Getting great reviews has become an important way to get new business. However, Google+ Local review filters often drop or delete legitimate reviews offered by legitimate customers.
This, of course, is a problem that could harm your business. It harms your rankings and it harms your ability to pull in new customers through your great reputation.
Thus, it’s truly important to understand review filters, how to avoid triggering them, and what your options are when one of your reviews seems to disappear in spite of your best efforts.
Why Do Review Filters Exist?
Review filters exist because some companies try to “beat the system” and gain a competitive advantage by cheating. Often this means posting fake reviews or even blatantly reviewing their own businesses.
Some business owners take it even further. They post fake, nasty reviews on competitor sites.
You’d think that simply avoiding these spammy extremes would be enough to keep you from running afoul of review filters, but that’s simply not the case. Some business owners make very innocent mistakes that produce reviews that Google still considers to be “spammy.”
Putting a computer in your front lobby and soliciting reviews on-site is one such technique. You may think you’re just helping customers remember what to do, but Google sees your IP on the review and has no way of knowing whether it’s been posted by a customer or an employee. Customers can also feel pressured when you do this.
Hiring a “reputation management” company is another innocent mistake that you might make. Some of these companies resort to questionable tactics that Google picks up on, resulting in lost reviews.
You also want to avoid putting out huge, expensive mailing campaigns to solicit reviews. Google activates its spam filters if you receive an unusual jump in the number of reviews you receive. Your goal should be to gently encourage reviews to come in at a regular, organic, natural pace.
What to Do When Reviews Disappear
Review filters are sometimes far more aggressive than they strictly need to be. They can and do catch good reviews that played by the rules.
Fortunately you’re not 100% helpless when this happens. There are still some things you can do.
Linda Buquet from the Catalyst Local eMarketing Forum offers some great suggestions in this thread. I’ll summarize them here.
First, you have to find the review. It’s actually very easy to do this. Just go to plus.google.com and then run a search for your business. Make sure to click on the blue magnifying glass next to the search bar.
You’ll see everything Google can find about your business. Reviews, even “hidden” reviews, will show up.
You won’t have to guess whether they are reviews or not. It will say: “John Doe left a review X months ago.”
Now you have two options. One is to simply copy and paste the review onto your website. It’s still useful for your testimonials page.
The other is to ask Google to take a second look at the review. They may be willing to reconsider, though there are no guarantees.
Make sure your customers know that you don’t have much control about what Google and other review sites choose to display. Some customers get their feelings hurt if they can’t see their review after posting it, and review filters can sometimes get rid of reviews very quickly.
Try not to become frustrated! Most businesses do face some issues with review filters from time to time. Dealing with it is just a regular part of Local Search marketing.