June 24, 2024

What Happens When You Report a Google Review? (3 Ways to Battle Bad Reviews)

When your business receives a bad review, the effects on your reputation — and your bottom line — can be devastating.

Fortunately, business owners aren't powerless against negative customer feedback.

As we'll explore in this guide, there are three effective ways to combat negative reviews on Google:

  1. Reporting inappropriate reviews that violate Google's policies
  2. Responding to legitimate reviews by following best response practices
  3. Implementing customer feedback to increase customer satisfaction and prevent negative future reviews

We'll explore these strategies in this step-by-step visual guide to reporting Google reviews, sharing our best tips for both preventing — and responding to —  negative feedback from customers. 

How to flag an inappropriate review on Google: 4 methods step-by-step

You can flag Google reviews with::

  1. Google Maps
  2. Google Search
  3. Google Business Profile account
  4. Google's Reviews Management Tool 

Method 1: From Google Maps

  1. Locate your business profile using Google Maps 
Google maps reviews
  1. Select the “Reviews” tab
step 1
  1. Locate the review you wish to report and click, tap, or hover over the three dots icon, which will show you "Actions for [ Reviewer Name's ] review" 
step 2
  1. Select "Report review" 
step 3

**Please note that the example review above does not violate Google's policies and is only featured here to demonstrate how the review reporting process works.

Method 2: From Google Search

  1. Locate and select your business using the search tool 
Google Search example
  1. Select "View all Google reviews" 
Google reviews
  1. Locate the review to report
  2. Click or tap the three dots icon and select the "Report review" option

Method 3: From your Google Business Profile account 

  1. Log into your Google Business Profile (formerly Google My Business) account by selecting "Sign in" or "Manage now"
Google Business Profile account
  1. Choose the appropriate option below:some text
    • If you're a single-location business, select the profile you want to manage, then choose “Reviews” from the left-hand menu 
    • If you're a multi-location business, follow the steps above, but choose “Manage reviews” and then select a location group from the drop down menu 
  1. Locate the review you’d like to flag 
  2. Tap or click the three dots symbol to report the review to Google

Method 4: From the Reviews Management Tool

  1. Navigate to Google's review manager tool and confirm your email to proceed (or, if necessary, choose "Switch account" and select the appropriate email address) 
google reviews management  step 1
  1. Locate and select your business
  2. Select the "Report a new review for removal" option
  3. Choose the "Report" option for the inappropriate review
  4. Select the review/violation category when prompted
  5. Tap or click "Submit" to flag the review

What happens after you report a Google review?

Google may take anywhere from several days to several weeks to investigate, and potentially take down, a flagged review. In most cases, the review process takes a few days for Google to complete.

In the meantime, you can stay informed about the status of a reported review by using Google's review management tool. Simply choose the menu option labeled "Check the status of a review I reported previously," which will display one of the following three status options:

  • "Decision pending" — This status means Google hasn't started investigating the review yet
  • "Report reviewed: no policy violation" — This status means Google investigated the review, but didn't find any issues with the content
  • "Escalated: check your email for updates" — This status means that Google is continuing to investigate and will send its decision to your inbox

If you disagree with a finding of "Report reviewed: no policy violation," you can challenge (and potentially reverse) the decision by going through Google's appeals process. However, Google only allows businesses to appeal a decision about a review once. That means Google's second decision is final and cannot be re-challenged.

For that reason, it's important to follow instructions carefully and make each appeal count. To appeal a decision about a review you flagged or reported, follow Google's step-by-step directions below: 

what happens after you submit a report

You can always contact Google Support for further assistance if you encounter any issues when attempting to report or appeal a review. 

Should you report all negative reviews on Google?

In short: no. 

Google makes this explicitly clear, instructing business owners, “Don't report a review just because you disagree with it or don't like it.” 

The only reviews that businesses should report, the platform explains, are “reviews that violate Google policies," such as comments that contain hate speech or sexually explicit content. 

While not every negative review meets Google's standards for removal, your business can still take other steps—both reactive and proactive—to battle bad ratings and protect its reputation.

On the reactive side, you should respond to every negative review you receive, which helps build trust and attract customers while decreasing churn. And on the proactive side, you should be making feedback-based improvements to your product or service, reducing your likelihood of receiving negative reviews.

By combining these strategies, you can accelerate the growth of your brand — especially if you also leverage a review management tool, which makes it faster and more cost-efficient to reply to customer feedback on platforms like Google.

Let's explore some best practices for responding to negative reviews, preventing negative reviews, and using tools like Shout About Us to manage your online reviews efficiently.

How to respond to negative feedback from customers

Here are some recommended strategies to follow when replying to a negative review on Google. The same tips also come in handy when responding to reviewers on other platforms, such as Yelp, Facebook, TripAdvisor, or the Better Business Bureau (BBB).

