April 2, 2021

What Is Google’s New Review Removal Tool?

Negative SEO, also known as black hat SEO, is any malicious activity that is aimed to sabotage a company’s search rankings. One of the most common negative SEO techniques is fake online reviews. 

In an effort to help small businesses and brands fight back against fake reviews, Google has released a new Review Removal tool. This new tool has the power to completely change how Google handles the removal of reviews by giving Google My Business owners control over review removal requests. Not only can GMB owners report reviews, they can also view the status of the requests in real-time. 

Review Removal Tool

How To Spot Fake Reviews

Fake reviews can come in all shapes and sizes, and from all different types of accounts. The key is learning how to accurately identify which reviews are fake and which reviews are just, unfortunately, poor. 

The easiest way to spot a fake online review is by looking at the original poster. If the review comes from an account with no profile photo or a generic name, then it is most likely a sham. This is true for names like “John Smith” or other usernames that are just a mix of random numbers and letters. 

Brands should also be checking the user’s profile to view the other reviews they have posted. Pay special attention to the users that have no other reviews or if they have only reviewed competing companies in an overtly positive light.  

Another good indicator of a possible fake review scheme is when multiple reviews come in over a short amount of time, using the same phrases and words. This commonly occurs when a competing brand uses different accounts to write negative reviews. 

It’s also important for brands to keep an eye out for reviews that aren’t necessarily vengeful, but nevertheless untrue. This means all the reviews that happen when users mistakenly post ratings for a different small business with a similar name. 

For example, if a first-time customer visits a nail salon by the name of “Top Nails” and is unhappy with their service, they might quickly go to write a negative review but accidentally search for “Best Nails.” By regularly reviewing their online reputation, the team at “Best Nails” will be able to promptly report this “fake” review for takedown. 

How To Report Reviews

Businesses can find the Review Removal tool within their Google My Business account, or by simply visiting this link. From there, GMB owners can select the specific business they would like to review. This is especially helpful for brands with multiple websites or different store locations. 

After that, brands will be able to complete one of two options: check the status of a review they reported previously or report a new review for takedown. 

If you choose to submit a new takedown request, your most recent reviews will appear in chronological order, complete with the textual content, rating, and posting date. Once you have identified the review that you wish to remove, you’ll be able to click “report a problem” and select the appropriate reasoning behind the request. 

Google provides a variety of reasons the review might be incorrect, including:

  • Conflict of interest
  • Offensive or sexually explicit
  • Privacy concern
  • Legal issue
  • Not relevant to the place of business. 

After choosing what reason best applies to the situation, you can submit your request and wait for Google’s ruling. 

You will immediately receive an email to confirm that your request was successfully submitted. If you have more than one review that needs to be removed, you’ll need to submit another request. At this time, the new tool doesn’t allow brands to select and manage multiple reviews at once – reviews must be reported one-by-one. 

How To Manage Reviews

Google has previously stated that it might take up to 72 hours for reported reviews to be evaluated and a final decision made. That being said, you can also use this new removal tool to check on the status of the request. 

To do so, you’ll go through your Google My Business account or follow the link provided above. 

Just as before, you should select your business before being directly the next step. But instead of choosing to report a new review, select the option to “Check the status of a review I reported previously.”

You’ll then see a chronological listing of all the reviews, complete with the rating, posting date, review link, and current status.

The only problem small businesses have been running into so far is that Google is sometimes denying the review takedown request because they weren’t able to find a policy violation. This means fraudulent or inaccurate reviews might not be removed simply due to Google’s rigid guidelines. 

However, if Google denies the request, but you still believe the review should be removed, you can submit a secondary appeal for re-assessment. 

If you would like more information about Google’s new Review Removal Tool, need help managing your online reviews, or other digital marketing services please contact Pink Dog Digital at (410) 696-3305, email us at info@pinkdogdigital.com, or visit us on the web at www.pinkdogdigital.com.

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