Hidden Google Reviews

A Sudden Drop In Published Google Reviews

Did you receive a sudden drop in Google reviews? I’m not talking about people filling out new reviews for your business, but rather reviews that you’ve already received and now the count is lower than what it was last week or a month ago.

It seems that Google is cleaning up some of the reviews, and possibly removing some of those 5-star reviews you may have received over the years!

What’s Going On: Reviews + Google My Business?

Earlier today, May 24th, 2018, while reviewing a couple of our clients’ website reports, we found a significant drop in the review count on Google My Business. Some of our clients saw one or two of the reviews disappear, and one of our clients saw over 30 google reviews removed.

After reviewing some of our logs, and past reports, and then reviewing the remaining reviews left on Google My Business, we were able to find a pattern.

Basically, our initial thoughts were that people who left reviews and had reviewed only one or two businesses, those were the reviews that were removed.

This is similar to the policy that Yelp has in their network. You must review a handful of businesses in order for your review to be featured. And you must be an active Yelp user.  Here’s a video to Yelp’s Explanation of their Recommendation Software.

With a little further digging, we found a link to an article posted by Mike Blumenthal. He was reviewing the same situation as us with regards to lost Business Reviews. You can read his article here: Google Stops Counting Anonymous Reviews?

In his analysis of the situation, the reviews that are being removed are mainly reviews that have been left by an anonymous user.

What does this mean?

One of the great things about Google reviews is that they require a credibility trace. This is awesome for businesses looking for more information on who left a review, but it also means that users can’t leave a truly anonymous review for a company or service.

As a business owner, I want to know everyone who left a review, good or bad, so I can address that persons experience directly.

From personal experience, I sometimes want to give a heads up to management that there’s an issue but don’t want my name associated with it. Usually, in those situations, I send an email or speak to someone on the phone.

But getting back to the Credibility Trace.

This allows you to see exactly who left the review, respond to that person, and in the case where the user left a fake review, a more thorough investigation could be performed by you and Google.

Now, this still allows anybody to create a Google account using any email address they want, leaving a one-star review for a business, and then never using that account again. But in situations like that, you can report it to Google and they’ll investigate it for you.

User Name: “Anonymous” or “A Google User”

In the past, you would see reviews left by “A Google User,” so in that respect, they were somewhat an anonymous posting.

Generally, these accounts were for users that no longer have an account at Google Plus as their account was suspended or deleted.

These are the accounts that Google is specifically going after in the latest Google reviews changes. And to be quite honest, I’m happy to see it.

While it does mean that you’ll lose a handful of reviews from people that no longer have accounts at Google, in the grand scheme of things, it shouldn’t really matter. You should be actively getting new reviews anyway, so prospects and clients can see your current reputation and performance.

So if this means that the fake reviews all start to fall off, then this is a win for all business owners!

Where Did My Reviews Go?

The good news, for now, is that the reviews aren’t actually deleted by Google, they’re just hidden. So, the reviews are still in the Google My Business profile if the user clicks to read the reviews.

The number count on the dashboard and the number count on the Knowledge Card (right section of a Google Search Results Page when searching a business name) are the main places that it changes. It also changes on the review star count when looking at a Google map.

Is that it? Do I need to do something?

For the most part, from what I can tell, there’s nothing that needs to be done by business owners.

Again this is still very fresh, and something we noticed within just the past few hours, so the information in this article may need to be updated in the future (and will be if needed).

But as it stands today, if you saw a sudden drop in your Google reviews on May 24th, it’s fairly normal, and can be attributed to the removal of anonymous, deleted, or fake reviews, on the Google My Business Review profile.

Contact Big Red SEO for Local SEO Help!

Do you have questions regarding the information above? Do you need some SEO advice, a website review or audit, we’d love to chat.

Big Red SEO is one of the few SEO Companies in Omaha that have a physical office that you can visit during normal business hours. We’re located on 108th Street between L Street & Q Street.

If you’re not local (and many of our customers are not), we’d be happy to chat via phone, or via video chat. We perform many of our website audit review meetings via Video Chat so we can share screens and people can see exactly what we see.

For more information on how we can help you, contact us at (402) 522-6468!

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