  • Respond as soon as possible. According to research by SuperOffice, as many as 12% of customers expect customer support issues to be addressed in as little as 15 minutes. The same data shows that 46% of consumers expect to receive responses within four hours. Meanwhile, a Brightlocal survey shows that 11% of reviewers expect a same-day review response, while 14% expect responses the following day, and 34% expect it "within two or three days."  The takeaway for businesses? The faster you communicate, the more you'll satisfy customers (and the less churn you'll experience as a result).
  • Use the reviewer's name. You should typically address the reviewer by name, with exceptions for reviewers who are anonymous or go by lengthy nicknames. Not all platforms permit anonymous reviews, but Google currently allows them.
  • Thank the reviewer for their feedback. Whether they leave you a detailed comment, or just a quick star rating with no text, it's best practice to thank every reviewer for their feedback.
  • Apologize for the negative experience. Providing a short but genuine apology helps defuse the situation and opens the door for a conversation. Apologizing also shows that your team is courteous and respectful, which helps convert potential customers. 
  • Invite the customer to contact you directly. Don't try to argue with the customer, tell your side of the story, or discuss sensitive details in your response. Instead, encourage the reviewer to contact your business directly so that you can discuss the issue in depth privately. To make contacting your business convenient for the customer, it's courteous to include an email address and/or phone number directly within your review response.
  • Personalize your response. It's important to avoid copy-pasting identical responses, and instead, reply in a way that feels thoughtful and tailored to each individual reviewer. Some ways to increase personalization in your responses include:
  • Using the customer's name
  • Referencing details from the reviews (such as apologizing for an "incorrect hamburger order" vs. simply an "order")
  • Mentioning your business name and/or location
  • Using different word choices in each reply (such as "we're sorry" vs. "we apologize" or "fantastic" vs. "excellent") 

To see how real businesses put these best practices into action, check out these 9 ways to respond to reviews

How to avoid bad ratings and earn positive reviews 

The best way to prevent negative reviews is to provide a high-quality product, ensure that your pricing is transparent, and of course, make sure you consistently deliver excellent customer service.

Even if you're already taking these steps, it's important to read your reviews carefully — not just on Google, but all review platforms that are relevant to your business — so that you can identify recurring trends, patterns, and themes among customer complaints. For example, here are some common reasons why customers leave negative Google reviews:

  • Lack of follow-up care or communication
  • Slow, inefficient service or long wait times
  • Rude, unfriendly customer service experiences 
  • Lack of expected amenities or services, such as Wi-Fi or guest parking
  • Accessibility issues, such as lack of wheelchair ramps
  • Issues involving safety or sanitation, such as complaints about pests or mold 
  • Technical issues involving an app or website 
  • Noise complaints, especially in hotels and apartment buildings 
  • Complaints involving pets or stray animals, such as complaints about unleashed dogs 
  • Dissatisfaction with a sales experience, such as feeling pressured by a salesperson
  • Complaints involving late or missed appointments, such as apartment tours
  • Inability to cancel subscriptions or change payment plans easily 
  • Unauthorized or unexpected credit card charges or other bills 

Once you've identified what the most frequent or widespread issues are, you can take corrective action to deliver a better experience for your customers — and in turn, earn better ratings and reviews in the future. 

How to track and report negative Google reviews automatically 

If you're a multi-location business, such as a hotel or restaurant chain, managing online reviews can feel like an endless task that consumes precious bandwidth.

Shout About Us is a time-saving review management solution designed to scale easily for companies of all sizes, from small and emerging brands to midsize and large enterprises. 

We offer a wide range of features to help get your brand reputation under control, including:

  • Review Monitoring — Automatic review tracking ensures you never miss a review on any platform, while customer sentiment analysis gives you real-time insights into your customers' preferences, needs, and pain points
  • Review Removal — Our team examines every review for fake or inappropriate content and keeps you in the loop about the progress of each removal request
  • Review GenerationGet more reviews fast with personalized text/SMS, email, and in-store campaigns encouraging customers to share their feedback
  • Review Response — Our done-for-you review response service, ResponseScribe, provides your reviewers with customized, on-brand responses within hours or minutes

Our secure platform is cloud-based and mobile-friendly, making on-the-go access from any device a breeze. Best of all? You can track and manage reviews from more than 75 platforms — all from a single dashboard. Review sites our platform integrates with include:

  • Google My Business
  • Facebook
  • Yelp
  • TripAdvisor
  • Apple Maps
  • The Better Business Bureau (BBB)
  • Industry-specific platforms like Zocdoc, OpenTable, and DealerRater

Say goodbye to clunky, repetitive, manual tasks — and say hello to intuitive, lightning-fast review management. 

Manage online reviews on 75+ platforms — all from a single dashboard

Don't waste time scouring reviews for fake, offensive, or off-topic content. Instead, let us take care of reporting inappropriate reviews for you, eliminating the need for manual review monitoring. 

With our team focused on removing harmful reviews, your team can focus on what matters most: providing excellent customer service. Set up a demo of Shout About Us today to explore how our platform can help your business grow.


Frequently asked questions

How long does it take for Google Support to remove a flagged negative review?
How do you get bad Google reviews removed?
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