Google Local Reviews Going Missing

Complaints on Google’s blog have spiked recently, concerning the unexplained disappearance of reviews on certain Business Pages in Google+ Local. The disappearances are apparently largely without reason. Google’s public statement on the matter stated that they were looking into the problem and would try find a solution, in due time.

These words are of little comfort to certain business owners who depend heavily on business generated by their Google listing on Maps and, by extension, the favourable reviews which are on them. It’s also one of the biggest ranking factors for these pages so some listings have been dropped quite far from their old spot.

It’s Been Going on For a While

What many business owners don’t realise is that the problem is by no means new. In fact, since Google started this service in 2010 (then known as Google Places) page owners have been experiencing missing reviews.

Google have said on their blog that reviews can sometimes go missing for a few days and then suddenly return. They can’t into specifics as to why, but users on Google forums have claimed they can sometimes be gone as long as 6 months.

Google Delete Spam Reviews

Google can take away the review for multiple reason, only half of which they’re willing to divulge. It could be due to a duplicate listing, someone else may co-own your page or your review could even have been sent to another page.

One the other hand though, Google may think the review is spam. Their criteria for removable reviews include:
• Inappropriate content – A review with links to unlawful or explicit content. Also if the wording contains obscene language or is plagiaristic.
• Advertising spam – Reviews which are clearly selling something or have links to a promotional offer. They will also remove it if the content isn’t valuable and is just being used to boost the page’s Zagat rating.
• Off Topic – Reviews which don’t relate to a direct first-hand experience or a review that is being used to needlessly attack the business.
• Conflict of Interest – Google may consider certain reviews disingenuous or consider the business themselves as the source of the review.

Getting Fresh Reviews

So your reviews may return shortly, they may take a while or they may never come back. As the service is free Google don’t strictly have to answer to anyone (a right they’re making full use of).

Getting reviews though, is a dynamic process. The reviews you had weren’t going to last forever anyway. Similar to the new ranking factor of Content Freshness, Google will also begin to rank Business listings lower if they don’t receive new reviews once in a while.

The best you can do is use your other customer communication mediums to encourage clients to leave more reviews one your page. This does leave you open to negative feedback along with the compliments but that just means the competitive field in the internet is shaping into something quite similar to the real business world.