As a real estate agent, you know you need to have a solid online review strategy in place for when potential clients research you, but what if it doesn’t go exactly as planned?
Getting a negative review that ruins the 5 star rating you’ve put so much work into getting in the first place is bad enough, but getting a fake negative review is even more frustrating.
But of course, there’s a big difference between a negative review and a fake negative review, and depending which you have, it may be more difficult to get it removed and regain your flawless 5 star status:
- A negative review is someone that worked with you or knows you and wrote something negative about you, whether you agree with their opinion or not.
- A fake negative review is someone that never worked with you and wrote a negative review about you, whether intentional or not.
So if you get these types of reviews, what can you do? The answer is, it really depends…
If you have a negative review, there’s very little you can do. Google isn’t likely to remove a negative review where someone simply outlines their experience of working with you or even someone just reviewing your character.
In Google’s own words, they say: don’t attempt to flag a review for removal just because you disagree with it or don’t like it. So if you just have a negative review that you don’t like from a real person, the best thing you can do is just reply to it. in an empathetic way. That’s because, as you know, people research everything nowadays (even as part of the referral process), and they’re definitely likely to research you too before they decide to contact you; if they see a negative review, they’re probably going to believe that it happened. By publicly replying to it, you can at least get your side of the story across, and people researching you will know that you take complaints seriously.
★ You can learn more about how to respond to a negative (but real) Google review right here.
But if it’s a fake negative review, that’s a different story. A fake negative review can come from a competitor, a bot, or even just some Internet troll with nothing better to do with their time. And while it’s frustrating to get one, there are some steps you can take to get it removed from your Google MyBusiness page.
Removing fake reviews isn’t easy though. Google has no idea who your actual clients are and who has worked wth you and who hasn’t, so you’ll need to make your case.
Basically, getting a fake review removed is all about following the correct steps, backing it up with as much information as possible, and even, having a little luck on your side.
Step 1: Reply
Much like you would with a negative review, you should still reply, but your reply should be different. Instead of replying with empathy, you should instead, call it out as fake. An example of a good response would be:
“Hi [their name]. We take feedback of our clients really seriously, but unfortunately, we have no record or recollection of having worked with you at all. If you have worked with us, we’d like to investigate this further. Please feel free to contact [your name] at [your email address] as soon as possible so we can resolve this.”
Even though you know that the review is fake, there’s still no guarantee that Google will remove it, and even if they do, it’s going to take time. Replying at least sets you up so that anyone that sees it will hopefully know that it’s fake.
Step 2: Flag
Next, you need to tell Google that the review is fake by flagging it and reporting it. Google tells you exactly how to do that in this help article right here.
Keep in mind that Google will only allow you to request the removal of a review if it violates one of Google’s policies, one of which is: spam or fake content, which is key in how you need to present your case to Google.
Google says it will take a few days for them to look into it, and if they need more information, they’ll reach out to you.
But flagging it once and then moving on might not solve the problem and remove the review. As you can imagine, they probably get a lot of these types of requests in a day, so you need to get Google’s attention.
The best way to do that is to get as many people as you can to flag it for removal. Doing so increases your chances of getting it removed sooner by making Google take notice. Basically, if you say it’s fake that’s one thing, but if 25 people say it’s fake, it increases the validity.
Step 3: Escalate
Once you’ve flagged it, and had as many people as you can also flag it, you can just wait for Google to review it. But, if you want to take it a step further and increase your chances of getting it removed, you should escalate it, and again, try to get Google’s attention as much as possible.
You can do that through your Google MyBusiness account. Once you’ve logged in, go to ‘Reviews’, click the ‘Support’ link on the bottom left menu, and then click ‘Contact Us’. Then, tell them you need help removing a fake Google review, and then click through until you see the option to contact them by phone, email, or even chat. By telling them about the problem this way, you’ll also be creating a support ticket with Google addressing the issue.
Just remember that you need to plead your case to Google to convince them that the review is fake. Be adamant that you’ve never worked with or interacted with the person, that you’ve checked your records thoroughly, and that you’re 100% positive the review is fake. The more convincing you are and the more information you have, the more likely it’ll work out in your favour, the review will get removed, and you’ll get your flawless, hard-earned 5 star status back.
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