12 Reasons Why Your Google Reviews Are Not Showing Publicly
As a business owner, you know how important it is to leverage every source of incoming leads you possibly can. In fact, according to HubSpot, inbound leads cost 61% less than outbound leads do. Assuming that this statistic is accurate for all industries in all markets, you know how important it is to have the best presence possible on the web.
With over 88% of all search queries in the US performed on Google, it’s extremely critical that businesses (especially local businesses) capitalize on their Google My Business (GMB) listing. It’s estimated that 40-60 billion searches are performed each month, and about 46% of those searches have local intent. This represents an extremely high value for local businesses.
As a local business owner, I’m sure you know the value that a well optimized GMB listing can have on your business, but what can be extremely frustrating is when you take the time to consistently request feedback and reviews from your clients, only to not have them show up on your listing.
Why wouldn’t they show up? Is something wrong with Google’s algorithm? You’re not alone, we’ve heard the same concern from our clients as well, and we’ve done some research. Here are the most common reasons why your Google reviews sometimes don’t make it onto your GMB listing at all, or they get deleted after some time.
1) Conflict of interest
This is a big no-no with Google as they see this type of content as being disingenuous, dishonest, and biased. Here are 3 almost-guaranteed ways to get your reviews deleted, or never to show up at all:
- Reviewing your own business
- Posting content about a current or former employment experience
- Posting content about a competitor to manipulate their ratings
2) Off-topic review
Google makes it clear that any and all reviews must be topically relevant. Maps is not meant to be a forum where people can talk about politics, religion, or rants. Reviews are meant to be a direct reflection of your experience/interaction with a particular business.
If a review is left on your Google My Business profile discussing how you were an amazing dentist, then this would be a perfectly legitimate review. If, however, a customer left you a 1-star review because they were outraged with your political stances, this would be an off-topic review and should be removed.
3) Geo-locations don’t sync up
This reason is one that I see quite often, so let me take a moment to explain. Local businesses generally have a service area, whether or not you’re a brick-and-mortar business, or you’re a service-based business.
In both circumstances, you’re likely not going to have a substantial clientele from 100+ miles away, correct? So why would the IP address of the person leaving you a review be more than 100+ miles away?
Sure, this is bound to happen now and again, but if there is a pattern of this happening, you’re bound to get your reviews deleted, or worse, get your GMB suspended.
I notice this a lot when I do work for SEO clients. I’ll notice that the competitor's customers will have left reviews for businesses all over the world.
One day they’re reviewing a spa in Los Angeles, then a week later they’re reviewing a restaurant in Madrid Spain, then the following week they’re reviewing a car dealership in Rio De Janeiro Brazil, and the following week they leave a review for an ice cream shop in Cape Town South Africa.
Is it possible that they have such worldly travelers who also happen to leave reviews? Sure I guess it could happen, but it’s awful suspicious. We see this happen quite frequently.
4) Spam Reviews
There are some reviews that just honestly don’t make sense. Sometimes the content in the review is just irrelevant to the type of business, or the spelling and grammar are so far off that it just feels very spammy. If this is the case with one of your reviews, then there is a high probability that Google will catch on and mark it for deletion.
5) Suspended listing
From time to time, Google will want to verify that your business is still active and that your GMB should still be active as well. They’ll send you emails requesting that you verify your account, and they’ll typically give you a good amount of time to do so, but if you can’t verify it within that time frame Google will suspend your listing.
When your customers go to leave you a review, they’ll see that your listing has been suspended and if they still proceed to leave a review, chances are high that the review will not show up because of your suspended status.
Once you’ve reached the suspended status, you’ll want to reach out to Google My Business support and ask them what you’ll have to do to get your listing reinstated, but more than likely they will want you to re-verify your listing by receiving another postcard in the mail.
6) Reviewer doesn’t have a history with Google
Imagine this, someone with a well-established Google account who has been consistently active for years leaves a 5-star positive review for a local restaurant. Their review is raving about the restaurant and encourages other people to dine there as well. This review carries weight to it because Google knows that the owner of that account is very active.
Contrast that with a review that was just left for the same exact business owner, but this time the Google account was just recently opened the same day and already left 3 reviews to different businesses.
This looks suspicious, right?
