In the world of online reviews, the hope is that every customer has a five-star experience… and posts about it in a review. The reality is that you’ll still experience a bad review or two.
A natural first instinct to seeing a bad review would be to remove it and have it deleted from your profile! Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. It’s actually impossible to hit a “delete” button and remove a review.
The only option that organizations have when it comes to deleting online reviews is reporting them. By reporting a review, the customer service team for that site will have to take a look at the review. They will then determine if the review has violated their terms of service. If this is the case, they’ll remove it.
In this piece, we will be sharing with you when and how you can get an online review removed. For those who are keen to delete a review with just one click, you’ll want to stay tuned to learn about the next easiest way to get a review removed.
When Should An Online Review Get Removed?
Just because a review is negative doesn’t mean that it should get removed. Aside from being slightly frustrating, a poor online review is sometimes helpful. Bad reviews can reveal issues with your organization that you can then work on improving. They can also make a profile full of positive reviews that look more believable. Some consumers are wary of profiles too many great reviews, so this is a perk of having a bad review or two.
There are several legitimate reasons why a review should get removed. These include that the review is fake, threatening, left for the wrong business, or inappropriate. And this happens more often than you think. Organizations can and do get reviews removed when they need to be.
Online reviews should get removed whenever they are defamatory in nature. This is the easiest way to categorize a review that is: fake, exaggerated, misleading, or threatening. These are cases where a troll or upset ex-employee posts a bad review for your organization. Negative reviews can even come from competitors who are looking to drum up more business.
The terms of service for the majority of online review platforms all side with the business owner.
Their review process for flagged reviews is designed to get to the truth. They also work to make sure the business and reviewer get treated properly. Reviews that break the rules get removed. Reviews that don’t break any rules are left public, and the business owner can gain new, positive reviews to make up for it.
How Terms of Service Affect Removing a Review
The Terms of Service for each online review platform are outlined to protect both the business and reviewer. Businesses cannot directly control each review on their profile. This protects the consumer’s right to see honest, user-generated content about an organization, product, or service.
To protect this balance, online review managers can’t simply hit a button to delete a review. Instead, they must abide by the Terms of Service for each site.
The Terms of Service are a set of rules and regulations that determine how the staff of each platform decide if a review actually should be removed. Each website has its own Terms of Service, but the most common rules are:
- Spam or fake content
- Restricted content
- Illegal Content
- Terrorist Content
- Sexually Explicit content
- Offensive content
- Dangerous & Derogatory content
- Conflict of interest
- Promotional Content
- Leak of Private Information
- Intellectual Property
- Includes Personal Links
- Includes Profanity
As you can see, these rules make it so that businesses do not get stuck with an inappropriate review on their profile. At the same time, it prevents honest (yet negative) reviews from being taken down.
Removing a Review: Expectations vs. Reality
Expectation: you can hit the delete button, and that’s that!
Reality: You must flag the review, wait for someone to assess it, and hope that they see your side of the story. If the site does not take the review down, it did not break their terms of service… and you’re out of luck unless the reviewer changes their opinion.
This is the state of online reviews today – and it’s going to stay that way. Platforms that focus on user-generated content won’t give control over to business owners. Of course, online review managers will only want the best reviews on their profiles.
This is how many enter the constant process of asking for new reviews and responding to them as they roll in. When a positive review gets posted, celebrate! Take your time to post a ‘thank you’ response and get on with your day. But, when a negative review gets published, you’ll need to take action to verify if it’s true. Then you can respond and flag it if necessary.
Once you get rolling with this process, it’ll become a natural habit for you to keep up.
How to Remove a Review on the Top 6 Review Sites
Deleting, flagging, and reporting reviews all fall into the “removing a review” category. Because of this, the process for removing a review is pretty similar across all of the top review websites.
The top six online review sites are widely recognized as:
The last two sites are industry-specific for doctors and lawyers, while the rest service all industries. These sites all have very similar processes for flagging or reporting a review so that it could potentially get taken down.
If you want to understand the process of how to remove a review, here’s what you need to know:
Find the Review
Knowing when you get a review that you’d like to get removed is a critical part of this process. The longer an inappropriate review is left live, the more customers will see it. So, you will want to make sure that you and your team monitor your top profiles regularly.
For some, it’s easiest to use an online review management tool that compiles the reviews from all of your profiles on one dashboard. In other cases, you may want to log into and monitor each of your profiles individually. Whatever you do, try to check in and find an inappropriate review within 24-48 hours.
Try to determine if the review is truthful
It’s time for you to do your due diligence as an online review manager. Like we mentioned earlier, just because a review is negative doesn’t mean that is will get removed.
Read what the reviewer is saying and pick out key takeaways. Does the reviewer name a specific employee? Does anyone on your team recall the situation that the review is describing?
You may find out that someone really did have a negative experience with your business. This gives you the unique opportunity to address and correct the issue!
You could also find out that the review is fake! Or you may notice that it has a few threats or vulgarities thrown in there.
That is when you have the opportunity to get the review removed. Before you make any decisions, though, try to determine whether or not the review is truthful.
Review the terms of service on the site
The next best step that you can take is to review the terms of service on each site. These are the rules we outlined in the previous section.
Each website is bound to these rules in an agreement between the reviewers, businesses, and their own team. That means that each flagged or reported review will be looked at from an unbiased standpoint and removed if needed.
To make sure you have the best chance of getting a review removed, make sure you are reading through these terms of service first. As you go through them, you should be able to make connections between broken rules and the review you want gone.
Flag the Review
Now that you’ve determined that a review needs to be taken down, all you’ll need to do is flag it. Some websites refer to removing a review as flagging or reporting the review. You will usually find the option to flag or report a review under a “more” or “…” button in that specific review’s box.
Carefully select the reason the review should get taken down
Once you’ve accessed the report/flagging feature, you will have to choose the reason why you want the review removed.
On most sites, the options here are pretty limited. Some may only have a handful of basic options, like “this review is inappropriate.” Other websites may allow you to search through reasons to select one that is more specific to your case.
No matter the options available to you, make sure to take your time to pick the most relevant reason. If you select an option that doesn’t clearly line up with the review’s content, the chances of the review getting removed grow slimmer.
Respond to the review publicly, if possible
Finally, you will want to respond to the review publicly. It is vital to manage the public’s perception of that negative review by responding. Your comment should state your organization’s standards and invite them to discuss the situation privately.
When you post a response, you open up the opportunity to talk to the reviewer directly. While there’s no guarantee that they will contact you, they might. And that gives you the chance to discuss their experience and figure out what would make them happy. In some cases, the reviewer may even go back and change their negative review into a positive one.
On top of that, after you’ve flagged the review, posting a response while it is getting assessed is a great way to show others that you care about customer experience. Even though a potential customer is likely to see the negative review, your diplomatic response should earn you a few brownie points.
Combat the Effects of Negative Reviews
While it can be challenging to get a review taken down without the review breaking the website’s terms of service, you still have a few options. Many business owners feel like a negative review will destroy their reputation and cause customers to look elsewhere.
If you’ve reported and responded to the review, you’ve done all you can for that review. That doesn’t stop you from continuing or ramping up, your online review management efforts. Make sure that your team is asking every customer to leave a review on the profile the negative review is on.
By getting new reviews, you can effectively “bury” the questionable review. Doing this will also help you maintain your rating. One bad review in a sea of four and five-stars won’t bring your average down. This is an added benefit of continual online review management efforts: you can quickly recover and maintain your spot at the top in the face of a bad review.
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