Google Places Missing Reviews - Google+ Local Review Spam Update


Linda Buquet

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Had a discussion with Google Places management on Monday regarding the increasing problem of missing Google+ Local reviews and/or reviews that post but don't show up online on the live listing.

IMHO there is a combination of buginess/upgrade issues as well as some spam algos that may be wound too tight.

I'm under NDA with Google but they gave us permission to share the following high level points.

• car dealerships are usually, but not always, spammy

• we only allow one review per person per business

• copy pasting the same review for multiple locations is also not allowed
(we will delete both instances of the review)

• putting URLs in reviews = spam


Sorry I'm behind the 8 ball on this. Have been swamped and have not had time to share this news til now.

But Mike blogged it Monday and there is a good discussion going over at his place.

<a href="http://blumenthals.com/blog/2012/07/30/google-local-and-review-issues/">Google+ Local And Review Issues</a>

What do you think?
Does the review problem seem to be getting worse instead of better?
:confused:
 
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The review migration problem for me has gotten worse. There is, IMO, nothing in your "super secret" response form Google is that is remotely meaningful - it is like a disclosure from a political candidate: absolutely no substance. I am sorry to suddenly pick on you Linda - a person I respect and who is trying to help us all. I just makes me sick that we are all tiptoeing around trying to "be positive" about the bratty, inconsiderate child that is Google. I am most interested in aggregating the failure of google places and giving them a taste of some real "bad press". this is the only way this unresponsive bemoth will listen.
 

Linda Buquet

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Who's tiptoeing and sugar coating? I didn't say ONE THING POSITIVE about it!

What I said in fact was "IMHO there is a combination of buginess/upgrade issues as well as some spam algos that may be wound too tight."

So I would appreciate you not painting my comments with the wrong color brush!!!
 
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Alright. My apologies Linda. I am very, very frustrated.

---------- Post Merged at 02:00 PM ---------- Previous Post was at 01:57 PM ----------

Thank you Linda for being the only person I have ever encountered in the last 2 years of this mess that give a rats *** about my problems (ti sure is not Google). Thank you.

Stan Denman
 

JoshNelson

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Seems to be getting worse if you ask me. A lot of our clients (authentic) reviews have been reviewed for no explicable reason...
 

Phil Rozek

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It’s been hit-or-miss for my clients (and others I know) for about the last two months. Some people don’t seem to have any problems. Others will ask 3 customers for reviews and none of them will stick. I haven’t been able to notice any pattern. My best theory so far is that Google’s jaundiced eye toward car dealerships has also been falling on service-based industries. Again, that’s just based on what I’ve seen recently.

It doesn’t seem to be getting worse, but I certainly haven’t noticed the situation improve.
 

JoyHawkins

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Yep, I'm seeing no consistency at all in regards to which clients have lost reviews and which have not. I have seen hundreds of reviews go missing now and none have come back since the G+ Local update.
 

JoyHawkins

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After talking to Mike and looking at the forum thread again, I added 3 more things that are probably affecting the reviews disappearing to my blog:


  1. Solicited reviews are more likely to disappear. Yelp has been known for its nasty review filter and it looks like Google is about to join that list. Jade from Google commented recently that “soliciting reviews is suspect behavior for our systems”.
  2. Review frequency. Posting tons of reviews out of the blue all at once might get your profile flagged and your reviews pulled.
  3. How the person arrived at your G+ Local page. We’re noticing that businesses that have links to their G+ Local page in their email signature or on their website may be more likely to experience their reviews disappearing vs businesses that collect them via a person searching on Google and finding the business listing that way.

The solicited reviews thing really irritates me. If business owners don't ask for reviews, there will be way less reviews left on Google. I don't see how that is better for Google or for Google users.
 

Linda Buquet

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According to Jade's last few posts it looks like getting reviews in batches or waves is a problem. Sounds like review velocity is a really big issue, so if you get a bunch all at once, that could cause them to be marked as spam.

Here are Jade's last few posts re missing reviews

Jade Aug 15: "Still looking into this, guys. Soliciting reviews is suspect behavior for our systems, so please please please make sure your reviews are legitimate and left by your customers of their own accord."

"The technical issues for reviews still exist -- those are more common in my experience with pages that have had duplicate or merging issues in the past. The majority of the reviews cases that I have investigated from the forum and other channels are reviews being taken down for suspicious reviewing behavior."

Today Joy asked: "Soliciting reviews is suspect behavior for our systems" - can you elaborate on this? Does this mean that Google now doesn't recommend businesses ask for reviews from their customers? I'm interpreting that it means that if they ask, there is a good likeliness that the reviews might get filtered. If that's the case, I don't really blame businesses for giving up and going elsewhere to collect reviews. At least with Yelp, the filtered reviews are listed below the non-filtered ones."

Jade replied: ""Soliciting reviews is suspect behavior for our systems.

What I mean by this is -- it's fine if you reach out to customers to ask them to review, but I do not recommend that you do this in waves. If you want to reach out to legit customers and ask them to review, I recommend you contact them immediately after you have done business with them.""

And later Jade said: "Well, think about it this way -- in our ideas, the "ideal" review is by a customer who writes a review of a place completely by his or her own accord, on mobile during the experience or at home after. This would mimic the regular flow of the business.

