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Missing Google Reviews. Why Did Google Delete My Reviews?

Missing Google Reviews or Why Did Google Delete My Reviews?

Missing Google Reviews | Google Reviews Disappeared
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Updated - 08/14/2017
Originally Posted - 10/10/2016
Why am I missing Google My Business reviews?

Example of a business listing with star reviews as displayed in a Google search

As a small business owner, like you, I get excited when I receive that email notification exclaiming that our great new customer has given us a 5 star review on our Google My Business page! It’s a great feeling to know that we’ve done a great job, and our clients loved the service we provided them – and they want to tell everyone how great our business is.

If you’re not getting many online reviews for your business, don’t be afraid to ask customers to leave an honest review on your Google My Business page.

Have you received a great review, only to notice it has disappeared a few weeks later?  It’s a major bummer when you visit your Google My Business page to find that a big, beautiful 5 star review has gone missing – but where did it go?!

This post was inspired by a recent email from a client. I had helped him create a direct link to the Google review box. He had been sharing the link with his clients and the Google Reviews were rolling in on a regular basis – because he provides great service. But this day, he awoke to find 6 Google My Business reviews missing from his page. Oh no!

He wanted to know why the Google reviews were missing, how he could get the missing Google reviews back on his page, and what he could do to prevent more Google reviews from being deleted.

Googling Missing Google Reviews

At WebWorks of KC we regularly monitor Google business reviews for clients, so this is a normal process for us.

But there’s a good chance you found this post via Google search – Obviously, the first stop in hunting down the reason for missing Google reviews was to visit Google and do a quick search for “missing Google reviews.” From this simple search, it is quickly obvious that this is a common problem experienced by many, many business owners. The Google search results are full of stories from business owners who have found that their Google My Business reviews have disappeared.

If you’re asking “Why did my Google My Business reviews disappear?” The most common (and broad) answer – Google’s spam detection algorithm has flagged some of your reviews, and they have been removed by Google.

Reasons a Google My Business Review may have Disappeared

While Google doesn’t outline every aspect of their spam detection algorithm, they do provide specific Google review content guidelines. If a Google review has been deleted from your business page, ask yourself the following questions to help narrow down the reason your Google My Business review went missing. Google will remove reviews that violate their review content guidelines.

1. Was there a URL in the review?

If there is a URL in the review, it’s likely spam and will trigger the review for removal. We’re a web design company, so some clients want to show off the awesome site we’ve built – we make a point to ask them not to include the URL, so it doesn’t accidentally get flagged for removal. Instead, we ask for an additional review write-up that we can add to our website.

2. Was there a phone number in the review?

A phone number in the review is a big trigger for possible spam. There’s no need to have a phone number in a review.

3. Do you have reviews in other places online?

If you have tons of reviews on Google My Business, but none on Yelp, Facebook, etc., this could be a cause for the deleted reviews. Simply, it’s not natural and spontaneous if every single customer who reviews you leaves the review on Google My Business. This is a good indicator of spam – or maybe your over-coach your customers about how to leave a review for your business. Instead, mix it up – ask for a review of your business on Facebook half of the time.

4 . Did the review appear elsewhere on the internet?

If the same review appears on Facebook, Yelp, or on a “testimonials” page on your website, the duplicate review on your Google My Business page could be removed. Isn’t it great when your customers love you SO much that they want to tell everyone how great you are?!?! This is the downside – unless the customer writes unique reviews on each review website, you may risk multiple reviews being removed, not just on Google My Business.

5 . Is the reviewer a manager of your Google My Business account or Google+ page?

If a review is written by a manager of the business’s Google accounts, this could be seen as a conflict of interest by Google. Generally, the person managing your Google My Business account is not a customer. They are likely an employee or a service provider. Reviews should be left by customers.

6. Is the reviewer your employee?

When an employee reviews their employer on Google My Business, this can be seen as a conflict of interest – even if the employee has purchased your products or services. This practice is frowned upon because many employers will require that employees leave positive reviews or offer incentives for employees to leave reviews.

