The complete guide to removing fake reviews

In this 4-minute read, learn:

  • Why fake online reviews are so damaging to small businesses
  • How to remove a fake Google review
  • How to remove a fake Yelp review
  • How to use reputation management software to simplify the review management process 

Fake reviews?? Who would have thought that this would even be a problem for small, local businesses? Many small business owners are surprised when they see the damage that can be caused by malicious or mistaken reviews posted about their businesses on review sites like Yelp, Google, Facebook, and TripAdvisor. Below, we’ll show you how to remove these fake reviews.

Pro tip: Attract more happy customers and keep them loyal with Womply’s reputation management software for small businesses. Learn more, plus get free reputation monitoring and customer insights when you sign up for Womply Free!

Whether a fake review is posted by angry customer, a disgruntled current or former employee, or simply a random jerk who may just be doing it for fun, the sad reality of our increasingly online world is you have very little control over what people say about you or your business on the internet. A fake review of your business can be frustrating, and potentially harmful.

Why you need to take fake reviews seriously

The importance of a business’s online reputation is growing, even for small, local shops. 97% of consumers read online reviews for local businesses, and nearly 9 out of 10 trust those reviews online reviews as much as personal recommendations from friends and family. So a business’s “star rating,” its online review score, has a real impact on revenue for local businesses. Even customers sitting in your parking lot or standing on the sidewalk outside your door will often check online reviews for “social proof” before deciding to purchase.

It’s bad enough when you try your best to help a difficult customer and they leave you a bad review anyway. (Click to read our in-depth article on how to respond to negative reviews and remove other negative online content about your business. Also check out new research from Womply showing that negative online business reviews aren’t necessarily as harmful as you might think. Businesses with between 10 and 25% negative reviews make the most money!)

But it’s even worse when you get a bad review that is completely false, fake, or mistaken (such as someone leaving a review for your business when they obviously intended to leave it for a different business). The reasons for bad reviews don’t really matter to potential customers. The potential damage is the same.

The good news is, fake reviews are contrary to the user guidelines for all of the major review sites, and are one of the few types of reviews that can actually be removed.

Make no mistake, we recommend you take all reviews seriously, treat all customers respectfully, and respond appropriately to all reviews. But a review is obviously false, you can request that the review site administrator remove it. Here’s how:

How to flag and remove fake Google reviews 

Google will remove reviews they determine have violated their terms of service as outlined in Google’s review policies, which includes: fake, false, or manipulative reviews, spam reviews (content posted multiple times from different accounts), conflicts of interest (reviewing your own business), impersonations (representing the views of someone other than yourself), misleading or inaccurate reviews (reviews or photos that clearly represent a different business or location), off-topic reviews (content not at all related to a customer’s experience patronizing the business in question), and restricted, illegal, derogatory, or explicit content (photos, content, or links to restricted, dangerous or illegal activities, including threatening or discriminatory language).

If you’re sure that a review is in violation of Google’s terms of service, you can flag the review so Google’s administrators can examine it for possible removal. You can do this from either your Google My Business account or from Google Maps.

How to flag a fake Google review from your Google My Business account

  1. Sign in to Google My Business
  2. If you have more than one listing, select the location you’d like to manage
  3. Select Reviews from the menu
  4. Find the review you’d like to flag and click the three dots in the corner
  5. Click Flag as inappropriate (or “Report review”)

Flag a fake Google review in Google Maps:

  1. Search your business on Google Maps
  2. Select the right location and scroll down to Review summary
  3. Click the Reviews link under your rating
  4. Scroll to the fake review and click the 3 dots in the top right corner
  5. Click Flag as inappropriate (or “Report review”)
  6. Complete the form that follows and click Submit

It can take several days for Google to evaluate the report, so be patient. But you should receive a response from Google with information about their decision and the status of the flagged review.

How to flag and remove fake Yelp reviews

Fake reviews and other reviews that violate Yelp’s content guidelines, like spam reviews, reviewing one’s own business, impersonations, inappropriate content, violations of people’s privacy, promotional content, defamatory or fraudulent reviews, and “not recommended” reviews may be flagged for review and removal by Yelp’s staff. Before reporting a Yelp review, read this helpful article from Yelp first: “When should I report a review?

If you suspect a review is fake, you should report it to Yelp. Here’s how to flag and report a fake review (remember that reporting doesn’t guarantee that it will be taken down).

  1. Log in to your Yelp account (the “Report review” option won’t be available if you don’t log in).
  2. Locate the fake review you wish to report.
  3. If you’re on a laptop/desktop, click the the “Report review” button that looks like a flag.

Mobile users: use the “Report review” function dropdown in the “three dots” menu.

After you report the fake review, Yelp will evaluate it based on its content guidelines. This may take several days. Yelp will email you with their decision to remove or keep the review.  

Manage your online reviews easily with reputation management software

Staying on top of your legitimate reviews is hard enough—let alone dealing with fake reviews. But it’s very important to keep current on all your reviews and respond appropriately to all of the legitimate ones.

Obviously, this process can take a lot of time, and time is a luxury that many small business owners don’t have. That’s why small business software designed to help you manage your online reviews can be such a lifesaver.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed or like you don’t have enough time to handle it all, we’re here to help. Let our reputation management software do all the hard work for you. Womply gathers all your reviews from all the popular review sites in one place with one login, and you can read and respond to them right from there. Plus Womply makes it easy to let your customers know how much you appreciate their feedback. Learn more, plus get free reputation monitoring and customer insights when you sign up for Womply Free!

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