Facts You May Not Like About Google Reviews

by | Aug 27, 2019 | Google Reviews, Local SEO, Reputation Management | 0 comments

Businesses all around the world have adjusted to operating on the ‘net in one way or another. Online reviews have grown right alongside this movement and have now become an integral component of online marketing.

The way the internet allows people to connect with one another is responsible for some of this. Between dedicated review platforms like Yelp, reviews on social media platforms like Facebook, and reviews on search engines like Google, consumers no longer need to rely on friends and family for recommendations or warnings about certain products and services.

Google Reviews have become an important aspect of online reputation management, and there are a number of good reasons for that. Unfortunately, no platform exists without faults, and Google has quite a few you may not like.

In this post, we’re going to list 10 frustrating aspects of everyone’s favorite online review platform, Google Reviews.

10 Facts You May Not Like About Google My Business Reviews

Google My Business

Google Reviews are one of the most useful tools you have at your disposal as a local business marketing online. They’re directly linked to the data Google collects on local SEO, giving you an opportunity to rank for certain keywords in your area. That’s just one example of how beneficial they are as a platform.

Unfortunately, everything has its downsides, and Google Reviews is no different. In fact, we’re going to share 10 drawbacks you may experience during your time as a Google Reviews marketer.

Here’s a quick roundup of them:

Let’s go through each one individually.

Support is Lacking

Using Google Reviews is nothing but smooth sailing when everything is working as it should be. It can become a bit of a nightmare the second you run into a problem you’re not able to fix on your own.

This is mainly due to the fact that Google My Business, the platform that powers Google Reviews, is free. While this may look great on your expense account, it makes it harder for you to get things done as a business.

In short, using a free service means using free-level support. With Google My Business, you’ll end up scouring through Google’s knowledge base, using the community forums, or emailing support who could take as long as 24 hours to reply.

There’s no priority support via phone or live chat. Plus, Google’s support portal forces you to browse their knowledge base to “find a solution” on your own instead of just contacting them directly. It is possible to talk to someone, but it takes going through several frustrating layers of “defense” before you can actually talk to a Google employee.

Fake Reviews are Hard to Remove

Publishing fake reviews on Google is a lot easier than you’d think. However, fake reviews aren’t the problem. The real issue is what happens when you spot them.

There are a number of different ways to spot a fake review. When it comes to Google Reviews, the most accurate way to determine whether or not a review is fake is to see if what the customer says aligns with the encounter you had with them.

When you do spot them, the only course of action you can take is convincing Google to remove them. This means providing hard evidence that you never served the customer in question or the experience they’re reporting is fabricated or embellished. Many businesses have experienced issues in getting Google to remove fake reviews.

Blank Reviews Allowed

Blank Google Reviews

Getting feedback is wonderful. Your customers either love what you’re doing or they’re giving you opportunities to see where you need to make improvements. Unfortunately, Google allows reviewers to give your business a simple rating without leaving so much as a single character in the review body.

If you contact support and ask them to remove the review, they’ll simply tell you they aren’t able to since it’s not in violation of Google’s terms of service. This makes it impossible to remove reviews that offer no value to you or potential customers. Hopefully, these are mostly positive for you and only serve to raise your overall score. If they’re negative, it’s pretty hard to respond since there’s no information in the review to respond to.

Google Doesn’t Always Catch Violations

Like many online platforms, Google uses algorithms, bots and other artificial intelligence to increase automation and decrease manual input. Unfortunately, it doesn’t catch everything, so you’ll need to read up on Google Reviews’ terms and conditions to learn what counts as a violation.

You’ll also need to monitor your reviews manually in search of violations. Similar to fake and blank reviews, removing reviews with violations involves contacting support and presenting your case.

Google Favors Quantity Over Quality

Google doesn’t do much to ensure each review it publishes is well written and of immaculate quality. The allowance of blank reviews is evidence enough. This is proven even further by the point system in the Local Guides program.

Google has a program called Local Guides that allows some reviewers to receive badges that essentially label them as professional critics. The program has tiers, which requires reviewers to earn points in order to work their way up them.

