The power of a good Google review is considerable and, in some cases, massive. But so too is the ‘negative power’ of a bad Google review, which prompts the questions we are asked about how long Google reviews last.
Positive reviews you want forever.
Negative reviews you want gone today.
The power of online reviews has never been higher and for local businesses they provide business credibility and can create long term profile-lifting benefits.
But there are clear rules to what is acceptable to Google and how long your review may last, including factors that will see reviews that fall foul of Google’s policies being removed from online display very quickly.
Google are particularly concerned to ensure that reviews are genuine – and any law firm, company, small business of whatever kind will almost inevitably attract negative reviews along with the positive. Bad reviews go with the territory in any business, but when it comes to handling them we have some tips (below) and also focus on the need to avoid the fake reviews that can wind up having your business page and ability to attract any reviews removed entirely.
So let’s look at some of the factors that affect Google reviews and how to make sure you are generating good reviews for your potential customers and potential clients and boosting your online reputation.
The Importance of Google reviews
- 1 The Importance of Google reviews
- 2 The Key to Google Reviews
- 3 Review Policies for Google That Will See Reviews Removed
- 4 Asking For Google Reviews Is Okay
- 5 Spam or Fake Reviews
- 6 Incentivizing and Buying Reviews
- 7 The Problem of Negative Reviews
- 8 The Google Restrictions on Illegal Content
- 9 The Time Frame on Removing Reviews
- 10 Keep Your Google Review
We have previously written about Google reviews and their importance for your business (in the context of law firms, but the same applies to any business).
Apart from helping with your business or law firm’s SEO, they provide a major signal to the search engines about your business’s authority and trustworthiness.
Google business reviews have been reported by Podium as making customers (let alone law firm clients) 38 per cent more likely to visit your location (or come to your law firm) and 29 per cent more like to consider buying from you. The star rating has reportedly accounted for 56 per cent of consumers clicking through to a full listing on the Internet.
For law firm SEO those factors are critical. It helps build Google support and lift your ranking in the Google search results.
Getting Google reviews provides a free, simple way to build your online profile ahead of your competitors and continuing to use the positive feedback to build your business or firm.
Of course, there are many other review platforms and all have some degree of importance, be they Yelp reviews, Facebook reviews or others, but Google reviews hold a special place in importance for any business seeking a higher online profile.
And when you have positive reviews you want to keep them, just as you want to avoid negative reviews and at least relegate them to the appropriate place.
The Key to Google Reviews
Google reviews are the most important because they are very much center stage when a client or customer is searching online.
It is not, remember, a case of having a client or customer who is actively searching for reviews, but rather that they are there when they DO search. It is then just a question of clicking through and it is then that you have your click-through rate, your increase likelihood of achieving sales and new clients or customers.
Review Policies for Google That Will See Reviews Removed
Google’s review policies mean that the sheer volume of submitted reviews means that fake Google reviews, or any fake reviews, are picked up by Google’s algorithm.
The key to understanding how to use Google reviews is to understand that they want them to be authentic and genuinely useful for searchers. The user experience is all-important and it is important to your business too.
So a Google review will be taken down very quickly if it is fake, contains hate speech, offensive language, personal rants, unnecessarily explicity content, illegal activity and so forth.
It is clearly against Google review policy to maintain such content and they will also be removed from Google Maps, Google My Business.
Another reason why Google’s review policies will be breached is where there are problems with formatting. It is therefore important to understand what the review policy is so that reviews will be consistent and compliant with it.
Asking For Google Reviews Is Okay
We have previously written about lawyers asking for reviews, which is entirely acceptable for any business in terms of Google’s review policies.
Google actually provide a digital Marketing Kit which comprises stickers, social media posts and other resources that encourage business owners to ask for reviews.
However, it is a breach of their review policy to ask specifically for positive reviews,
According to Google, businesses should not “discourage or prohibit negative reviews or selectively solicit positive reviews from customers.”
Spam or Fake Reviews
As Google clearly want genuine reviews it follows that they do not want those that are spammy reviews or on off-topic content, related to illegal content or are intended in some way to manipulate your genuine business ratings, such as rating your own business or firm.
Duplicate reviews are also not permitted, being reviews that are posted for various locations or from multiple accounts for the same business.
And reviews that purport to come from some other company, individual, group or organization are similarly disallowed by Google
Incentivizing and Buying Reviews
Both practices are infringements of Google’s policies, notwithstanding that you can quickly find sites that offer to lift your online ratings by buying ‘five star reviews’.
Don’t fall for them. It can lead to a removal of your Google listing altogether.
The same applies with incentivized reviews where you provide some benefit in exchange for a review, which is a direct breach of Google’s review policy.
The incentive provided may include non-monetary rewards, which Google will still see as a breach of their policy and it could even attract the attention of local regulatory authorities such as the Federal Trade Commission in the United States.
The Problem of Negative Reviews
Most businesses will get negative reviews from time to time and the answer there is to respond to them as promptly as you can. Google indicate themselves that those that respond to a negative review are seen as 1.7 times more trustworthy than those that do not.
The key is to remain professional and courteous and apologize for any issues if necessary but keep things as pleasant and communicative as possible.
Indeed, you should respond to all reviews as much as possible, even if just to thank someone for leaving the review. Responding is important and seen as a further sign of trustworthiness and openness, both of which help your business.
The Google Restrictions on Illegal Content
The best way to ensure you are keeping your Google nose clean is to keep to Google’s policies, but some breaches might occur perfectly innocently, such as through the publication of illegal content.
This includes calls to action and so forth regarding alcohol, guns, health devices, financial or adult services. You should check the policy to ensure there are no transgressions as the list does not cover everything and Google, in true legal fashion, reserve their right to remove a review where they believe there is some breach or other issue.
For instance, if there are links to the purchase of restricted goods or services or promotional offers related to them. But not all such issues are necessarily a violation of the Google My Business account or Google Business profiles.
The Time Frame on Removing Reviews
In the case of fake reviews Google will generally act promptly and generally it will take as little as four or five days to remove a fake review and as long as three weeks. It is frustrating, obviously, but there is little that can be done to speed the process up.
But for the non-fake reviews, there is considerable queries about how long they will last. Google have in the past admitted there have been some errors in their own system that has seen genuine reivews removed when they were due to some other bug in their system, such as with their Google Maps review system.
Some unkind individuals have suggested that reviews have been removed when the business has not been a Google Ads client. Google deny that has ever been the case.
The length of time that any review might remain on Google is something of an open question but there is no reason why they should not remain indefinitely if there is no breach of Google’s policies or any transgression like a duplicate listing, fraudulent reviews, inappropriate content or any of the other issues that would see the review removed.
Keep Your Google Review
The best way to keep your reviews intact is to adhere to the Google policies, ensure there is no fake content or reviews and all the matters outlined above are adhered to.
At the end of the day, Google are seeking to have genuine reviews and know that reviews are from real customers or clients. Google’s review policy is not something that needs to concern businesses who are providing a genuine customer’s experience.
Read the Google policy. Adhere to the conditions. Monitor your reviews regularly. Do those things and you will be adopting best practices and also working towards the happy customers that everyone wants.