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Google Review Policy Clarified and Documented

Google published an update on their review policy, here is a summary of the update's content...


Policy criteria for removing reviews

We want people to get ratings, reviews, and recommendations that are relevant, helpful, and trustworthy. To protect both business owners and customers, we have systems in place that may remove individual reviews that include any of the following:

  • Inappropriate content: Don’t post reviews that contain or link to unlawful content, or content that violates our Google+ content policy. We may also remove reviews that include plagiarism or are copied from other sites.
  • Advertising and spam: Don’t use reviews for advertising or post the same or similar reviews across multiple places, don’t post fake reviews intended to boost or lower ratings, and don't include links to other websites. For certain types of businesses that are prone to spam, we also reserve the right to prevent reviews from publicly appearing across Google.
  • Off-topic reviews: Reviews should describe your personal, first-hand experience with a specific place. Don’t post reviews based on someone else’s experience, or that are not about the specific place you are reviewing. Reviews are not a forum for personal rants or crusades. Don’t use reviews to report incorrect information about a place--use the Report a problem link for that place instead.
  • Conflict of interest: Reviews are only valuable when they are honest and unbiased. For instance, as a business owner or employee you should not review your own business or current place of work. Don’t offer money or product to others to write reviews for your business or write negative reviews about a competitor. We also discourage specialized review stations or kiosks set up at your place of business for the sole purpose of soliciting reviews. As a reviewer, you should not accept money or product from a business to write a review about them. Additionally, don’t feel compelled to review a certain way just because an employee of that business asked you to do so. Finally, don’t post reviews on behalf of others or misrepresent your identity or affiliation with the place you are reviewing.

Sometimes our algorithms may flag and remove legitimate reviews in our effort to combat abuse. We know this is frustrating when it happens but believe that overall, these measures are helping everyone by ensuring that the reviews appearing on Google Places are authentic, relevant, and useful.


Google published an update on their review policy, use this link to see it:  

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What do you have to say about this update?

Views: 375

Tags: Google Policy, Google Reviews, Reputation Management, brian pasch, filtered reviews, google, reviews


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Comment by Kim Essenmacher on February 10, 2013 at 4:21pm

Amen! Tom, you hit the nail on the head! Also,we have a link to a review page on our website as well as a social media business card that I have created for all departments to hand out after the sale/service has been performed!!! Original Post: December 14th

Comment by Tom Gorham on December 27, 2012 at 9:36am

David Brondstetter,  great advice to Kevin below. Thank you! Trying to find work arounds for Google rules and algorythms is ultimately futile and counterproductive.  And letting 3rd parties respond to one's reviews is a bit irresponsible.  Dealers, and all businesses, need to be responsible for their own reputations.  It is their most valuable and potentially threatening asset.

I believe dealer review pages are a fine way to market your reviews IF they link to the actual review on a major review site.  If not, they appear less than credible.  Consumers are incredibly savvy today (yeah, I know, "a sucker is born every minute").  If I want to look at a business review, I don't go to the business to see what they have made available, I go to a major review site, oftentimes as shown on a search page.

It seems the old adage that there is a seat for every butt can be expanded to a vendor for every challenge or problem.  I would prefer to see vendors offer Social Media CRMs that dealers can use to track their online identity and respond to and utilize online activity.  And then see the dealer offer professional training for their staff in providing great customer service.

I have to stand by my earlier formula for reputation peace-of-mind.

  1. Provide a great service that sends home a happy customer.
  2. Ask them to write a review when they get home and provide instructions.
  3. Send a short email reminding them and providing links.
  4. Stop thinking Google is the only place to write a review.
Comment by David Brondstetter on December 27, 2012 at 8:35am

@kevin, For sure we've seen it with Google reviews in general. As everyone knows, Google keeps tweaking their algorithm in response to perceived data integrity issues. In fact, we had some historical Google reviews data from April 2012 and use that last month to compare review count for some of our stores. What we found was a 34% reduction in Google reviews for our clients from April 2012 to November 2012. (note that April 2012 was a random date for which we just happened to have the relevant data).

But what I am referring to in the post below is the growing trend to have a 3rd party "respond" to a legitimate review. I have not heard (yet) of Google taking action against this new trend, but if history is our lesson, I am betting they will. We recommend to our clients that they respond to reviews themselves and not risk having a 3rd party company do it for them.  

As I mentioned, Google is all about data integrity. Any attempt by businesses to work around it has resulted in Google "fixing" the work around. I don't blame Google. They are doing what any of us would do if we felt there was an issue compromising our product. If a dealer's cars were being tagged every night, surely they'd put security measures in place to prevent it in the future. 

@Tom and @Kim have it right. Don't worry about what you cannot control. Those things that you can control, do it. We also believe that every business should have a review site out there that provides a balanced and fair representation of their customers. That's what we provide our customer. We believe businesses need to have some online content that they either own or control; otherwise, they are at the mercy of reviews sites that don't verify review status. Another thing we advocate is some level a assurance that reviews are going to be there the next day. Businesses should be using reviews for marketing and advertising. It is pretty tough to use reviews from Google, Yelp, etc as you don't know if they are going to be there the next day. 

There are a number of other ways for businesses to put their best foot forward online without risking issues with their Google Reviews. It's clear that Google is emphasizing quality over quantity. So my advice for businesses is to get yourself a 3rd party review site (like SureCritic) and (as Tom's says) "stop worrying". 

Comment by Tom Gorham on December 27, 2012 at 8:12am

Kevin, I have always done this with Yelp and now with Google+.  Since Google migrated reviews to Google+, I have started getting more reviews at other places such as DealerRater and  "One and dones" don't get shown on these places so why send them?

Kim, I love the social media business card.  Has anybody thought about putting review links on the back of every salesperson's business card?

Comment by Kevin Frye on December 27, 2012 at 7:33am

@Tom, I agree, with one stipulation. I would only encourage "active Google users" to leave Google reviews, as "one and done" reviewers tend to have their reviews removed or not shown under the new algorithm update.

Comment by Tom Gorham on December 27, 2012 at 7:27am

Anyone who wants to stop worrying about Google rules and algorythms can do four positive things:

  1. Provide a great service that sends home a happy customer.
  2. Ask them to write a review when they get home and provide instructions.
  3. Send a short email reminding them and providing links.
  4. Stop thinking Google is the only place to write a review.

Guaranteed peace-of-mind and word-of-mouth advertising.

Comment by Kevin Frye on December 27, 2012 at 5:32am

@David - we have seen several competing dealers lose up to 1000 reviews as a result of the Google changes as they were using 3rd party companies to post reviews, have you not seen the same?

Comment by David Brondstetter on December 15, 2012 at 9:10pm

I wonder when Google is going to start cracking down on businesses that have outsourced responding to reviews to a 3rd party company. Just a guess that it is inevitable. When Google sees thousands of review responses for thousands of businesses that are geographically disparate coming from the same IP address, I suspect they are going to make another tweak to their algo. Why wouldn't they, Google is in the data business. The integrity of their data is paramount to their continued success. You really can't fault them for protecting their data quality. The real question is, will the delete the responses or both the response and the review?

Comment by Tom Gorham on December 15, 2012 at 4:22am

Pretty straightforward.  Thank you!

Comment by Kim Essenmacher on December 14, 2012 at 12:23pm

I see that now. Nevertheless, they need to also add that you must be an active Gmail user and define what that means.  Thanks as always Brian for your assistance!

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