When you first see it, your heart stops for a moment: a bad online review for your business.

But are bad reviews bad for your business?

Maybe not. Having a mix of positive and negative reviews shows a range of customer experiences and can even build trust, so getting a bad review isn't always the worst thing.

Data analysis by Northwestern University’s Spiegel Research Center and PowerReviews found that, in moderation, bad reviews actually help boost sales. Which makes sense if you think about the last time you saw an all five-star review. Skeptical? No one has a five-star rating.

However, if you have a bad review you may want to take steps to have it removed. In this post, we'll highlight five review sites and share if it's possible to remove a bad review, along with how to start that process.

How should my company handle bad online reviews?

The ability for a company to respond to comments or reviews depends on the website. If you have negative reviews, you should respond and address any concerns (if possible). Here is our guidance on how to handle negative reviews. Yelp has a few good tips too.

You can't remove reviews just because they're negative. Websites want to support authentic reviews and encourage a variety of responses. But if you want to have a review edited or taken down, there are two general approaches:

Reach out to the customer to edit or remove the review.

Try this approach first if the review seems to be legit. Reach out to address the customer's concerns and explain what you will do to resolve any issues. Be kind and ask if they will consider editing or removing the review, then explain how they could do that with website-specific instructions.

Notify the site about the inappropriate review and request to have it taken down.

Most review sites have Terms of Service (T.O.S.). If the bad review is fake, inaccurate, or in violation of the site's T.O.S., you may have a way to get it taken down. Report the review and then respond publicly to say that the review has been flagged for a violation of this site's terms of service. If reaching out to a website, state clearly that you feel the review is in a violation of the terms of service.

For the second option, here's a look at some specific resources for Google, Facebook, Yelp, Amazon, and Glass Door.

Can I remove reviews from Google My Business?

Maybe - if they violate Google's review policies.

Google clearly defines what qualifies as an inappropriate review. If you have a negative review that meets those guidelines, it may be possible to get it removed. If it violates Google's policy, flag the review and get as many people as you know to flag it too.

Any of the reasons below may be cause for a review to be removed:

  • Advertising
  • Spam
  • Phone numbers, email addresses, or URLs
  • Off-topic reviews
  • Obscene, profane, or offensive language
  • Conflict of interest
  • Illegal content
  • Copyrighted content
  • Sexually-explicit material
  • Impersonation
  • Personal and confidential information
  • Hate speech

For more info, visit Google My Business Help, Review Policies page.

Can I remove reviews from Facebook?

Maybe - if they violate Facebook community standards.

If you think one of your reviews is in violation of these standards, you'll have to report the review to get it removed from the page.

Alternate Option: Turn off reviews for your Facebook page. Find out how to turn off reviews for your Facebook Page.

Can I remove reviews from Yelp?

Maybe - if they violate Yelp's Terms of Service or Content Guidelines.

Here's a list of types of reviews that are in violation of the Yelp guidelines:

  • Inappropriate content
  • Conflicts of interest (Business owners should not ask customers to write reviews)
  • Promotional content (unless you're the business owner posting to your business page)
  • Privacy (don't publicize other people's private information)
  • Intellectual property (write your own reviews)
  • Demanding payment (don't use removing or posting your review as a way to extract payment from a business)

If you think your content qualifies, follow the steps on how to report a review on Yelp.

Can sellers remove product reviews from Amazon?

Maybe - if they meet certain criteria. View the Customer Review Creation Guidelines.

Amazon outlines examples of inappropriate reviews. The following points note some examples of offending reviews, but are not an all-inclusive list.

  • A product manufacturer posts a review of their own product, posing as an unbiased buyer
  • A product seller posts a review of their competitor's product, posing as an unbiased buyer
  • A buyer, unhappy with their purchase, posts multiple negative reviews for the same product
  • A buyer posts a review in exchange for financial reward or other compensation
  • A family member of the product creator posts a five-star review to help boost sales

Note: As sellers and manufacturers, you are not allowed to review your own products, nor are you allowed to negatively review a competitor's product.

If a product review is in violation of any of those outlined above, click the 'Report Abuse' link found below the review (near the helpful vote buttons), and report it.

Amazon also provides an Anti-Manipulation Policy for Customer Reviews.

Want more reviews on Amazon? Sell more.

Can employers remove reviews from Glass Door?

No - Here's a quote directly from Glass Door.

"Employers can respond to company reviews—accentuating positive comments while addressing criticism in a non-defensive voice—but can't delete, edit, or reorder reviews. For information on our Legal policies, we invite you to read our Legal FAQs."

For Glass Door, you are limited to responding. But you can also review the Glass Door community guidelines if you feel the content is in violation.

If you're looking for more reading on negative reviews or fake reviews, we found a couple other helpful, in-depth articles from other sources that may be helpful:

We hope you haven't had to deal with negative reviews or inappropriate comments on your channels, but now you should have a path forward to address the issue if it ever does come up. Best of luck!