"Can I delete a bad Google review?" Some customers and business partners ask us this question from time to time. Therefore, in this article we explain in detail what you can do if your company has received a bad Google rating.

Google reviews
Bad Google ratings – this is how you protect your company from damage
Dissatisfied customers, envious competitors or a targeted shitstorm: never before has it been as easy as it is today to severely damage a company through public criticism. Of course, negative comments are not always completely unjustified. However, it is also a fact that the Internet invites exaggerations due to its anonymity and offers many opportunities for abuse. In the following, we would like to show you how you can confidently deal with bad reviews in order to limit the damage to your company.


What is a Google Review and how does it work?
With a market share of almost 95%, Google is the most used search engine in Germany. This also includes the online map service Google Maps, which helps many users to find services, craftsmen or commercial establishments, among other things. When asked which of several possible providers he should prefer, the user can use the Google reviews system. The company’s Google Score, which is displayed there by a number of stars, is calculated from the average of the ratings given by previous customers. The possible range is defined by Google as follows:

5 stars = Excellent
4 stars = Good
3 stars = OK
2 stars = not so good
1 star = really bad

In addition, customers also have the opportunity to add a written rating to their assessment. Due to the reach of Google, the displayed average in particular has a direct impact on the success of a company: When looking for a provider, many users instinctively give preference to the competitor with the best rating in the search engine. As an entrepreneur, you should therefore keep an eye on the development of your Google ratings. Looking at the stars is particularly worthwhile if you are wondering about sudden, seemingly inexplicable business declines: Especially for smaller companies with few reviews so far, two or three bad reviews can tear score and sales into the abyss. If this happens, however, you should not give up: Use recognizably justified criticism to improve your offer. You should also not let obvious malicious attacks rest, because the Google system offers you several options for reacting to them.


Have inappropriate reviews deleted – is that possible?
Even if Google sets high hurdles for deleting a review, you are not at the mercy of arbitrary devaluations. Therefore, check whether a review violates the guidelines defined by Google. If this is the case, you have a good chance of enforcing a deletion. The best way to do this is to use the Report reviews as inappropriate function. Please note that pure criticism, even if formulated harshly, is usually not considered inappropriate by Google. In any case, you have the opportunity to react in writing and to create a publicly accessible correction. This has no influence on the score, but gives readers the opportunity to understand your point of view. You have a slightly higher chance of deleting critical reviews if your company is exposed to a targeted shitstorm. Google recognizes this by the fact that an exceptionally large number of 1-star ratings are given in a very short time. In this case, it is also worth trying to consult the reporting form.

If Google doesn’t respond, your last resort is to hire an attorney and take legal action. However, since this is time-consuming and expensive, you should first try to avert the attack through clever corporate communication. In any case, you need writing access that gives you the opportunity to react to reviews in writing and publicly. Therefore, verify yourself as the owner of your company. You can do this directly on Google Maps. To do this, use the »Register as owner« link, which you can find directly under your company’s contact details.

»Actually very satisfied, but…« – Manage mediocre ratings professionally
Critical reviews are not always exclusively negative. Some customers clearly make an effort to formulate their experiences in a differentiated way. Even if you are annoyed by one or the other point of criticism: If necessary, use it as a suggestion to further improve your offer. If, as a hotel operator, you receive a 3-star review with the comment “Very nice, comfortable rooms, but the breakfast buffet could be a little richer,” then a written response is worthwhile. First of all, thank you politely for the visit and the assessment given. Then, in a compelling way, express your regrets about your guests’ negative experiences. Then ask them for direct feedback on what improvements they would like to see made. In this way, you not only show the critic, but also all other potential guests, how much you care about a flawless performance.

The fine art of dealing with mixed reviews also includes using the response function specifically for corporate advertising. If the feedback in a 4-star review reads “Very good, but a bit too expensive for the rural region and the quality of the food,” then specifically underline the regional organic quality of the ingredients used or the special qualifications of your chefs in your replica. But stick to the truth here, as experience has shown that small cheats are quickly noticed by regional insiders. You should definitely avoid bossy answers like “If it’s too expensive for you, why do you come to us?”, even if your fingers are itching! In the age of the Internet, such honesty is the fastest way to catch a veritable shitstorm, which is then difficult to moderate and leads to more bad reviews.


