How To Respond & Remove Negative Reviews: Yelp, Google+, CitySearch

With the emergence of online review sites, everyone shares opinions—positive or negative, true or false, useful or just plain ranting—and for many businesses, these reviews have a significant impact on the bottom line.  Research shows that a one-star difference in ratings can result in a 9% difference in revenue.  This means that a difference between a three-star review and a five-star review can cause an 18% difference in revenue.  

With that in mind, a highly regarded business has a lot to lose while a poorly rated business has a lot to gain from investing in online review management. That’s why focusing on the review sites that customers are likely to interact with every day is key.  Yelp, Google+, CitySearch, UrbanSpoon, YellowPages, and Angie's List are just some of the go-to websites for customers to research businesses.

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The onus is now on business owners to monitor, manage and potentially remove negative reviews from Yelp, YellowPages, Google+, CitySearch and the other prominent review sites.  These sites allow customers to talk about their experiences with companies and let business owners inform consumers about their services. They have strict rules about deleting or moderating false reviews, essentially refusing to do so unless the reviews in question break the guidelines set by the review site. But all hope is not lost.  While rare, it is possible to have some reviews on Yelp removed, and in cases where it's not, we have some effective ways to address negative reviews on Yelp, Google+, CitySearch, YellowPages, etc.

Claim Your Business Page On Yelp, Google+ Or Any Review Site

Claiming your Yelp, Google+ or any review site business listing is highly important.  Doing so enables you to communicate news to customers and respond to reviewers. This is the first and most important step in learning how to address negative reviews on Yelp and other sites and must be completed before a review site will entertain a review removal request. Once you've claimed your listing, you'll have control over the business details and be able to amend and update your listing as changes occur.  This is also the first step in being able to monitor all your online business listings from one convenient dashboard, but we'll get to that a little further down.

Here is how to do it:

  1. Go to or do a Google search for the appropriate review site.

2.    Search for your business. Click on it when you find it to bring up your business page.

3.    Within the profile you'll have the option to claim your listing.  Just look for a link that says something like “Is this your business?” or "Manage this page."

4.    You'll then be asked to enter some simple information about your business.

5.    Upon filling in all required fields, you’ll have to complete an authentication process over the phone or potentially via snail mail. When your phone rings, which will be almost immediately after entering your phone number, enter the confirmation code provided.

You are now ready to use your Business Page to effectively respond, resolve and potentially remove negative reviews.

Responding To Negative Reviews

Although you may run a good business, you can’t always be perfect.  Your company is bound to make a few mistakes here and there.  Given that people are likely to make more noise about a slipup than they will a great experience, it's important to apologize publicly to a negative comment and then reach out to the customer privately to resolve the situation. Be open and honest about how the mistake was made and what you have done to correct it.  Customers will not trust excuses, but they will listen to real changes.  People don't expect you to be perfect 100% of the time, but they will undoubtedly appreciate your effort to improve the situation and may remove their negative comment or follow up with a positive comment—this will speak volumes about your business and will turn a negative review into a positive experience for future customers to draw from.

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Resolving False Reviews

Sometimes, a negative review will be completely false. Unfortunately, many review sites (Google, Yelp, YellowPages, etc.) won’t delete reviews unless they are profane. If you run into a false review, the best thing to do is publicly respond by politely and firmly explaining why the review is false.  Again, avoiding excuses in these instances is imperative, as is maintaining composure and professionalism.

Of course, even if you clarify false reviews, they remain online, affecting your star rating and impacting your reputation every time they appear in search results.  In these situations there's realistically only one way to effectively handle false reviews: having an overwhelming majority of positive reviews.  This majority will discredit and nullify any false or misleading reviews.   Proactive review-gathering enables you to build up positive reviews over time, creating an active defense against any false or misleading reviews that get posted in the future.

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Managing Your Reviews - Yelp, Google+ YellowPages, CitySearch, Angie's List, etc.

Your business may have reviews and comments on a multitude of review sites such as Yelp, Google+, YellowPages, CitySearch, RateMD, Angie's List and many other prominent sites.  That’s why it's extremely important that you not only have a listing with the correct information about your business, but also that you consistently monitor all these reviews sites for new reviews.  It is especially important to be aware of new negative reviews so that you can limit the damage done to your business’s reputation. One negative review that you're unaware of could potentially cost you a significant number of customers, especially if there are not enough positive reviews that acting as an automatic line of defense.

For instance if you were looking for a dentist or physician online and found one positive review and one negative, what's the likelihood that you would use that business?  Now imagine that a dentist or physician had one negative review but also had twenty positive reviews.  The likelihood of you using that business would be far higher than the first example.  

At we've recognized that every business, large or small, relies heavily on its online reputation as well as its online reviews.  Reputation Management for Business is our tool that assists you in monitoring, improving, defending and repairing online reputations and reviews.  Imagine having your own online marketing and PR team that manages all your reviews, effectively resolving negative customer experiences and building a broad volume of positive reviews from your actual clientele!

To learn more about this service give us a call at 877-258-6338 and we'll gladly review your situation and give you some advice on what service, if any, you should consider.