Google is unquestionably the most popular Internet search engine in the world. Nearly half of the planet’s population uses it every day (98% of internet users in England). It is now definitely more than just an internet tool. Google is for us a source of information, but also of shopping inspiration. It comes as no surprise that practically every company wants to be well visible in the search engine – it is the basis of modern marketing.
At the same time, it is important to remember that Google not only helps business, but also… can bring it down. We are referring, of course, to the negative opinions about a company that its potential customers may come across in a search engine. What to do when there are more and more such unfavourable comments? How do you acquire these positive reviews on Google? Welcome to our guide, which will illuminate these very important questions for you.
Sources of company reviews on Google
Currently, the primary source is the Google My Business card. This can be set up by any business, it is not particularly difficult and, it is worth noting, Google does not charge for it. Having a business card is extremely important, not only for local businesses. More and more consumers rely on the information they get from a business card. If a company does not have one, it loses a large proportion of customers who simply do not want to go to a company website.
An important part of a company’s business card on the GMF is the feedback section. Customers can leave a comment below the business card in which they rate the company, its products, services, customer service, additionally awarding stars. The more stars there are (maximum 5), the better the company will be perceived by subsequent customers. Similarly, a very low rating may suggest that the company is not worth bothering with.
Google data shows that business cards rated between 4.2 and 4.5 are the most trusted by users.
In addition, a high rating of a business card has a positive impact on its positioning in Google for a specific business phrase. For example, if we have a pizzeria in London whose business card has been rated with an average of 4.5 stars, it should be more visible than one belonging to a competitor, but rated with only 4 stars.
And everything would be fine if one could be sure that only favourable or, in the worst case, neutral reviews would be found under the business card. However, this is not the case. An unfavourable comment and the awarding of 1 star to a company will immediately affect the overall rating of the business card and may cause subsequent customers to seriously reconsider whether the company is worth using.
Therefore, it is important to encourage satisfied customers to rate a company under its business card. Not everyone is aware that this is an option. We suggest that every time a successful business relationship is completed, the customer should be asked to write a few words about the entrepreneur on Google and award the appropriate number of stars. A business card that has no ratings at all presents little credibility and may deter subsequent buyers or customers.
Negative reviews on Google: what to do about them?
To begin with, we need to establish where these negative comments actually come from. If the authors are indeed dissatisfied customers, they must be accepted, but absolutely do not bury your head in the sand. The owner of the business card has the right to respond to each comment, address the issue raised and propose a mutually satisfactory solution. It is worth taking advantage of this to show your commitment to customer service and your company’s pro-consumer policy in this way.
It may also be a good idea to contact the author of the comment directly and mediate. For example, a discount on future purchases or some other form of compensation can be offered, provided that the company is actually at fault. Sometimes, after such contact, the customer decides to change the content of the comment or simply remove it, which is a great success for the trader.
The situation is completely different in the case of false reviews on Google, which are unfortunately slowly becoming the norm and a standard tool for ruthless marketing. We are talking about acts of unfair competition here because it is precisely competing companies that try to defame threatening businesses in this way. They either do this in-house or hire specialised marketing agencies to do it.
Fabricated negative comments with one star seriously weaken the position of a company’s business card in Google, but above all they damage to image and sales. After all, the casual consumer won’t go into who the author of the review really is. If he or she reads that a company is hopeless, that its products suck and that its service is awful, he or she is unlikely to want to verify this for himself or herself.
This is where the idea naturally comes in: why not just delete the negative reviews on Google and be done with it? Well, unfortunately, this is not as easy as it might seem.
Removing negative reviews on Google? Not so fast…
You may be surprised to learn that, as the owner of a business card on Google, you cannot moderate or delete the reviews beneath it. Google has deliberately blocked this option in order to prevent businesses from artificially creating a reputation for their brands. The whole service would then be worthless to users.
Only the author or, manually, a Google employee can delete a negative comment. There is simply no other option. So, if you suspect that an unfavourable comment is the work of a competitor and you can prove it in some reasonable way, report the matter to Google and wait for a response (usually it takes up to 2 weeks, if there is no response and the comment has not disappeared, it is worth repeating the report)*.
When doing so, you must remember that Google will only remove a comment based on some strong reason. You can only cite a breach of the terms of service, including in particular:
- Incitement to commit a crime, spreading hatred and prejudice
- An act of unfair competition (you must be able to prove this)
- Advertising nature
- Falsehood of opinion (e.g. you have proof that the author of the opinion was not your customer)
Also, no one will give you a guarantee that Google will grant your request and actually remove the opinion that defames your brand. If there is no reaction, you are left with your own actions, i.e. the aforementioned responding to such comments, but in a cultured way. You could, for example, publicly offer to help the ‘customer’, ask them to contact the company, and declare that the matter will be thoroughly investigated. Such an approach on the part of the entrepreneur will alleviate the negative overtones of the feedback but unfortunately will not raise the rating of the business card.
This is, of course, only an outline of the problem that false negative reviews on Google undoubtedly are. You will find more advice on this subject in other articles on our portal.