| Aug 23, 2023 | | 11 min read

7 Reasons why you can’t delete a Google review as a business owner


Key insights

  • Google's strict review policy prevents you from deleting negative Google reviews to maintain review system credibility.
  • Allowing negative reviews empowers both reviewers and readers, preserving the authenticity of customer feedback.
  • A mix of positive and negative reviews builds credibility and trust in a business's online reputation.
  • Embracing negative reviews as opportunities for improvement contributes to long-term reputation management and customer trust.

It’s no secret that reviews go a long way in your online marketing efforts for your clients. Did you know 92% of customers take the time to read online reviews? With that in mind, it’s no surprise that most businesses have (or will) encountered the challenge of negative reviews on their Google Business Profile (GBP). As much as you might instinctually want to move bad reviews as fast as you can, Google's review system is designed specifically to maintain fairness, ensure authenticity, and make users feel more empowered.

Find out how to capitalize on a good review and minimize the damage of a bad one. Download these review response templates now.

In this article, we'll share seven compelling reasons why deleting your clients’ Google reviews from their GBP isn’t the best option — and how you can use negative reviews to your advantage to foster long-term trust and customer loyalty. As you work on your clients’ digital marketing strategy and reputation management, you can use this to develop strategic approach that showcases your clients' commitment to customer satisfaction and continuous improvement.

Can you delete a Google review?

Business owners or Google review managers cannot directly delete a Google review from their page, and there are seven key reasons why that is:

  1. Google's own review policy
  2. Empowering customers
  3. Building credibility and trust
  4. Establishing trust in the review moderation process
  5. Avoiding bias
  6. Opportunities for improvement
  7. Long-term reputation management

Google follows a strict review policy that aims to maintain the authenticity and credibility of customer reviews. This is because allowing businesses to delete reviews could lead to biased or manipulated feedback, undermining the purpose of providing genuine customer experiences. You also cannot turn off Google reviews.

However, there are some special instances where disputing a Google review for removal is warranted, but only if it violates their review guidelines. Reviews that contain hate speech, offensive content, or are fake may be subject to removal after Google's review moderation process. This ensures that inappropriate or fraudulent reviews do not influence a business's reputation.

1. Google's own review policy

Google’s stringent review policy is the number one reason why you can’t delete negative Google reviews. If they let businesses delete or alter reviews, that would undermine the credibility of the review system as a whole, eroding trust among consumers who turn to those reviews when they are looking to make a purchase.

By ensuring that reviews can’t be changed by businesses, Google tries to create a transparent and unbiased platform where people can openly share their experiences with services and products, resulting in a more fair and balanced overall picture of the business, item, or service in question.

2. Empowering customers

Allowing users to share both positive and negative experiences empowers both the reviewers  and the people reading their feedback. The ability to share unfiltered experiences means people can trust (for the most part) what’s been written. However, not every bad review is made in good faith. If you believe your client has received negative reviews unfairly, there are steps you can take to manage review bombing.

Google values the voice of consumers and wants them to share their truthful experience on the platform. Allowing businesses to delete any negative Google reviews would undermine the purpose of customer feedback and diminish users' trust in the review system. In fact too many positive reviews can lead to less sales, as an average review over 4.5 can actually lead to a decline in purchases (Power Reviews).

3. Build credibility and trust in the business

Having a mix of both positive and negative reviews demonstrates a commitment to transparency and authenticity to potential customers. In today's busy digital landscape, savvy consumers rely heavily on online reviews to make informed decisions about products and services. When potential customers come across a business with a mix of positive and negative reviews, they are more likely to believe in the legitimacy of those reviews and, in turn, the credibility of the business. If a business has nothing but glowing reviews, customers might suspect they are fake, and move along to the competition (read more about how to spot and remove fake reviews).

If your client were to delete negative Google reviews, it could damage their online reputation and raise suspicions among potential customers. People value honest feedback, and the presence of negative reviews shows that the feedback is genuine and not manipulated to only show the good things people have to say.

4. Establish trust in the review moderation process

While it's true that Google may remove reviews that violate their guidelines, including those containing hate speech, offensive content, or are identified as fake, it's essential to recognize that this process is held to the highest standards. Google's commitment to keeping the platform impartial and transparent means that only reviews that genuinely go against their guidelines will be removed.

This moderation process prevents businesses, including marketing agencies working on their behalf, from exerting undue influence over their reviews, ensuring that Google reviews remain a trustworthy source of information for consumers.

5. Avoiding bias

Letting anyone delete Google reviews would introduce a potential for biased or one-sided feedback. If negative reviews were selectively removed, they could present an inaccurate and overly positive portrayal of the business, making it challenging for consumers to make informed decisions. Plus, if they have a negative experience and don’t see that reflected on the platform at all, they’re less likely to trust any future reviews for that — or other — businesses.

Consumers heavily rely on online reviews to guide their purchasing decisions. In fact, 62% of people say they won’t purchase from a company that censors negative reviews (Oberlo). People need to know the reviews they’re reading haven’t been curated or selected to make the service or product look good.

Allowing negative reviews to coexist with positive ones gives balance and maintains Google as an unbiased source, providing consumers with a more complete picture of what they can expect.

6. Opportunities for improvement

As marketing professionals, one of your jobs is guiding your clients in understanding the importance of customer feedback, both positive and negative. Encourage them to address negative reviews with a solution-oriented approach, which demonstrates their dedication to customer satisfaction both to the unhappy customer and potential future customers.

By taking feedback seriously and actioning improvements based on customer feedback and reviews, businesses can show that they are continually striving to deliver exceptional products and services.