On the other hand, some SEO companies that resort to spam reviews to deliver "results" would exhibit different behavior.

It's a system that we are constantly trying to improve, but for now, this is what I can say to try and help. I really don't want legit businesses with legit reviews to get caught, so this is our effort. I can't provide specific numbers (and in fact don't know them)."
I just posted: But Jade I can understand that spammy reviews follow certain behaviors BUT regular hones businesses using best practices are going to get reviews in waves too.

Here's a common example that I think often happens and is totally legit. This could be a local store, restaurant, Dentist or whatever...

Monthly email newsletter goes out. At bottom it says "Check out all our great reviews on Google and please leave us one if you have any feedback to share". Link
(Totally acceptable and I bet the most ethical brands out there do it.)

Then due to that newsletter going out to all customers, they may get a bunch of reviews all at once. Then next month another big rush.

So I def don't think this part of the filter is right or fair...

But I can understand the spam filter would have no way of knowing if that email was a rep management company offering an incentive instead of from an innocent newsletter from the business.
Saga to be continued... :eek:
 
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Wow. It seems that Google wants the business owner take a hands off approach when it comes to their online presence- at least in terms of ORM.

That all changes when Google wants the business owner to get involved when it comes to AdWords.
 

Keenan Glass

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"reviews being taken down for suspicious reviewing behavior."

Since today is Aug 16th, I'd like to call this the Elvis update.

---------- Post Merged at 05:50 PM ---------- Previous Post was at 05:48 PM ----------

"writes a review of a place completely by his or her own accord, on mobile during the experience or at home after."

Sounds like Jade said no reviews from a computer at the business' location.
 

JoyHawkins

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This is probably going to sound grumpy, but is there even a point in telling people to post on that massive thread at Google anymore? It doesn't seem like Google has addressed any specific cases saying that they are trying to get the reviews back. It's looking to me like Google's response is that the reviews should be filtered and that they have no intention of correcting it.
 

Linda Buquet

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Sounding grumpy is very justified Joy. :mad:

I personally think the problem with lack of response and tone in that thread - is this... I think Jade likely understands and likely is on our side and she's the only Googler that posts. BUT her hands are tied she's not in charge of the review spam department so there is only so much she can say or do. I know she's been meeting with that department trying to resolve this. I assume she sometimes feels frustrated and impotent, just like we do. (She's never said anything like that, just totally assumption on my part.)

But from my perspective it's usually the policy makers sitting up VERY high in ivory towers, out of touch with the real small business world that are pulling the strings. They often IMHO have a jaded view that's totally based on bad apples and spammers. I think the same thing holds true for all the service area businesses that got whacked.

I can also see this being a really stupid and blind financial numbers game on the part of some bean counter up high. 70% of the reviews in X industry appear fake. 80% of reviews that come from same IP are fake. 90% of reviews that fit X profile or come in at X velocity are fake. These fake reviews cost us $X in wasted time and man power to clean up. So if we just whack 'em all it will save us $X.

(I have no inside knowledge about any of the above and am under NDA, so just want to make it clear that above thoughts are simply outsider guesses at what could be going on and are maybe not correct.)
 
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Keenan Glass

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Huh... you feel like you've been "Jade'd?"

In my opinion, Linda is dead on. Can you imagine what is going on in those meetings...

Jade, "the forum is blowing up with business owners who have lost legitimate reviews and want to know what's going on."

Google Spam Review Task Force, "Really? Who cares? Let's go get some wheat grass shots and check on our stock price."
 

Phil Rozek

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If being "grumpy" about the reviews situation is a crime, lock me up and throw away the key.

I agree with you, Joy: for problems like this, asking people to post on the forum is just a runaround.
 

Linda Buquet

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I agree with you, Joy: for problems like this, asking people to post on the forum is just a runaround.
I still think Mike's idea initially was worth a try! What if by getting a bunch of posts in one thread we did get more attention on the prob? Or what if getting them all together helped engineers research and discover some patterns?

Plus this HAS stirred the pot and there ARE discussions going on with different departments that hopefully will result in positive changes. If it will actually happen or when I don't know. I just know that it did help push some buttons.

But I do agree that continuing to push folks to post in that same thread is probably no longer that helpful.
 

Phil Rozek

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True, true: I don’t think the runaround is malicious or anything, and I do think the folks at Google are making an effort. Perhaps one that will succeed soon and allow legitimate reviews to find their way home.

But what I have a problem with is that Google hasn’t been forthright about the magnitude and duration of the problem. They have not come out and said what I think they should have:

“Our review system is NOT working properly. It’s a complex problem, and though we’re working on a solution, don’t hold your breath – and don’t breathe down our necks, either, because Google+Local is a free service. Your customers’ reviews may actually see the light of day, but they may not. If you want Google reviews now, ask customers for them at your own risk.”

As you and anyone else who’s followed my site knows, I’m no Google-basher. My clients – among others - know I’m constantly harping on about how important Google reviews are. But Google has not handled this appropriately. They need to say, “Look, we’d love any feedback you can give us in the forum, because that might help us stomp out the review bugs all the more quickly, but we will NOT be able to look at your specific case and get your reviews back, so please don’t expect us to.” Nobody likes being jerked around, intentionally or not.
 
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