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How to remove negative reviews from

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by Jennifer Bridges  @JenBridgesRD

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In 2018, Google penalized and other reputation-damaging sites for their shady practices, causing them to sink in the rankings. However, a negative review on these sites can still appear in the top position for your name—especially if you have a minimal online presence otherwise. And once it’s there, it sticks like glue—regardless of whether it’s true or not.

So, what should you do if you have negative reviews?

There are several ways you can mitigate the reputational damage these reviews cause. However, some actions are more effective than others.

Option 1: Contact the reviewer

Although your odds of success are low, the simplest and most direct way of removing a negative review is to contact the post’s author to apologize and try to resolve the person’s complaint.

The best method of doing so on most third-party review sites is to reply to the review publicly. However, on, it’s often better to keep your exchange private because Google sees these kinds of interactions as indications of site quality: whenever you comment on a complaint, you are essentially helping it rank higher in your search results.

Also, if you’re dealing with a particularly volatile audience, replying publicly may trigger other commenters to join in on the attack, adding their own horror stories and complaints about your brand.

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Before you reply, you’ll need to create an account on the site. Once you’ve done that, you can contact the person privately by clicking on the individual’s user name and then “send message.”

In your note, you should try to make an emotional connection. Empathize with the reviewer’s frustration and offer to fix the problem:

“You might be angry over a bad review, but your response should be professional, authentic, and humane. Apologize to the customer and thank them for taking the time to highlight issues with your business. That can help transform a negative review into a positive one.”—Anita Campbell, founder of Small Business Trends

Here’s an example of a well-worded message:


Be warned, however: if the person who wrote the complaint is intent on ruining your online reputation, then he or she may take your words out of context and publish them online to use against you. This is an especially big risk on a site like ComplaintsBoard. You’ll need to make the judgment call on if it’s worth trying this approach or not.

Option 2: Contact

The site’s Terms of Use explicitly state that members must not “Defame, abuse, harass, stalk, threaten or otherwise violate the legal rights (such as rights of privacy and publicity) of others.” Although ComplaintsBoard claims it isn’t obligated to delete these kinds of posts, it “reserves the right” to do so. As such, it’s worth a shot to contact the company’s Support center and ask it to take down any complaint that falls into one of those categories, including reviews that contain:

  • Threats of physical harm or damage to your property
  • Profanity
  • Private financial data, such as your credit card information or social security number

Another option is to hire a defamation lawyer. According to’s Terms of Use, the company will remove complaints, if it “is instructed to remove and delete a posted message by a court.” There are, in fact, documented cases of reviews being removed in this way. As such, it might make sense to take the legal route if the reviewer and/or the company have rebuffed your offer to resolve the issue and the financial stakes are high enough to warrant the expense.

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However, you also need to be aware of the possibility that your legal action could create a negative Streisand Effect, where the act of filling a lawsuit itself creates even more attention for the negative comment. Moreover, suing for defamation is a long and complicated process, and most defamation cases that have to do with online reviews are ultimately unsuccessful.

Additionally, isn’t liable for the postings of its users according to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. This is true for most online services that allow third-party users to post content. Even if it weren’t the case, however, the site is based in Latvia, essentially putting it beyond the reach of United States law. If you were to win a libel judgment against, there would still be no way to enforce it directly.

With those disclaimers in place, there are still times when it does make sense to take a legal approach. For more advice on how to assess your particular situation, see How to deal with online defamation.

Option 4: Suppress the review

If you can’t get rid of the offending review, there are ways you can effectively bury it in the search results. Because the vast majority of searchers never scroll beyond the first page of the search results, pushing negative content off the first page is practically the same as removing it; in both cases, it becomes “invisible” to most people. This option also helps you establish a robust online presence, which will serve as a buffer against any future negative content.

Two effective ways to suppress the review are:

Hide it in a sea of positive reviews

A smart way to counteract negative reviews, like those on, is to flood the Internet with positive reviews about your company. Even better, because most reviews are positive, you only really need to worry about getting more reviews overall.

Some ways to do so include:

  • Making it easy for customers to leave a review: For example, you could add a link to your preferred review site on your website.
  • Asking people for reviews: A great time to do so is at the end of each transaction.
  • Sharing your reviews: Post your reviews (good and bad) on social media. This will incentivize others to leave reviews too.

Working with a reputation management company

The most effective method of burying a negative review is to hire a reputation management company like ReputationDefender with experience in suppressing websites like

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While you may be able to manage your online reputation on your own, the process of establishing and promoting a positive online presence is often too labor intensive for any one person to do well. As a result, it’s much more effective for you to leverage a reputation company’s accumulated industry insights, as well as its technology and resources, to work on your behalf.

If you’d like a more detailed explanation of how reputation management works or which techniques you should use for your situation, feel free to call us for a complimentary consultation. We also offer a selection of self-help guides and articles should you decide to go it alone: