Google Review Spam

Google review spam has become a growing concern for many businesses. Spam reviews can lower the overall rating of your local business hurting competitive businesses. Due to mounting criticism and frustration, Google continues to make advances aimed at reducing the occurrence of fraudulent reviews. It’s an issue that can affect any business review platform, including Facebook, Yelp and even Amazon. An increase in fraudulent reviews will cause the integrity of online reviews to decline not only resulting in a negative impact on business’ reputations, but also cause trusted review platforms to lose ground. Fighting back against review spam can help to limit extent of their negative reach.

Google Fights Back

Google is doing what they can to reduce the damaging impact that negative spam reviews have on local businesses. For some local businesses, spam comments have grown so out of control that owners felt forced to close their accounts altogether. One way that Google is combating spam reviews is by working to continually advance and improve the algorithms that predict the behavior of spammers. Google hopes that this enhanced ability to identify and remove fake reviews will automatically result in more accurate ratings. Considering that 70% of consumers trust online reviews as much as the opinions of friends and family, ensuring accurate reviews should be a high priority.

How To Determine If A Review Is Fake

Google has a long list of review policies that make a comment eligible for flagging and removal. If Google’s algorithms fail to identify what you believe to be a spammy or false review, use the following guidelines to decide if it’s a candidate for removal. A clear sign that a review is in violation of Google’s policies is overt advertising. Anytime a business other than your own is mentioned, that comment is eligible for removal. Reviews that contain obscene words, references, or profanity of any kind are also not allowed. This includes derogatory remarks aimed at specific employees or other individuals associated with the business. Reviews that are suspected to be associated with competing businesses are in violation of Google’s policies as well. Someone who has a vested interest in the success of a local Pizza Hut is not allowed to leave negative reviews on a local Domino’s review page. Reviews containing personal information are not allowed. Finally, and most importantly, slanderous comments are forbidden. Granted, what defines a defamatory comment often comes down to a case of “he said, she said,” they’re still worth reporting to Google. Again, Google likes to analyze trends, so if any of these occurrences happen regularly and from the same or similar source, Google’s algorithms should flag them. If not, being able to report a trend of out-of-policy content will look more damaging and have a higher likelihood of removal.

Don’t Hesitate To Reply Directly To Suspicious Reviews

Google doesn’t allow you to flag reviews on your own, but they do allow you to respond to negative reviews publically. Be tactful when you do this. Initially, it may be best to reply with a general customer service inquiry. Offer your business’s contact information along with a preemptive apology, encouraging them to reach out and resolve the issue. Ask if they’ll edit the review. If this interaction doesn’t lead to the desired outcome, or if you don’t get a response after a few days, leave a more aggressive response and call them out as being spam. With Google, you always have the opportunity to publicly voice your business’s opinion on the issue alongside any fraudulent claims. Consumers are increasingly savvy and many are already aware of the presence of fake reviews, both positive and negative. Taking your concerns public can negate some of the damage, at least with customers who end up reading your response.

Report The Spam Review To Google

Scenarios like these will often result in having to report them to Google for flagging. It’s essential to get comfortable with their procedures, as Google will likely continue to dominate the online business review scene. Google has become synonymous with the Internet in general, but since starting its business review program in 2014, it has, at this point, surpassed Yelp as the most commonly used business review engine. According to the majority opinion, Yelp will continue to lose ground to Google, while social media giant, Facebook, will likely accompany Google as one of the two most prominent sources for local business reviews, leaving Yelp behind.

Fighting The Impact Of Spam Reviews

Success in gaining substantial visibility is dependent on ranking well in Google and Google reviews are becoming an increasingly influential ranking factor for small local businesses. A negative overall review rating can hurt SERP results. Likewise, the absence of reviews for your business can also decrease search engine visibility.

Make sure to proactively monitor all three avenues on which Google reviews can be left. Reviews can be left on Google itself, mainly via their Maps feature. Reviews on third-party websites can also show up in Google’s search results. Finally, reviews made on Google+ are the most important to monitor since they reflect across Google’s various services and platforms. Watch for reviews and mentions of your business on other sites such as Yelp or Facebook in order to most comprehensively fight the impact of spam reviews.

1 Source Media Group understands the negative impact from fraudulent reviews and work diligently to ensure that the reputation of our clients is not affected. Contact us today for more information on how to fight against review spam or to learn more about what our team can do for your business.