7. Was the review written from your physical business location?

What’s important here is the IP address (used to identify the physical location of your computer). If the review was written from an IP address used to manage your Google My Business account, the spam filter could have been triggered.

8. Was the review written from the same IP address as other reviews?

Similar to the previous point, if many reviews are coming from the same IP address outside of your business, the spam filers might be triggered. If this is happening, the reviews are most likely spam or fake. There’s no chance your business received 19 legitimate reviews from the same physical location.

9. Is there a “review station” set up at your business?

Remember what we talked about above – if all the reviews are coming from the IP address, they’ll trigger the spam detector. It’s a better plan to give your customers a short review URL that’s easy to remember and let them leave a review from their own cell phone.

10. Was your review written from a location that is TOO far away from your business location?

If your business sells products locally, but you also ship products across the country or across the world, you need to set up your Google My Business account to recognize this fact. From within your Google My Business account, you need to tell Google where you ship products. Go into the “I deliver goods and services to my customers at their location” section and make sure to setup the states and/or countries where you will ships products.. This will stop reviews from across the country (or world) from being flagged by Google.

READ Next   How to create a Google My Business review URL pre-filled with 5 stars and ask customers to write a review

11. Were there multiple attempts to post the same review?

If a review was flagged and deleted by Google, then the customer adds the same review again – it will be removed again.

12. Did your business recently receive a large number of reviews?

If your Google My Business page receives a rapid influx of a large number of reviews in a short time span, the spam detectors may be triggered. If you’ve read our blog post about getting more Google reviews, make sure to only ask a fraction of your customers at a time for a review. If you have a back-log of 500 customers to reach out to, and your Google My Business page gets hammered with 50 new reviews overnight, you’ll sound some alarms.

13. Do many of your reviews originate from the same online location?

If you have a “Leave us a Review” page on your website, and you send all you customers to that page before they leave a review on your Google My Business page, your reviews may not be spontaneous enough. Google likes reviews that appear naturally “in the wild.” It’s likely that Google records the referring URL and sees that all of your reviews are coming from a central hub. A better strategy is to send your clients an email with your Google review link. This way, their email will be the referrer.

14. Do you have multiple business locations?

Do you have multiple locations and multiple Google My Business pages? Customers are great! They love your service and products and they want to tell the world about you. They love you so much that they visit the Google My Business page for every location your business has in the metro area, eager to leave their review. Unfortunately, if the reviewer left the same review on multiple business locations, the duplicates (or all) will likely be removed.

15. Do you have an abnormally large amount of reviews on your Google My Business page?

If your business has way more reviews than other businesses in your industry and city/area, this could be cause for concern. If your business is in rural a town of 1000 people (just a simple example), but you have 4000 business reviews, don’t be shocked when many of them get removed. I’m sure you make amazing sandwiches, but why does the pizza joint only have 8 Google My Business reviews?

16. Did the reviewer simply remove their review from your Google My Business page?

A reviewer has the ability to remove their reviews at a later date. This one is pretty straight forward, and is one of the most common determinations I come to when monitoring Google My Business reviews for clients (sign up for our newsletter to get more tips about getting great online customer reviews and receive a copy of our Google Review Backup template)

17. Does the reviewer have a completely blank Google+ account?

Fake profiles commonly do not contain a name, photo, or other information. Real accounts are never completely blank. When a business gets tons of reviews from empty accounts, this is a trigger that the reviews were created by bots and are fake or paid.

18. Did the reviewer delete their Google+ account?

A user must have a Google+ account to leave a Google My Business review. When a Google+ account is deleted, the associated reviews are deleted as well. As with a user deleting their review, a user deleting their Google+ account is one of the most common conclusions we come to when monitoring Google reviews for clients.

19. Have you been active on Google My Business lately?

If you have not been active on Google My Business in a 6 month span, it’s possible that your business has been unverified. Make sure to pay attention to your Google My Business page on a regular basis. It doesn’t take a lot to stay active on Google My Business. If nothing else, install the Google My Business app (Android, iPhone) and reply to reviews and thank people when they leave a review of your business.

