If you read our blogs and social media posts, you’ll know why Google reviews are important.
You’ll also know that they’re not easy to get.
So, it’s intensely irritating when they vanish without a trace. It’s something that’s happening with increasing regularity, making Google reviews feel like an online game of snakes and ladders.
So, in this week’s blog, we’re going to reveal the 11 reasons why a Google review might disappear, and what you can do about it.
#1: Google thinks the review is spam or fake
Unsurprisingly, Google wants to ensure reviews are genuine. To help achieve that aim, it has an algorithm designed to root out fake reviews.
If you’ve lost a review, it might be because it has fallen foul of the algorithm and, consequently, Google has removed it. Reasons for incurring the algorithm’s wrath (even if your review is genuine), could include reviews that:
- Look too perfect, with impeccable grammar and spelling
- Are submitted from the same IP address – for example, your office
- Say exactly the same thing as another review.
The solution to this is simple.
Ask clients to leave a review but don’t over-coach them about what to say. Under no circumstances write the review for them.
Also, if they leave a review while they’re in your office, ask them to do it from their mobile while it’s hooked to their provider’s network, not your Wi-Fi.
#2: Including your contact details in the review
Your clients might think they’re helping by including your contact details, such as your telephone number, website or email address in the review.
That’s kind of them, but it really won’t help.
In fact, Google’s algorithm will prick its little ears up, head in your direction and there’s a fair chance it’ll take the review down.
#3: The review is from an employee
Even if your employee is a client, Google frowns on them leaving a review. I guess there’s a logic to that, as it could create a conflict of interest.
Plus, if you have plenty of clients who could leave a review, there’s a better place to send staff who want to sing your praises.
Ideally, they should leave a review on a site such as Glassdoor. In fact, back in November, we wrote about how 80% of advice/planning firms were missing an opportunity by ignoring Glassdoor and similar sites.
#4: Google thinks you’re offering incentives
It’s against Google’s policy to incentivise clients. At best, it could mean Google takes down individual reviews. At worst, all your reviews could disappear overnight.
Again, a little like writing a client’s review for them, just don’t do it.
#5: The review appears somewhere else
Google wants exclusivity and may well take a dim view (including removing the offending review) if the same review appears on other sites.
The answer is simple: ask clients to leave different reviews on Google and VouchedFor. To be fair, because the VouchedFor system is more guided (with specific questions) we suspect that happens anyway.
#6: Google thinks there’s a conflict of interest
We’ve already established that Google may remove reviews from employees. However, other perceived conflicts of interest could see Google remove reviews. For example:
- You review your own business (that makes sense, you’re hardly going to give yourself a one-star review!)
- You receive a review from a client and they reciprocate by immediately leaving a positive review for their business
- Posting a negative review about a competitor (not that anyone reading this would dream of doing such a thing!)
#7: You get a large number of reviews in a short period
There’s a theory that if you receive a large number of Google reviews in a short period, their algorithm might come after you. While I understand the logic, it’s never been a problem for us, or the firms we work with.
Recently, for example, a client of ours received 30 reviews in a month and had no issues. Another received an astonishing 90 reviews over three days. Google thought there was something fishy going on (there wasn’t, they just had a lot of clients) and took the Google Business listing down for a short time. Thankfully, it was soon restored.
Until we see evidence that changes our view, we’ll continue to recommend annual bulk requests for Google and VouchedFor reviews. This should be followed by requests after annual review meetings to “top up” existing reviews.
#8: Your client deleted the review
This option often gets overlooked by advisers/planners, but it can happen and not always for a negative reason.
Sure, a client may have left you, or decided that your service no longer deserves the previous recognition, and decided to delete the review.
However, the answer might be less negative. For example, they might simply have decided to reduce their online presence and deleted every review they’ve left for every business they’ve worked with.
There is another obvious reason too…
#9: Your client has deleted their Google account
If your client does this their reviews will disappear. In our experience, this is one of the most common, and often overlooked, reasons for reviews vanishing.
#10: Google thinks the review is inappropriate
Not that your clients would ever do anything like this, but if Google believes that the review is off topic, or contains restricted/illegal content or other promotions, it’ll probably remove the review.
The same applies to derogatory content about your peers or competitors.
#11: There’s a bug or the algorithm got carried away
There’s no doubt that Google’s spam-hunting, fake-detecting, authenticity-seeking algorithm will occasionally make mistakes and take down a genuine review.
We’ve seen this happen with the advisers/planners we work with. We’ve seen it happen to us too. So if you’ve been a victim, we share your pain.
If you have a review removed, what can you do about it?
- Fight your corner
- Accept you might be disappointed.
Let’s look at that in more detail.
Unhelpfully, Google doesn’t tell you when it removes a review or the name of the person whose review they have taken down. So, you need to prepare by keeping your own records:
- Spot any reviews that disappear by monitoring the number you have on your marketing KPI dashboard (we have a free dashboard, click here to request your free copy)
- Create a master list of all reviews including the name of everyone who left a review
- Take a screenshot of each review and save it somewhere safe.
When a review disappears, pull out your master list and search through it to identify the one that’s vanished.
Now, fight your corner by clicking here to submit an online form requesting that the review is reinstated. Then sit back and prepare for a long wait.
If Google doesn’t reinstate the review, your master list means you can go back to the client to explain what’s happened and ask them (very nicely) if they wouldn’t mind adding another one.
Google reviews are still important
Yes, we wish Google reviews didn’t simply vanish into thin air.
Yes, we wish Google was more responsive to queries.
And, yes, we wish it was easier for your clients to leave a Google review.
However, we are where we are.
And Google reviews play a key role in impressing potential clients on their digital journey to your door which, incidentally, we’re running a webinar on this month.
That means, as well as fighting your corner when a review vanishes, your processes need to keep reviews regularly topped up. That way, if you lose the odd one along the way and it can’t be reinstated, you’re still making progress.
As always, we hope this blog helps you to improve your marketing.
We’d love your feedback too. If you’ve had a different experience or feel we’ve missed something, please get in touch by emailing email@example.com or calling 0115 8965 300.