In this age where everything is high speed and information whizzes us by, we can barely keep up. Because of this some malicious people or groups of people, slip in misinformation with the intention to harm somebody or a business. Just like fake news, fake business reviews are also on the rise recently, and these disingenuous reviews are very damaging to small scale local businesses. Fake reviews are very easy to incur, it takes a small amount of effort to make a fake social media profile and it’s very easy to hide behind the shadows of anonymity yet the damage they inflict on the reputation of honest small business owners is unquestionably immense.
Small business owners usually have a good tracking as to who their customers are as they don’t serve that too many people, that’s how they can generally identify if a review is genuine or not, if somebody is not happy with their service, the owners are usually the first ones to know. However, since it’s impossible to know everything that happens in one’s day to day operations, it always helps to stop and think for a moment to reflect whether a particular negative review is legitimate or not, perhaps somebody really did have a bad time and you were not able to notice?
In anycase, as local business owners, once we’ve made sure that the review(s) is indeed fake; how do we protect ourselves from this kind of online harassment?
Take a Breather
The ones perpetrating this harassment is somebody or probably a company who knows of your company’s existence and sees you as a threat to their business, maybe they know deep down that their product or service is not up to par against yours or it could be a personal attack against the owner. Who knows what’s going on in these people’s heads? The point is to not lose your cool because losing it is exactly what these harassers want to happen. Take the time to pacify yourself then consider all the things you need in order to justify that the fake review is indeed fake to everyone who will be interested in knowing about the issue.
Let It Die a Natural Death
If somebody posted a fake review, it will most likely be inaccurate. There is one case where the fake reviewer commented on something negative on a dish a restaurant does not even serve. If you have a solid customer-base and patrons who know your product or service, they will be the ones who would call out this inaccuracy and would thus reveal the scheme these people are into.
This may sound obvious but Google does not see everything and sometimes there are things that slip under the cracks. It would greatly help them if you present your complaints to them yourself. And not just present your case but support it too. Keep in mind that you are an interested party in this case and you’re more likely subject to biases and the impetus to defend your source of livelihood. Yours is the burden of proof and it would be a great help to you and Google if your case can stand on its own.