20. Do all of your reviews look and sound the same?

If all of your reviews are written from accounts with profile images, and all reviews use perfect grammar, perfect capitalization, and all mention your business by name – there’s a very good chance the spam alarms are going to go off. This is a problem I see frequently – and was the problem for the client I mentioned at the beginning of this post. Some business owners are TOO good at coaching their customers on leaving a review for their business – This is what happened with my client. Ask for a Google review, but don’t over-coach your customers how to leave a review and never offer a pre-made review or a pre-made template for them to copy.

21. Was the review written in third person?

A reviewer is only allowed to review their own experience with your business. Reviews are not allowed to retell the experience of a friend, family member, or an story they read elsewhere. Only first person accounts are allowed in reviews. The reviewer cannot leave a review on behalf of another person.

22. Was the review “clean?”

Profanity, hate speech, offensive language and personal attacks are not allowed in reviews. This type of content will definitely trigger the filters and the review will be removed. If there are reviews on your Google My Business page that contains any of this type of language, you should request to have the Google review removed ASAP.

23. Are you offering incentives for customers to leave reviews?

Do not offer discounts, coupons or free products to entice customers to leave you a review. If Google notices, you may lose all of your reviews. When you offer an incentive, you are more likely to receive a positive review, incorrectly skewing the results. Do not offer incentives for reviews.

24. Are there multiple businesses located at the same address as your business?

READ Next   How to create a Google My Business review URL pre-filled with 5 stars and ask customers to write a review

It’s not uncommon that one person may operate multiple businesses from the same address, however, Google sees this as a red flag – especially if you own multiple businesses that are in closely related industries. If your businesses are both real registered businesses, you can try to get help from Google by scrolling all the way to the bottom of your Google My Business dashboard and clicking the “Help” link. If nothing else, you may want to use a suite number for each business, so they appear as separate businesses to Google. NOTE – This may not the best or the correct strategy for your specific business(es).

Is your Google My Business Review missing because of a Google Error?

These are situations that can happen, but are rare occurrences. If you’re missing reviews on your Google My Business page, one of the reasons above is much more likely to be the reason for your missing Google reviews.

25. Your Google My Business account may be affected by a Google Maps bug

Your Google My Business reviews may not be missing at all! You may simply be experiencing a bug. Many small business owners have reported experiencing this bug off and on for nearly a decade. To check if your Google My Business page is experiencing this bug – Log into your Google My Business account at http://business.google.com. Select your business location that is having issues (if you have multiple locations). Click “Manage Location.” Click “Edit” at the top right. Click “Google Maps” in the “Published On” section. This will open Google Maps. In the panel on the left, click “Suggest an edit.” Grab the map marker on the map at the right and wiggle it around just a little bit. Click “Submit.” If your Google My Business page is experiencing the Google Maps bug, the wiggle will force Google to clear the cache and “update” your location. It sounds silly, but give it a shot!

26. Google had a glitch when updating or backing up software

Yes, it is possible that even a company as big as Google can have a glitch. Glitches are possible with every size of system, no matter how big or how small.

27. A Google employee accidentally deleted your Google My Business review

This one is super-unlikely, but yes, humans still need to be able to manually access systems that are designed to run autonomously. Why would an employee access your Google My Business page manually? I don’t know. It’s probably unlikely a Google employee would ever need to access your specific Google My Business page. Can you think of any reason? No? That’s why this scenario is very unlikely.

The “Google Deleted My Reviews” Conspiracy Theories

I want to say upfront – I do not subscribe to a single one of these conspiracy theories. Simply, I get a ton of emails from people claiming to have “proof” Google intentionally targets specific small businesses and deletes their 5-star reviews. Of course, not a single one of these conspiracy theorists has actually shared the proof with me, nor provided a step-by-step tutorial about how they collected their “proof.”