Google Local Guides

Two of the biggest ways to earn points is to simply leave a review and leave a review that’s over 200 characters, which is about the length of a tweet. Customers are granted 10 points every time they complete a review. Since the tiers go all the way up to 100,000 points at Level 10, they’re incentivized to publish more and more reviews.

However, as I’ve written about before, this can be to your advantage as well, if you get lots of reviews and take time to reply to each one.

Fake Reviews Can Be Bought

There’s a black market for everything, and online reviews are no different. Sure, they’re illegal in most countries, and Google will demote or even remove your business from its search engine if it catches you using them. Even so, you could be facing competition from companies who use fake reviews to grow their online reputation.

Google Search - Buy Google Reviews

Furthermore, if you rely on other services to grow your business, you could wind up unintentionally publishing fake reviews for your own business. This happens when an online reputation management company uses a “black hat” technique, such as buying or creating fake reviews, to grow your business’ reputation artificially.

Review Snippets are Generated Automatically

You probably have a few customer testimonials showcased on your site, social media and promotional materials you print for your business. One of the main advantages of creating testimonials manually is being able to choose which part of the review gets shown and which reviews get shown in the first place.

Google Reviews Snippets

When you showcase reviews from Google, be it on Google Maps, the Knowledge Panel or your own site, you don’t get to choose which part of the review is shown as a preview or which reviews get shown. They’re generated automatically. This can lead to a negative sentiment being shown to potential customers, even if the rest of the review was positive.

Avatars and Photos are Not Filtered or Monitored

One very negative aspect many businesses have experienced while using Google Reviews is the way user photos (aka “avatars”)  or user-submitted photos of your business are handled.

Since each review includes the avatar of the user who submitted it, you could get a competitors’ logo or something inappropriate showing in your reviews on Google search and Maps results. If someone submits a photo that’s supposed to be of your business, product, or service but is not, they could misrepresent your business.  You’re required to monitor the photos attached to your reviews on your own. 

If you spot a photo that has nothing to do with your business or depicts something inappropriate, your only course of action is to, yet again, contact support, present your case, and hope they remove the image.

The Algorithm is Constantly Changing

Google owns several platforms at this point, and the algorithms it uses for each are constantly changing. Google Reviews is no different.

This makes managing your online reputation quite difficult given how essential Google Reviews have become. The second you learn how the system works and have a strategy in place to follow it, Google pulls a fast one on you and takes you all the way back to square one.

Currently, the Google My Business interface is nice, clean, and easy to use, and it keeps getting better. We hope Google sticks with this and doesn’t move reviews to a new service as they did when they shut Google+ down.

Above All, Google Reviews are a Must

One of the most frustrating things about Google Reviews is how mandatory they are for local businesses. Google has become the world’s most powerful search engine. All a user has to do is search “car service,” and they’ll have access to nearly every auto shop in the area.

The drawback of this is how accessible reviews are in Google searches. Thanks to the Knowledge Panel, users no longer need to chase down reviews on various review platforms. Google showcases reviews left on its platform directly in search results and listings on Google Maps.

Your business will get left behind if you don’t keep up with this platform, so you have no choice but to put up with its drawbacks.

Final Thoughts

Overall, Google Reviews is a wonderful platform that can help you utilize the power of online marketing to bring more business through the door. As you can see, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have its drawbacks, namely with how difficult it can be to remove fake or baseless reviews.

A few businesses have found unique solutions to this problem. These, of course, should be attempted only after you’ve tried and failed to have the reviews removed through customer service.

First, if you have a good case and the review is truly damaging, consider taking the issue public by complaining about it on Google’s public forums, Twitter or Facebook. Some businesses have found Google to be more compliant when called out publicly.

You could also try bringing a positive light to the review by using it in your favor. Have fun with it, and create a few funny social media posts about the situation. Similarly, you could also respond to the review in jest so potential customers understand it’s fake. Another option is to just try and burry the problematic review by getting more positive reviews using a tool like Starfish.

If you’re worried about online reviews and how they could affect your business and reputation as a whole, take charge. With a little more knowledge, you can feel comfortable and in control of your reviews. Check out these two posts to start gaining that knowledge:


Lyn Wildwood

Lyn is an expert freelance WordPress blogger. She brings many years of WordPress content writing experience to the Starfish Reviews team.

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