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Some of my customers have lost hundreds of reviews overnight. What is up?

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Steve - I have written about this quite a bit... Many people are in denial, but it appears to me that there is a "filtering" process at play here.  Google is doing what Google does, continuously improving their products from a customer experience perspective.  Anybody who thought that Google would not eventually and continuously change their algorithms around which reviews get shown has not paid attention to what Google does with search engine rankings.  My own experience with several dealers has shown me that Google reviews that are collected at the dealership location using dealer supplied devices, such as iPads, are typically the stores with "disappearing reviews".

Contrary to some opinions, at lease one store that I know of had reviews vanish last night and they DID NOT DO GOOGLE REVIEWS in store.

But what they did have happen was Cobalt decided without dealer approval, to claim a listing for their OEM mandated website on behalf of the dealer...BRILLIANT...perhaps the confusion created merging and clustering issues that will hopefully be resolved and the reviews will show again. Needless to say this dealership was furious with Cobalt for doing this (a direct quote from the I.M.). A proactive call should be made to Cobalt or any other provider who controls an OEM site that may think it wise to "help" you with an extra Places listing. 

Don't put all of your eggs in a Google basket. I've said it many times-dominate page one in conjunction with Google reviews. There is no need to do one or the other. You have to work at them both! 

Here a couple of links to Google Support. Not sure if they will be pertinent for everyone.

http://support.google.com/places/?hl=en

http://support.google.com/places/bin/request.py?contact_type=places...

http://support.google.com/places/bin/static.py?hl=en&ts=1386120...

@ Ralph:  I think that is the wrong conclusion.  I have yet to see disappearing reviews have anything at all to do with "in store" vs. "not in store" dealerships.  I **have** seen reviews disappear and then come back when NO reviews were done at all AT the store.  

The fundamental misunderstanding of Google Places is thinking that GP is a URL to a discrete and static web page.  It is NOT.  It is assembled on the fly by Google under rules only they seem to know.

Scott hits one of the issues right on the head, because multiple claims to a listing CAN cause even an ENTIRE GP TO DISAPPEAR!  I've seen that, too.

Finally, I'd argue that the LAST thing that Google ever wants to do is worry if a review from anyone was using some IP attached to their own phone, iPad, etc.  I have heard no single good argument yet about WHY they would even care WHEN and WHERE a review was done.  I don't mean any disrespect to your experience, but I think you're drawing the wrong conclusion.

@Steve Davern:  Do you perform in-store reviews?

Hey Keith, I tried to respond but my 3G iPhone either doesn't like ADM or visa versa. I don't work at a dealership. My company provides used car page one websites from google, yahoo and bing searches. I see 40+ dealers each week so when something like this happens, they ask me and I do my best to help. I visited 10 dealerships today and one was a 11 roof group and, I saw this problem with 4 or 5 of the dealers. Cobalt seems to be a common denominator but I'm not 100% on that.

I called you back, too, left vmail.  Mine was full but isn't now.  I'll be interested if these come back the next few days.  Thanks for the call!

Keith and Scott - I definitely understand your logic, but it is difficult for me to ignore what i am seeing with my own two eyes.  Regardless of the specifics, there is no doubt in my mind that there are ways for dealer reviews to disappear from a dealer's Google Places page after they have previously appeared.  Whether this is from something that the dealer did, something a supplier did, or not did, the very fact that reviews posted to Google Places are disappearing indicates that some type of filtering process is in effect by which Google causes these reviews to disappear. The dealer is not taking them down... I am not taking them down... I don't think that you guys are taking them down... so guess who's taking them down? GOOGLE!

Google admitted, plain and simple in Oct of 2010 (as an example), that they just outright lost reviews during some update. Will there be filtering, will there be changes, who knows, but I don't think it is good to scare a dealer into something without vetting the message. So recently were these dealer's reviews just lost? I hope not for their sake, but is it possible? Yep. Google is far from infallible, so the reason things "can" happen sometimes is just because they "can". Even for the almighty Google. So far their message pertaining to filtering has been to combat spam and improve authenticity of reviews and they typically use the word algorithm and not filtering. So does that mean a filter is coming? Could be. Is it here today...don't think so, but that's just an opinion as I do not work for Google. February saw 40 new tweaks to the algo, so maybe it's possible that these sites are caught up in the updates and need to settle back in. 

http://insidesearch.blogspot.com/2012/02/search-quality-highlights-...

It's not filtering if someone, like vendor, ignorantly makes ANOTHER Google Places page and that kicks up a storm of issues with GP including reviews that come and go--as well as the whole GP.

"To search, to Google, to Google perhaps to result--aye, there's the rub.  For in that Google of Places what reviews may come, when we have shuffled off this mortal SERP, must give us headache." 

Sorry to anyone not a Shakespeare fan.  Really, even more sorry to those that are!  :)

When some of our team members were able to talk to the Google Places reps at DMSC, they said that some reviews are lost during updates and they're not sure why. They said that most businesses will see the reviews come back within a week, and I have seen that happen with clients. If the reviews don't come back, they're not lost forever (contrary to what was previously stated by the team) and can be retrieved through the same process you go through when you try to fix mistakes on a listing. The filtering process that Yelp is doing could be something Google does in the future or already is doing Ralph. And Scott I agree that you can't put all your eggs in one basket as many dealers saw this summer. I always suggest to dealers to keep an eye on all assets but pay very close attention to the ones that rank well for your name or keywords.

@Ralph  -  I have to say this is not a filtering issue per se.  Scott Falcone has it right and my dealership is the one he's talking about.  And yes, a duplicate page was created by Cobalt and that resulted in trouble.  Steve Davern was checking with dealerships at my request and let me know by phone what he was finding.  There IS a commonality in what occurred.  That commonality is Cobalt.

How Google deals with such things is altogether another issue and should be addressed.  I look forward to that.

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