We understand your frustration. You receive a one-star, no-comment review from someone named “Fancy Pants,” and you have no way of knowing if this is an actual person or if they’ve even had a real experience with your business. Or, you’ve received a detailed negative review from someone whose name cannot be located in your database. You report the review to Google and expect them to remove it. But will Google listen?
It turns out there are only a few types of reviews that can be successfully flagged for removal from your Google Business Profile, and it’s not always as straightforward as one would hope.
Luckily, we’ve done a deep dive for you into the types of reviews Google will usually remove. Step into the ring with us so you’ll be better prepared to duke it out with Google the next time you receive an erroneous review!
1. INFORMATION QUALITY
Most often, we’ll see someone leave a review for one location when they really meant it for a different location. This is especially true for franchises or multi-location businesses. These reviews can be difficult to remove because Google doesn’t look at anything besides what’s written in the review itself when making their decision. If the reviewer has gone into detail about their experience with the business and mentions its name in the review, it makes it more difficult – albeit not impossible – to have it removed.
People are also not allowed to post advertisements in the form of solicitation in reviews, nor are they allowed to post gibberish or the same review over and over again. Google says, “Not today!” for this type of content.
2. DECEPTIVE CONTENT
Another type of review Google will consider removing is deceptive content, which encompasses a range. These are often spam reviews or reviews with fake content that are usually posted maliciously to manipulate a company’s rating. They can also be reviews trying to garner fake engagement by incentivizing someone to post a review that does not represent an actual experience, or discouraging individuals from posting negative reviews.
You wouldn’t want to have reviews on your page that have been solicited in exchange for discounts or goods and services, right? Okay, good! Google doesn’t want that either.
Another kind of deceptive review is one that has misleading information in it. Google doesn’t actually go in and prove or disprove statements within a review. Unfortunately, they also don’t look at outside documentation you, or we, may want to provide as to why the review should be removed.
Other misleading things – that don’t happen very often for review – could include misleading health or medical information, incorrect information about civil services, or even reviews containing information about newsworthy events that have been manipulated in order to deceive users.
Google says it automatically puts reviews through a form of processing in order to detect spam, but oftentimes it can slide on through. If that’s the case, WebPunch has you covered. Reviews can be tricky to get removed, but our success rate for getting reviews removed is 54%.
No matter how you slice it, Google prefers that all content on Google Business Profiles is reflective of an actual experience at a business.
3. CIVIL DISCOURSE
Reviews that impede civil discourse can be anything offensive such as harassment, hate speech, or even a review listing personal information. The latter can sometimes be done innocently enough in the form of credit card information or any other confidential information (when Grandma accidentally updates her Facebook status), but oftentimes is used as a means of doxxing someone. Doxxing refers to “Content that results in unwanted sexualization or objectification of a person, including claims about a person’s sexual activities, sexual orientation, or gender identity.” Google does not allow harassment, nor does it allow anyone to encourage others to participate in harassing users or a business and will remove these types of reviews.
Falling into this category is hate speech which refers to any language that is a direct call to violence or is content that is dehumanizing, belittling, or vilifying any protected individual or group.
Google wants its Maps to be a place of respect, so offensive content is off the table! (You’ll have to duke it out another way!) This includes any review that has clearly provocative content, but also any allegations against a user or a business of criminal wrongdoing that are unfounded.
4. MATURE CONTENT
Here’s a category we don’t see too much of, if any of, in terms of reviews—mature content.
Sexually explicit or adult-themed content is a no-no by Google’s standards and they will promptly remove these reviews or other types of similar content. This could be anything from blatant imagery to anything that sexualizes literally anything (including inanimate objects) to any review or content that glorifies or promotes any type of sexual behavior. If you wouldn’t show it to your grandma, it probably isn’t allowed as part of a review on Google!
However, we do sometimes come across profanity in reviews. This mostly goes against Google’s standards as well, and a review will be deleted if it is used to offend other users or emphasize criticism. Profanity IS allowed, however, in other contexts, though Google doesn’t specify what those contexts are. If you think this sounds incredibly subjective, welcome to our world when dealing with Google!
5. REGULATED, DANGEROUS, AND ILLEGAL
So, what does “regulated, dangerous, and illegal” mean in the context of reviews, especially in getting in them removed?
There are several goods and services that are subject to local regulations; therefore, there are certain guidelines that must be followed when posting about these items. These goods and services can include things like alcohol, gambling, guns, health and medical devices, regulated pharmaceuticals, adult services, and financial services. For these things, you cannot have a link to a landing page where it’s possible to buy these restricted items and services; you cannot list an email for people to contact you about the purchase of these goods or services; you cannot post promotional offers about these goods or services.
There are exceptions! The only exceptions are images of menus and images where alcohol is not the main focus. Again, this only applies to certain local regulations, so always make sure to check out your city or county’s ordinances on such matters.
Because Google is a safe place for all users, they do not allow dangerous content or reviews to be posted. This would include any kind of review that encourages harm to health, safety, property, animals, or the environment, or any kind of review that promotes dangerous activities that could result in serious harm. These types of Google reviews will be removed.
Other types of reviews in this category that aren’t allowed are reviews that contain something illegal, such as anything that may infringe upon someone’s legal rights, reviews with dangerous or illegal acts in them, anything concerning a child’s safety, and anything that may be terrorist content.
Sometimes reviews come without a comment. We have to let you down, here, because Google has communicated that they will never remove a 1-star review that doesn’t have a comment. Google doesn’t consider reviews without comments to be in a violation of their content guidelines, because the comment is where they look for content violations.
Here at WebPunch, we will still try our darndest to get those pesky 1-star, no-comment reviews removed, but we want to be upfront that this battle will be a very steep uphill one.
WEBPUNCH IS HERE FOR YOU
Did all of those restrictions drain you a bit? We get it. It can be a lot and trust us, this isn’t even all of it! However, we are in your corner ready to throw down to defend your reputation.
And that’s where we can come in
When you find a review that violates one of these qualities, report it to Google immediately. Google takes up to three business days to make a decision regarding review removal, so when that time is up check back in to see if the review has been removed. If it has, fantastic! We’ve succeeded and you win the day! If it hasn’t been removed, and you still feel that there is sufficient reason for its removal, escalate the request with Google. Sometimes, they do the right thing and remove the review. Oftentimes, they find that in their eyes, there hasn’t been a violation. If this happens, we know it’s a bummer, but that’s where a kind and thoughtful response back to the reviewer can help move things along and make your reputation stand out to potential customers.
WebPunch is proud to enter the ring for you and duke it out on your behalf with Google and reviewers alike! We’re here to provide timely, unbiased responses to a variety of reviews as well as report and escalate reviews that have no business being on your Google Business Profile. No need to throw in the towel on your online reputation. Give us a call today!