Have you ever lost Google reviews?
If you have ever received a 5-star review for your Google My Business listing, you know how exhilarating it can be.
On the flip side, if you’ve ever lost one of those reviews, you also know how frustrating it is.
Several weeks ago, I received a call from one of our clients. He was discouraged. He had discovered that two of the Google reviews that were left by different clients had disappeared. He wanted to know what he could do.
The same thing happened to two of our own Google reviews a while back. The reviews were from clients that we had worked for over the years. They didn’t appear to violate any of Google’s guidelines. It was a complete mystery as to why they disappeared.
Solving the Mystery of Missing Google Reviews
I put my Sherlock Holmes web cap on and went to work to find out what may have caused the problem.
The first thing that was confirmed is that if you are missing a Google review, you are not alone. When you search for the phrase “missing Google reviews”, the results are filled with stories from others who are searching for answers.
The most common answer to the question, “Why did my Google review disappear?”, is that Google’s spam detection algorithms must have been tripped and filtered out the review causing the disappearance.
Questions to Ask if a Google Review Disappears
Google removes reviews that “exhibit spammy behavior.” The company has published review content policies that spell out the rules of the game that must be followed. Although Google does not share all of the specifics about what signals they use in the review spam detection, we do have some clues.
The following is a list of questions to ask if one of your reviews vanish that may shed light on why a Google’s spam detection filter was tripped.
- Was there a URL in the review?
If the review had a URL to another website, this would violate Google’s review policy as advertising. Reviews with URLs are automatically marked as spam.
- Was there a phone number in the review?
As with URLs in reviews, phone numbers will also raise red flags as advertising/spam.
- Did the same review appear in another place on the Internet? (Yelp, Facebook, the testimonials page on your website, etc.)
Duplicate reviews may have been the problem.
- Was the person who wrote the review a manager of your Google+ Page? Or, are you a manager of their Google+ Page?
If the person who wrote the review was a manager of your Google+ page or you are a manager of their page, Google may see this as a conflict of interest and may filter out the review.
I believe this is most likely what happened to one of the Google reviews that disappeared from our Google+ page. I am the manager of the client’s Pages, and he rarely signs into his profile to manage them.
- Does the person who wrote the review work for you?
If the person who wrote the review works for you, Google sees this as a conflict of interest. It is a violation of Google’s review policies.
- Did the person who wrote the review use the same computer (same IP address) that you sign into to manage your local listing?
If the person who left a review used the same computer – or even a different computer at the same location that has the same external IP address (an address used to identify your internet connection), the filter could have been tripped.
- Did the person who wrote the review have the same IP address as other users who left you reviews?
Again, using the same external IP address to – even on different computers -may trip the spam filter.
- Did the person try to post the review at different times?
If the person tried to post a review for you several times on different dates, the filter may have been tripped. For example, if a review on May 1st and it was filtered, then tried to leave another review on June 2nd.
- Did you receive a large number of reviews in a short amount of time?
If you did receive a number of reviews in a short amount of time, the spam filter alarms may have gone off.
- Did all of the people that left a review arrive at your page from the same place?
For example, a spam filter may have sprung if all the people clicked a link from the signature in one of your emails. Google most likely records the referring URL of how your visitors reach your page. If they all arrive from the same URL, they may not appear spontaneous and may be filtered.
- Do you have multiple Google+ pages with different locations?
Did the person who wrote the review leave one on each page? Multiple reviews by the same person on different business locations may be the problem.
- Is the person who left the review new to Google+?
If the person who wrote the review just set up a Google+ profile or they were not active after they set it up, this may cause a negative signal that set off the alarm for Google’s spam filters.
- Do you have an onsite review station at your business?
For example, if a business has an iPad or computer in a convenient place for customers to write reviews, this would be a violation of Google’s review policy, “don’t set up review stations or kiosks at your place of business just to ask for reviews written at your place of business.” The IP address of each review is most likely recorded setting off the content policies’ violation whistle.
- Is Google the only place you have online reviews?
If you only have a large number of reviews on Google, but not anywhere else on the Internet (Yelp, Merchant Circle, Facebook, etc), the spam police may be notified.
- Is the number of reviews about your business abnormally higher than the majority of businesses in the same industry?
If you have a large number of reviews than the norm in your industry, Google’s spam filters may have been tripped.
- Did the person who left the review remove it?
If a person removed the review or, if they deleted their Google profile, the review will disappear.
This was the case of one of our client’s reviews. I contacted her to find out if she had removed it, and she had not. Then, she remembered that she had deleted her G+ profile.
Why is Google So Strict With Reviews?
The bottom line is that Google’s tough review filters are in place to weed out the spam. The goal is to provide “recommendations that are helpful and trustworthy.” Unfortunately, the review algorithm does catch some of the legitimate reviews.
Back Them Up – Just in Case
As a plan of action, whenever you receive notification that someone has left you a review, copy it and save it offline. If it is removed in the future, you can analyze why it may have been removed. You can also include it as a testimonial on your website.
Having a Google review removed without explanation is frustrating. By putting on our Sherlock Holmes hats, we may be able to discover why.
Over to You
Have you ever had a Google review disappear? If so, please let me know if you were able to discover why in the comments below. Your input may be able to help others – including me.
You may also like to read:
Comprehensive Strategies for Negative Google Reviews
Google reviews can be a blessing or a curse. A five star rating from a happy customer is always welcomed, but what do you do if your company receives a negative Google review? Is there anything you can do to protect your company’s reputation?