»The shop is just underground!« – Dealing confidently with bad Google ratings
If you’ve never received a bad review, you’ll probably have to swallow first: what some users say, mostly under cover of anonymity, doesn’t always read particularly elegantly. “Bad food, dingy tablecloths, horrible service: And they still charge for that? Sorry, I’m only giving it one star because you can’t give zero stars!!!« – If you don’t recognize your passionately managed company in a review, then you should sleep on it before you write one write reply. The danger of reacting incorrectly in the first anger and making things even worse is too great. If you have to admit that the criticism contains a kernel of truth, then it is important to soberly analyze the shortcomings mentioned and work on improving them.

In any case, take a deep breath and remain factual in your answer: »Dear customer, thank you very much for your feedback. We are very sorry to read that you were not satisfied with our services. Rest assured: Your experiences with our company in no way correspond to the requirements we place on ourselves! We would be happy to talk to you personally about your suggestions for improvement, so that we may still be able to count you among our satisfied customers in the future. We would be very grateful if you would contact us and give us this opportunity.« – If you manage to enter into a positive dialogue with the customer, there is a good chance that they will improve or delete the rating they have given .


Maintaining your own review page – how does that work?
The fewer reviews it has received on Google, the more vulnerable your business is. A few bad ratings are then enough to make the score look poor. In this case, only many new, best possible customer votes can help. However, you should definitely refrain from artificially improving the ratings! If you ask your entire family to add new stars to Google, the risk of discovery is high. Before you put yourself in this embarrassing situation, you should think about how to motivate satisfied customers to write a real review. Along with the bill, give them a small business card with a subtle note that you would be happy to see their rating on Google. However, it is essential to refrain from specifically asking for favorable votes when formulating the wording, as your customers could see this as an attempt at manipulation. It is also a no-go to offer material advantages for a good rating. Word like this gets around quickly and may trigger further negative reviews.

In addition, there is nothing wrong with occasionally responding to particularly good customer opinions. Anyone who has put a lot of effort into formulating a clean 5-star rating should receive a friendly thank you as a comment from you. This is also a good opportunity to place more discreet advertising. If the comment says: »The Pizza Frutti di Mare was simply a poem!«, then you could reply: »We are very pleased that you enjoyed the food! By the way: If you like seafood, why not try our delicious Spaghetti Vongole. Our chef always conjures them up with a lot of garlic and a hint of white wine: you will be delighted!« For the perfect public image, it is also worth paying attention to correct grammar and spelling. To avoid typing errors, you can use the free DUDEN tool to check your postings for correctness before publication.


In the eye of the hurricane – when your company becomes the target of a shitstorm
A dissatisfied customer with a large network, a thoughtless comment or a political statement on your part: A shitstorm can quickly be conjured up, but is often difficult to calm down again. If the 1-star ratings suddenly start pouring in every minute, you should first keep a cool head. Analyze the trigger and think about what mistakes you might have made. If the problem is easy to isolate, offer an appropriate apology and promise to fix it. Remember: When in doubt, the customer is right, because it is he who can ensure positive sales development. That’s why large companies have long relied on professional social media management that calms overheated moods with psychological sensitivity. As a small or medium-sized entrepreneur, you too can benefit from such techniques by relying on de-escalation and consistently avoiding any combat mode. In any case, stay calm and serious, even if emotions are running high.

Whether you want to make political statements on behalf of your company is a business decision that you should think about carefully. At worst, positioning yourself in a certain direction will cut you off from half of all potential customers. However, if your direction largely coincides with the views of your target group, this can still lead to a sales push. However, it is quite doubtful that you will ever get a positive score on Google again on this polarizing path.

You gain influence on the Google ratings of your company by reacting professionally to complaints and presenting yourself as a serious contact person. Remain calm and matter-of-fact when dealing with critical customers when you reply to their reviews on Google. This way you gain the respect of your fellow readers and you can also use very negative voices to make a good impression. But the most important thing: Take the needs of your customers seriously during order processing and ensure their satisfaction to the best of your knowledge and belief. This gives you the best chance of positive customer reviews, which will increase your visibility in the Google search engine.