Posted by Yan Gilbert
We constantly see people ask Google My Business (GMB): Can I turn off reviews on my GMB listing?
In almost all cases, the answer is no. Unfortunately you will have to deal with the system Google has created.
Let’s explore some of these issues that would want someone to have reviews removed from their listing and how to deal with them as effectively as we can.
Sometimes Google shuts off reviews for certain business categories
Some GMB categories can have reviews turned off automatically. These can include categories like schools or instructors. Google is not always consistent in this matter. However, almost all other listings have reviews turned on by default.
Sometimes Google shuts off reviews for negative review attacks
If you are under a fake negative review attack, there might also be something additional you can do. It is possible to have Google My Business block the ability for new reviews to be left for a time period. I have only seen this when the following 2 things are both true:
- You have a large number of negative reviews that have been left recently in a short time frame.
- You have a scandal that’s been covered in the media or you have evidence (such as an email or text) that someone is threatening your business and claiming that they will leave you tons of negative reviews as a punishment for something.*
For example, this business was recently blasted with negative reviews due to a Facebook post that went viral. Currently, reviews are disabled on their profile so users are not able to leave a new review.
Although the review count has not updated yet (it still says 81), there are only 3 reviews live on the listing and the button to leave a new review is missing.
What if my professional organization has guidelines about publicly displayed reviews?
There are also professions that may want reviews turned off to help protect their clients, or because their licensing requires them to not solicit reviews. Therapists and psychiatrists may want to disable reviews to protect patients’ confidentiality, especially if they are dealing with mentally unstable individuals for ethical grounds.
American Psychological Association specifically prohibits members from asking for reviews. Doctors may feel more comfortable if review capability was turned off completely just to be safe.
Unfortunately Google does not make exceptions for these types of situations.
How to get a Google review removed
Please note that a review will only be removed if it breaks one of the guidelines listed.
Google My Business opts out of taking responsibility by stating:
“Google doesn’t get involved when merchants and customers disagree about facts, since there’s no reliable way to discern who’s right about a particular customer experience”
What you see as an obvious fake review may not break a GMB guidelines and will not be removed.
First step would be to flag the review(s) for removal through your account.
After that you would need to contact Google support to further your case.
If you are having trouble with a Google feature and need help, there are SEO experts available in the Local Search Forum that may be able to guide you.
*Section was taken from the Expert’s Guide to Local SEO