how to handle bad google reviews, the creative company in madison wisconsin


(This article is Part II of “YOU ARE JUST DOWN RIGHT RUDE” about how to respond to suspicious reviews.)

To recap, recently a WI based business in the senior care market approached The Creative Company after receiving the following one star review on Google:

We considered this review suspicious for a variety of reasons. The business has no dedicated receptionists on staff. The business also had no records of the reviewer interacting with staff: no phone records, no visits logged, no emails, nothing. The reviewer has left eight other one-star reviews for being treated with some degree of rudeness (“rudely”, “very rude”, “snippy”, “consistently rude”, and “quite rude and inconsiderate”) at eight locations spread over 267 miles. Those reviews and this review seem less than legitimate.

Why It Matters

Below is the “local 3 pack” results for a search on “best public relations” in Madison, WI. The Creative Company’s 5 star reviews are certainly highly visible.

Google’s Review Policy

The main items in Google’s review policy are listed below.

  1. Advertising
  2. Spam
  3. Phone numbers, email addresses, or URLs
  4. Off-topic reviews
  5. Keep it clean
  6. Conflict of interest
  7. Illegal content
  8. Copyrighted content
  9. Sexually explicit material
  10. Impersonation
  11. Personal and confidential information
  12. Hate speech

Working with the client, The Creative Company challenged the review as a “conflict of interest” and as an “impersonation.” Google’s response was that since we have no proof that the review or reviewer are fiction, the review would not be removed.

Looking closely at Google’s review policy, we see that the reviewer may review “their experiences” with the business. Please note that this may or may not include an actual transaction. In other words, I can review a restaurant even if I didn’t eat or drink anything!

The Takeaway

  1. Monitor your business’s reviews
    A business can’t respond to a bad review if they are unaware of it. There are several online tools to help, including Brightlocal, MOZ Local, and Yext to help keep track of the many different review portals.
  2. Go on the offensive
    The best defense against a poor review is an inventory of positive reviews. Consider making Google reviews part of your customer on-boarding strategy.
  3. Play defense
    We recommend responding to negative Google My Business reviews or any negative reviews left elsewhere.