Does it seem like your Google reviews have been vanishing lately, or just never showing up in the first place? Unfortunately, it may be more than just your imagination. Your reviews could be falling prey to Google’s filter, which — let’s face it — isn’t exactly known for boasting a 100% accuracy rate. But why is this happening now? And more importantly, what can your agency or brand do about it? Read on as our response scribes explore the answers in this week’s post.
What Are Review Filters and How Do They Impact Your Business?
The global marketing agency DAC Group recently published a blog post which should sound alarm bells for digital agencies and their clients. According to DAC Group:
“As of March 7, Google has significantly escalated its automatic review filtering algorithm. While this is meant to combat spam reviews, there has been a drastic increase in the number of legitimate business reviews being prevented from going live on Google Business Profile (GBP) listings.”
“Google is aware of this filtering problem,” the post continued, “but has so far only advised business owners to ‘remain patient’.” Hopefully, the tips featured later in this article will help business owners to alleviate the consequences of the filtering issue while Google’s team works on a solution.
As SEO resource Moz explains, review filters serve a valuable triple purpose: to screen for reviews left by bots, to screen for reviews left by third parties (such as fake positive reviews), and finally, to screen for self-reviews left by business owners. In theory, review filters should consistently enhance the quality and authenticity of the consumer experience, allowing businesses that provide superior products or service to rise to the top.
The trouble begins when Google’s filter functions imperfectly and either fails to catch spam, or perhaps even worse, performs too aggressively and removes legitimate positive reviews — reviews your brand depends on to gain local visibility, strengthen customer relationships, and compete with area businesses. (Keep in mind, you’ll need at least 10 to 40 reviews before consumers will even trust your business, depending on whose data you look at.)
The bottom line is that online reviews are valuable — and when large numbers of them vanish or fail to appear, it’s harmful to your business, no matter what industry you’re in or how many stars you’re currently rated. But don’t despair: while it’s impossible for your business to control how Google’s filter behaves (or to predict exactly when it will strike), the good news is that there are steps you can take to help protect your business or clients against overzealous removal of reviews. Let’s take a closer look at some strategies that your brand or agency can use to help minimize the damage.
What to Do if Your Google Reviews Aren’t Showing Up or Start Disappearing
We’ve gone into depth on our blog about why review responses are so important for business owners to provide. But where does that leave business owners and agencies when reviews don’t show up, or are taken down without valid reason? It’s a frustrating predicament that you aren’t alone in facing, as the below screenshots make clear.
If you suspect that your reviews are being filtered or removed improperly, here are five steps your brand or agency can take to help address the issue (and hopefully, prevent it from recurring in the future).
- First, it’s a good idea to browse GBP’s guide to missing and delayed reviews. While the help you receive may be limited while Google’s search for a fix continues, it’s still useful to submit your feedback and reach out to Google’s support team.
- Avoid the temptation to make up the difference by purchasing reviews (or writing them yourself). This is a dangerous strategy that’s not only prohibited by platforms like Google and Yelp, but could even subject you to fines or legal action.
- Google’s filter is likely to be triggered by a sudden massive influx of reviews, which could appear like suspicious activity. For that reason, you may want to avoid asking large numbers of customers to resubmit or write new reviews, even though it feels counterintuitive. If you do ask for more reviews, consider spacing out your requests.
- Take the opportunity to explore and make use of other review platforms, so that you won’t be as dependent on Google in the future. Beyond Yelp and Facebook, which are two of the other largest platforms besides GBP, you should also identify niche or industry-specific review platforms where your brand should be active.
- Keep an eye on your competitors’ reviews. Are they being affected like yours, or does the issue seem specific to your business? If it’s the latter, that’s a major red flag to dig deeper and find out what’s going on before the problem hamstrings your business further. You should consult with an expert who provides review reply, review generation, and reputation management services, like the industry-leading team at Shout About Us.
Need Help Managing Your Google Reviews? Ask About Our Response Scribe Service for Digital Agencies and Brands
Online review management shouldn’t be a headache for your team. If tracking and responding to reviews is costing you time you don’t have, why not try a more efficient solution?
Designed for digital agencies and brands in any vertical, our review response service provides you and your clients’ customers with personalized replies within 24 hours of reviewing your business. You’ll receive a dedicated responder backed by US-based customer support, providing peace of mind and around-the-clock service to your brand or agency.
Seamless, scalable, and secure, our white label reputation management platform makes it simple to centralize all of your reviews in one easy-to-monitor hub, giving you the power to request revisions, make edits, escalate sensitive reviews, view comprehensive data reports, and more. Whether you have a huge backlog of old reviews to deal with, you need help getting reviews to put your brand on the local radar, or you need a better and simpler way to track customer feedback as your company expands, our review reply service and powerful dashboard combine to make it easy.
Emily Homrok is a freelance copywriter with more than seven years of writing experience. She joined the Shout About Us team as a content strategist in 2020.