Navigating the murky waters of Online Google Reviews

Turtle sticking it's head out of swampy murky waters.

It can be as scary as having Freddy Krueger, Michael Myers and a psycho clown chasing after you. Online reviews can literally make or break your business and you have little control over it… or do you?

If you find yourself looking at your Google reviews and feeling like your drowning, you’re not alone. We understand how online reviews can be scary and intimidating for business owners. We’ve taken a client from 1-star ratings to an almost 5-star rating and I’m here to tell you that it’s not hard to take back control! Some planning, some elbow grease, (maybe a monster trap or two) and we can get this horror story back under control.

Google Reviews:

Google has taken the social review platform to a new level.  The reviews are integrated right into the Google search and Google map results so that you can quickly evaluate what company you want to call.

Google Search reviews with map

While there are a lot of factors that go into search result performance, in general, the higher your Google customer ranking – the better your search ranking will be. Google considers online customer reviews to be a strong signal to search engines that your website is trustworthy.

Because of this negative Google reviews can very quickly impact your business – both online and instore! “Quick! Let’s Google it!” Google has 90.46% of the search engine market share worldwide – so it’s important to start focusing your efforts here – but all of these techniques can be applied to other review platforms.

Bad news travels lightning fast

An unhappy customer is much more likely to leave a scathing review than a happy customer. Why? Because unhappy people want to tell the world and happy people go happily on their way! What do you do if you have a bunch of no-so good reviews?

  • Breathe! It’s going to be ok!
    When we have to deal with a negative review the first thing we need to be, is calm. A quick flippant reaction to a bad review is the worst thing you can do! Remember, you don’t need to respond to this immediately. Take your time. Think it through. Research the issue before you start formulating a calm, informed response.
  • Formulate a professional response
    How you respond to negative reviews is a reflection on your company. This is a great chance to address any issues and reassure your users that you are doing everything you can to grow, evolve and serve them better.
    • Do not belittle the customer – no name calling, no put downs, no passive aggressive language.
    • Try not to mention specifics of the event. “You were rude to my sales person and that’s why they hung up on you” or “You had the wrong date, call us to reschedule”. This will end up looking like you’re publicly shaming the reviewer.
    • Remember you can gain customers by how you respond to complaints!
  • But it was a fake review! What do i do?
    Fake reviews can be the most distressing of all negative reviews. People lie. Competitors try and defame their competition.

First of all, respond graciously. “I’m so sorry that you had a bad experience, and I would love the chance to address this and make it right. Unfortunately we don’t seem to have you on file as a customer. Can you please contact us at …. and we will be happy to help resolve this.”

Responding allows your other customers that see the review to see that you’re responsive and are willing to work with the customer.

Second – Flag the post with Google as an inappropriate review.  If you log into your Google Business account and click on reviews you can Flag any comment as inappropriate by clicking on the 3 dots to the right of the review.

flag as inappropriate feature google reviews

Google will take at least 3 business days to make a decision on this.  It’s also known that the more people that flag an online review the more likely Google is to take action on it. Other users can flag comments by hovering over a comment and clicking on the flag icon.

User flag as inappropriate

If after flagging the fake online review, you find that no action is taken from Google you can also open a case with Google regarding the fake review. In your Google business account, click on the “Support” tab at the very bottom. A new sidebar will open on the right side where you can select “Need more help” under “Contact Us”.  From here you can select “Customer Reviews and photos”, select your issue, click “Contact Support” and fill out the form to open a dispute.

  • I’ve tried everything and the fake review isn’t being removed
    There are times when a review might be fake, but it doesn’t violate Google’s terms of service.  So it’s there to stay. But don’t worry, it’s not the end of the world!
    • Make sure you’ve responded to the post.  This assures customers that you are a responsive business owner who cares about online reviews
    • Bury it in good reviews!

Burying Negative Online Reviews with Good Reviews

When you first start, it might seem impossible, but I assure you it’s not! Let’s look at some really simple ways that you can get your happy customers to spread the word!

  • At first, try targeting only your happiest customers to get good online reviews building fast.
    • Remind your associates to ask happy customers to review you on Google.
    • Make little business cards with instructions on how to post an online review. Hand it out to your happy customer and ask them to review you on Google. Personal requests generally help prompt people to post reviews. “I’m so pleased that you’re happy with the work that we did!  Would you mind if I asked you to share your experience online on Google by reviewing us?”
    • Email or call a recent customer. Ask about their experience. By asking for feedback, you’re showing customers that you care what they think and that you want them to have the best experience possible. This also gives you the chance to request an review!


No matter how desperate you are, do NOT get friends / family / customers to post fake online reviews, and don’t give people endorsements, discounts or freebies for positive online reviews.  News of this can get around and in the end may damage your company reputation.

“One company had a service person tell me that the boss gave bonuses to his service people based on good online reviews. The service person basically begged me to give him a good review. It was awkward and inauthentic. I will never trust this companies online reviews anymore”


Honest, authentic sounding online reviews are the best, most trusted reviews.


  • Companies that have 5 stars and no complaints look suspicious. You should be looking for a high, but not perfect score.
  • Embrace critical feedback. This can help your company evolve to changing customer needs and wants. By responding authentically to this feedback, it helps other users gain trust in your company. “Thank you for your review.  It’s feedback like this that helps our company move forward and become better. We are currently looking into how we can streamline this process so that it’s better for all our customers.”

Online client reviews should always be a part of your larger SEO plan, and if you follow this advice, you’ll start seeing your reviews working for you. Online reviews don’t need to be a scary endeavor. If you need help with more complex problems like this. Call My Brother Darryl.