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6 Steps Financial Advisors Can Take to Remove Fake Google Reviews

Reputation is vital to any business. But for financial advisors, reputations that produce trust are everything. Unfortunately, managing your financial advisory firm’s reputation online can be complicated by fake negative Google reviews that paint an inaccurate picture of your firm and damage the reputation you’ve worked so hard and long to build. 


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The good news is that you can take steps to have fake Google reviews removed from your financial advisory firm’s Google listing. Keep reading to learn all about fake Google reviews and what you can do about them.


Step 1: If You Haven’t Already, Claim Your Google Business Profile

Before you can do anything with the Google reviews for your financial advisory firm, you must establish that you are the business owner. Without this, you can’t respond to reviews or request Google to take any action. This can be done by visiting Google Business and providing verification that you are in fact the business owner. This can be done in several ways, most easily by validating an email address at your financial advisory firm’s domain. 


Step 2: Monitor Your Financial Advisory Firm’s Google Reviews

It’s important to know what’s being said about your financial advisory business— both good and bad. And you can’t do anything about fake Google reviews if you don’t know about them. To be alerted for these occurrences as well as other things being said about your financial advisory firm online, you need to implement some type of reputation monitoring process. 

This could be as simple as setting up Google alerts to inform you when your business name is mentioned online.  Or hiring a reputation management firm to handle how your financial advisory firm is perceived online.


Step 3: Learn How to Spot Fake Google Reviews

This might be harder than it sounds. While some fake reviews are obvious and easy to spot, others can be disguised to “blend in.” As a rule, a fake review will have very generic language that could almost apply to any financial advisory firm. 

Conversely, an authentic review will likely provide details that only a real client would be able to provide. Additionally, financial advisors are in a unique position to know most of their clients personally or at minimum be able to verify if the reviewer was a client (assuming they used their real name in the review). 


Step 4: Understand Why Fake Negative Google Reviews Exist

You may be asking yourself why someone would bother writing a fake review. Common sources of fake Google reviews include competitors looking to defame a rival business, spambots looking to spread malware, or individuals simply looking for attention. 

In some extreme cases, malicious entities have been known to use negative reviews as leverage to extort money by removing the fake review(s) only after being paid. Regardless of the reason, these fake reviews can range from minor annoyances to major problems. That’s why it’s important to know what to do if you experience fake reviews on your financial advisory firm’s Google profile. 


Step 5: Google’s Review Guidelines and Removal Requests

Google has outlined certain criteria for having a review removed from a business profile. These criteria include reviews that are deceptive, inappropriate, and/or explicit. The complete list can be found here. Once you’ve determined that a review for your financial advisory firm qualifies, you can then report this review to Google. 

Be sure to provide as much detail as possible to support why the review should be removed. And while Google aims to remove the above types of content from business reviews, it’s not a perfect system. 

If your removal request was denied, Google allows a one-time appeal per review. If your request is still denied after appealing, you can then determine if legal action is warranted. If not, you can handle the fake negative review as you would handle a legitimate negative review (see below). 


Step 6: Handling Fake Negative Reviews vs. Legitimate Negative Reviews

To remain in compliance with the SEC marketing rule, you must ask all of your clients for reviews and be able to prove it. This prevents financial advisors from stacking their Google reviews in their favor by only asking clients who are happy with their services. Known as “cherry picking” this is also frowned upon by Google.

So, does asking all clients for reviews mean you may get some negative or less-than-glowing feedback? Possibly. But that’s a part of doing business and in some ways can add more to your credibility. How? Because businesses with nothing but stellar reviews can almost seem too good to be true and make some visitors doubt the authenticity of those reviews. 

While it may be tempting to turn off reviews altogether to mitigate the risk, having some negative reviews mixed with the positive is better than having no reviews at all. This can appear as though you have something to hide and doesn’t reflect positively on your financial advisory firm at first glance. 

While you can’t get legitimate negative reviews removed by Google, you can still take action by responding to these negative reviews when appropriate so you can take control of the narrative as well as address whatever issues the client experienced. 

And while it’s not always the case, reviewers have the option to remove or edit a review if they feel like their issue was resolved. As a bonus, you may have received some valuable feedback—albeit publicly—that can help you improve your financial advisory services in the future, potentially leading to more happy clients and positive reviews in the future.

Pro Tip: Make it easy for your clients to leave Google reviews by providing a link or QR code that leads straight to your financial advisory firm’s Google profile. This not only makes it more likely that they will complete a review, but it also removes the need to search for the business name, which could result in them accidentally selecting the wrong financial advisory firm with a similar name.

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