The sheer amount of information you can find on Google is staggering. There are Google search engines, Google Maps, and even Google reviews, all geared to providing information in a split second.
It has come to the point whereby you can easily look up any company or service provider, and immediately you will be directed to a bunch of user-review sites making reference to your search results.
However, as convenient as it may be to have versatile search engines, such as Google, there are some downsides. What happens if you suddenly get a bunch of negative Google reviews about your company, which are obviously false, but nonetheless are destroying your company’s reputation?
After all, your competitors can easily drop in a few reviews themselves, and in many cases, they do just that. Surely there must be a way to prevent this from happening, right? Well, luckily, Google review sites do have this option, more of which we will discuss later.
If you are reading this article, however, then you are most likely interested in identifying the author of those fake reviews, rather than simply getting them taken down. In that case, you are in the right place!
What Are Google Reviews?
A review is a personal opinion given about a particular service, product, publication, or company. In that regard, Google reviews are simply these kinds of evaluations that are conducted on the Google review platform.
It is common for a Google review to be accompanied by a rating system that is applied to all the participants of the review site. These are usually well-known types of ratings, such as the five-star systems that customers can immediately understand.
As a business interested in collecting Google reviews for your website, the first thing you will need is a Google Merchant account. This will allow Google to identify you as a legitimate business, which is important if you wish to be included in Google search results and similar business listings.
Google reviews will do most of the work for you when it comes to collecting customer feedback regarding your business. It does this by sending customers an email asking them if they wish to participate on the review site, and if the answer is yes, they will receive a survey form to fill out.
While this system plays an important role in helping establish a good reputation for your business, the downside is that you have no control over your customer feedback. This results in Google business reviews that come in the form of either positive reviews, negative reviews, or downright fake reviews. However, the more Google reviews you have, the better for your business in terms of ranking on Google search results and business listings.
Five Benefits of Using Google Business Reviews
Even if not all reviews will paint your business in the right way, they do help with the visibility of your company on search engine results pages.
Google searches have become one of the most common ways used by customers to locate a product or service; therefore, by using Google business reviews to establish and share your business information, you stand to benefit in the following ways:
IncreaseD Brand Trust
The more Google reviews you have, the more legitimate your business will seem to potential customers. Obviously, positive reviews will have the best effect when establishing a good online reputation, but even negative reviews that are handled professionally and courteously are appreciated by customers.
IncreaseD Online Exposure and Local SEO
There is a saying that says, “There is no such thing as bad publicity.” While a lot of negative reviews are not something you would want, having no review requests at all is just as bad. Google business reviews allow your business information to be seen by the right people by listing you on local search results pages.
Feedback Loop and Customer Intelligence
In a world where your customers can be in different locations altogether, and you never get the chance to meet them, Google reviews give both parties a platform on which to give feedback, make suggestions, and provide assistance, which in the end will benefit your business.
Improve Click-Through Rates to Your Website
Click-through rates are a good way to measure the success of your online reputation, visibility, and advertising. With the power of Google reviews, you can have a lot more customers clicking on the links that you want, which can direct them to your products or your other review site.
Convert More Customers
It is not enough to have a high number of visitors to your website, without any of them turning into customers. Google business reviews allow you to funnel the right customers to your site who have the highest potential of becoming regular clients.
How To Add Google Reviews to Your Website
While many businesses prefer taking the shortcut by simply copying and pasting Google reviews onto their sites, they risk losing credibility among an increasingly intelligent customer base.
The right way to go about it is to have a way for customers to leave reviews directly on your website, and this is how to do it in a few easy steps:
- Sign in to the Google account that controls your business listing
- Load your Google landing pages
- Click on the “share” icon
- Select “options”
- Choose “Embed Post”
- Copy the Header code
- Open the review page of your website
- Paste the header code between the HTML tags
- Copy the Content code
- Paste this code wherever you want to display the new reviews
Identifying a Google Manual Reviewer
Now that you have provided a way for happy customers to leave reviews, you can let Google’s algorithm do its work to help you get new business. However, by activating Google reviews, you have also opened the door to those who will leave fake reviews about your business.
When this happens, it can be very frustrating when your business is constantly targeted by individuals who want to destroy your reputation. Besides using the business flag option to alert Google about the person, your options are limited.
