Local small businesses heavily rely on reviews on Google, especially if they keep their Google My Business account up to date and make sure the information is correct.
Unfortunately, there is a huge gap in the Google algorithm that allows honest business owners to dispute damaging reviews. When you face with 1-star review on Facebook, or in one of the Foodie groups on Facebook, as an owner of your small business, you have a chance to address it and fix the situation no matter how unpleasant it could be.
But Google hasn’t created a review algorithm yet that could reliably and accurately identify fake reviews, and ultimately prevent them from showing and affecting your local business score. After all, Fake Google reviews damage both honest entrepreneurs and customers.
Here are some takeaways from Mike Blumenthal analysis of the high cost of fake reviews:
Fake reviews are directly resulting in purchases and economic losses for a customer. If you become a victim of fake reviews, heavily relying on Google reviews, what do you do? Having been in this situation myself, and after trying to contact customer service via phone, email, social media channels, I realized that the only way was to report fraudulent business to the Bureau of Consumer Protection and claim my money through the bank.
While buyers can and should beware, Google has convinced us to trust its review summaries, which can mislead. Make sure to read through the lines. Fake reviews are always very generic and feel just wrong.
There is no quick fix for customers or for businesses who are facing fake reviews on Google. As a customer, there are some ways you could return your money, or spread awareness about the business and its’ fakeness. However, a piece of advice for small business owners and entrepreneurs would be not to concentrate solely on Google for their reputation management.
As in investing, in reputation management, it is important to diversify. Make sure that your listings are in order and are properly maintained on multiple platforms like Yelp or Shopasmalbusiness Directory. Also, keep a conversation with all your reviewers in Google or elsewhere, ask for their information, try to point out dishonesty if the review is completely fake, but keep it professional. It will help your potential customers see that your business is not defined by one or two bad reviews, that as an entrepreneur you work on your reputation and care about it.
Finally, keep your eyes open and follow experts in the field to learn more how to analyze and review your business and the economy, and what to do next.