Unfortunately, missing reviews have become one of the major issues most frequently experienced by business owners or digital marketers, creating stormy weather in this whole region of Google land. The most probable cause behind it is that Google is now aggressively filtering them via its active algorithms in place. But, as Google reviews on listing are among the most powerful tools to influence consumer behavior and improve brand reputation, it becomes increasingly vital to take a proactive stance on this issue.
First things first, let’s talk about how and why Google filters or remove Google reviews from your Google Listings:
How Does Google Algorithmic Review Filter Work?
Google’s active algorithmic review filter run periodically and remove reviews for good due to a policy violation. As it does not run in real time, the review on your listing may stick for months and then suddenly vanish at the same time like several other reviews. Most of the times, it happens because of the issues such as the IP address of the person who left the review on your business page.
Below are some steps for those who are affected and would like to check if their personal reviews have been removed:
1. Log in to “Google Maps” and then click on the menu bar on the top left.
2. Open the menu and choose, “Your Contributions”.
3. Click on the “Reviews” tab that comes under your profile.
4. Go to the top of your browser, copy the URL and then paste it into an Incognito window.
5. Compare the logged in vs. logged out reviews.
For instance, you’ll see 150 reviews when you’re logged in, but someone else viewing your profile would see 141. It means 9 of your reviews have been filtered or removed. And to identify which specific reviews got removed, keep logged in from your profile and find out the reviews that do not have like or a share icon. So, if these icons are not available that means your review has been removed. Always, remember that Google will only check filtered reviews with text. Because, the ratings without text under the review never have sharing or like icon.
Why you’ve Lost your Google Reviews?
Reviews that are spammy or illegitimate
To ensure the quality of Google+ platform, Google actively fights with spammy and illegitimate reviews. Like Yelp, Google’s algorithm may sometimes remove even legitimate reviews. It does it right away and it is not much you can do about this. What you can do only is to keep active users engaged in order to generate new reviews.
Reviews that include links, URLs or phone numbers
When reviews contain links, URLs or phone numbers, the review is automatically flagged and removed immediately through the filter. But, if you’re a more trusted reviewer, there might be a possibility that your review sticks for some time and get removed later.
Reviews that are a result of Incentives
If you’re offering incentives for people who write your Google reviews, it may not be caught by Google filter algorithm, but people can submit a report at the Google My Business Forum and Google and you will end up with no business listing on Google+ page.
Reviews that are displayed on a duplicate listing
Double-check to see if there are any duplicates of your business listing. Because, in that case, your reviews will display on one of those duplicates. To check why your review has disappeared and if you have a duplicate listing, visit maps.google.com and search for the exact name or address of your business location.
How to Get your Google Reviews Back?
Check out some steps to get your Google reviews back:
1. The first step is to log in to Google My Business
2. Click to open the menu on the top left and choose the option- All Locations.
3. In case, you are hit with a prompt message, verify your authorization and agree to the Terms of Service.
4. Click on the option- Manage Location.
5. Click Edit on the Location Page.
6. In Maps Section, Click Edit Marker Location.
7. Drag the map marker just a tiny bit and save the location.
This way your business profile on Google should get back to normal. If you are still not able to see your reviews, cache clearing might help.
If this doesn’t resolve your issue, then the chances are you won’t be able to get them back unless the user is able to edit the review. Or else, you can ask the Google to restore the reviews, which is pretty unlikely. So, it’s better to take a proactive stance and avoid sudden loss of reviews and suspicion of the filter.
Here are a few tips to avoid losing reviews from Google:
1. Do not have people leave reviews from your office. Google is onto this and can trace if the reviews are all coming from the same IP address. Instead, you should try a safer option of sending email requests and SMS to your customer’s personal devices.
2. Never offer money or any other incentives for people to leave fake positive reviews for your business. This is because, fake reviews could put even your legitimate customer reviews at approval risk from Google.
3. Do not ask your friends, family or employees to write reviews. As doing this can yank your reviews. So, do some legwork on getting that hard-earned legitimate reviews.
My best piece of advice is to not stress out and keep in mind that getting continuous reviews is a good strategy. As that way, even if you lose some of them along the way, that would not be a big problem. Create a document and save every review you see come in. If any of them are suddenly removed tomorrow, you can still get some leverage out by adding them to your website. With these saved reviews, you can also try to stack up some reviews by reaching out to your customers to see if they can leave a review on 3rd party sites.