Now take it one step further and imaging that the same business owner has many reviews with the same set of circumstances. Google has become exceptionally good at detecting this type of spammy review and will likely delete it.
7) Abnormal activity
Some businesses naturally have higher volume than other businesses. If you compare the volume of an appliance repair shop to a real estate agent, they are drastically different. An average appliance repairman might have 4-5 clients a day whereas the average real estate agent might have 1 closing per week.
Assuming the appliance repairman sees many more clients per day, it would be perfectly natural for them to receive a new review every day (potentially even more), but it would be highly suspicious if an agent were to receive reviews with the same frequency.
Another form of abnormal activity is if your business consistently gets 4 new reviews per month, as an example, but suddenly you’re now getting 30 new reviews per month. This drastic fluctuation can raise red flags and cause Google to interpret the rate of reviews as abnormal activity.
8) Same IP address
Remember, Google is one gigantic math equation, and although it’s probably one of the smartest math equations on planet Earth, it can’t pick up on good intentions 100% of the time.
Some local businesses will draw a customer into their office or store, perform work or make a sale, then request that the customer leave them an honest review. There is nothing wrong with that, this is how it actually should be.
Where the hurdle comes in, is when the local business offers their computer to the customer. This quickly creates a red flag for Google because now a large portion of the business’s reviews are all coming from the same IP address. Suddenly the business owner finds out that the review never stuck, or worse, the review was deleted.
If this has happened to you, it can be frustrating. Instead of offering your computer for customers to leave a review, politely ask them to pull out their cell phone and leave you some honest feedback.
9) Use of website or URL
There are some things that you can guess won’t be kosher with Google, but sometimes you unknowingly do something to violate Google’s posting guidelines resulting in the review being taking off.
Google does not allow that you include URLs, email addresses, phone numbers or other offers in your reviews. This is especially true if it is regulated on a local, state, or national level.
In some cases, local businesses can straddle that line, meaning that reviews get scrutinized more than other industries.
10) Copying and pasting from a 3rd party website
There are so many review platforms out there – Google, Facebook, Yelp, Angi, TripAdvisor, the list can go on and on. How many customers will take the time to leave a unique review on each of these platforms?
The answer is: next to none.
That’s why many customers will actually copy and paste their reviews onto multiple platforms.
When it’s a positive 5-star review, it can be great, but we’ve noticed that when our clients get the same exact review across multiple accounts, it draws red flags.
If you’ve got a customer that is absolutely raving about your services, try requesting that they slightly change up each review. It can be with synonyms, slightly different words, different sentence order, or by actually omitting a certain part of the review.
11) Duplicate listing on Google
Following in line with the previous reason, a review can be auto deleted or not even show up if the review is much too similar to another review on Google.
Google is incredibly smart and can triangulate the originality of a review based on the industry, the market, the pattern in which the user leaves reviews and so much more.
If Google suspects that your review is a duplicate of another review, you can pretty much count it as a wash.
It’s particularly frustrating when you had the original review and yours was deleted. In my opinion, the best thing to do is to keep encouraging that your customers leave you more reviews.
Google can sometimes be a black-hole and going through the many motions of trying to get it reinstated can often times be fruitless.
12) Customer initiative
After speaking with so many of our customers about why their reviews were ultimately deleted, the main culprit for reviews getting knocked off your GMB account was because the customer ultimately made the decision to delete their review.
It hurts, I know, but there are multiple reasons why people change their minds about reviews they left behind.
Maybe that same customer visited the business again and had the opposite experience. Maybe their account was hacked. Maybe they just feel differently about their information being spread across the web.
Whatever the reason may be, more often than not, the reason your review is no longer there is because the customer decided to remove it.
There you have it, here are 12 ways that Google can detect reviews that shouldn’t be showing up on your listing. Of course, some of these you don’t have any control over, but it’s still good to know why it’s happening.
As a small business owner, I know it can be frustrating. Well optimized GMB listings can be extremely valuable for bringing in a consistent flow of new business, and your reviews play a large role in persuading potential customers to call you or visit your shop.
My suggestion would be to continue to focus on generating more great experiences with your customer base and be consistent about asking that your clients leave you honest feedback. Feel free to share your review link with them to make it an easier process and, with time, you’ll notice that your reviews will continue to grow organically and soon enough you’ll be dominating the reviews amongst your competition.