Google+ Local And Review Issues

Since the rollout of Google+ Local the complaints about missing reviews have risen dramatically in the forums. The issues that Google have had right along with losing reviews remain much the same and reviews can go missing for many of the same reasons:
– Marked as spam
– They are misplaced by Google briefly or for longer periods
– Users mark their review as private in the transition to PLus
– A listing has dupes and the review gets associated with the other listing
– A rating will show in the review count but not in the review corpus

But apparently something has changed. In conversations in the private forum Google noted the following high level points regarding spam that we could share and that may make life easier for some of you:

– car dealership reviews are usually, but not always, spammy
– Google will only allow one review per person per business
– Copy pasting the same review for multiple locations is also not allowed (Google will delete both instances of the review)
– Putting URLs in reviews will result in the review being marked as spam

Please consider leaving a comment as your input will help me (& everyone else) better understand and learn about local.
Google+ Local And Review Issues by

155 thoughts on “Google+ Local And Review Issues”

  1. Hi Mike,

    Per your response below. Can you tell me where I can find more information regarding specific limitations and ways to make workstations work within my dealership.

    “There is no rule against the workstation but if not handled with a range of specific limitations most reviews will not be shown.”

    I appreciate your help.
    Ann

  2. Hi Ann:

    I strongly suggest against setting up a workstation at your dealership for customers to review your business. Here’s why.

    1. Your customer could feel intimidated into writing a positive review if you ask them to write it while they’re still on the lot. This might sound like a good idea at first, but it will dramatically reduce your ability to generate referrals and recommendations.
    2. Your customer is not going to feel comfortable signing in to their account from your location with their username and password. If they receive spam or have their identify stolen, they’re going to blame you whether you were the cause of their problem or not.
    3. I believe that Google and the other search engines see customer reviews coming from the business location as untrustworthy. If they haven’t penalized a business for this yet, they certainly can in the future. I would not take that risk. There is a better way to get great reviews from your customers and keep bad reviews from showing up on the Internet without doing this.

  3. Jeff here at madproaudio. I am still shocked all our reviews are gone. Even if you go to the BBB.ORG you will see very in depth reviews written as we genuinly spoil our customers from start to finish. So seeing years of reviews completely deleted by Google has really stressed us out. There were many consumers that mentioned that they automatically wanted to shop with us because of the wonderful things they read about us. Our business has actually gone down too as we must start all over and we are no longer asking consumers to write a review on google.

    Anyone responds, you can email me directly madproaudio@ hotmail I would like to see a real solution from google as I believe they have outraged countless businesses.

    For the record. Until they did this awful thing to our business and many others like ours, I actually thought highly of google. They are losing people in droves now due to this!!!

  4. I am experiencing the same issue following my Google Places / + merge. All of the reviews for my client’s dental practice have vanished. Additionally, several patients have reviewed the practice on Google since the merger and those don’t show either.

    Page is https://plus.google.com/116966005792848927195/about?hl=en

    The only review that I see is the one I left her (she’s my dentist as well) and I think I’m only seeing that because it’s under my own Google account.

    Any additional thoughts or help are greatly appreciated.

    Thanks.

  5. @Scott M

    Additional thoughts?

    It should be clear that Google has decided that many more reviews are to be filtered and in certain industries like yours and the auto industry this filtering will be more aggressive.

    Until such time as Google changes their thinking it will be difficult for anyone in those industries to get too many reviews.

    That being said, you should be able to get a review every month or two and that is in fact all you really need. Any more than that and they will likely disappear.

  6. The latest observations about the difference between Google + business and the old Google places. 90% of my clients who switched to Google + lost almost all their reviews, and new ones are getting filtered. I would say about 75%. On the other hand clients with the old Google places have no problem what so ever. Wow… wow, wow. Is this a progress by Google? I tell all my clients DO NOT OPEN CAN OF WORMS, DO NOT CLAIM GOOGLE +
    Also I get a call from some of my clients that as soon as the reviews were filtered they are getting calls from Google trying to sell ad-word express. Is this a pure coincidence or….

  7. I work extremely hard at my healing practice to have clients very happy with my work. My success is dependent on referrals. In the past I simply kept testimonials in a binder, but my SEO advised it was best to have happy clients provide reviews. A great many have and I have a 30/30 score…each one was heartfelt and truthful; I have the files to prove it. But recently Google deleted a review posted a year ago…it contained no fancy footwork, no efforts to use keywords, etc…it was simply a happy client explaining how their fears disappeared after my treatment.

    Recently a competitor who has never been a client wrote a 2 line review that all 18 reviews of my business were ‘fakes’ and Google let that through! I wrote to Google and they said that a review questioning the validity of other reviews with no comment on my actual services was just fine! However, I had flagged it as inappropriate so someone at Google had some common sense and it was removed.

