Important opening statement
This post’s original title, “How To Remove Slanderous Google Reviews,” reflected the fact that, as of March 2013, doing so (especially step #4, depending on your country) would effectively get rid of your review. The methods below haven’t always worked for people, as more and more people have commented in the comments (especially later ones), indicating that Google’s processes have changed over time and rendered this page somewhat obsolete. Please be aware that while I wanted to keep this post up for reference, it may not exactly reflect what you need to do now. Since another bogus negative review has been posted against my family’s business, I’m genuinely thinking about writing a follow-up (as of October 2015),
I had to deal with a defamatory review earlier this week that was posted on the Google Places (also known as Google+ Local) page for my parents’ business. I wanted to write about my experiences in getting it handled since, when I was investigating the best way to get it removed, I came across a jumble of information on a combination of blog articles and forums that wasn’t very useful.
Unexpectedly, Google doesn’t exactly make the procedure simple. They do, but it’s one of those situations where, once you know, you know. I also wanted to describe how I handled it after reading some horror stories. So I hope this will be helpful if you’re in a similar situation.
The finding of the review
Computer Recruiter is the name of the IT staffing business that my parents own. As I was still suffering from a persistent, on-again, off-again illness on the day we discovered the review (more on that in a future blog post, by the way), I was working from home, but as my parents live close by, they invited me over for lunch. We got onto the issue of their Places page when discussing current rankings (I’ve done some work for them in the past). I was going to show them something on the page when we found it, but we missed it.
Our initial assumption was that a disgruntled candidate had written it. Although my parents have an excellent track record with candidates (as seen by the 8 presently excellent-rated, truly true evaluations on their Google Places page), we are all aware that it is nearly impossible to please everyone. The review in question, however, sounded too critical and knowledgeable about the business to be that. No, it had to be a rival.
Reasons for removing the review
The review was slanderous in addition to being unpleasant for the company and perhaps damaging to its reputation.
Regarding the first and second bullet points, my parents don’t advertise CR as a large corporation; on their About page, it is stated that the firm was founded by the two of them and is still run “by the Morgan family.” Similar information may be seen on their LinkedIn company page, which lists “1–10 employees.” All of the job postings on the website are real; they don’t publish any fraudulent ones either.
Oh, and this article has given them some free publicity and links in addition to highlighting the numerous sincere, glowing evaluations they have received.
Inform Google+ of the user profile
My father opted to “report or ban” the individual as well after discovering that “Charlotte” had a Google+ profile with almost no information (apart from that review). You can do this by going to their G+ profile and selecting the “Report or block [name]” link located beneath their avatar:
Submit a legal complaint
According to your country’s legal requirements, you can “Report other legal removal issues” using that link. You must provide some information (the content and its URL, as well as your justification for believing it to be illegal), leave a “digital signature,” and check a box indicating that you “swear, under penalty of perjury, that the information in this notification is accurate and that [you are] authorized to report this alleged violation.” Really grave matters
We’ve done all we can, I told myself, as I anticipated it might take a week or two.
Why the review was actually ineffective
I believe Google can do more to assist small businesses that are in a similar situation. Given that it’s a buggy, cumbersome, and confusing system, I believe the same can be said about Google Places and Google+ Local as a whole (and I’m sure that many SEOs would agree), but with regard to this specific issue, they should do two things:
I believe a system that alerts you via email whenever a new review is posted would be a godsend. In this approach, company owners are aware of reviews as they appear and can respond appropriately (and quickly) if they are objectionable.