Fake reviews on Google: how to react?

Have you just been surprised to discover a fake review on your Google My Business listing?

It is necessary to act quickly because a fake Google review can have consequences on your online reputation and your natural referencing. Regarding this point, do not hesitate to call on a web editor who can support the SEO optimization of your articles and help you maintain a good ranking in search results.

Internally, several measures can be taken: here is the procedure to follow to report a false review and how to react to get rid of it as quickly as possible.

What are the different types of fake Google reviews?

False negative reviews

False negative reviews are unfortunately common on Google, where competition is fierce between companies in the same geographic or professional sector. If you see fake negative reviews on your Google My Business listing, this is nothing less than an attempt to damage the reputation of your business. your society. These reviews are not published by real customers: they are most often competitors wishing to highlight their activity to the detriment of yours.

These false negative reviews on Google are not representative of the quality of your services or products but still represent a real risk to your online reputation. Indeed, according to a 2023 study conducted by Bright Local, 98% of people read online reviews of a company’s services to guide their choice!

The accumulation of false negative reviews left by the competition is particularly harmful not only to your turnover but also to your online visibility. Google’s algorithm is uncompromising because its objective is to offer Internet users the best possible recommendations: it therefore favors the appearance, within search results, of the best-rated companies to the detriment of others. False negative Google reviews therefore risk jeopardizing your natural referencing!

Fake reviews purchased

This practice, as controversial as it is illegal, is however common in certain sectors of activity. This involves purchasing the services of an external service provider who will be responsible for publishing false Google reviews promoting services or products.

These false positive reviews are misleading for the company’s customers, who will then trust recommendations that are nothing other than covert self-promotion. Here too, these fake Google reviews can have an impact on your natural referencing, which will be positive this time.

How to deal with fake negative reviews?

How to detect fake reviews?

Several things can tell you that a negative Google review is a fake:

  •  The author of the review is completely unknown to you;
  •  This one has not shared other opinions on companies in your geographical area;
  •  Several spelling errors are notable and suggest a poorly executed translation;
  •  The review itself does not indicate dissatisfaction with any of your products or services in particular;
  •  The review in question promotes one of your competitors to the detriment of your business;
  •  The opinion is vague and poorly argued;
  •  The presence of duplicate negative reviews is also a good indicator that they are false.

Should you respond to a fake review?

Before you try to remove the fake Google review in question, it is essential to respond to it. This will allow you to somewhat strengthen your natural referencing (because the search engine favors active Google My Business listings), but not only that. Removing a fake Google review can take time, and you have no guarantee that your report will lead to real action from Google.

If the fake comment in question remains on your Google My Business listing, it is important that your other customers can see your point of view. Respond in return that the review is falsified and that you will report it as soon as possible. This will help to somewhat defend your online reputation while reassuring your other customers. Don’t hesitate to provide some weighty arguments in your response!

How to remove a fake Google review?

Go to the Google My Business profile of your establishment, then click on the reviews so that they are displayed in in full on your screen. Select the review that you consider to be fake by clicking on the three small dots located to the right of the comment in question.

Click on “Report review”. A new page then opens in your internet browser, asking you to specify the reason for your report:

  •  The review is off-topic;
  •  This is spam (notice generated by a robot or a fake account);
  •  Conflict of interest (to be selected when you suspect one of your competitors of being behind the fake Google review);
  •  The notice contains profanity;
  •  The comment refers to an attempt at intimidation;
  •  The review includes content that is discriminatory or incites hatred;
  •  The notice includes private information;
  •  The review content is useless to other users.

All you have to do is select the reason for your report and then validate the procedure.

What if Google doesn’t remove the review?

It may happen that Google does not remove the false review, despite your goodwill and compliance with the reporting procedure. All hope is not lost, however, because you still have one last resort: file a complaint with a high court for denigration.

Do not forget to compile a complete file proving the offense in question, and to be patient, because unfortunately, the procedures can be long.

False positive reviews

Can a business buy reviews?

Previously, it was possible to purchase fake Google reviews via “click farms”, where bots were responsible for publishing a mass of fake positive reviews. This practice is becoming increasingly rare thanks to the improvement of Google’s algorithm, which automatically deletes these false reviews as soon as they are published on GMB listings.

It is, however, possible to purchase fake Google reviews from unscrupulous external service providers: the prices of this “service” vary greatly depending on the situation. These purchased fake reviews are more difficult for Google to detect, and therefore require your utmost vigilance.

Possible sanctions following the purchase of false positive reviews

Purchasing fake positive reviews for your Google My Business listing is considered a deceptive business practice and is strictly prohibited by Google policies.

The risks are therefore numerous because you can be heavily penalized by the search engine, which will drop the natural referencing (SEO) of your website< an i=2>. Google can even choose to completely make your website invisible in the event of a repeat offense or significant breach of its internal regulations!

In addition, buying fake Google reviews is penalized by law: you incur a fixed fine of up to 300,000 euros, supplemented by two years of imprisonment.

Of course, buying fake Google reviews can also be very costly to your online reputation, because you will lose the trust of Internet users, who may well turn away from your products or services after finding out about it.

Our tip for managing fake reviews on Google

Reassuring your prospects is the ideal solution to counter false Google reviews: by demonstrating your expertise, your work policy as well and your commitment to customer satisfaction, you will nullify any attempt at denigration.

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