Are You Missing Google Reviews?
Missing reviews on Google Places is nothing new, BUT it certainly has gotten more volatile of late. We have been writing of missing reviews by Google Places off and on for quite some time. In the past, missing reviews tended to do with a Google Places bug or tended to be tied to the merging of duplicate listings. This latest wave of missing reviews seems to deal with a strong review filter meant to catch review spam. Many business are frustrated and angry that their clients reviews are not sticking. Can you really blame them?
Review spam algorithms have been around for a long time, but it looks like Google is slapped on a harsh one. The good news is usually Google’s algo’s are learning algo’s and as they get more false positive reviews it should begin to catch less and less real reviews in their quality review filters (or at least, let’s hope so!).
Things that may be affect reviews in Google Plus Local to get filtered?
The truth is no really knows (except Google) and all this is just speculation. Nonetheless, it’s always fun to brainstorm and think things that may cause reviews to get filtered. Here are some things that could trigger a filter:
- reviews all coming from same IP
- reviews coming from banned IP’s (often review posting companies will use products like HMA, which often all use the same IPs)
- review coming from inactive account(s)
- reviews coming too fast
- reviews not passing “real” sniff test
- duplicate reviews on multiple locations (seen this, obvious spam!)
Got more ideas on what could cause reviews to get filtered…? Add in the comment section below.
DO NOT’s when it comes to online reviews:
Apparently it is no longer kosher to set-up review stations in your business or to
bribe offer ethical incentives in exchange for Google Plus Local reviews (even though Google did it here.)
“Soliciting reviews is suspect behavior for our systems.” What I mean by this is — it’s fine if you reach out to customers to ask them to review, but I do not recommend that you do this in waves. If you want to reach out to legit customers and ask them to review, I recommend you contact them immediately after you have done business with them. – source
Here are some do not’s when it comes to asking your clients for reviews.
- Do Not create Google Accounts to add reviews your clients left you via email, comment card, etc. Get them to leave the review themselves whenever possible. If you do choose to ignore this (because some of you will, I know ) then just note you may lose the review.
- Do Not post a review under your account for showing your client’s written review.
- Do Not post fake reviews (duh!)
Black Hat Tip: For you review spammers out there. If you are going to post client’s reviews for them or plan to post fake reviews, you may want to put your review in this tool first to see if it comes back as being seen as being fake.
Better Review Strategy: We highly recommend you send your clients to review system/funnel page on your website where it educates them on reviews and walks them through the process. This is how we handle reviews for our clients at SBOC to improve online reputation.
What you can do about this missing review problem?
The short answer: Nothing.
The review industry is a dynamic place (nothing static about internet marketing) and if change scares you then run now because that is the only guarantee with this stuff: CHANGE.
The best thing you can do is make sure you are getting reviews from as many different review sites as possible. Diversification! As they say, “Never keep all your eggs in one basket.”
Send your clients to other sites that offer reviews:
- Insider Pages
- Yahoo Local
- Yellowpages (yep even YP has reviews)
And depending on your niche, there are to of fabulous places to get reviews too:
- Tripadvisor (for travel)
- Urbanspoon (for restaurants)
- Kudzu, Homestars, Angieslist (for contractors)
- RateMDs, AVVO (for lawyers and doctors)
- and the list goes on and on of review sites out there.
There is great hope that some of these other review sites are becoming more main stream tools that will be visible in search and mobile search. I say, Yelp is a very good places to get reviewed.
- Yelp is now sharing reviews with Siri & Bing thus increasing visibility.
- Yahoo reviews may see a resurgence under Marissa Mayer.
Note – You are not suppose to solicit for reviews in any way on Yelp. And Yelp is an equally strong review filter too (Good post on Yelp’s possible ranking factors). Make sure you understand the guidelines of what is an acceptable review acquisition strategy. “What’s acceptable” may vary from site to site. Also know how to respond to negative reviews properly too. If you really want to
bitch complain about your missing reviews and feel your reviews are 100% legit you can add your questions to the Que in this Google Places support forum thread here.
Summary Of ‘Missing Review’ Thoughts
Internet marketing is just not static and the reality is things can change at any moment (without notice), so the best strategy is to diversify when soliciting for reviews from your customers and hope for the best. We have found at SBOC, that showing reviews at a lots of review sites is the best protection against the ever changing nature of ‘local search marketing’.
Other Great Posts on Disappearing Reviews From Google:
- Lost Your Google Reviews? Take A Proactive Stance!
- A Way to Avoid the Google + Local Review Spam Filter?
- Google on Reviews: Asking for them is OK, Soliciting them is BAD <- read all the comments here, good dialogue going on