Want to Remove a Negative Review? Prepare for an Uphill Battle

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:

  1. Contact the review site and nicely tell them about your situation
  2. Give a link to the review and the rule that they broke
  3. Provide thourough details that back up your dispute
  4. 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.

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  • Robertorod80

    I am a small business owner and have been approached by Yelp. I declined to adverstise with them and at the time I had 8 very postive reviews.  The very next day those reviews, most of which had been on my yelp page for about a year were filtered and considered untrustworthy by Yelp’s filtering system.  I called Yelp and WAS ASSURED that negative reviews would be handled “differently” by their filtering system.  Bottom line is Yelp is BS and does not care about business at all.  They pretend to be all about the customer but in fact they are tricking and using you to make money.  

    PEOPLE, if you have a problem with a company try to first resolve the issue with them before doing something that can cause major damage to them…these are after all people trying to earn a living and no one is coming to your work place and trying to ruin your job so don’t do that to someone else simply because you had one bad experience with a company.  If you do not first try to resolve the issue you have NO RIGHT to take out your anger on the company, and the people that work for it by ranting online.  IME people that do this tend to be the types of customers that no one wants anyway and the type of person that most people try to avoid.

    • http://www.facebook.com/sanmateohandyman norman raverty

      if you have a phone number that would be great I can’t find it anywhere

    • Ray Gordon

      Yeah well the problem is that companies don’t listen to reason, but boy do they listen to Yelp. I didn’t hear you coming to my rescue when I was the canary in the coal mine 15 years ago because I was trying to get rich out here and you thought it was just fun and games in all likelihood. “Then they came for you…”

  • Karenhertz1962

    The opposite is ALSO true. Businesses that get negative reviews on Yelp will have it removed immediately IF they pay Yelp to do so. After being ripped off of $1300 by a company, and getting absolutely NOTHING in return, I wrote about the experience in Yelp in order to warn others who might want to check out the company before handing over $1300. As soon as I wrote the negative review, an alert was immediately sent to the company because they checked the “funny” box on Yelp. Then within a half hour, my negative review of the company was removed. A few days later, I put the very same review up with a different email address. This time my review stayed up for at least a few weeks. Some months later, I checked the site again and Yelp had removed my negative review AGAIN and now there is only a long description of the company on that site where there SHOULD be honest reviews from customers. Yelp is a SCAM against consumers who trust that site to leave customers reviews on the site, both negative and positive, for others to see. But Yelp does in fact REMOVE good reviews of companies who refuse to pay Yelp money and Yelp does in fact REMOVE negative reviews of companies who pay YELP to remove those honest reviews. The world would be better withOUT deceptive companies like Yelp that use EXTORTION to get money out of businesses. Yelp is a FRAUD.

    • Ray Gordon

      Too bad you didn’t care in 1996 when it happened to first-wave internet companies. It’s like the cabdrivers who laughed and said it was my fault for being on the internet. Then came Uber…

  • UpsetAB

    I asked for the business to be removed completely from urbanspoon, as their reviews are one way unlike yelp where you can respond, and they said no. I said its my brand and you have no authority to use it, and they said no. It public domain.

    • shayneo

      They have every authority to use the name of your business in a bad review. Its called Fair Use and its protected by the constitution.

    • Pamela Chambers

      I asked the same thing of urban spoon. I commented on a review as the owner just to put the public right about certain things that were wrong and I got a whole week of personal and abusive comments from the reviewer, you have no idea . He even started commenting on the review below him. Urbanspoon/Zomato removed his comments but put his review back. The next morning the review had changed and was even worse, so back to Zomato, still they would not remove it. So as business owners we have no rights at all. It was liked getting stalked on social media.

  • deviljin


    we remove you complaint form consumer sites /Consumer Forum

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  • Asec evil vet

    Yelp do remove negative reviews for business. Because if there is a vet named Todd Cohen who is a psycho at Animal Specialty and Emergency Center in west Los Angeles who intentionally harmed your pet, for such a critical complain, how could yelp allow it appear for their customer, aka the animal hospital!!! This is close to murder!!!