Google has recently introduced a fairly comprehensive list of ‘does and don’ts’ relating to gathering reviews from business. Whilst many fall under Google’s ‘Prohibited and Restricted Content’ guidelines they can also be applied to your review gathering practices across all platforms.
To help steer you away from practices which may land you on shaky ground, we have outlined the top 5 review gathering practices avoid:
No. 1 – Do not use review gating
‘Review gating’ is one of the more recent additions to Google’s Review guidelines and essentially means that local businesses can no longer use a third-party tool to filter out negative reviews. In the past, software has enabled businesses to cherry-pick positive reviews by using software to filter out bad reviews and create a false impression of their business.
As of summer 2018, this practice is no longer permitted, with Google guidelines stating:
“Don’t discourage or prohibit negative reviews or selectively solicit positive reviews from customers.”
No. 2 – Do not review your own business
The whole point of allowing customers to leave reviews is to try and gather honest and unbiased accounts of genuine customer experiences. Leaving a review for your own business (or asking a member of staff to leave one on your behalf) flies in the face of this and is against Google Review guidelines for obvious reasons.
No. 3 – Do not review competitors
Leaving false reviews relating to competing businesses is classed by Google as “posting content about a competitor to manipulate their ratings”. Whilst Google doesn’t specifically state in its guidelines what the penalty for this practice may be, we are very confident that at the lower end of the scale, the review in question will be removed, whilst at the higher end of the scale, your website may even be subjected to a Google penalty, which can lead to a world of trouble for your business.
No. 4 – Do not accept or offer money to leave a review
Google does not condone incentivising customers to leave a review for your business. By offering any form of kickback (money, vouchers, prizes etc) to leave a review, you are clearly creating an environment where the reviewer is more likely to leave a review which may not be true in return for financial gain.
This goes very much against Google’s wishes to offer an unbiased overview of customer experience and one that may leave you liable for punishment from Google.
No. 5 – Do not encourage reviews in bulk
It is just simple bad practice to generate a large influx of reviews over a short period of time as opposed to a drip feed over longer.
Whilst it is always tempting to try and bolster your review count in one swift go, a consistent approach is a far better way to provide an overview of customer experience that is authentic, useful and accurate.
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