There are numerous online how-to guides that offer tips and strategies for responding to business reviews. However, most are focused on responding to negative reviews or positive reviews, like our guide to replying to 5-star reviews and ratings.
It makes sense why many review response guides, our own included, are often based on star ratings. After all, as we discussed in our post about review management mistakes to avoid, business owners need to utilize totally different review reply strategies depending on how the reviewer describes their experience with the business. However, by focusing on either positive reviews or negative reviews, there’s another type of review that these guides sometimes overlook: duplicate reviews, which we’ll be shining a light on in this week’s post.
Duplicate reviews can be positive, negative, or even neutral in tone. What sets them apart from other reviews is the fact that they seem to be clones of each other — even though they sometimes appear to be posted by different users. In this week’s article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about duplicate copy-pasted reviews, from procedures for flagging spam reviews to whether your website’s rankings could suffer.
What to Do if Your Business Receives Multiple Duplicate or Identical Reviews
Do I Have to Respond to Duplicate Reviews?
In short, yes. You can also flag the review, as we’ll cover in more detail below; but you should never ignore comments that are posted about your business online, even if they appear to be copied and pasted. As we recently wrote about on our blog, most consumers self-report that they won’t shop with businesses which ignore consumer reviews, so replying to comments is always in your best interests. You can learn more about this topic by checking out our articles on dealing with fake reviews and responding to old reviews.
Can I Use the Same Response When Replying to Duplicate Reviews?
Unfortunately, no. While you might think this strategy is time-saving, it could actually harm your business in the long run, as we explained in our post on the power of personalization.
The better strategy is to treat each review as though it is unique, varying your word choice and sentence structure. Compared to generic thank-yous or automated apologies, custom replies help reassure consumers — 98% of whom “read online reviews,” according to one report — that your customer service team is engaged, accessible, and will be responsive to their needs.
Will Google Penalize My Business for Posting My Positive Reviews Elsewhere, Like on My Website?
If you receive a truly outstanding review, you might want to show the world by sharing it on your website. This is a fantastic strategy for showing off your company’s strengths and building consumer trust, especially when you choose reviews that go into detail and get specific. But doesn’t Google penalize duplicate content, and if so, couldn’t that put your rankings in jeopardy?
Search Engine Journal wrote about this topic in its “Ask an SEO” column, which received a question from a photography business owner who wanted to know: “Will Google penalize me for duplicate content for the review on my Google listing appearing on other review sites and for copying the Google review and adding it to my own site once or twice?”
SEJ’s SEO expert Jenny Halasz wrote back, “Google will not penalize you for this under their current guidelines,” elaborating, “I don’t see a problem with this because the content did originate with your customer.” Even in a scenario where a reviewer is duplicating content, Halasz explained, “You can’t control what your reviewers do, and if they choose to copy and paste the same review to multiple locations, that’s not anything you can be expected to be responsible for.”
Plus, embedding reviews or sharing user-generated content may actually help you rank higher on Google over time by earning you more visits, more trust, and more clicks. (Additionally, Google’s content policy states, “Published content, along with your profile name and photo, may also appear within third–party sites that use Google embeddable widgets or the Google Maps Platform API.”) With our platform’s custom review widgets and social posting features, you can easily embed all of your clients’ positive reviews and ratings directly to their website and/or social media profile, empowering your agency or brand to engage in more effective review marketing.
What Do I Do if Someone is Maliciously Spamming My Business with Bad Reviews?
Multiple people have asked versions of this question on Google Business Profiles forums, as you can see in the screenshots below:
Clearly, this is a recurring issue that many small businesses eventually encounter. In each case, the top recommended answer was to begin by flagging the suspicious reviews, which leads us to our next FAQ…
How Do I Flag a Review on Google or Yelp?
There are various reasons to consider flagging a review on Yelp, Google, or other platforms — not just spammy or duplicated content. In addition, you may also need to flag a review if it contains abusive or obscene language, hate speech against any group, is completely off-topic or unrelated to your business (which can occur if someone reviews your business by accident), and/or otherwise violates the platform’s terms of service.
To flag a Google review, follow the steps described here. If the flagged reviews have not been removed after 72 hours, you can follow up by contacting Google support for further assistance. To flag a Yelp review, follow the instructions from Yelp’s support team here.
Does Your Agency or Brand Need a Dedicated Review Response Service to Manage Client Ratings and Reviews Across Platforms?
Managing, responding to, and flagging reviews is effortless with our secure review platform. To flag a review within our platform, simply click the white flag icon, select your reason for flagging from a checklist, and submit your response to the commenter. Or, leave the writing (and flagging) to our dedicated team of US-based, 24-hour response scribes, who provide custom review responses for every vertical and industry.
Emily Homrok is a freelance copywriter with more than seven years of writing experience. She joined the Shout About Us team as a content strategist in 2020.