twowheels

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One of our clients recently has been getting spammed like crazy on GMB reviews for one of their locations. The owner can't figure out who it is, but they are making up completely false stories and posting under different profiles. The owner of the business and their team have already flagged all the reviews and he is trying to get in touch with GMB support.

The claims are really inappropriate (discussions of masturbation for example) and really damaging to the business. Their local rating has gone down from 4.9 to 3.4 in just a couple of weeks since this started happening.

Are there any other things that we can do to help them fight this abuse?

Thanks!

Mark
 

twowheels

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Thanks Linda. Yes, the client has posted in that forum but hasn't received any help yet.
 

Linda Buquet

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Thanks for sharing Mark.

I know owners can be really sensitive about reviews and I would be too if i had reviews like that, but here is the reality.

GMB and reviews are a free product. If Google investigated every review conflict which often is just a he said she said thing, or looked at evidence like police reports or lawsuits or eviction notices or whatever...

They would be playing judge and jury.
They would need lawyers just to deal with the law suits.
They would need a team of 1000 to keep up all the review complaints world wide..

The only reviews they will remove are ones that violate their TOS, such as swearing or racial remarks or whatever. Written words that look bad to Google basically AND that their attys have said are grounds for removal.

I quickly skimmed the reviews you showed and a Googler likely would not take time to go any deeper than I did after reading the 1st few reviews.

On the surface most of the reviews I've read fall into the "he said - she said" category. Things like late on project, sloppy work are things a "real" unhappy customer has a right to say. Unless you can prove it's the same person or an ex-employee, not sure there is much hope. Here are a couple things you can try.

Read the Google TOS on reviews and only report in that forum ones that are in violation. Googlers do not have time to sift thru review after review of what could "potentially" be just disgruntled customers. So you'll need to find the ones that are a blatant violation and list those only.

The only other thing I can think of, is if you investigate deeper and are able to see a pattern of abuse. So for instance if all the reviewers have also reviewed companies all over the country or world, or several reviewers that all leave reviews for some other company - those are patterns that could point to someone hiring review scammers to post. Or if you can find any proof they are all posted by the same person, with different accounts. (Hard to do.) If you had enough to get Google to investigate, they could easily tell if all the reviews were coming from the same IP.

Any examples would need to be specific and provable and they don't have 1,000s to investigate. There are likely millions of companies with reviews about bad products or services, some are valid customer complaints, some are fake reviews. Google would not be able to tell, so unless clear TOS violation like racial hate speech or porn or something, I don't think you'll have much luck.

Hope I'm not sounding like too much of a "Debbie Downer" but unless you can point to more specific and obvious violations, you are probably out of luck.

I think you would be better off helping the company focus on ways to get more legit reviews, and writing carefully crafted replies to the ones that are negative. Also if any of these complaints are possibly true and especially if they follow a pattern (like always late, or left a mess) then help the company see this as important feedback they can use to improve their service.
 

Cherie Dickey

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Linda's right, unfortunately. Google is not going to look too deeply into this because the content of the reviews is not in violation, and they are not all coming from the same account.

Personally, I think this person is creating Google accounts, and reviewing under them. Google requires a phone verification to create accounts, but with enough friends and family to use their phones, you can do this indefinitely.

Looking at all of the accounts, every one of them is either a first time reviewer, or made multiple reviews in the area very close together. All of this together tells me that this is a single person, who actually may have knowledge of Google's TOS.

I see that the business founder replied to the latest one... I would advise deleting that particular response, and making a new one that is a bit less defensive. Something that starts off along the lines of "I'm sorry, we would like to reach out and try to rectify this situation, but we do not have your name in our system. I'm not able to locate where we have provided services to you. Could you be listed under a different name?"

You can also address the contents of the reviews with facts - calmly and professionally. "We do occasionally hire contractors to service our jobs during high volume times. If there is an issue with the job they did, we certainly need to hear about it. Unfortunately we are not finding you in our system, and so cannot see who worked on your home. Could you have possibly signed on with us under a different name? Please reach out to us directly at xxx-xxx-xxxx, and we will be more than happy to get this resolved for you"

Responding in this way individually to each review lets new customers who see the reviews see that you take responsibility for the work that you do, and are willing to make it right... it also lets them know that this may not be an actual client of yours. It will leave them with a better impression than a more defensive response would leave.

This, along with burying these bad reviews with good, is most likely your only option because Like Linda said, Google is most likely not going to remove them. It's very unfortunate, and I am so sorry this is happening to your client's business!

-Cherie
 

djbaxter

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I see that the business founder replied to the latest one... I would advise deleting that particular response, and making a new one that is a bit less defensive. Something that starts off along the lines of "I'm sorry, we would like to reach out and try to rectify this situation, but we do not have your name in our system. I'm not able to locate where we have provided services to you. Could you be listed under a different name?"

You can also address the contents of the reviews with facts - calmly and professionally. "We do occasionally hire contractors to service our jobs during high volume times. If there is an issue with the job they did, we certainly need to hear about it. Unfortunately we are not finding you in our system, and so cannot see who worked on your home. Could you have possibly signed on with us under a different name? Please reach out to us directly at xxx-xxx-xxxx, and we will be more than happy to get this resolved for you"

Responding in this way individually to each review lets new customers who see the reviews see that you take responsibility for the work that you do, and are willing to make it right... it also lets them know that this may not be an actual client of yours. It will leave them with a better impression than a more defensive response would leave.

This sounds like excellent advice to me!
 

twowheels

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I don't think you need an email or phone number to open a gmail account anymore.
 

Cherie Dickey

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I don't think you need an email or phone number to open a gmail account anymore.

You don't need to have an email or phone linked specifically to Gmail, but you do need to verify the account via call or text. Any number can be used for this purpose, but only a few times before Google starts telling you the number has been used too many times.
 

Linda Buquet

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Thanks so much for weighing in Cherie. Excellent advice!
 
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