Will Google Take Down a Bad Review?

Feb 23
min Read
Google Reviews

The short answer to this question is yes…and no.

The long answer to this question is…longer.

Google and Negative Reviews

Most businesses fret and worry about negative reviews (and for good reason btw). Studies from Harvard and Brightlocal indicate that a business will mostly likely see fewer customers when they get even a SINGLE negative review. A 1-star lower rating, will on average, cost a small business several thousand dollars in revenue.

In previous blog posts we’ve talked in depth about what you should and should not do when you get negative Google reviews.

But in this post, we’ll answer the most common question we’re ever asked about Google reviews: will Google take them down?

Before we answer the question, let’s look at things from Google’s standpoint. Specifically, why do reviews matter so much to Google

Why to Reviews Matter so Much to Google

Google has one job. That job is to produce the result that the searcher wants to see. For instance, if the searcher is trying to find the best law firm in their area, Google wants to, reliably, show them the best law firms to choose from.

The only way they have to do that, is by showing law firms that have the best reviews. So, from Google’s standpoint a negative review about that law firm (or any SMB) matters to Google just as much—and maybe more—than positive reviews. It’s the negative reviews that are most revealing to the searcher.

Keep this single and valuable truth in mind: Google cares FAR more about the searcher than they do about the business. If the searcher loses faith with Google, their business ends. Therefore, no amount of complaining, whining, or reporting will cause them to take down a negative review.

There actually has to be a good reason for them to do it.

So When WON’T They Take Down a Negative Review?

Generally speaking, Google will NOT take down a negative review. And the reason is simple: they have no way of knowing if the negative review is accurate.

If someone says your law firm, dealership or bridal shop is dishonest, has terrible customer service, or charged too much money, Google WILL NOT take that down.

If someone says your law firm, dealership or bridal shop is dumb, and ugly and your pipes are leaking and your bathroom wasn’t clean, Google WILL NOT take that down.

Even if someone says that your law firm, dealership or bridal shop is poorly run, the owner is a clown and someone yelled at you, Google WILL NOT take that down.

Again, the reason is simple: Google has no way of knowing if that review is telling the truth. And they’re not going to send in investigators to look at your bathroom to determine if it’s clean, or talk to your owner to determine if, in fact, your owner is dumb.

They don’t know. So they’re going to leave the review up.

When WILL Google Take Down a Review?

If it crosses the line. Here are Google’s own words:

If you have solid evidence that a review is fake, you can flag it to Google. This will alert Google to the review and get them to consider removing it. In order for a review to be flagged, it should meet Google’s guidelines.

Google considers the following review characteristics to be inappropriate and removable:

- Contains offensive language or profanity

- Is written by someone with a conflict of interest, such as a current or previous employer, employee, friend or competitor

- Is written by someone who never experienced the service or product provided.

That’s it.

The list is small.

Google will not release how frequently they take down reviews. But estimates are that it’s only about 5% of the time when a business requests it.

It’s not common.

Follow the strategies we’ve laid out in other blog posts about how to deal with negative reviews. Don’t rely on Google to take them down. They likely won’t.

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