Theoretically, there is one way you could try, although the privacy protection protocols used by Google’s algorithm will work in favor of your fake reviewer in this case. Although not easy by any means, you can try the following method:
- Confirm It’s a Fake Review
The last thing you want to do is go after someone who is actually a legitimate Google reviewer because that could land you in a heap of trouble. Just because a review is particularly bad, or contains a lot of false information, does not automatically mean it is not authentic.
Some people may just be voicing their opinions, so you need to be sure that the bad reviewer has malicious intentions before you do anything. Try to engage them in the same way you would with any other users who posted a review. Their response will give you a better idea of their goal.
- Draw Them Out
Now that you are certain this reviewer is out to destroy your business’s reputation, it’s time to find out who they are. The first step is to come up with a unique way to lure them out. You could post an image that you will know the bad reviewer will be curious enough to click.
However, there are a lot of reviewers who will see your post, and if they all decide to take a look, then it will defeat the purpose. Try to post something only your target will open, for example, the image could be related to one of the negative reviews they posted recently.
- Choose a Good IP Tracker App
Google review platforms automatically track the IPs of all the people who post reviews on their site, and with the help of tracker software, you can do the same. There are a lot of IP tracker apps available online, but not all of them are particularly good. You need to choose an app that is easy to use and has been used by others before.
- Just Follow the Instructions
Each tracker works differently, so you have to follow the instructions to the letter. The app will probably give you a new URL, which you will then take to goo.gl (used to shorten URLs) where it will be made unintelligible. In other words, the app will change how the URL appears on the Google review website.
- Be Patient
Once the image has been uploaded with the URL that is linked to your IP address tracker, the only thing left to do is to wait for your bad reviewer to take the bait. There is no telling when they will see the image so you can just periodically check the Google review site until something comes up.
Sooner or later, they will click on the image and you will immediately have their IP address, without them even knowing anything has happened.
- Keep Trying
If the first image you posted did not return any hits or had too many responses, then you should modify the search results by fine-tuning the image you used to make it more enticing and directed to the bad reviewer.
- Last Resort: Report to Google Reviews
When all else has failed, use the business flag feature to alert the Google review team of the suspicious behavior of one of their reviewers.
Types of Negative Reviews and How To Handle Them
If you have resolved to track down a reviewer, it is probably because their negative reviews are so bad, that they warrant an immediate response. However, not all reviews need to be chased down to such extremes. There are other ways to deal with unpleasant reviews, such as:
- A Ranting Customer
Sometimes it may seem that the customer is venting out their own frustrations on you, especially when they not only give you the lowest ranking possible but also go on to rant and possibly even hurl insults.
The best way to respond to this is to try isolating the real issues that apply to your business or service and focus on addressing those while ignoring the temptation to be confrontational.
Some reviewers seem to take pleasure in being critical about every aspect of your business, and whenever you check in on your reviews, you can be certain that you will see their reviews there.
When dealing with this sort of reviewer, remember that the most important part of this interaction is that potential customers will be able to read your response. Do your best to apologize and show that you will take their criticism into consideration
- Terrible Picture and Video Reviews
Social media has given consumers the power to share their experiences online using pictures and videos. However, these posts are sometimes taken out of context. Take, for example, a customer taking a picture of a long waiting line to imply that your services are slow, but they do not mention that it was a public holiday that day.
The best thing you can do is apologize for the slow service, but also be sure to give a detailed and honest explanation as to why that was the case and mention it was a one-time occurrence.
- Foreign Language Review
Gone are the days when reviewers could hide behind using a foreign language to say nasty things online. These days you can easily use Google translate and you will be able to send a proper response in no time.
How To Remove Fake Negative Reviews
At times, no matter how well you try to handle a bad review by responding positively to it, it can still be quite damaging, especially in the case of fake reviews made with mal-intent. The best course of action is to have the review removed by Google reviews.
You can flag a review for removal for a violation of any of the following Google guidelines:
- Spam and fake content
- Restricted content
- Illegal content
- Sexually explicit content
- Offensive content
- Dangerous and derogatory content
- Conflict of interest
Once you are certain that a review is in contravention of Google’s guidelines, you can have the post flagged by going to the review, clicking on the three dots in the top right corner, and then clicking “Flag as inappropriate.” However, do not take this decision unless you are absolutely sure, otherwise, you risk being penalized by Google.
If you do not get the desired results, then another option is to report to the Better Business Bureau or your local Chamber of Commerce.
Can an Anonymous Google Review Be Traced?
