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Reviews on Google+ are way important (and not just for HVAC companies), especially as Google continues to increase the importance of local search with its refined algorithms. As The Economist reported, in many cases, even bad reviews are better than no reviews at all.
When potential customers see your company in the local search listings, they only see the number of Google+ reviews you have:
But what happens when your reviews seem to disappear into thin air? If you’re playing Sherlock Holmes with some missing Google+ reviews, I’ve got some Watson-esque suggestions for where they might have gone.
There are a number of reasons why Google or an active user might flag a review on your page. Google admits that its own algorithms might flag and remove legitimate reviews, but believes that the collateral damage is worth it. Here are the reasons the search giant might hide a review—legitimately or not:
Anything that violates the Google User Content and Conduct Policy has the potential to be removed. This list includes:
- Illegal stuff
- Viruses, malware, etc.
- Hate speech
- Personal or confidential information
- Posts from hijacked accounts
- Sexual content, especially that involves children
- Ranking manipulation
- Harassment or bullying
- Violent content
- Regulated goods and services like tobacco, pharmaceuticals, or gambling
- Contests and promotions
It’s a lot of stuff, but hopefully you can rule out a few right off the bat.
Advertising and Spam
Obviously this includes fake reviews, “spun” (identical) reviews, or paid reviews. But it also includes reviews that link to or provide contact information for other businesses. And Google also provides this cryptic warning: “For certain types of businesses, we also reserve the right to prevent reviews from publicly appearing across Google.” Not sure what that means? We aren’t either.
Much like in the court of law, hearsay ain’t allowed on Google+. Google will remove reviews in which a user relates an experience that her cousin’s best friend’s sister’s college roommate had. More broadly, reviews that include personal rants, or digress into political or social commentary, may be removed.
Conflict of Interest
Google has a long list of warnings on this topic, some of which might seem a bit excessive. First of all, reviews written by business owners or employees are of course not allowed. You also shouldn’t offer special deals or swag to customers in exchange for writing a review. Finally, Google even discourages “specialized review stations or kiosks set up at your place of business for the sole purpose of soliciting reviews.” The best policy is simply to encourage your customers to review at home.
How to Get Google Reviews Back
First, the bad news: Google rarely removes reviews, so when they do, it can be very hard to get them back. Still, if you’ve had a review taken down that you want to recover, you should visit the Google and Your Business forum on the Google Product Forums.
Hit the big red “Post a Question” button and leave the details of your business and the review that is missing. Google employees monitor the forum and will hopefully get back to you relatively soon. Be detailed and nice and you should at least get an explanation for what happened.
Need Local SEO Help?
The local listings of searches often appear before the organic listings, leading to better click-through-rates for your company from potential customers. If you’re looking to get more leads from the Web, local SEO can increase visibility for businesses interested in ranking for geographically-related searches.
Let the SEO experts at Blue Corona show you how to maximize your online search real estate! Fill out the form below or give us a call.
About The Author: Blue Corona is a data-driven online marketing company with offices in Gaithersburg, MD and Charlotte, N.C.
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