Conspiracy Theories:

  • Google deletes reviews of businesses who do not use Adwords to promote their business in Google search. The theory is that Google hopes these businesses will start paying to use Google Adwords
  • Google deletes reviews of the competition of businesses who do use Adwords to promote their business. As above, the theory is that Google wants to force a small business to use Adwords
  • Google deletes reviews of businesses who are in direct competition with an area of their business
  • Google deletes reviews of businesses who are in competition with their own business partners

Again, I do not believe any of these theories, and not a single person has provided “proof” to back up a fraction of these theories.

If you’ve come to one of these conclusions, it may be time to take a step back and hire someone to run the digital marketing aspects of your business. Trust me, you’ll be much happier running the day-to-day operations of your business and letting someone else take care of your brand’s online reputation – and your business will be better for it.

Helpful and Trustworthy Reviews

Google aims to provide “recommendations that are helpful and trustworthy.” Google’s spam algorithm helps to ensure they can provide the best information possible. Unfortunately, sometimes real and honest reviews get swept up and disappear – and other times, it seems like it’s nearly impossible to get Google to remove a fake or spam review.

Can I get the Missing Google My Business Reviews Back?

Unfortunately, once Google has removed a review from your Google My Business page, it is gone for good. There is no getting it back. Instead of worrying about getting missing reviews back, focus on getting new 5 star reviews! That’s time better spent.

Before you give up, however, check out tip #25 above to check if your Google My Business page is experiencing a bug.

Make a Backup of Your Google My Business Reviews

Make it part of your regular business process and start backing up your reviews, so you can analyze the reviews and to discover the reason a review is removed in the future. When you get that notification email of a new Google My Business review, copy the review and the details. When you notice a drop in your number of reviews, take a look through your reviews to figure out which one(s) was deleted.

Sign up for our email newsletter, and we’ll give you a copy of our Google My Business review backup template – along with many more great tips for getting great online reviews from your customers.

The Takeaway

You shouldn’t worry too much if  few of your Google My Business reviews disappear. Focus on running your business and providing great service and products, then ask happy customers to leave a review of your business. It’s good practice to backup and monitor your reviews, then perform an audit when reviews go missing, but don’t lose any sleep over it. Just go out there and get another great review to replace the one that disappeared. It should be pretty simple – you’re great at what you do! Keep doing it. Let the little stuff take care of itself.

Have you lost reviews on your Google My Business page?

Tell us about your experience in the comments section below.

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17 comments about “Missing Google Reviews or Why Did Google Delete My Reviews?”

  1. Two things you may want to try to remedy the situation:
    1 – Use a separate phone number for each business. You can get a free Google Voice (or other service) number and forward it to your main phone number.
    2 – Use suite numbers/letters for each business. Make sure to also notify your postal service. They tend to get confused easily.

    These are not fool-proof, but I’ve found they work well. If each business has it’s own unique name, phone number, and address, there’s no reason for Google to insist that they are the same business.

  2. By doing a quick Google search, I see that both of your businesses are located at the same address. Being that your two businesses are very closely related in very similar industries, it is very likely that Google views both of your businesses as the same business because they are in related industries and at the same address. If each business is registered as it’s own independent entity, you may benefit from contacting Google to discuss – if you can figure out how to contact them. The live chat and email link that I have doesn’t seem to work anymore.

  3. A client of mine has left one review on my computer services business listing, as I provide them with computer support. They also left me a review on my web design business listing, as I built them a website. Google has published the computer support one, but not the web design one. As they were written by the same person, but for two different “businesses”, I can’t see any valid reason for one being published and not the other! This review process has so many hurdles to jump over, yet Google is an unaccountable monopoly, playing god with our livelihoods!

    • FreshWebz Web Design says:

      You’re probably right Travis.

      This was an issue a few years back and they wouldn’t allow any reviews to be published against the Web Design business because they were at the same address, but I thought it wouldn’t happen again as they published one this time. It’s also probably because both reviews were left by the same client, so the spam filter has blocked it. I do run the two businesses as separate entities, but trying to persuade Google of this is like banging your head against a wall.

