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The Reality (and Morality) of Review Bombing

Published on June 27, 2023
Last updated on April 1st, 2024

As small business owners, online reviews are more important than we care to admit. Yet, as individuals, it can sometimes feel like leaving a review is the only way we can make our voice heard.

*Insert audible sigh of frustration here* 😮‍💨

Now, if certain feedback needs to be presented publicly because the business did not handle a situation well, then YES leave them a Google review that presents all of this information clearly and constructively with a single, lonely star. (We’re assuming, however, that you have made every attempt at contacting the manager and/or business owner to resolve the issue privately… Right?!)

Don't review-bomb a business

But *grabs megaphone* PLEEEEEASE DO NOT leave a review for a business that you have not done business with personally or professionally, for the sake of supporting someone else. These negative reviews build up and will damage the business’ online reputation. It is not a matter of whether or not they deserve it, but they’re false reviews since you did not actually do business with them.

Plus, the business owner can (and probably will) contact Google to ask that they remove these reviews because they were suddenly overwhelmed with false reviews.

We get it: As a person who wants to make their voice heard, sometimes it feels like defaulting to digital review platforms is the only option. Just keep in mind that review bombing a business doesn’t actually do what you think it will.

Instead, please focus your efforts on leaving positive reviews for said business’ competition as long as you’ve done business with them. This could look like shopping locally at a different store “in protest” to spend your money there instead, then taking to Google and/or Facebook to share your amazing experience.

What should you do if you receive a crappy review?

The number one rule to follow is to reply. But, of course, what you have to say is just as important.

If it’s a legitimate review: Acknowledge the person who left the review, and the issue at hand. Be open and honest about how it was resolved.

If the issue is more complicated than the user let on, or if they’re leading with emotion: Again, it is important to acknowledge the person, but we recommend you reply with a statement of facts to clear up any confusion a potential reader might have about the situation.

If it’s spam: If you know it’s a spammy review, then reply with something to the effect of, “After some investigation, we have concluded that this review is spam or was intended for another business.”

If they’re reviewing bombing: If you know (and can prove) they’ve never been a customer, then make a note of that. Let other users who may be reading the review know that they are not a legitimate customer who has spent money with your business. Here’s an example reply, “This individual has never done business with us. We believe they have left their review based on a judgment or assumption from another customer.”

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