Google Maps adds Comment/Review Posting Policy

Review spam in Google Maps has been a problem since reviews started being accepted by Google. There has always been a link to tag the review as inappropriate but no clear indication of what was and what was not acceptable nor when or how a review would be removed. Google has at least dealt with the first issue.

They recently (exactly how recent in unclear) have created a specific Comment Posting Policy that delineates specific review practices that are prohibited:

Please follow these policies when making a comment: 

  • Don’t spam or post fake reviews intended to boost or lower ratings.
  • Don’t post or link to content that is sexually explicit or contains profanity.
  • Don’t post or link to content that is abusive or hateful or threatens or harasses others.
  • Don’t post or or link to any file that contains viruses, corrupted files, “Trojan Horses,” or any other contaminating or destructive features that may damage someone else’s computer.
  • Don’t post any material that violates the copyrights or other intellectual property rights of others.
  • Don’t impersonate any person, or falsely state or otherwise misrepresent your affiliation with a person or entity.
  • Don’t violate any other applicable law or regulation.
  • Don’t use comments as a forum for advertisement.

Google notes that they “reserve the right to review and remove commentary that violates our policies”.

Reviews are potentially a positive contributor to a consumers understanding of local information. However, often in the context of Maps, where a Local 10 Pack ranking is so valuable, they have taken on a life of their own that is often unrelated to an actual review process and has everything to do with maximizing a business’s presence. This has led to inflated, business generated reviews as well as wildly inpappropriate reviews. Creating clear posting guidelines is a first, positive step in making the process and product functional.

However Google has a way to go to make reviews really work. Google has two issues in this regard that I have noted previously. Firstly, their scraping and updating of reviews has a very long and unpredictable update cycle. At best, if a review is removed from CitySearch it will be gone from Google in 6 to 8 weeks. But that is a best case scenario and that is not always the case.

Secondly, on Google generated reviews the only review removal request option is a community feature allowing a review to be flagged as inappropriate. There is no indication that Google even looks at this community input on a reliable basis. If they do, there is no feedback to the harmed business. There are no clear guidelines nor consistent action to indicate which reviews, if any, will be taken down.

The suggestion I made in September of last year still would be appropriate and that would be to implement review transparency in the Google review system by turning the Local Business Center into a relationship management tool and show the business owner EVERY review that you have in your index whether scraped or Google entered. Show us which ones are in our Maps listing and let us respond directly to those folks that created the review in Google. If we flag an inappropriate review from within the LBC, guarantee some sort of review process and a timeframe. And provide a response, even if automated!

Review spam and review policy are but once aspect of the review situation at Google. Miriam Ellis has a new post on the many oddities she has confronted in Google’s handling of reviews.

Please consider leaving a comment as your input will help me (& everyone else) better understand and learn about local.
Google Maps adds Comment/Review Posting Policy by

17 thoughts on “Google Maps adds Comment/Review Posting Policy”

  1. I’d not seen that comment posting rule set, Mike. Thanks for posting. They are good rules, but I must say, I consider the review portion of Google Maps to be the buggiest feature of the entity.

    Nearly every time I dig into the reviews portion of Maps, I encounter oddities…missing reviews, reviews not being counted in the total number, snippets not clicking to full reviews. It’s like it’s something different every time. The last time I went to look at my own reviews, a bunch of them simply weren’t being shown (and they do not violate the above guidelines) and I felt let down. I’ve spent a lot of time writing thoughtful reviews of businesses with whom I’ve done business, all over my state, and if Google isn’t even going to present my reviews, there is little incentive for me to continue leaving them.

    I’ve considered blogging about this several times in the last few months, but as the bugs just seem to keep changing and/or multiplying, I find it difficult to focus a post on the issue beyond saying, “why are G. Maps reviews so irregular?”

  2. @Miriam

    Yes, I and my clients see pretty much the same thing…I didn’t even address that issue. You see it in the forums all the time: “Where did all of my reviews go?”.

    I have no clue what happens to them, but if you search the forums you will find plenty of cases that would make for a good article. People put great stock in their online presence and Google’s playing fast and loose with it, is disconcerting to say the least.

  3. Hi Again, Mike,
    I made up my mind to write about this, documenting 3 of the problems I’ve been having for months with Google Reviews. See pingback above.

    Thanks for inspiring me to write about this.

  4. “Don’t spam or post fake reviews intended to boost or lower ratings.”

    That’s hilarious. Well I guess if they said not to do it, then nobody will do it anymore.

    Since the reviews are posted on 3rd party sites, out of Google’s reach (for the most part), they are relying on them to edit out spam reviews. Most of them are so easy to SPAM a 12 yr old could do it.

    1. @me
      The “Don’t spam..” guidelines refer specifically to reviews on Google not to 3rd party reviews. But that is all the more reason that a business owner should have access to and knowledge of all reviews that Google has in a convenient spot.

      Thanks for the heads up. That’s an interesting development.

  5. Is there no way for me to respond to a review of my business on Google maps? Where can I go what can I do?

    Any direction would be helpful.

    1. If the review was placed on Google Maps you can only note on the review that it is inappropriate and they will look at it sooner or later. If the review was placed on another service, many have human contact points and they will agree to take it down. Google will eventually remove in that case.

  6. I’ve been waging a review battle on google for quite awhile. We have one particular “reviewer” that has spammed the same message on multiple listings (mine and several competitors). The reviews don’t get removed regardless of the 22 confirmed “Flag as inappropriate” submissions I was able to garner from previous customers.

    I’m not sure if Google always removes the review if it’s been removed from a third party site. We have 2 reviews posted to our profile from the same individual that were originally posted to citysearch and insiderpages. After both the sites removed the postings for abuse google just converted them to google local reviews and retained the postings. In reading the above it seems like perhaps they have removed reviews posted on third party sites that the site had removed but this was not the case for us.

    You can see our profile here.

    We even went so far as to hire an attorney to demand the reviews be removed. Google responded that they don’t take responsibility for the content on their site and will only comply if we get a court order against the competitor that posted the review. According to the attorney this would involve an extensive process of attempting to find who falsely submitted the review through subpoenas of ip records. We’re still looking into this process but I’m just astounded at the obvious disregard Google has. If it’s content Google wants it, no matter the cost, ethics, honesty, or truthfulness of the content.

    I hope some young attorney or legal group that wants to make a name for themselves sues the heck out of Google for it’s review policies and gets this whole thing over with so the rest of us can focus on what we should be – providing good service and making sure people know about it.

  7. If you don’t like the reviewing system (and my guess is that few do) then why not let know this by reviewing Google? At the Google maps website, enter “ 1600 Amphitheatre Pkwy Mountain View, CA” – this is the Google headquarters. There are already several reviews (many negative) concerning the review system. Why not add your own?

  8. I posted a bad review on a business several weeks ago, and have since resolved the issue that prompted the bad review. I now find that I cannot get the comment removed from the site. If anyone has any suggestions on how to remove this review, please post them here. Every forum I’ve been to says there is no way to do this once the user has shut down the session.except by flagging the article.I tried flagging the review repeatedly and reporting that I was the original poster, yet the review is still there. Apparently if the user signs out of Google maps he can no longer remove the review. I’m very dissatisfied with Google over this issue, but at least I know very few people will see the review since Google maps is so often incorrect and not many people use it for that reason. GPS is so much better.

    I do think that there should be a class-action suit against Google because they seem to be unconcerned about the people who use their service.

  9. I am posting reviews with my details like phone number and all but its getting deleted within 15mins. don’t know why?????

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