The truth is, review sites don’t want to remove bad reviews.
You have negative reviews and they are hurting your business. Your first thought is “I have to get that review off that site”! However, that task is far easier said, than done. For review sites, removing a bad review is not in their best interest for a few reasons:
Removing negative reviews makes the website appear biased – No one is all that interested in reading a website that is full of nothing but glowing reviews. Consumers understand that there will be some negative along side the positive. If there isn’t, many will be skeptical and possibly believe that the site is paid to only show positive reviews. (This leads to the following point)
Removing negative reviews ruins their credibility – Let’s face it, there’s something fishy going on when you look up a business and all the reviews are 5-star, rave reviews. If consumers can’t trust the source, they have no reason to return. In Yelp’s case, they were sued for extorting businesses with negative reviews and are still dealing with the public backlash.
Removing negative reviews takes away the sensationalism/link-bait factor – People love a good drama. We feel like knowing the negatives about a business puts us “in the know”, and in some cases we tell others via blogs, social media, or verbally – “Hey, that restaurant got tons of bad reviews on Yelp, go look!” And this is what these sites want, because it grows their user base.
Those are some of the facts you are up against if you want to have a negative review removed from large sites like Yelp, Insiderpages, CitySearch, etc. I wish I could tell you it’s not an uphill battle, but it is, and you should be prepared.
In most cases, the only thing you can do if you hope to have a negative review completely removed, is go to the review site’s terms of service or review guidelines page and see if what the reviewer did violated their site’s rules. Most of these sites list similar reviewer guidelines:
- Reviews should be of a personal nature – meaning that you yourself had the experience and not a friend. In otherwords, reviews shouldn’t include here-say.
- Reviews should be accurate – This is a SERIOUS grey area and in many cases the one point that you can make against a negative claim.
- Reviewers should not be employees or anyone associated with the business and likewise, they should not be competitors or employees of competitors.
- Reviewers can’t be paid or in any way compensated to write a review, either negative or positive.
Now, if you can prove in any way that the negative reviewer violated the sites guidelines or terms of service:
- Contact the review site and nicely tell them about your situation
- Give a link to the review and the rule that they broke
- Provide thourough details that back up your dispute
- If you have any proof at all (which will be the hardest part) regarding the rule they broke, be sure to provide it
No amount of begging, whining or complaining is going to get that negative review removed from your business listing. And even if, by chance, you get it removed, you will also have to deal with the review being indexed in search engines for several months beyond the date of deletion. It is really up to the website’s administrators whether or not a review is removed (which is very unfortunate for business owners). And unfortunately, in many cases, pleading your case will get you nowhere. It is certainly worth a try if you feel you can prove your case, but in the mean time you might want to consider properly responding to the negative review, so that onlookers (prospects) will not be scared away.
Img credit: Katie T.