This proactive approach when it comes to responding to negative reviews will help you and your clients foster a culture of accountability and a customer-centric mindset, positioning the business as one that values its customers and actively seeks to provide the best possible experience.

7. Long-term reputation management

Addressing negative reviews professionally and not automatically trying to remove them demonstrates a willingness to take responsibility and improve customer satisfaction. Over time, this approach contributes to a stronger long-term reputation, where potential customers can see a business's dedication to continuously do better and shows genuine care for its clientele.

By prioritizing long-term reputation over short-term attempts to control the review system, marketing agencies can help their clients build a robust and credible online presence that resonates with customers and fosters brand loyalty.

What to do when you can’t delete a Google review

Instead of focusing on deleting reviews, businesses are encouraged to engage with their customers, respond to feedback, and address any concerns openly. This approach demonstrates a commitment to customer satisfaction and helps build a positive and transparent online reputation over time.

Report or flag a Google Review

In the case that you find a negative review that does violate Google’s policies, you can flag the review as inappropriate which could have it taken down—as long as you provide them enough evidence to do so.

How to report a Google Review from your Google Business Profile

Step 1: Sign in to your client’s Google Business Profile: Ensure that you have the appropriate access level to manage the business listing for which you want to report the review.

Step 2: Locate the review to report: Find the review you want to report in the list of reviews for your business. Click on the review to open its full details.

Step 3: Flag the review: In the review details, look for the three-dot menu (ellipses) located next to the review. Click on it to open a dropdown menu and select the "Flag as inappropriate" option.

Step 4: Provide a reason: After selecting "Flag as inappropriate," a window will appear asking you to provide a reason for reporting the review. Choose the most appropriate reason from the provided options or write a brief explanation in the text box.

Step 5: Submit the Report: Once you've selected the reason or provided an explanation, click the "Submit" button to report the review to Google for review and potential removal.

Step 6: Monitor Progress: Google will review the reported review and take appropriate action based on their review guidelines. Keep an eye on the review in question to see if any action is taken by Google.

Put your reputation management strategy into action

Remember, while you can’t delete Google reviews, there are things you can do. Businesses should focus on engaging with customers, responding to feedback, and providing exceptional service to maintain a positive online reputation.

By executing a well-rounded reputation management strategy for Google reviews, you can help your clients build a positive online reputation, enhance customer trust, and attract more potential customers to their business. A proactive and customer-centric approach will always contribute to long-term success and growth for your clients.

We’ve covered many reputation management strategies in other blogs, but as a quick overview, here are some things to always keep in mind:

  1. Monitor reviews regularly
  2. Respond promptly and professionally
  3. Encourage positive reviews using tools like the “review us on Google” sticker
  4. Resolve negative feedback privately
  5. Address fake or inappropriate reviews
  6. Showcase positive reviews by creating links to those Google reviews
  7. Learn from feedback
  8. Don’t buy Google reviews—this can backfire
  9. Troubleshoot if Google reviews aren’t showing up

Tips for disputing a Google review

While you can’t delete a Google review, you can dispute when appropriate. Disputing a review should be done responsibly and only for genuine reasons. Encourage your clients to respond to reviews professionally, address customer feedback constructively, and focus on delivering high-quality products or services to build a positive brand image.

Building a robust online presence and engaging with customers positively will have a more significant impact on the overall reputation of your client's business. Here are some tips on how to go about disputing a Google review on your client's Google Business Profile:

  1. Review Google's guidelines: Reviews that contain hate speech, offensive content, or are spammy fall outside of Google’s guidelines and are valid reasons to dispute them. However, genuine, negative reviews expressing honest customer experience, even if unfavorable, might not be eligible for removal. Understanding Google's guidelines will help you make an informed decision on whether to proceed with the dispute.
  2. Document evidence: If you believe the review is fake or posted by a competitor, try to collect any relevant information that proves its inauthenticity. Screenshots, email correspondence, or any communication with the reviewer can be valuable evidence to present to Google.
  3. Respond professionally: A professional response can show potential customers that your agency values feedback and is dedicated to resolving issues.  You’ll need to demonstrate your willingness to address any concerns and provide excellent customer service.
  4. Flag the review: On the Google Business Profile dashboard, locate the review you want to dispute. Click on the three-dot menu (ellipses) next to the review and select "Flag as inappropriate." Follow the instructions and provide the evidence and reasons for the dispute.
  5. Monitor the dispute process: Google will review the dispute and take appropriate action based on their guidelines. Be patient during this process, as it may take some time for Google to investigate and make a decision.
  6. Maintain a positive approach: Focus on generating positive reviews from satisfied customers to counterbalance any negative feedback and build a strong online reputation for your client.

Frequently asked questions

How long does it take to remove a Google review?

It typically takes Google several days to a week to process a review removal request. However, this timeline can vary and is dependent on various factors, such as the volume of reported reviews and the complexity of the review in question. Additionally, requesting a removal also doesn’t guarantee that Google will take the review down due to their strict guidelines and policies.

How many flags does it take to remove a Google review?

Questionable reviews only need to be flagged once by a business. If you’ve provided enough evidence to Google that the review violates its policies and guidelines, they may take appropriate action, which could involve removing the review from the business profile. Flagging a review doesn’t automatically mean it will be removed.

About the Author

Lawrence Dy is the SEO Strategy Manager at Vendasta. His career spans from starting as a Jr. Copywriter in the automotive industry to becoming a Senior Editorial Content Manager in various digital marketing niches. Outside of work, Lawrence moonlights as a music producer/beatmaker and spends time with friends and family.

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