      You’re right, the links that used to be there, to ask a question and/or request a callback have gone from the My Business backend. Perhaps they can’t afford the staff any more!!!!!! :/ Have spent too much time trying to get this resolved, instead of getting on with actual work, so best to let it go now!

      Cheers.

  4. Todd, I have no idea what you’re talking about. I would LOVE to review the proof that you mentioned previously. I don’t know how else I can say this. It’s super-simple to convince me of something – show me the proof. You say you have proof that Google targets individual small businesses to remove their legitimate reviews. I would love to review it.

    Yes, I understand that an admin can make adjustments manually within a system/software. I never disputed that fact (In fact, I just moved your last comments to follow this comment thread, since you replied outside the thread), and I never disputed that something could accidentally be deleted manually or accidentally deleted by the system.

    I don’t doubt you have years of tech consulting experience, and I have no reason to delete your comments. If anything, this comment thread adds credibility to my business and my expertise. I am offering to review your proof/research that Google targets individual small businesses to remove their 5-star reviews and write about it if it is a real concern for small businesses as it affects their Google My Business reviews. However, it seems that we’ve come to an impasse. I am eager to review your research, but you don’t want to share it.

    It is amusing that you came to my website to spread a conspiracy theory and not back it up with proof while hiding behind an anonymous name on a disposable email address without a profile image linked to a non-existent website… yet you call me a troll. You sir, are the troll. And this comment thread is over.

    Best wishes.

  5. No problem. If you want to keep all of your research and proof to yourself. That’s your call. Simply, you asked for a discussion. I told you I would like to have a discussion. If you have proof that you’re willing to share I’m happy to look it over, and even help verify it. Discovering issues with Google reviews and writing about them only help my website and my business – hence, this article and others on this website. That said, unless you are willing to share this proof you claim to have collected there is no need to continue this conversation.

    • Todd says:

      For your information Travis if someone has exhausted all your steps as well as other steps on the web (which are similar to yours) that in and of itself can be a form of proof as well. Frankly I view folks like yourself as a nuisance because you’re on the web stating information like it’s fact without even considering the possibility you might be wrong. Many poor people have spent a great deal of time exhausting this subject which in my opinion they shouldn’t have to only to come across sites like yours hoping for a solution and to be further annoyed. Now I’m not denying you may have helped some folks but there are a lot of people falling victim to what I have described. As I mentioned earlier that is ridiculous that a simple review system should be designed this way and i think it says a lot about an organization who does it. Seems to me you just want to argue and troll people. I’d be a fool to think if I did organize a case study or something for you to view there would EVER be any convincing someone of your nature.

    • Todd says:

      One last thing before I leave for good.. I would love to walk you through one of many data centers I’ve worked on similar to google and show you how easy it is for something like this to happen. It’s not uncommon when dealing with systems for things of this nature to occur. Administrators, consultants and sometimes executives regularly remote into these systems because they have to for their jobs. It’s also not uncommon for them to by mistake or intentionally remove something like a review. Heck, the systems themselves can on occasion even do it. Whether it be a backup restore or whatever. I have witnessed countless occurrences like that where a nightly restore reported a successful status and stuff wasn’t totally successful. I can’t began to explain how humorous it’s with my kind of experience to come across an article like yours acting like it isn’t possible. If it hurts your business or whatever to have that public information then remove my comments I understand but for the record it isn’t entirely politically correct. I will say it is rare but it all depends on certain factors and can be more common if certain conditions are ripe in the data center or in the systems themselves.

  6. Sounds great. I would love to see your case study proving that Google explicitly targets individual small businesses and removes their reviews. Proof is is the great equalizer. If you work up a case study with this proof, I can get you in contact with some of the really big SEO websites. I know they would love to share this type of information with the world.

