Nettie’s Restaurant Case: Fighting Review Bombing

In late February, the popular New Jersey Italian restaurant “Nettie’s House of Spaghetti” announced that children under the age of 10 would be banned from dining inside the restaurant. This sparked great controversy, and many upset parents criticized Nettie’s for this unexpected move.

The rationale behind the decision is outlined in a social media post.“Between noise levels, lack of space for high chairs, cleaning up crazy messes, and the liability of kids running around the restaurant, we have decided that it’s time to take control of the situation. This wasn’t a decision that was made lightly, but some recent events have pushed us to implement this new policy. As of March 8, the day we return from our winter break, we will no longer allow children under 10 to dine in the restaurant.”

This Facebook post has garnered over 11,000 shares and 41,000 interactions. The feedback to this decision has been incredibly mixed, with some praising Nettie’s for their initiative and others scolding the Italian restaurant for their exclusivity. Unfortunately, this backlash led to a severe review bombing, seeing Nettie’s Google reviews plummet with one-star ratings and negative comments.

What is Review Bombing?

Review bombing is an internet phenomenon involving a massive influx of people or a smaller number of people with many accounts submitting many negative reviews online to harm the reputation or sales of a business, service, or product. For example, a business may have a 4.5-star rating with 25 reviews on a Google Business Profile and see this drop to a 2-star rating with 250 reviews after a review bomb.

Review bombs typically occur in concise time frames, lasting anywhere from a few hours to multiple weeks. Review bombing can have drastic consequences for a business, especially those on a local scale. When researching a place to eat or a business to visit, customers are often swayed by customer reviews, so a low rating from review bombing can have enormous implications.

Nettie’s Case

Nettie’s received over 500 Google reviews in the span of days after their announcement, dropping their Google Business Profile from a 4.5-star rating to a 4.2-star rating. Although a .3 star rating difference may not seem significant, this gap can mean a great deal in the competitive restaurant industry. This difference could make or break their success. A small inequality in ratings has had a proven effect on a customer’s choice in business.

Additionally, the newest reviews for Nettie’s are primarily negative, another turn-off for prospective customers. Although a 4.2-star rating is still solid, customers could be concerned that the new reviews are unfavorable, signaling a business is trending downward.

Around a month after their announcement, Nettie’s still sits at a 4.2-rating with 432 Google reviews. Despite being able to get more than 400 reviews deleted from the account, the review bombing could hurt the reputation of the restaurant in the short and long term.

How to Prevent Review Bombing

There are a few ways to counter the negative impacts of review bombing. One method is to report each review on Google manually. Click the 3-dotted icon to the right of the review, and click report review. You will be given the option of choosing to report the review for reasons such as being off-topic, spam, harassment, not helpful, and more.

Although this can be a great way to remove a few reviews, manually flagging each review can be strenuous and time-consuming after a review bombing of hundreds of submissions. Google also has a reviews management tool that makes flagging many reviews at once much more manageable. With this tool, you can flag each review faster and track the progress of the reports of each review.

Google also has a machine learning system and a team of employees tasked with tracking down and evaluating reviews after unusual spikes of 1 and 5-star reviews. This means that there is a chance Google will remove the majority of these reviews without needing to take any action as a business owner. Although there is no clear solution to review bombing, you should contact Google Help if you notice an unusual spike of negative reviews on your Google Business Profile.

Learn More About Review Bombing from Our Digital Marketing Team

The review bombing of Nettie’s House of Spaghetti shows how online reviews can make a real difference for your business. In an increasingly digital age where people research businesses primarily through online sources, it’s critical to keep your Google reviews high to attract prospective customers. A digital marketing agency can help your business manage your reviews and Google Business Profile to optimize your digital presence and impress search engine users. If you could use the services of an experienced, knowledgeable team of digital marketing professionals, do not hesitate to reach out to BluShark Digital today to learn more about how we can help.