    I know that my clients, from all over Ontario and Quebec, have tried to leave reviews and been disappointed. I have stopped wasting their time and mine in suggesting that instead of a written testimonial, they could leave a Google review. Now I accept the written testimonials and put them in my binders…I get a warm feeling when I read them over and over as the years go by.

    Google reviews are becoming nothing more than Google’s opinion about what is and is not useful to readers…more corporatocracy in action to control us. This review system as it stands is more useless than Google Adwords.

    They need to let reviews be posted and if the business flags as inappropriate then remove. They need to presume that people reading the reviews are smart enough to spot spammers, etc. They have indeed now thrown many good reviews out with the bathwater and I will no longer waste my time suggesting people use Google+ reviews to share the word about my work.

    As one client commented, “it is an insult that I took my time to provide my opinion and some jackass in some office somewhere essentially called my review a fabrication and filtered it out!”

  8. I would like to know what sites Google is pulling More review from. I located 4-5 of them some are not even working properly. Anyone knows a list of those sites that I can include my site.

  9. So what are the red flags that Google looks for when filtering? Or is this top secret information.

  10. Alex

    There are the ones that have been stated by Google as reasons for takedown: URLs in the review, duplicate review content, reviews from owners or managers.

    There are a range of other more complicated signals that we are not yet totally clear on that seem to function in concert so it is difficult to parse them specifically. Recently created accounts, accounts created on the same machines used for account management, certain industries, inordinate numbers of reviews, certain forms of solicitation like review stations all seem to have a negative impact.

    Reviews from mobile users, reviews from long time reviewers seem to have greater success being shown.

  11. Mike:

    Do you think the reviews that new Google Plus users are writing today will one day show up on Google … or do you think it’s a waste of time, at least for the time being, to ask new users to leave their review on Google Plus unless they’re writing their review as a mobile user?

  12. @Bob

    It is absolutely NOT a waste of time unless you do not want to follow some simple rules. If what you have been doing is not working then what you are doing is wrong. I have clients that are successfully getting reviews.

    See Review Apocalypse for some ways to make it work and to set expectations correctly.

  13. Mike:

    What percent of new Google Plus users “who are following the rules” are getting their reviews to show up for more than a few days? What is the difference between those who are accessing Google Plus via their computers and mobile phones? Thanks Mike.

  14. @Bob

    I have no idea the % of new users that are getting their reviews up. From what I have seen, not too many. So what?

    You want to avoid sending new users to Google. Only have users who have been with Google+ for a while leave reviews at Google. Have new users leave reviews elsewhere.

    Google trusts that mobile users on their own phones have just interacted with a business and is more likely to accept the review.

  15. Mike,
    in my experience, Google reviews are an utter waste of time and depending on what field you are in, requesting a review and then coaching the client on how to write it so that Google will be satisfied will leave a bad taste in their mouth for sure.

    I have a 30/30, and have many people who say they would like to offer a testimonial…many report their testimonial not ever showing up. Now I send clients to Yelp, to natural magazines as letters to the editor, etc. etc.

    I wish someone would start a class action lawsuit against Google, because their policy is subjective, damaging to those of us who deserve the promotion and it makes no sense to anyone. A happy client should be able to leave a review from the heart and not have to worry that Google might not find it truthful or legitimate based on some airy-fairy whim-of-the-day.

    Banning my reviews means that Google is interfering with my right to generate clients and advertise my skills. It is clearly favoring some companies over others and culling inappropriately.

    Not a single client who wanted to leave a review for me even had knowledge of keywords, url’s and all that stuff that Bob said would cause a review to be culled…they just wanted to leave a bit of their story.

  16. @Grace

    Note my comment above:

    You want to avoid sending new users to Google. Only have users who have been with Google+ for a while leave reviews at Google. Have new users leave reviews elsewhere.

    Give the client a list of places where they can leave reviews including Citysearch, Insiderpages, Yelp, Yahoo and Google. Let the customer pick depending on where THEY are the most comfortable. That will increase the likelihood of a review showing up at any given site INCLUDING Google and Yelp.

    BTW Google is fully and completely protected be federal law so your lawsuit idea will not go far.

  17. Since Google is such a pain. What review sites do you recomened sending customers to for SEO purposes?

  18. I think grace is spot on. I have had all my reviews not show up (at least 8 or 9) in the last few months. Whats the point of having a review center if you cant write a review, and google is not helping us here.

  19. MIke said that “you should be able to get a review every month or two” i have had none of my reviews posted in four months it is disappointing to have those reviews wasted.

  20. Can someone tell me where are all the reviews that have been written lately for me gone. Will they ever show up on my page.also what is wrong with all the reviews that have been written for me.

