Google My Business releases tool to manage your reviews
How to Report a Review for Removal Using Google My Business’s ‘Manage Your Reviews’ Tool
First, we log in to our Google My Business account and head over to the tool, which sits within Google Help. Make sure you bookmark the link as it’s not particularly easy to find!
Select the business you’re looking to manage reviews for, and click ‘Continue’.
Here you can select whether to look at the status of current review reports and escalations or report a new review for takedown. Right now we’re looking to remove a review, so select this and click ‘Continue’.
Here you’ll see all reviews that aren’t currently being escalated for takedown. (Yes, you’re seeing right: only two of the six reviews for the arts organization aren’t already sitting in takedown limbo, but more on this shortly.)
The top review is clearly not about this business, so let’s click ‘Report a problem’.
Here, we’re shown a short list of reasons you might need a review taken down. In this instance, ‘This review is not relevant to the place’ applies, so we’ll click that.
You’ll see this message and then receive an email letting you know that the review is being assessed.
We can now confirm that the review has been reported, leaving it in the hand of the Google Gods. With one review reported, let’s now look at how we can track its status using this tool.
How Does Status Tracking Work in Google My Business’s ‘Manage Your Reviews’ Tool?
Log in to your Google My Business account, then visit the ‘Manage your reviews’ tool in Google Help.
As before, select your business and click ‘Continue’. This time we’re looking for the status of reported reviews, so next select ‘Check the status of a review I reported previously’ and click ‘Continue’.
Here we see a list of reported reviews and some info on where in Google limbo they sit:
As you can see, most of these reviews are still in the ‘Decision pending’ phase, including the one we’ve just submitted.
Apart from the top one, all these reviews were reported on January 27th of this year (almost two months ago). In my opinion, that’s a very long time to make such a cut-and-dry decision, especially when this tool notes that “Reported reviews may take up to 72 hours to be evaluated”, but it also highlights why this kind of tool is necessary.
We can see that one of these reviews previously reported, for the same reason as every other one (“we’re not a restaurant!!!”), has come back as ‘Report reviewed – no policy violation’.
It’s worth noting that none of these reviews were actually ever reported for violating Google’s review policies, which include offensive or sexually explicit content. They were reported for being about a completely different business, which is strangely absent from these policies. It’s interesting that the reason given is ‘no policy violation’ when that was never in question.
We can appeal against decisions on reviews, but we can only do it one at a time. As I’ve noted, this tool doesn’t allow for the selection and management of multiple reviews so it’s not particularly well-suited for scale or for businesses with multiple locations.
If we select the review we want to appeal against, and click ‘continue’, we’re shown the following message about a ‘one-time escalation for a second assessment’.
The message only talks about policy violations, and doesn’t offer any option to highlight the review as ‘not about this business’. Clicking ‘submit an appeal’ just takes you to the very serious ‘Request Removal of Inappropriate Reviews’ form, which is completely irrelevant in this case.
This process should work really well for those businesses having to deal with fake reviews that violate Google’s policies, streamlining the process and allowing for a single location to understand review takedown request status.
Sadly, though, it’s of no use to Carousel, which is still having to go down the frustrating route of manually requesting review removal via Google’s team, to no avail so far.
The Reviews That Returned from the Dead
In finishing up this process for the purposes of this case study, I realised there was a screenshot I hadn’t grabbed from within the tool.
I logged back in to take it and found that, lo and behold, all the earlier reviews that were in ‘Decision pending’ were now no longer in the review removal status page…
…and instead they’ve moved into the list of live reviews you can report for evaluation.
Apparently, the decision had been made in the 10 minutes I was navigating the tool and collecting screenshots, but crucially none of these reviews entered the ‘Report reviewed – no policy violation’ phase, and no emails were sent to GMB account holders to advise that any decision had been made.
No, they just bounced right from ‘Decision pending’ to ‘Report a problem’, as if the reviews had never been reported in the first place. This is not a great experience for GMB users and makes it seem pretty unreliable.
And so the cycle begins again… I “report a problem” and tell Google these old reviews are still “not relevant to this place”. Let’s see what happens in 72 hours, shall we? 😉
Ultimately, in its current state this feels like a tool that’s been designed to allow Google to push back on claims it’s not doing enough to combat fake reviews rather than one that makes the removal process any better.
The functionality of seeing review report statuses is pretty neat, but I can’t help but feel it’s just there to reduce the number of support tickets following up removal requests, asking for updates. Instead of emailing a Google representative to find out no decision has been made on your reported review for 2 months, you can just use this tool to find out for yourself!