumers. But don’t just take our word for it — we have data to back it up. Research shows that 91% of people regularly or occasionally read online reviews on sites like Google. Additionally, 84% of people trust reviews as much as they would trust a personal recommendation from a friend. Finally, 68% of people form an opinion about a business after reading between one and six reviews. Younger demographics specifically place a lot of trust in Google Reviews, as 91% of 18-34-year-olds trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, with 93% of people in this age group saying that online reviews influence their purchasing decisions. Furthermore, 30% of shoppers under the age of 44 looks at reviews for every single purchase they make. Take social proof, for example. The power of social proof is undeniable. When shoppers are browsing products or businesses online and can’t test-drive them for themselves, they are left to rely on the past experiences of others. 2. Google Reviews Help Bring in New Customers Positive Google Reviews help to bring in new customers. Again, this assertion is backed up by data. According to a study, just a 0.1% increase in your Google star rating can increase your conversion rates by 25%. Having a star rating above 3.7 subsequently improves your chances of conversion to 120%. Generally speaking, consumers tend to look for businesses with at least a four-star rating on Google. Not only that, but 58% of consumers said they would pay more to support a company that boasts good reviews online. Alternatively, negative reviews can detract potential customers from supporting your business. 94% of consumers say that they’ve avoided purchasing from a business simply due to negative reviews, and 80% of consumers have changed their minds about a planned purchase after reading negative reviews. 3. Google Reviews Promote Website Clicks Even if customers don’t go through and read all your reviews, they at least glance at your star rating when researching a potential purchase. If your business profile boasts a high star rating, people are more likely to click through to your website. And, if they like what they see on your website, they’re more likely to make a purchase — keeping in mind that they may still go back and read your reviews more thoroughly before completing the purchase. Once they convert, they too will leave a review. This is like a cycle. 4. Google Reviews Contribute to Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Google Reviews also help contribute to your search engine optimization or SEO efforts. In 2022, there’s no excuse not to know about and invest in SEO. One little-known SEO tactic is that Google’s algorithm boosts businesses with a large number of positive reviews and ratings. The algorithm also tends to prioritize businesses with a large number of reviews both good and bad. Google Ads paid search algorithm tends to do the same. When your business shows up at the top of the search results page, your rating comes along with it and can either persuade or dissuade the user from clicking through to your website, browsing your products, and following through with a purchase. 5. Google Reviews Offer Valuable Feedback Last, but certainly not least, Google Reviews provide you with valuable feedback about your business. Sometimes it’s not easy to hear negative comments about your business, but sometimes it’s necessary. Google Reviews could alert you to issues you weren’t even aware of. From there, you can take action to address these issues and change your business for the better. Can You Delete Google Reviews? Receiving a negative review about your business on Google can be quite disheartening and frustrating, especially if the review pops up at the top of Google’s search results. Unfortunately, you’re not able to delete a review simply because it’s negative, as Google does not get involved in disputes between businesses and customers since there’s no reliable way to tell who’s right about the issue at-hand. Furthermore, commissioning fake reviews or offering someone a discount to delete their review aren’t advisable solutions, either. These lessens credibility. Instead, the review must fall into one of 10 categories for it to be eligible for deletion. These categories include spam and fake content, off-topic content, restricted content, illegal content or content that depicts illegal activity, terrorist content, sexually explicit content, offensive content, dangerous and derogatory content, impersonation, and conflict of interest. How To Flag a Google Review If a Google review falls into one of the above 10 categories, you can flag it for removal from your business profile on either desktop or a mobile device. You’ll use the “report” button on the Google My Business site to flag a review. Here’s how to flag a review for removal in Google Maps: Open Google Maps on your computer, phone, or tablet. Navigate to your business profile. Find the review you’d like to report.Click the three vertical dots for “More” and select “Flag as Inappropriate.” Here’s how to flag a review for removal in Google Search: Go to Google.com on your computer, phone, or tablet. Find your business profile. Click “Reviews.”Find the review you’d like to report. Hover over the star rating. Select “Flag as Inappropriate” and select the specific type of violation you’re reporting. From there, Google will review your report, determine if the review violates Google’s policies, and decide whether or not to remove the review from your business profile. The entire process can take several days; however, you’re able to track and manage your review removal requests through your Google account. If it warrants removal, Google will take it down from your business profile, and customers won’t be able to see it. 6 Tips To Achieve a 5-Star Google Rating Even though you may not be able to remove poor reviews from Google, there are things you can do to boost your Google star rating by working to earn more five-star reviews from your customers. Here are some tips to help you out. 1. Accurately Represent Your Products or Services Accurately representing your products and services online is simply a good business tactic. However, doing so can help prevent negative reviews from customers that weren’t satisfied with what they received from your company. If you sell products, make sure to include high-quality pictures and videos from all angles, in addition to measurements and other specifications. If you sell services, make sure to be as detailed as possible in terms of what you offer and provide accurate pricing information as well. By accurately depicting your products, customers are less likely to report on being misled by you. Additionally, by seeing a product in its truest form, they’re more likely to actually like it upon receipt and thus not leave negative feedback 2. Provide Top-Notch Customer Service Your products and services aren’t the only factors that can contribute to a negative Google review that affects your rating, customer service also plays a huge role. For example, say a customer orders a pair of pants based on the sizing chart provided but they end up not fitting. If your customer service team refused to exchange the pants, this interaction could definitely lead to a negative review. On the other hand, if your customer service team quickly arranged for the exchange of the pants — providing free shipping both ways — then you’re well on your way to receiving a positive review. 