  21. The dash board and stats are reading old Google places. What about the new Google + ? It seems that for new clients, who have a Google + only the dash board is no longer working. Do I need to have both?

  22. I have been managing google places listings and adwords campaigns for over 5 years now.

    Something glitchy has happened to the algo starting in Summer 2012. All 8 businesses I manage lost reviews over the summer, my restuarants gained reviews from zagat. For months before that the reviews would come and go randomly seemed to be as they upgraded their website. They used to restore reviews if you reported it, that stopped over the summer.

    Calls to tech support on adwords and google are confusing… I was told by the last woman to delete my listing and start over? Reporting my issues doesn’t work, I am officially frustrated!

    I own a day spa in San Rafael I have always had a GOLDEN listing on google and suddenly this month it was crushed. I verified my business listing on google+ and my google places listing disappeared. Also, clicks plumitted as soon as we verifyed our google+ listing.

    The G+ local verification process linked our google places account. When we verified two businesses all hell broke loose. Now my shiney listing is in complete shambles I have contemplated deleting it and starting over……. My new restaurant had several great reviews that are all missing since the verification.

    GOOGLE GET YOUR SHIT TOGETHER! Don’t become yelp…..

  23. We had a campaign to increase our Google reviews for our office. We know we should have had at least 40 reviews. Some were done in our office and others were done outside our office. Either way only 14 were ever reflected. Additionally as time went on, the reviews began to disappear and now we have only 9. Please help!

  24. I have had customers calling me saying that they posted a review. I go and look and they are not there! Also some of them have been removed! Does anyone know why this is?! or if they have a number to google so i can call and see what is going on please and thank you!

  25. @mariya
    The reviews get filtered and there is no number for Google.
    Only advertising #

    Good luck.

  26. Mariya,
    I had my SEO look into this for me and he said:
    (a) the reviewer must have already had a gmail account, not just signed up for one to leave a review
    (b) reviewers with a non-gmail account will not be able to leave a review, ever
    (c) Google limits reviews to 2 per month maximum
    (d) Google often removes reviews…as far back as a year or two in fact
    (e) Google review system is a waste of time…micro-managed by Google staff, it can never be a true representation of what a company’s customers/clients think about the services.

    Many people are now using social media (Facebook and Linked-in) to generate reviews, likes and feedback for the public as too many have been burned by Google Reviews.

    Personally, I have abandoned the practice of asking for Google Reviews…it’s time consuming for me and my client, it’s embarassing to have them culled out, it’s time consuming to have to explain what’s happening to the client…. you get the idea. In my experience (I always ask clients how they found me) only one of my many clients have ever looked up my 18 reviews.

  27. @Mariya

    Your SEO is wrong about “(c) Google limits reviews to 2 per month maximum,” you can have more.
    (e) Google review system is a waste of time… Not true, because Google relies on reviews to get more people to visit their site in order to generate more PPC. They are just slow to fix their filtering system.

    This is my opinion, based on what I see so far.

  28. To add some nuance to what Greg said which is correct, Google typically dials in things and then rebalances them after input and testing. It is more than likely that in the case of reviews, given the number of consumer complaints, that google will dial in the review filter to be less aggravating.

    Grace if you would like to read some ideas on how Google reviews can be integrated in a total review process read this post.

  29. Jade has said leaving reviews at the business on your own mobile, logged into your +Profile and using their wi-fi or leaving them on your normal home computer are OK.

    I have left test reviews from my own laptop, on my regular 2 ISP and Mobile WI-FI hotspot, for users with missing reviews with 100% success. Established +Profile, a few previous reviews, a number of Posts, professional and hobby, and about 200 Circled the Profile.

    On my forum thread about review spam theories a recent post points to Android posts being effective, but his PC posts may be polluted by client activity.

  30. All the comments here are from people trying to ‘game’ google to get higher rankings which is what Google is trying to stop. so go kick rocks.

  31. How do I go about removing a “Review” that is slanderious, a lie, ,hurtful and makes claims that our company is involved in drugs and pornography? It was submitted more than 4 years ago by an ex-wife as far as I can figure but I am just looking at it now. We dont do to much on the Internet so never really looked. This review appears when you google our bussiness name. I would really apreciate a responce from someone at Google that can walk me through this.

  32. @Pat
    It is necessary to mark the review as inappropriate. Google will, sooner or later, look at it to see if it violates their terms of service. I should warn you that that not many reviews are taken down since their TOS are very limited and it would require that the review include hate speech, profanity or racism.

    The best alternative is to put in place a review management process that gathers more reviews and pushes the old review off the page.

