Right off the bat, the answer we would give at Sitelabs to the question we posed in the headline would be: doing your job well. If you have a restaurant, you must cook well, if you are a hairdresser, you must cut and dye your hair well, if you are an English school, you must offer good classes. And all of them must, of course, offer a price appropriate to what they offer, treat their customers well and have facilities in good condition. That is a fundamental beginning to start garnering good reviews on Google or other platforms.
Why do we say that? To begin with, because as much as you try to encourage good reviews on Google (and depending on the case, on Tripadvisor, Yelp, Amazon, Facebook, etc.) in more or less orthodox ways, which we will talk about below, It is very rare that a business , be it a restaurant, hotel or any establishment, is valued by a large number of users as the bomb and then turns out to be terrible or the other way around , it is very Strange that a business has a horrible average score from a reasonable number of users and then turns out to be wonderful. Except in the case of isolated experiences, of course. Until then, surely we will all agree.
Fraudulent reviews (good or bad)
Of course there are fraudulent practices. There are restaurants that invite influential people to eat for a good review on Tripadvisor, beauty centers that offer discounts to those who give them the highest score on Bucmi or Google, and beauty brands that send free products to bloggers so they can make a positive review on your blogs. Although it cannot be generalized in one sense or another, it has been a long time since. Before, with the criticisms in newspapers, guides or specialized magazines, and now, with internet platforms that monopolize the conversation about products and services on the internet.
And not only that. It is widely known that companies have proliferated that directly offer lots of fraudulent reviews to other companies for sums of money depending on the amount. They can be good reviews to increase your own reputation or bad to sink that of the competition. These companies know that the average valuation of a business always has more value if it is based on a greater number of reviews. However, far from being a bargain, this type of internship can bring those who hire them more headaches than satisfactions, especially in the medium-long term.
Google has ways to detect fraud
First of all, Google, Tripadvisor, etc., have ways of detecting fraud, you cannot act with as much impunity as it seems. For example, it is a bit rare that a restaurant that tends to garner good reviews from users with names, surnames and photos, who regularly contribute to making reviews on Google, at the same time has handfuls of bad reviews from users who have only made that contribution to Google reviews. Or, on the contrary, it is suspicious that after a solvent user, with regular contributions to Google reviews, makes a bad review, five wonderful ones appear on the same day. Companies that are dedicated to making mass reviews generate a large number of user profiles to be able to issue the piles of reviews that are necessary to praise or defame a business that is not easy to make seem real.
In addition, real users who have had a good or bad experience in that business generally give details, contribute images, make allusions to specific moments, etc., while fake users speak much more abstractly, with many adjectives that we would not use after a real experience, do not provide images or provide them abstract or false, etc.
Although Google, Tripadvisor, Facebook, etc., are reproached for not investing enough resources in monitoring these malpractices yet, these platforms are the most interested in ensuring their future, which depends decisively on their credibility, and they refine the ways of detection. The online opinion platform Yelp , for example, still little used in our country, but at the peak in the United States, dedicates great efforts to ensuring that the reviews in its application are truthful, eliminating 28% of the comments, and that sets a precedent that puts the batteries to their competitors. Otherwise, far more people will trust the criteria of Yelp reviews than the rest.
As fraud detection mechanisms are perfected, all the “work” done thus far may be for nothing. And rest assured that once our reputation has been damaged, it costs a world to recover it.
(In the reviews on these lines there are some suspicious elements. After several very negative reviews there is a very positive one that does not specify what is remarkable about the place (“all great” is too abstract, if we usually bother to do a review We explain something). On the other hand, none of the reviews is made by users who have contributed more times to Google, in all cases it is the first review they make, something that also raises doubts about the veracity of the reviews) .
More and more users are differentiating real reviews from non-real ones
On the other hand, the fact that it is not advisable to resort to fraud to credit our business or discredit the competition is not limited to the fact that Google, Facebook, Yelp or Tripadvisor penalize it, be it now or in the long term . It can also ruin the reputation of our business in the short to medium term. As with the use of other platforms, users are increasingly better informed of how internet review systems work, and know how to detect which average score is based on real reviews .
Some examples of how real reviews can be detected are: the scores of users with little solidity in the network (who do not narrate their experience in a credible way, who use too many adjectives -good or bad-, who do not provide evidence, who make few contributions other than that, etc. .) will be under suspicion.
