This guide contains:
- Handy information about online reviews for consumers.
- Online review tips and best practices for Australian businesses.
Consumers & Online Reviews
Can a business remove an online review I write?
Yes, a business can successfully have a review removed if it does not meet current regulations in Australia and they have evidence to support their claim. The current regulations are outlined in the Competition & Consumer Act 2010. A summarised version of the guidelines can also be found in the Localsearch Content Integrity statement.
Common reasons reviews are removed:
There is evidence supporting that the review is defamatory.
Proof has been supplied to demonstrate the review was written under false terms, such as mistaking the business, being submitted by a disgruntled family member, etc.
The review does not meet current regulations, including the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency guidelines.
Can I be sued for writing a review?
Defamation laws in Australia vary from state to state, however, if a business has less than 10 employees, yes, they can sue you over a review. It may start off with a cease and desist with a request for you to remove your review, or it may escalate to a court level.
The reason you don’t hear about a lot of defamation cases is because an agreement will often be met outside of court. This is due to how costly defamation cases tend to become.
How to avoid writing a defamatory review:
- Stick to the facts (AKA if you can prove it, you’re normally safe to write it).
- Don’t embellish.
- Avoid name calling (scammers, con artists, etc.).
- Keep a receipt or invoice as proof of transaction and interactions between you and the business, just in case.
- Be willing to work with the business to resolve the issue, if they approach you.
What should I include in an online review?
Treat your review as feedback to the business, whether it’s a pat on the back or constructive criticism. As for what to specifically write, think about the details you’d like to know if you were researching this business. Keep to the facts and outline your experience, mentioning specific highlights or low points.
Where possible, use your real name when submitting the review, so if the business has a customer management system, they can see what may have happened on their end.
If you’re leaving a negative review, it’s best to wait until you’ve cooled down to do so. It will help you not write anything that isn’t strictly facts, and may lead to your review not being approved.
Why can I not find my review on Localsearch?
As a review platform, Localsearch must abide by current regulations to protect you as the consumer, ourselves as a review platform and the business.
Localsearch.com.au has more than 97,000 reviews published right now. There are reviews of every single star rating. As a review platform, we must take an unbiased approach to moderation, and can only not publish a review if it does not meet current regulations.
The most common reasons reviews don’t meet guidelines:
- Swearing, offensive or defamatory language.
- Incomplete submissions (only entering in the subject line).
- Reviews for medical practices mentioning experience, qualifications or specific details of treatment or outcomes.
- The email used to submit the review is fake.
- There is not enough detail in the review to be considered constructive feedback.
What to do if your review has not been published:
- Check your inbox for an email from firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Consider the feedback in the email as to why your review was not published.
- Resubmit your review making every attempt to abide by the current guidelines.
- If you would like more information about your review, please email email@example.com. All enquiries must be submitted via email.
Businesses & Online Reviews
Why are online reviews important?
Regularly receiving reviews (even negative ones) on a good-quality platform has a number of benefits for growing your business, such as:
- Reviews are considered good for improving search engine optimisation (SEO) results.
- They provide valuable insight into your customers’ minds on what they do and don’t like.
- It gives you an opportunity to save tarnished relationships you may not have otherwise known about.
- Potential customers can see what other consumers have experienced with your business.
- If you have a negative review, potential customers can see how you may handle things if their experience does go awry.
- You have an additional way to connect with customers by replying to online reviews.
How do I remove a review from a platform?
To be able to remove a review from Localsearch, Google, Facebook or another review platform, you must have evidence it does not meet guidelines. Every platform will have a slightly different method and some are harder than others to make a request.
For example, to remove a review from localsearch.com.au, where you have evidence, you only need to email firstname.lastname@example.org with said evidence and any information you have. Management will then assess you case (up to 2 business days) and you’ll be advised of the outcome. All requests must be made by email.
Can I submit reviews on behalf of customers?
All reviews must be submitted by the person wishing to give you a review using their own email address as authentication. If you want an easy way to get more reviews, there are a few ways to do so.
- Remind your customers at checkout to write you a review if they enjoyed their experience.
- Add a note to your invoices or receipts with the platforms you prefer reviews.
- Send out an email or SMS blast a day after transactions with a link to your review platform profiles.
Where can businesses and consumers go for help regarding online reviews?
Most review issues do not need to involve professional legal counsel. However, if you have exhausted all options, including having worked with the review platform, ACCC and the business or reviewer, you may want some professional advice.
You can find a list of solicitors on Localsearch.