What is Review Spam & How Can You Fight It?
We’ve talked at length about the importance of collecting client reviews to post on Google and other various social media and directory sites, but we’ve yet to focus on the phenomenon of review spam. In this week’s post, we’ll explain what this is and what you can do about it.
What is Review Spam?
Review spam is the digital term for when an individual or business account leaves a fraudulent review of your law firm. These are not simply negative reviews; they are reviews that misrepresent your business or allege encounters with your brand that did not take place. Examples of spammy reviews include, but are not limited to:
- A poor review left by one of your competitors posing as a client
- Reviews written by displeased clients that make false claims about your business that simply are not true or didn’t occur
- Reviews left by you or your employee pretending to be clients or peers
- A review written by someone who misstates what actually happened or alleges details that didn’t happen in order to make you look bad or solicit free services
- A review written by someone who was offered an incentive to write it in a particular way or for a specific purpose
- A review that violates the platform’s usage guidelines or terms of service, e.g. incorporates hate speech, personal attacks, or advertising copy
- A review written by a bot and not an actual person
What to Do if You Receive Review Spam
In order to prevent businesses from simply deleting negative reviews, nearly all review platforms — including Google My Business (GMB), Facebook, and Yelp — do not allow you to remove any reviews, spam or not. Therefore, you are left with one of two options:
Reach out to the spammer & ask for a removal of their review.
This doesn’t always work, but we’ve seen instances where a client contacts the writer of a spam review and simply asks them to remove it. The best way to do this is to locate the platform’s usage guidelines and send them as an attachment, stating that they have violated these policies and you will be contacting the platform administrators to alert them of the violation. Remind them that this could cause their account to be suspended and request that they either take the review down or amend it to be an accurate portrayal of their relationship with you. If they do not fix the situation, be sure to follow through on your promise to report the user in breach.
Report the spam review to platform administrators.
If contacting the reviewer proves futile or you simply do not want to contact them, find the correct channel to report the spam review to the platform administrators. When you flag the post, be sure to be as specific as possible in citing why this review violates accepted guidelines. The more information you provide, the likelier it is that the platform will respond adequately and quickly. Below are links that outline usage guidelines and/or explain how to report spam reviews on some of the most popular review platforms:
How to Recover from a Spam Review
It may take some time for platform administrators to assess your request for removal of a spam review, but there are a couple of things you can do to lessen its impact in the meantime. For one, make sure that you have responded to any legitimate reviews that express displeasure at working with your firm. Be polite and address their concerns and apologize for anything you could have done differently. This is not the place to be defensive; the goal of this is to persuade someone to change their review to be more positive after you have validated their experience with you.
Furthermore, ask your happy clients who have not previously done so to write a positive review. A barrage of good reviews is oftentimes all it takes to sink a false or negative review to the bottom of the list. Just make sure you don’t tell your clients what to say or how to say it; doing so could be a violation of the platform’s guidelines.