Bad reviews are the worst.

No business likes to receive negative reviews, but we can’t deny the rest of us love to read them. In fact, about 97% of people will read local business reviews, according to a consumer study from BIA/Kelsey.

That’s why it’s so important for business owners to not only respond quickly to negative reviews when they do pop up, but to also respond in the right way—after all, potential customers are reading your responses too!

Is there a right or wrong way to respond to bad reviews? Absolutely.

Read on to see how we recommend that you handle bad reviews that come your way.

(Not sure of a review’s value? Check out our post on client reviews and testimonials and how they can improve your credibility before reading on.)

Where Can Reviews Show Up?

When it comes to review sites, all businesses should have access to their company’s profiles on the following sites:

Google My Business (GMB)

Google My Business reviews are collected in your Google My Business listing, which can appear in both maps and search. For example, if someone searches organically for your business’s name, your GMB listing will often appear on the right hand side of the SERP on desktop. Both on desktop and mobile the goal is for your listings to rank in the local 3 pack. From the listings knowledge panel or the local 3 pack the searcher will be able to see your review rating and even select reviews that appear at the bottom of the Google listing. While you can’t manipulate which reviews Google shows at the bottom of your listing, you can properly respond! In the chance you come across spam reviews you can report those to Google to review for removal.


Yelp uses an automated process to choose which reviews to recommend and which to hide from a profile. Since this is an automated process, Yelp’s support team will not be able to help you unhide a review. However, you can flag a review if it goes against Yelp’s regulations. 

Have questions about using Yelp? Visit their support center to learn more.


Visitors can recommend and review your business from your Facebook page. While Facebook does give you the option to turn off reviews altogether, it isn’t advised as this can lead to mistrust.

Remember: The rules for leaving reviews, asking for reviews, and reporting reviews for offensive content differ drastically from site to site. Make sure to read each platform’s rules before taking action against negative reviews or before asking customers to leave reviews.

What to Know Before Responding to Negative Reviews

Before responding or reporting any negative review, make sure to do the following:

1. Read the review thoroughly. It sounds simple, but it can be easy to get swept up by the first few lines or headline of a negative review. Make sure to read the review completely, especially if it is detailed. Completely reading the review not only prevents you from giving an ill-informed reply, but there’s a good chance that there is valuable insight to be gained by reading the entire review – no matter how uncomfortable it may be.

2. Put yourself in the reviewer’s shoes. No one likes to have a bad experience, especially if the experience was something they were looking forward to doing. Now think of a time when you’ve had a bad experience with a business and when you’ve left a review because of it. Did the business respond to your review? If so, did it make a difference in how you perceive them? Remember that this reviewer will likely read your response (as will hundreds of other potential customers) and make a further judgement of your business based on how you handle their feedback.

3. Think before you write. It’s easy to give a cookie-cutter response to reviews, but don’t just think about the short-term gain of saving time. Think instead about how you want to be remembered and perceived by not only the reviewer, but by those quietly reading the reviews in the background.

How to Respond To Negative Reviews

Now that you’ve taken the time to read the review and get your thoughts in order, you’re ready to leave a great response.

1. Respond in less than 24 hours. Don’t allow negative reviews to linger unanswered. A timely response shows the customer that you are engaged with the business and care about what your clients think. You can set up notifications to alert you when a new review has been submitted. This way you aren’t having to proactively check all your location directories daily for new reviews.

2. Let them know you’ve heard their concern. Acknowledge that you’ve not only received their message, but that you are sorry that they had a less than ideal time.

3. Call out specific issues. If they are frustrated they were unable to get a hold of the business when they called, mention this problem in your response. It shows that you took the time to really read their review. A generic response can come across as disingenuous.

4. Offer a solution. Provide the customer with a solution to their problem. For example, if they were unsatisfied with their service, provide a phone number to call and talk with a representative.

5. Keep it professional. Don’t take the review personally, and definitely don’t attack the customer. Remember your brand image and how you want customers to remember your business.

Don’t run from negative reviews again! Instead, use the tips above to make a real impact.

Want to learn more about review platforms, local SEO, local listings and local SEO solutions available to you? Contact our team today.

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