Hit With Negative Review Bombing? Here’s What Happens Next

Has your company been hit with negative reviews after a viral social media post? I’ve been in ORM (online reputation management) since 2009 and will explain the next steps throughout this post.

Let’s first look at some examples of companies that easily recovered from negative Google reviews.

Example 1

Company: Oh Sweet Day! Bake Shop in East Vancouver

Date review bombed: June 29, 2023

Corrected rating: 4.7 stars

Example 2

Company: Fishing Sushi on Concession St in Hamilton

Date review bombed: August 23, 2023

Corrected rating: 4.7 stars

Example 3

Company: Pete Davidson’s NYC Pebble Bar

Date review bombed: March 16, 2022

Current rating: 4.4

How do I know what reviews qualify to be removed?

The first thing to consider is, are these people real customers? Reviews from non-customers are most likely to be removed, or ghosted meaning the reviewer thinks they are live. The review looks live when logged into a browser with a similar Google account, cookie session or IP address as the originator. However, to new customers, that review is hidden. Ghosting is something most major platforms (Twitter, Reddit, Craigslist, Facebook, etc.) use when suspicious activity is detected.

How does Google know which reviews should be deleted?

This is an easy one. If you live in Utah, and you review a business in Chicago, and Google knows you haven’t been to Chicago in a while then it’s obvious. However, if you’re local, it can be tricky. You need the signal of the review bomb from suspicious accounts to really get the attention of Google.

How does Google address review bombing incidents?

It’s important to mention that a significant number of review bombing attempts are effectively prevented from becoming public due to Google’s advanced AI-based moderation systems. These systems are capable of detecting the distinctive patterns of review bombing and can proactively remove such reviews before they are published.

Furthermore, alongside Google’s machine learning tools, there is a dedicated team of human moderators who assess the reviews flagged by users. This ensures that any content overlooked by the AI can still be appropriately handled.

Google has the capability to eliminate reviews stemming from review bombing campaigns and can also take action against accounts involved in such activities, including suspending their access.

Remember, Google is known for deleting other types of reviews as well, for example on their app store (example 1, 2).

How long does it take to get reviews taken down?

Google doesn’t take immediate action. If reviewers think their voices aren’t being heard, they’ll look to do more damage from their armchair so Google will leave the reviews up for a few weeks until the news dies off and the next viral TikTok directs their attention elsewhere. That’s when Google usually automatically removes reviews.

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