Google has recently updated its algorithms to flag business reviews, causing widespread concern and frustration among businesses and customers alike. Many businesses are reporting that their Google Reviews are missing, and legitimate customer reviews are not displaying. This has caused confusion and frustration for businesses and customers who rely on these reviews to make informed decisions.
In response to these concerns, Google issued a statement on Local Guides Connect acknowledging that “our protections took down more than expected policy-abiding reviews from a set of Local Guides.” This suggests that Google’s algorithms are not yet fine-tuned enough to effectively identify and only remove reviews that violate its policies, resulting in the removal of genuine reviews.
Google has implemented a moderation system for all new reviews, automated by machines. However, the algorithm is not perfect, and it appears that authentic reviews are also being wrongly filtered in this moderation process. As a result, businesses across the world are experiencing negative impacts on new review generation for their business.
Google’s Policy on Reviews and User-generated Content
Once a reviewer hits “post” on a review left on Google Maps, that review goes through a moderation process. The system is designed to evaluate whether it violates any Google policies. Google provides information on what it considers to be prohibited and restricted content. With the millions of reviews left daily, Google relies on algorithms to moderate the vast amount of reviews received daily. These algorithms focus on:
- The text of the review
- The account that left the review
- The business receiving the reviews
While some reviews may clearly violate policies, others may not be as obvious. It’s important to note that what a business may consider offensive or off-topic does not match the same criteria as Google’s machine learning. This can be frustrating for businesses looking to remove negative reviews.
In an effort to combat fake reviews, Google examines the account that left the review. Is it a newly created account or has it left multiple reviews? Does the account have a history of suspicious behavior? However, sometimes Google’s trained machines make mistakes.
To ensure the authenticity of reviews, Google also examines the business in question. Their trained machines recognize categories that typically receive a regular stream of reviews compared to those that only receive a few per month on average. Therefore, if your business experiences a sudden influx of new reviews, you may be flagged for “suspicious activity.” Nevertheless, Google does take into account whether a business recently received negative publicity via social media or news outlets that could have triggered a surge of fraudulent reviewers. This helps maintain the integrity of Google’s review system.
Mike Blumenthal, co-founder of Near Media and a Google Product Expert, conducted a study on missing reviews and identified the categories most affected by Google’s new algorithms. His findings showed that service-related businesses were the most impacted. New business profiles, particularly those created in the last three months, were also highly targeted. Businesses that asked for reviews using the “ask for reviews” URL from their Google profile were greatly affected as well. Additionally, Google now considers whether the reviewer actually visited the business, which has an impact on whether the review will be published or not.
For more information on why you are missing Google Reviews, check out 7 Reasons Why You Are Missing Google Reviews
How to Remove a Fake Review for Your Business: Steps to Take
Machine learning is not perfect but will improve over time. Businesses can report “fake” or “inappropriate” reviews on their Google profiles here and end users can report them here.
To escalate a review removal request on Google, businesses can seek help from Google Product Experts by posting their issue in the Google forum. The escalation process involves manual review by trained operators and analysts to evaluate the claims made by the business. To ensure a successful escalation, businesses should include the following information in their request:
- Your Maps URL
- Images of the “fake” reviews
If you have followed the process to remove the reviews and are still unsuccessful, you can post your issue in the Google forum and have a Google Product Expert escalate the review for you. The escalation process allows for trained operators and analysts to manually review your claims. For a deeper dive into combating Fake Google Review Attacks read Mike Blumenthal’s Step-by-Step guide.
Get Missing Google Reviews Published: Steps to Take
If your business is experiencing missing Google reviews, consider visiting the Google forum and requesting assistance from a Google Product Expert.
Through the escalation process, qualified operators and analysts can manually review your claims to help address the issue. When asking for help be sure to include:
- Your Maps URL
- Images of the missing review(s)
In case you don’t have the image, you may try providing the Google account name. However, it’s important to note that the account name might not always be the same as the customer’s name. If the name doesn’t match, the review restoration process might not be successful.
Tips for Posting in the Google Forum: A Guide from a Google Product Expert
As a Google Product Expert, I often come across users who waste their time and energy by posting their issues incorrectly in the forum, resulting in not getting the help they need. If you need help from a Google Expert and want to post your issue in the Google Forum, here are some tips to keep in mind:
- Avoid commenting on other users’ posts unless you have relevant and useful information regarding their issue.
- If you find a thread helpful, mark it as such or recommend the posted answer to help other users.
- Do not ask for help on someone else’s thread; start your own thread. A Google Product Expert can only help one user per thread.
- Include all necessary images and your Map URL to avoid wasting time and receive proper assistance.
- Provide specific details and avoid posting vague requests, as this will not help you receive the necessary help.
- Remember that Google Product Experts are dedicated to helping users and providing their expertise for free. Always be respectful and mindful of their time and service. Note that they are not Google employees, but rather SEO experts in Google products.
Generating New Reviews with Reputation Arm’s Dashboard
Dealing with missing or fake reviews on your Google profile can be frustrating, but it’s important to remember that Google is constantly working to combat illegitimate reviews. One way to stay ahead of the game is to focus on generating new, legitimate reviews for your business. Reputation Arm’s dashboard is a great tool to help you do just that.
Our platform makes it easy to manage and monitor your online reviews, and our team is always available to help with any questions you may have. Whether you need assistance setting up your account or want to learn more about how to effectively solicit reviews from your customers, we’re here to help. You can reach us by Phone, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or by filling out our contact form. Start generating new reviews and building your online reputation today with Reputation Arm.