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Google's Review Guidelines and Standards

Will Google Remove False Reviews?

Posted May 22, 2017 in Reputation Management

Receiving a public and highly negative review of your business right on your Google My Business Profile can be extremely frustrating. What is even more frustrating is when you know for a fact that person was never a patient of yours or you know they are blatantly lying or misleading people.

You may ask, “Is there anything I can do to get that false review removed?”

Google’s stance on removing reviews is very clear. Google will not allow any reviews that violate their “Guidelines & Standards.”

Google’s Review Guidelines & Standards

Below are the circumstances under which Google may remove a review:

  • Advertising: Don’t use reviews for advertising, such as adding links to other websites or phone numbers. Reviews should be a genuine reflection of your experience with a place – don’t post reviews just to manipulate a place’s ratings.
  • Spam: Don’t spam. Write a genuine report of your experience with the place. Don’t include promotional/commercial content, don’t post the same content multiple times, and don’t write reviews for the same place from multiple accounts.
  • Phone numbers, email addresses, or URLs: To help prevent advertising and spammy reviews, we don’t allow phone numbers, email addresses, or links to other websites in reviews. If you want to add an updated number, email address, or URL for the business you’re reviewing, use the Report a problem link to report that information instead.
  • Off-topic reviews: Don’t post reviews based on someone else’s experience, or that are not about the specific place you’re reviewing. Reviews aren’t meant to be a forum for general political or social commentary or personal rants. Wrong location or the place is closed? Use the Report a problem link to report that information instead of writing a review.
  • Keep it clean: Don’t use obscene, profane, or offensive language. We’ll also remove reviews that represent personal attacks on others.
  • Conflict of interest: Reviews are most valuable when they are honest and unbiased. If you own or work at a place, please don’t review your own business or employer. Don’t offer or accept money, products, or services to write reviews for a business or to write negative reviews about a competitor. If you’re a business owner, don’t set up review stations or kiosks at your place of business just to ask for reviews written at your place of business.
  • Illegal content: Don’t post reviews that contain or link to unlawful content, like links that facilitate the sale of prescription drugs without a prescription.
  • Copyrighted content: Don’t post reviews that infringe others’ rights – including copyright. For more information or to file a DMCA request, review our copyright procedures.
  • Sexually Explicit Material: We don’t allow reviews that contain sexually explicit material. Also, we absolutely don’t allow reviews that sexually exploit children or present them in a sexual manner. For this type of content, we’ll remove the review, shut down the account, and send a report to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) and law enforcement.
  • Impersonation: Don’t post reviews on behalf of others or misrepresent your identity or connection with the place you’re reviewing.
  • Personal and confidential information: Don’t post reviews that contain another person’s personal and confidential information, including credit card information, government identification number, driver’s license information, etc.
  • Hate Speech: We don’t allow reviews that advocate against groups of people based on their race or ethnic origin, religion, disability, gender, age, veteran status, sexual orientation, or gender identity.

These guidelines and standards can be viewed on Google’s official support page here.

As you can see, a review that is false or from someone who is allegedly not a patient of yours does not fall under their standards and guidelines. Google has to be able to look at a review and determine on their own, “This clearly falls within a category.”

Unfortunately, Google can’t determine on its own that a review is fake or from someone who was never your patient or client. If your reason for wanting a review removed requires proof, there’s nothing you’ll be able to do.

Additionally, Google has a harsh stance on having reviews removed that aren’t ‘nice’ or even defamatory.

Google’s Stance on Removing Reviews

Please note that pursuant to section 230(c) of the Communications Decency Act, Google does not remove allegedly defamatory material from Google My Business reviews. We encourage you to resolve any disputes directly with the individual who posted the content.

Please see our review policies to learn more about the circumstances under which Google may remove a review. To report a review that may violate our guidelines, click the flag that appears when you move your mouse over the review in question. If you are a business owner concerned about a review that you feel is unfounded, you can reply directly to the review.

If you choose to pursue legal action against the review author, Google will respond to valid legal process in connection with the review or requests for user information.

If you obtain a court order against the author of the content requiring removal of the allegedly defamatory content in question, please supply us with a copy of the order. We’ll evaluate it and consider removal where appropriate.

You can read more on Google’s website here.

Google has a pretty hard-nosed stance on removing reviews. However, all things considered, you can still try to do something about it. Google has a method for allowing its users to report or flag reviews.

How to Report the Review to Google if it violates guidelines above:

Locate the review in violation and press the ‘flag’ icon just below the reviewer’s name.

Enter your email address and indicate the violation type.

Positive Reviews Outweigh the Negative

While you may not be able to control the negative reviews, you have great power over influencing positive reviews on your Google My Business profile.

For help in making the most of your situation, you can review our useful article on Local Review Strategy.

In addition to a strategy, we have several tools available to help our clients generate more positive reviews and create an overwhelmingly positive review sentiment. If you would like to discuss your review strategy with one of our marketing consultants, please contact us.