Google on Reviews

Google Cracks Down on Spam Reviews

Google has announced that they have made “improvements” to their spam detection for local Google+ pages.  As they say, they are determined to provide reviews that are :useful, honest and written by real people!”  Google has established review guidelines, summarized here, that, if you follow them, can prevent your reviews from being removed from Google+.

What Not to Do

Google doesn’t allow you to give customers free gifts or discounts in return for reviewing you–they want reviews to be uncompensated opinions.  They tell you not to set up a tablet or PC in your business for customers to use for reviews–they want reviews to be done on the customer’s own time in their own location.  They also advise you to be wary of any third-party service that offers to get negative reviews removed from Google+–they say that they won’t remove reviews because they are negative, and encourage you to engage with the reviewer.

What To Do

With all these cautions, is there anything you can do to help get reviews?  Yes, there is.  Google says it’s perfectly OK with them if you ask customers to write reviews.  It is also OK even to provide them a link to click so that the review just takes a click and a little writing.  As long as there’s no quid pro quo for the review!  You could even put a link into a routine email such as a newsletter or a thank-you email that you send out.

The Bottom Line

This notice deals just with Google Places.  But it illustrates the direction of the industry.  It’s wise, right now, to be asking your customers for reviews, and to avoid anything that might call the objectivity of reviews on Google+ or anywhere else into question.