Can small businesses remove negative online reviews from sites like Google, Facebook, and Yelp?

One negative review can cost your business 30 customers.

One negative review can cost your business 30 customers.

Every business owner dreads receiving a negative online review from a customer. It’s a justifiable fear, since close to 9 in 10 consumers trust online reviews as highly as recommendations from friends and family, and one negative review can cost your business 30 customers. So, once a customer publishes a negative review on a site like Google, Facebook, or Yelp, what can you do to fix it?

It’s generally very difficult to have a negative review removed from a third-party site. You need to be able to:

  • Show the site managers that the review violates the site’s terms of service by being “inappropriate” — a subjective area that relies on a judgment call.
  • Prove it has been written by a competitor or otherwise fabricated.
  • Convince the person who wrote the review to take it down.

Pursuing any of these strategies can mean a long, difficult road with uncertain outcomes. Ultimately, you don’t have complete control over whether a posted review stays or goes.

If you can’t remove the review, what’s your recourse when negative feedback pops up and hurts your business? In this case, the best defense is a good offense. Here are some proactive steps you can take to protect yourself and mitigate the damage done by a negative review:

  1. Claim your business's pages. By claiming your business's pages on review sites, you empower yourself as the owner to contact the site manager to request removal of the review, and to respond to reviews directly.
  2. Respond to negative reviews. Since it’s rare for an online review site to agree to take down a negative review, the next best thing is to acknowledge the customer’s experience by posting a response. This is an important step, since studies show 56%-70% of complaining customers will use a business again if their concern is resolved. Keep your tone empathetic and avoid getting defensive — this can actually be an opportunity to generate more sales. By engaging with customers and resolving their concerns, you can generate repeat business, which can increase revenue by 47%.
  3. Get proactive with positive reviews. Getting more online reviews is one of the most important things you can do to attract customers and increase sales. First, it helps customers find your business online because review content on business rating sites accounts for 10.3% of your local search engine ranking. Second, research from Cornell University professors found that simply encouraging online reviews can improve a business’s online ratings — with one-star gains translating to 39% more revenue — and each additional review you receive increases revenue by .49%. (Read about how you can use Womply’s Get Reviews feature to encourage happy customers to publish positive online reviews and intercept negative reviews before customers post them online.)

Just as the social web has enabled consumers to rate businesses like yours, technology empowers small business owners to take control of their online business reputations. Womply Reputation Defense, for example, allows you to monitor and manage all of your online reviews from one place and respond quickly to minimize any negative impact.

Womply offers customer engagement tools as well, including Womply Customer Feedback, which lets you build deeper connections with customers and receive direct feedback by establishing anonymous texting channels with customers. To learn more, request a demo.