  7. I understand that any time there is a very large player in any industry, the conspiracy theories are going to swirl. Personally, I do not subscribe to such theories, but I do welcome the conversation. In my view, Google has zero incentive to screw over individual small business owners. Sure, there may be other reasons that Google removes reviews from a business page, but I do not believe any of them to be malicious toward any particular small business. If anything, I believe reviews may be errantly removed algorithmically. That said, if a single small business repeatedly has their reviews removed, I believe that the business owner is doing something wrong – not the review system.

  8. Todd says:

    Travis, I’m a technology consultant with 35+ years experience all with large corporations only (particularly well known ones). I specialize in firewalls and routers with tons of programming background and will tell you there are definitely reviews being removed outside of the points in your article and it goes on a lot. There is a lot of manipulation going on and without access to their networks from the inside I have no way of pin pointing who is doing it but it’s definitely happening. It is very irritating for a person to go through this then exhaust basic stuff like you’re suggesting only to realize and roll your eyes how you wasted all this time. I’m with Tina, this is ridiculous and I know many executives who have stopped using Google entirely. Clearly they have some political agenda they’re engaging in and who has time for it.

    • Todd says:

      Well I disagree and can prove it. Thankfully I recorded everything I tested and did so in lab environments while putting all this to the test and no question this is being done by an individual and not systems (which I have tons of experience with). Travis, I have designed many networks and run many companies and let me tell you something.. No way would a company not leave a way for them to individually mess with something if they wanted to. Every executive and administrator there has access to do just that. I should know I’ve worked with enough of them as a consultant all over the country. What you’re saying is like me telling people I want a Mustang but won’t have the ability to drive it. Any goof knows the owner of that product will want control of it if and when needed. This isn’t a conspiracy theory because there is proof so you’re misusing that word. Many companies engage in unjust or unlawful events, this is nothing new to anyone especially government so please don’t act like it is. Google has been all over the news many years for losing legal battles with the EU and other entities so please spare me.

    • Todd says:

      Yeah I’m going to go through all that trouble just to argue and prove a point with someone in Kansas City. You’ve already wasted enough of my time along with Google’s ridiculous product. Not exactly rocket science, more and more people are having issues with this all over and getting fed up with Google. Frankly I’d be skeptical to use a professional not recognizing these details and was defending them. They’ve gotten into a lot of trouble the past few years and there’s still a lot of stuff out there in the works so you might want to be careful defending them. Time is upon us to utilize other search engines. Btw you don’t need a case study for something to be a fact or provable in court of law but courts aren’t exactly going to recognize something this minor unless it starts costing business’s a lot of money which I can’t see. Thus far it’s working in favor of the business like nepotism. I did lab stuff on my end because I intend to make YouTube videos proving my point. Either way going through all your steps still makes it a foolish product and most won’t even bother and will move on which is probably what they want. lol Sense!!

  9. Hey Tina, I understand your frustration. Don’t take it personally. When a review is removed, there’s usually a valid reason. We’ve recently updated the article with 2 more reasons – #10 and #24. I’ve found that the problems usually come with #4, #17 and #20. Don’t give up, just modify and improve your methods. Best wishes.

  10. Hi Sandy, if you sign up for our newsletter – http://webworksofkc.com/newsletter – we send out an email drip that includes some tips about getting reviews removed.

  11. Sandy Oliver says:

    We are only a small business and our good reviews have all gone (3) however, very bad for business the only bad review has remained. From over a year ago.
    We have since changed our business to a limited company and the bad review has stayed in place even though we have changed.
    Does not look very good for our business at all.
    Is there any way we can get the only remaining one removed.

  12. Tina Huston says:

    You know what…I don’t have time for this nonsense and neither do my customers. If I ask my customer if they would write a review and they take their time to do it, then the review shouldn’t be removed. Enough of the freaking web ranking head games. When I come to the end of my life and am lying on my death bed, I don’t want to consider how much time I spent spinning my wheels on Google reviews. This makes me so angry I could just F****ing spit! I’m not going to ask anybody to review my business anymore. Time is money and I don’t have time for Google’s crap.

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