  33. I’m trying to leave a review for a place where I got my hair cut (and also a client of mine) and when I push the Review button nothing happens. It also won’t allow me to upload any pictures of her establishment. Does anyone know what might be the problem? It’s very annoying!
    Thanks,
    Kathy

  34. Issue we have as a small business is that when we ask customers to post reviews, they have to become Google+ members, which many who want to provide reviews for other customers, won’t because of the + requirment.

    Then, from an owner’s standpoint it seems that their must be a limit to how many reviews a business can have as every time we get to 24 reviews, one gets reviewed and we are back to 23! Yet I see other companies with over 30 reviews.

    And of course, where does someone find out any Google policy on the subject. You can’t call anyone or email to inquire. You try to fill out one of their canned forms that doesn’t help (only to be asked at the end “Was this info useful”!)

    It would really be nice to have a phone# to call someone who speaks English or an email to inquire. It seems like they don’t want to hear from the “voice of the customer” and have gotten too big to care. Notice another big company (Pepsi) that finally needed to respond to a social media outcry to correct a beverage formula. Maybe, Google needs an outcry of critical mass to assist in correcting or at least providing an accountable channel for customers to get help!

    If anyone can shed light on assisting us, we would appreciate. Thanks

  35. The problem with Google+ reviews is it is too much to ask your customers to create accounts and join anything just to leave a review. Secondly, most people want to be somewhat anonymous when leaving a review.

  36. I just made out a review of a business and it didn’t show up. It shows up when I sign in but not when signed out. I did some web searches and apparently other people have been complaining of this for years and Google has done nothing. Maybe this is Google’s way of saying they don’t care about their users and for people to start using a different search engine.

  37. Hi Tonetare:
    I may be a contrarian, but I like the idea of Google … and Yelp quite frankly, filtering reviews. I know it can be maddening, but it’s the best way these services have to keep fake reviews off of their system. The very best way to have a review show up on Google is for an avid Google+er to leave a review for you. The same is true for Yelp. If you ask or try to direct all of your customers to leave reviews on Google or Yelp, where they are not qualified to leave reviews, this is going to happen every time. If you’re really concerned about customer reviews showing up on the Internet, have them go to Citysearch and sign-in with their Facebook account information. Their review or “tip” will show up immediately and it will be distributed on 9 other sites. Most of the other review sites like Citysearch don’t filter reviews like Google or Yelp does. If you’re attention is 100% on Google, you’re going to be frustrated and disappointed. Here’s my suggestion. Allow your customers to leave you a review where they are most qualified to leave a review for you. It’s better for you and it’s much, much easier for them. Overall, it’s a better customer service experience.

  38. The filtering reviews is the most pathetic system is ever been invented, why? Because the review score is not the true face of the company. There is a very simple explanation, unhappy people spend as much time as they need to leave a negative review, and happy people don’t bother. Its sad, because Google and Yelp are against the idea you asking to leave a review, they should voluntarily.

    I also noticed that Google filters almost all positive reviews but negative stay intact. I had a talk with a Google employee and I asked him about this. He answered, that happy people do not leave reviews. This is a sad truth. I my self don’t leave positive ones, unless I am so extremely happy, that I am ready to jump up and down. For example, I have been using appliance repair company for years, they have 3.1 rating. They fixed my appliances so many times, am I so happy that I am going to run to my computer, sign up, look for their Google + page and post a review? Of course not, I paid the guy, gave him a $20 tip, and that’s my saying thank you and that’s it! I have better things to do in my life.

    On the other hand, what would the unhappy client do? We all know… he would spend the whole day, might even miss his work, but he will make sure that a company, which he is unhappy with gets his Karma.

    My predictions in the future are these, sooner or later the filtering system must be banned, because there are ways how to make real clients to post real reviews, without filters.

  39. Correction: I also noticed that Google filters almost all positive reviews get filtered, but negative are not.

  40. Hi Mike:

    You commented in your article that one of the reasons Google hides reviews is because “Users mark their review as private in the transition to Plus”
    Is this still the case? Do new Google Plus users have the ability to hide or show reviews when they create an account?
    Thanks Mike.

  41. An employee at one of our clients posted a review from her personal g+ account. She has been a g+ user for over a year and didn’t include anything spammy from the list I saw above (urls, etc). We do see review count on our page has 1 review now (didn’t have any before) but the text of the review doesn’t show on our page. The text of the review does show on her g+ profile. Any thoughts or suggestions? Much appreciated.

  42. Eric:
    This could be one of the reasons you’re not seeing the review. I had three of my reviews filtered for three different reasons. They appeared publicly as soon as I fixed them.

    Another Reason Google Filters Reviews
    Another Reason Google Filters Reviews

    I’ve also see this happen and had the review show up 3 days later.

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