Where’d all my Google Reviews go?!?
Over the weekend (May 25th – 27th, 2018) we started to notice that several of our client’s total Google Review counts were less than they were last week. All of our clients follow Google’s Review Policies (go read them) strictly, so there was no way that the accounts would have been flagged for review removal. That being the case, we were really confused as to what was happening especially since Google had made no announcements regarding this change at all.
This morning we noticed several websites that follow Google’s actions closely reporting the same thing.
So What Happened?
Simply put, Google has stopped counting older (~ pre-2013) reviews posted by “A Google User” towards your total review count. If you’ve been collecting Google Reviews for a long time, you’ll remember that way back in 2012/13, customers were able to leave anonymous reviews. Those anonymous reviews showed up as written by “A Google User.”
Over the past few days, Google has started removing these reviews. We’ve seen some accounts where the “Google User” reviews were simply not counted towards the total and some in which the review actually just vanished. It seems clear that Google’s intent is to actually remove them entirely.
Why’d Google Do That!?
We wish we knew. We wish they’d warned us! Alas, advanced warning and user consideration really aren’t Google’s modus operandi. They do what they want when they want and for whatever reason they want. How we feel about it really doesn’t matter.
We can generally assume that Google is trying to preserve the validity of their Google Review system, which is a good thing! We’re not sure that this was the best way to achieve that goal, however. We’d been hoping that Google would begin policing their reviews more aggressively as we know of many 3rd-party “review apps” that break many of Google’s Policies pertaining to acquiring Google Reviews. These systems perpetually devalue Google’s investment in their reviews. However, removing old reviews, in our opinion, only casts more doubt on Google Reviews as a whole.
Does this signal that more changes are coming? It’s impossible to say – but if you’re following Google’s Review Guidelines, you’ve got nothing to worry about. If you’ve been having people fill out Google reviews while they’re at your office, incentivizing reviews, or using 3rd-Party applications that don’t take this into account, you may have something to worry about.
But Those Reviews Were Real!!
Doesn’t matter. As this story is still developing, we aren’t really sure what is going to happen to those reviews. However, there have been reports that they are all gone and that there’s nothing we can do about it. We asked our rep at Google and they’ve been very tight-lipped about this. But for now, Google doesn’t really care if those reviews were real or not. This is what they’ve decided to do and there’s really nothing any of us can do about it.
We’ll have to wait and see. However, it’s time to get serious about your reviews again and it’s absolutely time to make sure you’re following Google’s Review Guidelines.