We, therefore, always recommend to our clients that they support their reputation in Google, Tripadvisor, etc., in good practices that give it long-term solidity, otherwise, it will give bread for today and hunger for tomorrow . A little later in this post we will detail them, but in general it is about inviting all the people who use our products or services to rate us, without telling them, obviously, what score they should give us, and even less “gratify” that. score with money, discounts or free products or services.
And, of course, give good care and the best possible product or service based on price.
How to deal with reviews on Google that may be fraudulent?
Many, who have come this far, will tell us: “Okay, this is all very nice, but what do I do if I opt for good practices and the competition wants to discredit me with bad reviews?”.
First of all, we should make something clear: that they give us bad or very bad reviews from time to time does not have to be due, necessarily, to fraud . Let’s not get paranoid and think, at first glance, that the competition wants to sink us. Nobody is perfect, and failures happen in all businesses. These bad reviews should help us improve and, why not, to build a credible profile on the internet, since the normal thing is not exactly to like everyone, but there is also a client who, for whatever reason, comes out dissatisfied ever in life.
Respond to the review if it is real or, at least, plausible
If we see that it is a real review from a dissatisfied customer or that in the eyes of users may seem real, it is best to answer . While it is true that if the criticism is fraudulent we will not be able to solve that person’s problems because they have never really existed, it is positive that whoever can read it sees that we take criticism very seriously and that we try to find solutions. The rest of the users do not know if the criticism is false or not, and above all, we should never question it, or at least not directly.
Google, Tripadvisor, etc., have codes of good practice to respond to bad reviews, which it is advisable to follow. For example, we must be polite, never be defensive, be brief and proactive.
For example, in the case of a review that we are not sure if it is real, we could respond:
We deeply regret that your experience was not positive. We would like to contact you to resolve your case and take the necessary measures to improve from now on. We provide you with our telephone number ([telephone number that appears on our website]) and contact email ([telephone number that appears on our web site]) so that you can tell us in detail and we will try to find a solution.
We must never enter into a dispute, for example, denying what has happened, or airing details about the specific case. If this took place in person in a store, it would be like arguing with a customer loudly while other customers listen, for whatever reason we may have in our arguments. At most, if it is a criticism of a user of a face-to-face business in which we found that her feedback was good before she left, we can say:
We deeply regret that your experience was not positive.
When we asked about your experience in our establishment, we did not perceive that it was negative, on the contrary. If so, we would have tried to solve it before you left.
We would like to be able to contact you to resolve your case and take the necessary measures to improve from now on. We provide you with our telephone number ([telephone number that appears on our website]) and contact email ([telephone number that appears on our web site]) so that you can tell us in detail and we will try to find a solution.
In the event that it is not known to us that a user has used our products or services, we can respond in a way that gives the other users to understand in an educated way that it is a fraudulent review :
We deeply regret the experience you report and we would like to be able to find a solution. However, we have no record or memory of any purchase / service with your username or that matches your explanation. Please contact us at [telephone number that appears on our website] or email [contact email that appears on our website] so that you can tell us in detail and we will try to find a solution.
If we see that it is obvious to everyone that the review is fraudulent because it is not credible, especially if we have few negative comments on a regular basis, it may be best not to respond , as well as in the event that we are unable to respond in a calm and professional manner. It’s true that bad reviews, especially fake ones, can cause us anger, but the way we respond is a reflection of our business. Many potential users may be considering going to him at the very moment of reading that comment and the answer, so we should not give them a reason to dismiss it.
Either way, there are ways to try and remove fraudulent reviews that we explain below.
Report the review to Google if it is fraudulent
1. Google allows to report a review that we think is fraudulent by claiming that it violates their policies. Here’s how to do it. If we can, we must have other users report the same review, to give more credibility to the report.
After this first step, it is best to wait a few days for Google customer service to contact us for more details. In the event that the fraud is clear, for example, when talking about an experience that has nothing to do with our business (for example, that our food delivery service is negatively valued when we are a furniture store), a Review can be deleted directly by Google without contacting us, a few days after reporting it. Even in these cases, it is not a bad idea to respond to the review so that the response can be seen during the time it takes Google to take action. This response can be something like:
We deeply regret the experience you report, but we are [type of business and / or activity that you do], so we fear that you have mistaken your business.
If it is a review that contains insults or similar inappropriate content, it is advisable not to wait for the Google team to respond: it is best to report the review on the platform and immediately contact customer service. It is important that you only do it in the case of a flagrant attack: remember that Google asks for your patience and that you do not contact them directly after marking a review, claiming that they take days to be evaluated.
2. In the event that, after a few days, Google does not delete the review by marking it as an inappropriate review, we can contact their customer service (if they do not do before). There are several ways to do this: through the Google My Business control panel, Twitter or by asking in the Google community.
