Google’s local business reviews greatly benefit home improvement businesses when harnessed correctly. But Google’s system is far from foolproof; here’s what you need to know to about its processes.
We’re about to lay out some eye-opening hard facts about Google reviews. It’s information you need to know, and it will better help you take advantage of the benefits of generating lots of positive reviews on America’s most-used (by far) search provider.
#1 Fake and “ratings-only” reviews have a long shelf life
Google doesn’t scrutinize business reviews as carefully as a platform such as Yelp. This unfortunately makes it easier for people to leave fake reviews, although it also has the benefit of letting through more legitimate positive reviews than Yelp does. Five-star reviews from satisfied customers often get caught in the Yelp Filter, which is obviously frustrating for any business.
“Ratings-only” reviews are those in which the reviewer only leaves a rating with no actual review. These aren’t all necessarily fake, but many are at least questionable; if you were going to review a business, wouldn’t you go ahead and include at least a sentence or two?
These types of reviews tend to stick around on Google for some time, because the platform simply doesn’t have a sturdy process for investigating and eliminating them.
#2 It’s often hard to get Google to remove a review
On one hand, it’s good that businesses can’t just get reviews removed with a snap of the fingers—were that the case, everyone would have overall five-star ratings, including the nastiest restaurants and shadiest retailers.
However, fake and unfair reviews certainly do occur, and as we noted above, they can be somewhat more prevalent (and hang around longer) on Google than on other platforms. So there should be a robust process for removing these unfair critiques.
As it turns out, Google doesn’t make it especially easy. If you’re sure a review isn’t legit, you’ll often have to flag it multiple times to see any action. Even then, the review might stick.
#3For its Local Guides, Google focuses more on quantity than quality
We often note that quantity is just as important as quality when it comes to generating reviews for your business. That’s because having a high quantity of reviews helps with search engine optimization, in addition to indicating greater legitimacy for your business.
In Google’s case, it essentially makes quantity a greater consideration than quality for its influential Google Local Guides.The star rating for each review is factored far less than the overall number of times your business has been reviewed. So even mediocre (or outright terrible) reviews can benefit businesses.
So here’s what to do:
Again, it’s important not to throw up your hands and ignore Google reviews just because the process is far from perfect.
When you do discover clearly bogus reviews, flag them. If you don’t get any action from Google, keep at it. Remember that your competitors deal with this problem as well, so you’re all in the same boat. And some of your competitors won’t take the time to flag reviews, so you gain an advantage simply from doing so.
Consider that the best way to mitigate fake and “ratings-only” reviews is to strongly encourage satisfied customers to review your business and to provide at least a couple of sentences about their experience.
As for the “quantity” issue with Local Guides, it has a silver lining: Because you know that quantity is such a big factor there, you can focus on that for your business. Don’t necessarily limit yourself to pursuing only reviews that are guaranteed to be five stars.
You definitely want an excellent overall rating, of course, but from a big-picture perspective, it’s better to have a 4.3 overall rating for 75 reviews than a 4.5 rating for 17 reviews.
The large sample size conveys legitimacy, and any overall rating over 4.0 looks good to potential customers. Having fewer than 20 reviews, regardless of the overall rating, tends to leave consumers skeptical.
(Note: Monitoring your business’s online reputation is a requirement for success in the digital age. Try our free Review Scan now for an instant reputation report on your business.)