Much like Yelp’s Disappearing ReviewTrick in which online reviews suddenly filter into the Not Recommended folder, Google has its own version of the Online Review Vanishing Act. Google is an autonomous entity which allows them the power to decide which reviews stay and which ones go up in smoke.
Because our Review Response Team spends so much time managing online reviews, we have a front-row seat to the inner workings of Google, Yelp, Facebook, and all other vital review directories.
Recently, we noticed that one of our clients had received three great reviews. However, before we could tell this business owner the great news, the reviews had already vanished into thin air. We’ve seen Google remove reviews that are in direct violation of Google’s review policies; but these were positive reviews from happy customers. We were perplexed, having never seen this particular issue before, so we reached out to our friends at Google.
Here was their response:
After a careful revision, it appears that we have removed some reviews from the listing for your business.
We want people to get ratings, reviews, and recommendations that are relevant, helpful, and trustworthy. To protect both business owners and customers, we have systems in place that may remove individual reviews that include any of the following: inappropriate content, advertising and spam, off topic reviews, or conflict of interest. Sometimes our algorithms may flag and remove legitimate reviews in our effort to combat abuse. You can check out our review policies here: https://support.google.com/places/answer/2622994
We know this is frustrating when it happens but believe that overall, these measures help to ensure that the reviews appearing on local Google+ pages are authentic, relevant, and useful. Reviews that may have been removed will not be reinstated.
Thanks for your patience and understanding about this process. Let me know if you have any other questions on this topic.
We also found this on Google’s Flag and Fix page:
Google uses automated spam detection measures to remove reviews that are probably spam. Although legitimate reviews are sometimes inappropriately removed, these spam prevention measures help improve people's experiences on Google by ensuring that the reviews they see are authentic, relevant, and useful.
Google is becoming more vigilant in fighting reviews that conflict with their review protocol. Their algorithm flags specific things which may result in the removal of reviews. Following are a few examples of why a review could get flagged:
- Inappropriate content
- Advertising and spam
- Off-topic reviews
- Conflict of interest
- Hate speech
- Review contains phone numbers, email addresses, or URLs
Here is the full list of Google’s review policies.
According to Google’s own resources, reviews may be removed arbitrarily. Although we truly believe that the vast majority of online reviews will remain intact, it’s good to be prepared for the possibility that this may not always be the case. We aren’t magicians but the ace that we always have up our sleeve is to remind you to keep being the great business owners that you are. Just in case Google performs its Online Review Vanishing Act, you’ll still have a steady stream of good reviews coming your way. As always, WebPunch will keep an eye on Google’s review policies and continue to keep you in the loop. Abracadabra!
Karin Siccardi is a Reputation Defender, Blogger, and Proofreader/Editor at WebPunch. Originally from Oregon, she migrated to Tennessee where she lives with her husband, four children, and the family dog who lounges at her feet as she enjoys the luxury of working from her home office. An avid reader, she enjoys all wordy things as well as coffee, chocolate, and wine.