3. When an advisor contacts us, we must try to explain why the review is fraudulent , how it violates their policies, why it should be removed, in addition to contributing, if it is possible, images, links or other details that support our claim.
4. Depending on the case, Google may consider it necessary to refer the case to a Google specialist, who will determine the result. When a decision is made in this regard, the advisor who contacted us at the beginning will forward it to us by phone or email.
How can we build a reputation that minimizes the negative effects of bad reviews?
The best way to ensure that bad reviews on Google or other platforms do not harm us is to follow a strategy to build a solid reputation in advance . If the majority of customers give us positive reviews, a negative review, fraudulent or not, will not do us much harm. On the other hand, if we do not invest resources in a good online image, we will end up investing them in constantly answering negative reviews, reporting them, etc. And our business will be permanently on the tightrope.
Speaking clearly, recovering what we mentioned at the beginning: the first thing we would ask a client who owns a restaurant who wants to improve a tendency to bad reviews verified in Google for insufficient quality of their food will be “but your food? is it really good? Have you considered changing your chef? ”. Some might think that we are getting into their business, but if they want us to take care of their online reputation we cannot work miracles. If people don’t like food, they don’t like food. We can try to get satisfied customers to give good reviews, but if they are in the minority, the strategy will not work .
In the end, no matter how much the support has changed, the generation of a company’s reputation works the same as always: if you do things well, they will speak well of you, if not, they will make you green . Thus, a business that does its job well has almost everything done. It just takes a lot of people to know. And there the internet is our great ally.
Increase reviews of our business
If we do things well in our business, what we will be interested in is that people talk about it, because generally it will do it well. We can follow the following steps:
1. Customer feedback
Sometimes reputation building strategies start with more traditional techniques. For example: Do we talk enough to our customers to find out if they are satisfied with our products or services? Do we take notes when they request services or products that we do not have? Do we know what you would like us to improve?
Before asking our clients to rate us we must have an idea of what their general feeling is , to ensure that these scores will be mostly positive. Otherwise it may be counterproductive.
We can ask in person or also by email, through surveys that we can generate with very different tools, such as those listed in this post. Ideally, combine both if possible.
2. Monitoring of our mentions on the internet
To test our customers’ satisfaction with our products and services, we must also take into account those who do not explain their experience to us but do talk about us anyway.
This includes looking for our name on Google, on Twitter, on Facebook, etc. and find out what they say about us . There are tools that help us to systematize this monitoring, such as Google alerts (which allow adding alerts for our brand name, website, administrator’s name and certain keywords). We can also use more sophisticated applications to group alerts from social networks, Google, etc., such as Moz’s Fresh Web Explorer, Sprout Social, BrandWatch, etc.
It is important that this task does not obsess us. We cannot focus on specific cases, after all it is impossible to please everyone. The important thing is that the average perception of the user is good.
3. Ask customers to give you reviews
The best way to prevent the negative effects of a bad review is to invite our customers (especially the most loyal ones) to give us reviews, and insist that they include reasoned evaluations. We can request it in person when they come to our business, or by sending them an email if they have subscribed to our newsletter with links that go to our profile on the different platforms to write the review. We must be aware that we will have to insist on it, since not all those from whom we request an assessment will do so. It’s nothing personal, we have busy lives, and maybe people don’t remember right away and do it later.
It is very important that we never tell customers what score they have to give us , much less offer them money, discounts or free services or products in exchange. If someone takes this offer as an offense or someone else finds out and publishes it by Google or any other review platform, it will not only give us a bad rating, but it will also make us doubt that the good ones are real. And that can sink our reputation forever.
If we request the reviews personally, it is worth telling customers that they can include something to improve in their comment, as that reinforces credibility. Four stars out of five is more than enough. And above all, we shouldn’t try to counteract a negative review by trying to get several customers to give us fantastic reviews the next day. It is highly suspicious.
What is a good score in Google reviews?
In general we can say that we must make an effort so that our score ranges between 4 out of 5 and 5 out of 5. It is proven that a lower average score, which has the figure 3 in front of it, is a psychological barrier, since a 3 out of 5 for most is a “sufficient” or a “pass”, even ruling out options with a 3.8 out of 5 or 3.9 out of 5. It is a matter of perception, because in reality a 3.8 out of 5 would be 7.6 out of 10 and a 4 out of 5 would be an 8 out of 10, only 4 tenths of a difference, but perception is essential in the predisposition to buy.