New Google Review Guidelines - No Review Stations or Self Reviews

Linda Buquet

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Jun 28, 2012
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The Google team just let us know they have made a couple of important revisions to the Google+ Local Review Guidelines.

I've always said review stations were a bad idea and didn't think Google approved of them. At one point a rumor or maybe even factual statement was circulated that said Google said it was OK to use review stations. I don't believe that was EVER endorsed by the actual review spam team that's actually in charge of making these decisions. Nonetheless the info circulated and more businesses started using review stations.

Some of us believed the heavy review take-downs at car dealerships were at least in part due to the fact that many dealers incorporate review stations. BUT we've had a hard time getting a definitive statement from Google one way or another until now.

Google just updated the Review Guidelines. (Still still rolling out, not live for all yet.) However Jade posted the following updates in the Google Business forum which are now live.

Having technical issues with the reviews on your listing? Read this first

There have been a lot of questions about reviews lately in the forum, and we wanted to address some of the more common ones.

Before we dive in, we want to reiterate that we do read about issues that you’re experiencing, and we’re working hard to overhaul and improve our reviews system to make it better for everyone. Yes, it’s going to take time, and we know that can be frustrating. But we hope the work we’re putting into long-term fixes today will significantly improve your experience soon.

1. Where did my reviews go?

Edit, December 12: Please note that the Review content policy now states that business owners or employees should not review their own businesses. We also discourage review stations or kiosks set up at your business location that are solely for soliciting reviews.
Above is just the new content that was added. Click link above to read the full post if you haven't yet. Here is link to the official guidelines which should update soon: Removals of Google Places reviews

UPDATE 3 PST: It appears someone only updated the Google+ Review Guidelines and did not update the Google Places Guidelines above. PLUS I think I see some other differences in wording in the Google+ Review guidelines, so fine tooth comb them here: Review content policy - Google+ Help

Self reviews have always been taboo, but I think it's good they spelled it out. Many of the businesses complaining in the forum of missing reviews that are all supposedly "100% legit, from real customers"
when I use my little trick to view the reviews Google deleted I can tell many were written by the owners themselves.

Google is actively working on the review piece and I'll have more good news on this front as soon as I can share it. But I think it's great they are starting to be more transparent and clear on exactly what is prohibited!

What do you think?
 

Linda Buquet

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Joined
Jun 28, 2012
Messages
14,436
I just posted an update above but adding here as new post as well so anyone especially interested in the review problems will be sure to see it.

UPDATE 3 PST: It appears someone only updated the Google+ Review Guidelines and did not update the Google Places Guidelines above. PLUS I think I see some other differences in wording in the Google+ Review guidelines, so fine tooth comb them here: Review content policy - Google+ Help
 
Joined
Sep 5, 2012
Messages
329
The Google team just let us know they have made a couple of important revisions to the Google+ Local Review Guidelines.

I've always said review stations were a bad idea and didn't think Google approved of them. At one point a rumor or maybe even factual statement was circulated that said Google said it was OK to use review stations. I don't believe that was EVER endorsed by the actual review spam team that's actually in charge of making these decisions. Nonetheless the info circulated and more businesses started using review stations.
Looks like they made clear what seems to be logical and the Spam team's apparent practice in how they handle such content. In regards to review stations you bring up a good point about rumors. I've noticed that in Google Places there seems to be a propensity for "this is okay" but is either not supported by any published Google guidelines or is directly opposed to such a policy. This should make it clearer for people who were unclear of what is a good practice as it pertains to dealing with Google+ Local.
 

Nick.SEOSpark

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Joined
Aug 4, 2012
Messages
361
As I mentioned on Google+ (when I shared this post), all of us have not been supporting review stations for a long time. However, now it's official.

Best practice is obviously to allow customers the chance to fill in the reviews on their own computer.

Thanks for sharing Linda.
 
Joined
Jul 23, 2012
Messages
496
Whoa - wait a minute! Am I seeing things or is there an even bigger change in the policy guidelines than the new kiosk language?

I've just written to Mike Blumenthal and Matt McGee asking if they have a screenshot of the older guidelines.

Take a look at the language about money and products in exchange for reviews and your ears may prick up. I won't say anything more about this until I have confirmation, but if I am on the right track about this, this represents an extremely big change in policy.
 

Linda Buquet

Moderator
Joined
Jun 28, 2012
Messages
14,436
I was thinking I saw some differences a couple places but didn't have time to check yet. Interested to see what they say. I think I may have an old copy of guidelines somewhere but have not been able to dig it up yet. Mike probably does.

PLUS I have another big review story about a HUGE missing piece of the whole puzzle I've been trying to post for a couple weeks. Hoping to get to it soon.
 
Joined
Jul 23, 2012
Messages
496
I stand corrected. I was thinking that something regarding review incentives had changed...thought a word had been removed, but nay, it's just the same old same old.

But the review kiosk thing is definitely news. Got to love it how they promoted these and then pulled the rug out. Bad Google. Baaaaad Google.:confused:
 

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