3. Go Above and Beyond However, it’s not enough to just provide adequate levels of customer service that would earn you three or four-star reviews. If you want to earn five-star reviews, then you really need to go above and beyond with every customer interaction. Going back to the exchange issue, you could go the extra mile by letting the customer keep the pair that doesn’t fit and sending them the next size at no added cost. Or you could provide them with a promo code for them to use on their next purchase. These small gestures can really go a long way with your customers. 4. Train Your Employees Properly A key component to providing top-notch customer service and routinely going above and beyond for your customers is to train your employees on exactly how to do this. Make it clear what your company policies are in terms of returns, exchanges, disputes, etc. so that they can all be handled appropriately. When everyone is on the same page and shows the same dedication to amazing customer service, you’re likely to earn better reviews as a result. 5. Collect Customer Feedback on a Regular Basis While Google reviews provide you a level of customer feedback, you should still actively solicit customer feedback through customer satisfaction surveys. With a customer satisfaction survey, you’re often able to collect more information since you’re asking specific questions. With a review, on the other hand, the customer is free to discuss whatever they want to discuss. By collecting more feedback, you can improve upon your business or product, thereby decreasing the likelihood of receiving negative reviews in the future. Additionally, reviews tend to be short and not very detailed, which can make it difficult for companies to truly act on them. In order to obtain actionable data from your customers, you need to send out surveys on a regular basis with questions about customer service, the product/service, the brand, etc. 6. Follow Up With Your Customers Finally, you should follow up with your customers to earn better reviews. For example, say that the same customer from the pants exchange indicated that your sizing chart seems to be inaccurate since the pants didn’t fit. Instead of simply exchanging the order and leaving it at that, actually investigate the issue. After your investigation, reach back out to the customer and tell them what you found out. If the sizing chart was found to be inaccurate, make sure to let them know that you’ve corrected the issue. If the sizing chart was found to be mostly accurate, you can let them know that you’ve added a note that the product may run small. The customer will appreciate your diligence and will likely consider purchasing from you again in the future. Best Practices for Managing Your Online Reputation Inevitably, a customer is going to slip through the cracks, have a negative experience, and leave a negative review. However, one negative review won’t ruin your online reputation so long as you respond to it appropriately. Here are some best practices to help you manage your online reputation and address negative reviews when they do occur. 1. Create or Claim Business Profiles on Different Platforms First of all, you need to create or claim your business profile on a variety of different platforms, including but not limited to review sites like Google and social media sites like Facebook. It’s best to cast a wide net so that you can maximize your reach. In addition to Google and Facebook, you might also want to consider other platforms, such as Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat, Pinterest, and TikTok. For expert guidance on how to take full advantage of these Paid Social, reach out to the marketing experts at MuteSix. 2. Ensure That Your Business Information Is Updated and Accurate Next, you need to make sure that your business information is updated and accurate on all these platforms. Check to make sure that the link to your website works. Also, ensure that your phone number and address, if applicable, are accurate and properly link to the “Phone” and “Map” apps on mobile devices. 3. Conduct an Audit of Your Online Reputation Once you’ve laid the groundwork in terms of your online presence, you need to conduct an audit of your online reputation. Search around to see what people are saying about you and where they’re saying it. Having this information upfront makes it easier to consistently monitor your online reputation. 4. Establish an Online Reputation Management Strategy Now it’s time to establish an online reputation management strategy. When coming up with one, ask questions like: What are your goals? What are your priorities? What are your challenges? These are all things to consider when building your strategy. 5. Consistently Monitor Your Online Reputation From there, you need to consistently monitor your online reputation. Check review sites on a regular basis, keeping in mind that it can take a couple of weeks for new reviews to actually show up. Additionally, monitor your mentions on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram. 6. Ask Customers To Leave a Review When managing your online reputation, you should never hesitate to ask customers to leave a review — so long as you do so properly. For starters, you need to ask at the right time. Next, you need to ask the right amount of times by being persistent but not annoying. Finally, you should use the right medium to ask for a review, whether it be via email or text. 7. Appropriately Respond to Negative Reviews Perhaps the most important component of managing your online reputation is to appropriately respond to negative reviews. What matters more than the review itself is how you respond to it. However, responding to negative reviews can be tricky. So how can you respond to negative reviews in a way that won’t further impact your online reputation? Here are some tips to consider for the next time you receive a negative review: Respond to the negative review as quickly as possible, ideally within 24 hours. Thank them for taking the time to leave the review. Acknowledge the customer’s concerns and show empathy. Apologize for the things within your control without feeling like you have to take responsibility for things outside of your control. Provide contact information so that they can contact you directly about the issue and, together, you can work toward a suitable solution. Final Thoughts Even though it may not be possible to delete negative Google reviews, you now know how to deal with them when they do occur. Make sure to respond appropriately and take constructive criticism into consideration to build a better business so as to avoid negative feedback in the future. Sources: 84 Percent of People Trust Online Reviews As Much As Friends. Here’s How to Manage What They See | Inc.com How to Remove Reviews From Your Business Profile on Google | Google Support How to Deal With Negative Reviews | Forbes Interested in Working Together? Let’s Get Started Other Articles You May Enjoy Trending Topics YouTube CTV to Roll Out Massive Targeting and Buying Improvements–Will CTV Reign Supreme This Q4? Digital Marketing The GA4 Migration Tool Has Arrived– But Should You Wait to Migrate? Data How Zero-Party Attribution Data Fuels a Competitive Advantage for DTC Brands Pinterest How Much Does Pinterest Advertising Cost in 2022?