How to Manually Flag Reviews on Google, Yelp and Facebook
Carrie Hill

Today we have a guest post from Markella Haynes from MDG Advertising. At MDG Advertising, Markella develops and executes social media marketing strategies for clients across a wide array of industries, while leading the local search marketing efforts for the team.

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Can’t take the heat from a fake negative online review? You don’t have to go to extremes to request removal. So what should you do when you see fake and offensive reviews about your business online? What steps do you need to take to have them removed from different platforms?

Sites like Google, Yelp, and Facebook have algorithms that are supposed to prevent policy-violating reviews from being posted, but their systems are not perfect. Often,reviews from competitors, ex-employees, and fake accounts slip through, and it’s your responsibility to step in and manually request the removal of specific posts when they violate guidelines.

So how do you manually flag a review for removal? The processes are (mostly) straightforward, but still require dedication and a watchful eye. Here are the site-specific steps for Google, Yelp, and Facebook:

Google My Business

Key Things to Remember

  • Know Google’s review policies and what actually constitutes a policy violation.
  • If you want to flag a review simply because you don’t agree with it, don’t. There has to be a substantive reason for it to be removed.
  • Google doesn’t play middleman. It won’t  get involved in merchant-versus-customer disagreements and it won’t decide who is right or wrong.
  • Be patient. If you flagged your review correctly, it can take a few days for Google to look it over.
  • These same steps can be used to remove Google Questions and Answers that violate guidelines, or if a user posts a review as a Question or Answer. Direct violations are typically removed within three days.

How to Request Review Removal

  1. Start by flagging the review manually rather than going straight to support.

Navigate to the review on Maps or in your Google My Business dashboard and click the “Flag” icon to the right of the timestamp. You may need to hover over the review for the flag to appear.

  1. Once you flag the review, you’ll be redirected to the “Report a Policy Violations” page.

If you’re the business listing owner or manager of the listing the review was left on, be sure to put in the email address associated with the Google My Business account—not your personal email.

You have just a handful of options, so choose the option that best exemplifies why you think this review should be removed:

•   This post contains hateful, violent, or inappropriate content
•   This post contains advertising or spam
•   Off-topic
•   This post contains conflicts of interest

You’ll know it was successfully submitted when you’re redirected to a page that says, “Thank you. Your report has been submitted.”

  1. If your review still exists after three business days and you’re sure it violates a policy, you can escalate by reaching out to Google My Business Support on Twitter @GoogleMyBiz.

When contacting Support directly, be sure to use the email address associated with the business listing, and include the following items:

•   The reviewer’s name on Google
•   The exact policy you feel this review breaks
•   A direct excerpt from the review that violates this policy

Typically, Google Support responds within 1–5 days and will take another look.

Yelp

Key Things to Remember

  • Yelp’s review policies are similar to Google’s, but not exactly the same. Make sure to read them fully so you know what constitutes a violation.
  • If your request to remove a review is denied, you can ask Yelp to take a second look at it by submitting a request here.
  • Like Google, Yelp doesn’t play middleman. It won’t  get involved in merchant-versus-customer disagreements and it won’t decide who is right or wrong.

How to Request Review Removal

  1. Log in to https://biz.yelp.com/ and find the review under the correct location.
  2. In the bottom right-hand corner of the review you’d like to report, click the flag icon.
  1. A dialogue box will appear and ask you why you want to report the review and a text box that gives you the opportunity to explain why you think it should be removed.

When writing your reason for removal, follow this format:

•   Explain which Content Guideline or Term of Service the review violates by directly copying and pasting the guideline into the review box.
•   Take at least one excerpt from the review that you feel is telling and violates their rules.

* Note: Selecting the “It contains false information” option almost never works, especially if it’s a he-said-she-said matter.

  1. You’ll receive a confirmation email stating that your removal request was submitted. Yelp typically responds within a week with a decision, and you can always appeal it.

Facebook

Key Things to Remember

  • Despite Facebook’s large digital footprint, it’s fairly new to the review game. Getting reviews removed on Facebook can take weeks, even months, so be patient.
  • Familiarize yourself with their Community Standards so you can accurately flag a review for removal.

How to Request Review Removal

  1. Go to the review and click in the top right
  2. Click “Report post”
  3. Follow the on-screen instructions

•   Only certain on-screen instructions will allow you to actually submit the review for removal.

  1. If your review is not removed after submitting it, contact support here.

Why is going through all this so important? According to Bright Local’s Local Consumer Review Survey, 97% of consumers read online reviews for local businesses and 40% say negative reviews impact their decisions on which local businesses to use. Ensuring that your reviews are legitimate is vital to keeping your reputation sound and ultimately gaining consumers’ business.

About Markella Haynes

Markella Haynes is a Social Media Community Manager at MDG Advertising. She has been a part of the LocalU community for more than three years, and is an avid contributor to the Google My Business Advertiser Forum.

At MDG Advertising, Markella develops and executes social media marketing strategies for clients across a wide array of industries, while leading the local search marketing efforts for the team.

MDG Advertising, a full-service advertising agency with offices in Boca Raton and New York, NY, is one of Florida’s top healthcare marketing companies and branding firms. MDG’s core capabilities include branding, logo design, print advertising, digital marketing, mobile marketing, email marketing, media planning and buying, radio and TV advertising, outdoor, newspaper, video marketing, infographic development, website design and development, content marketing,

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Carrie comes to Sterling Sky with SEO experience that dates back to 2005! She has a passion for figuring out what works for each and every client and picking apart the problems that arise in our “it depends” relationship with Google. She has also been organizing and nurturing the LocalU Conference Series since 2017 – through to today – across a hectic few years of pandemic and back into in-person conferences again.