When Should You Remove Reviews?

Not too long ago, business reviews were written by subject-matter experts and printed in well-known publications. In today’s world, that’s simply no longer the case.  Nowadays, your customers can easily voice their opinions and experience with your business online for the world to see. Companies that don’t reply to any reviews earn 9% less revenue than average.

But that’s a good thing – and there are plenty of reasons why your business should be listed on review sites. The first is that you get to add a link to your website, which will boost your traffic – and secondly, people can also get some necessary information about your business such as your hours of operation, where it’s located, your phone number, and so on.

But most importantly, it’s the customer reviews on these review sites (they call them review sites for a reason!) that makes them so important, but it can also be a double-edged sword.

Positive reviews can do wonders for your business, as review websites are considered more credible than any advertising form. But negative reviews can have disastrous consequences to your bottom line. The complaint can be severe enough to significantly derail your business, like a report about seeing bed bugs in a hotel room or a cockroach in an entrée at a restaurant. What’s frustrating is when the review is not valid and has no merit at all. 19% of the reviews the average business receives are negative.

But the question is, when should you remove reviews – reviews that make your business look bad?

Advantages of Removing Negative Reviews

Purging negative reviews can be a good thing. First of all, it limits the number of people who’ll ever read them – keeping the damage to a minimum. After all, it’s not unusual for a potential customer to reconsider their choice after reading just one negative review over a dozen positive ones. It takes roughly 40 positive customer experiences to undo the damage of a single negative review.

Another benefit to removing negative reviews is that your average rating will go up. Studies show that a high customer rating means a potential increase of 55% in sales. According to Yelp, a restaurant with a 4-star rating is 63% more likely to be full at any given time than a restaurant with just a 3-star average rating. For “near me” searches, a star rating increase of only 0.1 could increase a business location’s conversion rates by 25%.

So, it’s obvious why anyone who runs a business would want to remove negative reviews. 

Disadvantages of Removing Negative Reviews

But these reasons alone for removing negative reviews don’t mean you should necessarily do so. Websites like Yelp, Facebook, and Google don’t make it easy for you to remove negative reviews for one straightforward reason— it damages the site’s credibility and the business. Businesses whose total number of reviews is 15-20% negative average 13% more annual revenue than companies whose reviews are 5-10% negative.

Removing reviews is to remove trust. People trust review websites because they believe that the reviews are honest and unbiased by and large. To most people, it’s an obvious red flag if they only find positive reviews. There’s got to be some contrast. You can’t please everyone, and consumers know that. They will become suspicious if all you have is raving reviews about your business. 

In this way, negative reviews are helpful because almost 7 out of 10 consumers are more likely to trust the reviews when they see positive and negative reviews in the mix. It’s been found that shoppers who read negative reviews are 67% more likely to convert than the average consumer.

What to Do When Slapped With Negative Reviews

First of all, you need to understand that unless the review is inaccurate, a fake review, or violates the review website’s policy in question – you don’t stand a chance of actually getting the review removed.

First, you need to keep an eye out for reviews – whether they are positive or negative. But suppose you can’t spend the whole day manually monitoring these websites. In that case, it’s a good idea to consider using an online tool like reviewpush.com (note: no compensation received to have their site mentioned here) to help you monitor the sites automatically.  

If you want a free alternative, setting up a Google Alert will pretty much do the same thing.

Once you have been alerted to a new review, it’s best if you can respond to it right away, good or bad. When you respond to positive reviews, it shows that you’re a gracious business owner who acknowledges your customers’ importance. Businesses that reply to their reviews at least 25% of the time average 35% more revenue. 

But when you are responding to negative reviews or complaints, you have several options. For example, if a customer felt your business fell short somehow, you should apologize and promise to do better.

But you can turn a negative into a positive by taking responsibility and emphasizing how you’re going to do better next time to balance things out.  

Or you can even engage with the customer and ask for ideas from them. Apologize for any inconvenience caused and then ask if they have suggestions on how you can do things better.

Whatever you do, just be polite. The good thing about responding to negative reviews is that 33% of the reviews are amended and become a positive review instead when getting a response from business owners. So, it’s a win-win solution.

Negative reviews with inaccuracies or negative comments of your business that are flat out lies posted maliciously–often by competitors or disgruntled ex-employees are the reviews that you’ll have the best chances of getting removed – but there must be a legitimate reason.   

How to Remove Reviews

Each review site has its own rules and guidelines, but you can’t just remove a review from most reputable sites simply because it says negative things about your shop. However, you can take a peek at the guidelines governing such reviews, and you can flag a negative review if you think it has violated a rule or policy.

  • For Google local reviews, check out the Google local review content policies and see if the review violated any of its guidelines. If it has, you can flag the review and bring it to Google’s attention. Examples include offensive content, advertising for your competitors, or conflict of interest, such as a review that was written by a competitor.
  • The Facebook Community Standards are similar to Google’s. You can just follow the Facebook instructions to report a review and request for its removal.
  • For Yelp, check out their guidelines, and if you see a violation, you can follow the instructions on reporting an inappropriate review.

For other review sites, contact the website’s webmaster, requesting them to remove the content, or at least indicate to Google that it shouldn’t crawl or index the page. They will probably require a compelling reason to remove reviews, so back up your request with as much proof as possible.

Whether you plan to keep or dispute a negative review, your main priority should be to boost your customers’ trust. Remember, positive reviews can make them trust you, but the presence of negative reviews doesn’t always mean that they will trust you less.

It may be better to simply respond to negative reviews in a proactive way than try to remove them. When you show your customers that you value them by making every effort to give them a positive experience, then even bad reviews can be used to your advantage.

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