I have noticed that a couple of my clients have had some of their google reviews disappear, it has never happened to any of my clients previously.
Have you recently had some Google Reviews disappear? I bet you are struggling to get any sense from google or even a reply?
Google did announce at the end of July that a bug did occur with Google My Business reviews.
Although many people speculate about how the google algorithm works, very few have in depth knowledge.
I took time to dig around numerous articles, some are from google partners, I have compiled a list of reasons why your review may have been removed.
While Google doesn’t outline every aspect of their spam detection algorithm, they do provide specific Google review content guidelines. If you clicked on the link you will see how easy it is for a customer to leave a review that may then get removed.
How does Google manage all the reviews being posted, it applies a review filter. You want to know how the filter works? It appears that the filter runs periodically and takes down reviews that they deem illegitimate. The filter does not run in real time which means you could have a review stick to your listing for months and then vanish at the same time as several other reviews.
I would recommend regularly monitoring your reviews against the following and act accordingly:
A URL in the review?
If there is a URL in the review, the review filter will more than likely consider it spam and remove the google review. It seems google believes there is no need for a URL in any review.
Was there a phone number in the review?
There is no need for a phone number in any review, so the filter classes it as spam and removes it.
Frequency of reviews?
It is wonderful that you are getting customers to leave reviews, however, if you are too good at this and they are all leave a review in a short space of time then the filter might consider that you are using fake reviews.
Do you have reviews in other places online?
Many of us ask customers to leave Google reviews to help with Google My Business ranking. If you have loads of reviews on Google My Business, but none on Yelp, Facebook, etc., this could be a cause for the deleted reviews. Google considers this a a good indicator of spam – or maybe your over-coach your customers about how to leave a review for your business. Instead, mix it up – ask for a review of your business on Facebook and other sites from time to time.
Did the review appear elsewhere on the internet?
Spread your reviews across several online platforms. If a customer is happy to leave reviews on numerous platforms, ask that they do not copy and paste the same review. If you have testimonials on your website paraphrase the reviews. Make sure customers are not copying and pasting previous reviews and write their own.
Is the reviewer a manager of your Google My Business account or Google+ page?
Never write your own review or anybody who has access to your GMB page
Is the reviewer your employee?
Never have employees leave a review.
Conflicts with the IP address.
A huge majority of the time reviews get filtered due to issues with the IP address of the person who left you the review. This is difficult to manage as most do not know where their IP address originates from nor can they control it. We have had incidents where local people have left a review, but their IP address has been in a different part of the world.
Are you asking customers to leave a review whilst at your business?
If they are using your wifi, they could all be using the same IP address. Far better to give them your google review URL.
Was your review written from a location that is TOO far away from your business location?
Make sure your GMB is correctly configured to allow international or long distance reviews.
Were there multiple attempts to post the same review?
If a review was flagged and deleted by Google, then the customer adds the same review again – it will be removed again.
Do many of your reviews originate from the same online location?
Yes, it is nice to send clients to your testimonial page to encourage them to then click on a link and leave a review. However, it is possible that Google records the referring URL and sees that all of your reviews are coming from a website. Far better to send your customers the GMB review url.
Do you have multiple business locations?
Do you have multiple locations and multiple Google My Business pages? Customers are great! They love your service and products and they want to tell the world about you. They love you so much that they visit the Google My Business page for every location your business has in the metro area, eager to leave their review. Unfortunately, if the reviewer left the same review on multiple business locations, the duplicates (or all) will likely be removed. It seems the same if only one of your locations is getting reviews.
Do you have an abnormally large amount of reviews on your Google My Business page?
You can be penalised and be a victim of your own review success. If your business has way more reviews than other businesses in your industry and city/area, this could be cause for concern. Consider this your business has a catchment of 20,000 people but you have 2000 reviews, don’t be shocked when many of them get removed. Especially if no other business in your area has the same level of reviews.
Did the reviewer remove their review?
A customer might be a repeat customer and have a different experience and choose to remove their review rather than change it. On behalf of a couple of clients I have contacted their customers to see if they would redo a review and they mentioned they took it down. Silver lining it gave my client a chance to fix a misunderstanding and the review is now back up.
Does the reviewer have a blank Google account?
Fake profiles commonly do not contain a name, photo, or other information. Real accounts are never completely blank. When a business gets numerous reviews from empty accounts, this is a trigger that the reviews were created by bots and are fake or paid.
Did the reviewer delete their Google account?
A user must have a Google account to leave a review. When a Google account is deleted, the associated reviews are deleted as well.
Have you been active on Google My Business lately?
Your Google My Business profile needs to be an integral part of you digital marketing strategy. Ensure you are on there at least once a week. You do not want to have an unverified account.
Do all of your reviews look and sound the same?
Ironically if the reviews are too perfect and appear to be mass produced, there’s a very good chance you will trigger the review filter to remove some of your reviews. Ask for a Google review but don’t coach your customers on the writing of any reviews.
Was the review “clean?”
Profanity, hate speech, offensive language and personal attacks are not allowed in reviews. This type of content will definitely trigger the filters and the review will be removed. If there are reviews on your Google My Business page that contains any of this type of language, you should request to have the Google review removed ASAP.
Are you offering incentives for customers?
If Google finds out and it is amazing how they do, that you are offering discounts, coupons or free products to entice customers to leave you a review, not only will your reviews be removed you may have your profile suspended.
Is your Google My Business Review missing because of a Google Error?
These are situations that can happen but are rare occurrences. If you’re missing reviews on your Google My Business page, one of the reasons above is much more likely to be the reason for your missing Google reviews. If this is the case it is very hard to get it back.
There you have it, my findings on potential reasons why any Google reviews may disappear. Of course you also want to know is it possible to retrieve any missing reviews. The quick answer is it appears not, personally never had any success.
If you have had success would love to hear your process.
Plan of action moving forward. I would recommend creating a file if you do not have a CRM system and copy your reviews. Set a regular time to copy the review and the name of the customer who wrote it. If you are getting into hundreds of reviews, then you need to work out the ROI of review management.
To finalise, yes, it is a pain to work hard to provide excellence only for the review to disappear. I would focus on continuing to provide excellence and getting more reviews.