How often do you think business owners look at a one-star Google review and say, “it doesn’t matter, leave it be”? That’s something that doesn’t happen that often, if ever. Every business owner aware of how bad a one-star review looks for the business.

But the real problem is that, no matter how much you try to avoid it, you will get a one-star review sooner or later. If it’s not a disgruntled customer or one that’s had a bad day, your competitors will be the ones leaving you bad – or fake – Google reviews.

And you have to react appropriately to each and every one of these reviews. You must do it quickly, too, because they have a way of piling up and driving your potential customers away. Here’s the correct way to spot and deal with fake reviews and try to take care of genuine bad reviews.

Spotting Fake Google Reviews

The first thing you should do is make sure that you know a fake review when you see one. Luckily for you, people who leave fake reviews might not always be good at hiding their steps. They might also make a series of mistakes, any one of which should alert you of their fakeness.

Your sales record or point-of-sale system is a useful tool for figuring out fraud. You might notice that the reviewer doesn’t appear in your system, or that no one bought an item they are claiming they bought, or that they haven’t made a call to customer service when they said they did. Those are glaring red flags you should pick up on.

Certain types of behavior on the reviewer’s part, as well as the contents of the review, can also raise red flags. For example, a reviewer can suspiciously omit any specific information, such as the name of the person they contacted, or what they were doing at your place of business. They might also use the review to recommend a competitor, or otherwise display a connection to one. And nothing says “fraud” like successive bad reviews in a short timeframe.

Dealing with Fake Reviews

When you’ve noticed a fake review for your business on Google, acting on it is very easy. All you need to do is find the location or the review, and flag it as inappropriate.

Usually, this means going to Google Maps, the place where it’s the easiest to find what people have been saying about your business on Google. Find your business’ location, and there you’ll find all the business reviews. Pick the fake one, click the three dots on the right side of the review box, and select “Flag as inappropriate.” With that, you’re done.

Dealing with Bad Reviews

If you’re dealing with reviews that are just bad, Google gives you a possible recourse only in several cases. And that makes sense, too, because otherwise there would be no bad reviews — everyone would remove theirs as soon as they get them. So some guidelines have to be in place.

They are as follows: you can only ask Google to remove spam or fake reviews, off-topic reviews, reviews that feature prohibited content, or content that displays an obvious conflict of interest. If you want to remove a bad Google review for your business, you better be able to prove one of the above.

If you can, you need to go to your My Business page. Find “support” in the navigation panel, and under support navigate in this way: need more help > customer reviews and photos > manage customer reviews > email support. Provide every single bit of information you can about why the bad review is ripe for removal.

Alternative Recourse

If regular ways don’t work, you have to try something irregular. You can tweet at Google if your request isn’t getting a reply. File a legal removal request if you believe the review constitutes slander.

Of course, there’s nothing preventing you from asking the reviewer to remove the review. You can offer to fix the problem that caused them to leave a bad review. That would probably be the best course of action. Whatever you do, try not to get too angry or too defensive.