More threads by Conor Treacy

Feb 25, 2014
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Hi guys,

I had a phonecall yesterday from a potential client from another state that read an article I wrote on our site about the removal of the Google Anonymous Reviews.

During our call, they shared they lost over 180 reviews which took them from a 4.6 star rating to a 1.x :( Really feel bad for them!

80% of the reviews remaining are complaining that the prices for products they sell are too high. Rarely is it a staff, or other issue, it's all down to pricing. They are more expensive, but they don't get the deep discounts from manufacturers that others get, and such is life. 20 years in business, so they have something figured out!

They are thinking about closing out GMB in an effort to kill off all reviews and information. They're known in their community, so Google Reviews are not really what they're looking to do.

So here's the question:
Is it possible to close a GMB, and that kills the reviews too?

Their name is lised as "***** Gun Shop & Police Supply" (**** blocking out their name)
A thought they had also was to close the GMB, then open a new one with their Official LLC name (**** Guns, LLC)

Since their address & phone number won't change, likely closing 1 GMB and opening another under their legal name wouldn't have much affect as Google will still associate.

So, does anyone have any thoughts? They're doing their best to get customers to review them again, but with 20+ 1 star reviews, and only a handful of 4/5, they're in an uphill battle for the next few months.
Hi Conor,

Unfortunately even if they want to, they can't remove their listing. As long as the business is still there, Google will show it. If they delete from dash, it will stay live on the web, reviews and all, they just won't have control over it any more.

The only thing you can do to get rid of a listing is close it. But that marks listing with a big red notice that says "Permanently Closed" so would look like they are out of business.

So the only solution I know of is to work on rebuilding reviews. Long, hard process I know, but really the only option I think.
I agree with Linda. Actively pursuing happy customer reviews is something on most businesses' radar these days. We work with a company in the service industry who had an average 3.0 rating on their main GMB listing. They also had angry people (who weren't even customers) leaving negative reviews across third party directories.

This seemingly brought out other negative people who left more negative reviews. Meanwhile, they had tons of happy customers who just went about their day without leaving a review after getting service which greatly frustrated the client.

So what we did is set up a postcard campaign that included a "how did we do" message and a custom domain that customers could type in, which redirected to the review link on the GMB listing.

It has taken a few months to gain momentum, but they have gradually brought that 3 star review up to nearly 5 stars and they haven't seen a negative review since we began the campaign!

It seems that sometimes people just follow the crowd and when others are complaining about a business, they jump on the bandwagon.

Hope this helps.
Thanks for the feedback guys.

Yeah, we've been instructing them on how NOT to reply, as they take a very agressive stance on negative reviews, to the point of calling the poster "a lier", "a cheat" and "an idiot." And while I'd never say this is acceptable, those responses kind of flew under the radar when they had so many other positive reviews. Now that nearly all the positive reveiws are gone, it unfortunately shines a light on how the business owners treat the negative reviews - and that alone could damage the business.

I'll encourage them to continue building the positive reviews, and not worry about closing it out as it won't do much in this case.
I would encourage them to set up an email campaign with or another review generation service.

What would really get the reviews running is if in the drip emails you briefly and gracefully mentioned the issue at hand. I imagine the happy customers come flocking to leave 5 star reviews once they know a store and staff they love is being unfairly represented online.

The reason I say gracefully is because you want to avoid the 5 star reviews having negative sentiments to the 1 star reviews and calling those people out in their own 5 star reviews. You don't want to start a war, that would look ugly.

But I would definitely use this to your advantage to mobilize people. Just be gentle and graceful.

Maybe something like, "Hey guys, we need your help! On -this date- we lost over -this many- reviews on Google due to Google's removal of anonymous reviews. This has left a large amount of 1 star reviews that drop our review score on Google from -this score- to -that score-. While we can't get these reviews back on Google, we can ask you guys to help join us in our campaign to generate reviews to replace them. This will push the 1 star reviews down (which we've addressed already internally as a team) and start to build us back to fair representation on Google.

Also, we know you'll see the 1 star reviews and possibly be as upset as we were about them but we would rather you not address them in your own review. Instead, just put that energy into writing a really, really good review to balance them out."

That's the gist, but I would call it a "campaign" which turns it from a typical review request to more of a movement. People want to be a part of a movement.

Also, I wrote this on the fly on the last part about the negative reviews is definitely a rough draft. Try to find a better, gentler way to address that but I would definitely put something akin to that in there.

That's just my suggestion.

Good luck!
Everything said above sounds right on the mark to me.

Google's reviews system is not fine-grained enough to distinguish between real customers who have transacted with a business and those who just want to complain about the business's prices. Does not seem fair, but it's Google's house so they get to make the rules, I suppose.
Thanks for the mention Josh!

Conor, that's a really tough situation.

I 100% agree with Josh's suggestion of using an email drip campaign to request reviews from past customers. Specifically the idea of being transparent about the situation, because anecdotally, we've had many agencies and consultants share similar situations and their community of great customers always came to the rescue when gracefully asked.

I also really like Kristen's idea about the direct mail campaign, but I can imagine that would take a long time.

The risk with trying to fix this too quickly is that Google could potentially see a high volume of new reviews as spam or fake and penalize the GMB listing further (but as Linda mentioned, since that listing will still be searchable it *might* be one of those rare occasions where it's worth the risk.)
No problem.

The risk with trying to fix this too quickly is that Google could potentially see a high volume of new reviews as spam or fake and penalize the GMB listing further (but as Linda mentioned, since that listing will still be searchable it *might* be one of those rare occasions where it's worth the risk.)

I would also recommend they only active 2 customers or so a day for the email campaign. It should really slow down the reviews and make it more natural.
I agree. You'd think that in these cases, Google would let the pendulum swing both ways when it comes to removing/earning a large volume of reviews, but that's not their modus operandi.
So, some time has gone past and I wanted to give everyone and update on where things are currently.

I'm still waiting for a call back from the client, but they were able to convince someone at Google to remove their business listing. They no longer have a Knowledge Panel, and as a result of their GMB being deleted, they no longer have any reviews.

I don't know who she talked with, or what she did to get this removed, so I'm waiting on answers for this and will update acordingly.

They are still listed on Yelp (4 stars, 23 reviews) still on mapquest (28 reviews with 8/10 rating) and BBB, Facebook etc etc. So they still "exist" but just not according to Google.

As everyone mentioned, the drip campaign of getting new reviews was on our priority list, but it seems like the moment their GMB profile was killed, they no longer needed to answer emails... (the emergency has passed, so a response 7+ days later becomes the new norm).

I wanted to thank everyone for their input on this. I don't know how she got the GMB killed off, but with that gone, their life has returned to normal.

When I find out the answer, I'll drop the note back in here again on it.
Thanks Conor. Ya I'm really curious what she told them to get it removed. REALLY curious. :)

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