A client contacted me recently, questioning whether he could remove a Google review which was factually incorrect. Of course when a review is expressing someone’s opinion, it’s hard to dispute. In this case, the client was a criminal defense attorney. The review said (and I quote):
I hired Joe to defend my case.
I am completely innocent.
Joe got me off with a Felony.
I do not recommend Joe.
He seems to be on the DA’s side. This guy is a waste of time.
When I hear someone say “I am completely innocent and I got pinned with a Felony” — something does not ring true.
Now Joe’s side of the story is that he was able to get the felony charge reduced to a misdemeanor with no penalty. Joe is a well-known attorney with a stellar track record, and a long history of providing legal analysis and commentary for local television stations. I’m pretty sure he’s a stand-up guy who knows how to do his job.
But I digress… the question is not the veracity of the review, but whether it can be removed. As you can imagine, it is difficult to remove a bad review. Quite difficult. If it were easy, everyone would do it, and reviews would be meaningless, as they would all be positive.
But a few options do exist:
- If possible, contact the reviewer and try to “make it right” (which of course depends on the complaint).
- Post another review with a rebuttal to the offending review. Sometimes, if well-written, this can show the review to look silly, illogical, or otherwise unworthy. Of course sometimes this can backfire and make you look petulant and whiny…
- Contact the reviewer and threaten legal action (assuming you have a legitimate claim).
- Flag the review as inappropriate. Many sites provide the means to do this, especially when there are clear-cut violations of site policies (such as offering prescription drugs without a prescription, copyright violation, or hate speech).
- If possible, obtain a court order showing the content to be defamatory (in which case the review site will follow the order and remove the violating content).
While you can’t avoid bad reviews by others, I generally do not recommend that clients link directly to Google or Yelp (or other review sites), for just this reason — you simply can’t control the reviews. Clients who want to showcase good reviews are better off adding them directly to their site, where they can be curated and displayed in a more compelling and positive manner.