You do not necessarily need the name of the person who made the review to be able to trace them, although that would certainly make it easier. If a reviewer has chosen not to disclose any personal information, such as name and location, then tracing them would be very difficult.
While Google will have all the information about that person, including their IP address, they will not share it with you. The only way would be to try using the method we outlined above regarding tracing manual reviewers. This process is, however, theoretical and there is no guarantee that you will be successful.
What Is an IP Address?
IP stands for internet protocol. Therefore, an IP address is a numeric value assigned to a network device, which is used for the location and identification of a network device.
Any kind of device that is linked to the internet has to have its own IP address, for example, laptops, cameras, microphones, cell phones, and even children’s toys that have internet connectivity. IPs can be separated into two categories, which are either IP4 or IP6.
IP4 is the older version which has a 32-bit address, while IP6 has a 128-bit address and is the latest version. IP4 addresses are close to being completely assigned, which is why IP6 was developed.
The Importance of IP Addresses
Without each network device being allocated its own specific IP address, a lot of things we take for granted, such as sending an email, review generation, linking to a third party website, logging on to social media, sending Google review requests, or making online payments, would be impossible. We need IPs for the following:
Identification of Devices
The internet uses the IP address of, for example, your laptop to determine whether it is really you trying to access sensitive information, such as logging on to an online banking platform. That is why when you attempt to log in with a new device, you will immediately receive an email asking for confirmation.
When an error occurs on your network, an IP address is needed to be able to trace the source of the error and identify the device that is causing it.
If any device that is not on your list of approved devices tries to log on to your secure network, it will immediately be identified and denied access until the network administrator gives the go-ahead.
Tracing Location of Users
In the same way that the Google reviews platform can locate you when you send review requests, any devices that access the internet can be traced using their unique IPs. Without this function, the whole process of trying to identify a manual reviewer would be impossible.
Does Google Maps Automatically Track an IP Address?
Google Maps is a consumer application and web mapping platform that is offered free of charge by Google. It allows users to access special features, such as street maps, access to satellite images, real-time traffic updates, aerial photos, 360° panoramic views of streets, and route planning when traveling by car, foot, bike, public, and air transportation.
Like all other Google services, Google Maps can track the location of any user who accesses its platform. Usually, for you to be able to trace someone’s location using Google Maps, the other person must first activate location sharing on their device before you can see where they are.
However, Google itself does not need this permission, and every user’s address is automatically logged whenever they refresh their webpage.
The Circle of Legal Trust Is Here To Help!
We are a worldwide network of lawyers, each highly experienced in various fields, meaning no matter the nature of your problem, we can help you. Our expertise is not only limited to legal issues too because we have in-depth knowledge of business practices, commerce, consumer rights, and cyber marketing.
It’s these broad ranges of experience that make us the go-to team for all issues regarding conflicts between businesses and consumers. If your business is having a problem with a reviewer who is targeting you, then we can offer the following services:
- Understanding Google Privacy Laws
When it comes to the internet, Google privacy laws are a sticky issue that needs to be handled delicately otherwise you risk finding yourself on the wrong side of the law. As much as the Google reviewer may be hurting your business by chasing away new customers, there is a right way to handle things, and we can assist with that.
- Determining the Nature of the Google Review
The first thing we will do for you during your very first consultation is to determine whether the Google review is indeed malicious, and, the important part, whether the review text contravenes any Google guidelines. This will help us decide the best way to handle it.
- Choosing the Best Course of Action
There are many ways to approach such a situation, and the right choice is usually determined by the extent of damage the Google reviews are doing to your business. Whether the reviewer needs to be traced, or some other less drastic approach would work, our skills and expertise will be at your disposal.
- Legal Advice and Representation
If the reviewer is shown to have seriously and unfairly slandered your business in the eyes of other users and potential new customers, then you may be considering taking legal action. If that is the case, our team of super lawyers can help you build a winning lawsuit.
As businesses become more and more dependent on online sales and marketing, the importance of Google reviews has grown exponentially. It can take just a few bad reviews to completely destroy the reputation of a company.
Many times, businesses are made to suffer unjustly due to the actions of Google reviewers who have the advantage of hiding behind their anonymity. That doesn’t have to be the case though, because the Circle of Legal Trust is here to offer a solution.
Don’t let the business you worked so hard to establish crumble when you have the chance to do something about it. Give us a call, and let us help you secure your name and reputation.