Articles Tagged with Reviews

Google Reviews are Broken (and Google Local Guides Aren’t Helping)

Basketball points illustrationGoogle has a review problem.

When I help clients with SEO, if they already have – or could benefit from having – a Google Map listing (a.k.a. a Google My Business listing), I help them with the presentation and optimisation of that, too. One element of that is the ability for customers to be able to leave reviews. For a business that works hard to give its customers a good service, it can be a fantastic way to stand out from the competition. I often encourage clients to try and get Google reviews from their happy customers – in a way that abides by Google’s guidelines.

However something that I’m finding is becoming more and more prominent is the phenomenon of fake – maybe even ‘incorrectly-given’ – reviews. This blog’s most popular ever post is about how I managed to remove a fake and libellous review from my parents’ business’ Google listing. We (mostly) got lucky because the review’s text said some very nasty things that were very obviously against Google’s review guidelines, but where the whole Google review removal process gets messy is when the text is ambiguous (i.e. it could be a customer or it could not be, and it doesn’t conflict with Google’s review policy either way) or if no text is left against the review at all.

‘Cold’ reviews

One of my clients (and also my business’ home) – Welsh ICE – gets fantastic reviews. They consistently get 4- and 5-star reviews from people who we know are members and have used their facilities.

…But then, all of a sudden, a few months back, they got a 3-star review with no text against it.

And then another one – 3 stars, no text.

And then a 1-star review with no text.

Two things were weird about these reviews:

  1. When I asked Jamie & Rachel – who are involved with running ICE and looking after its community – if they knew who these people were, they said no. The reviewers (to the best of their knowledge) had never used ICE.
  2. They all had the ‘Local Guide’ tag next to them.

Google Local Guide review examples screenshot

Introducing Google’s Local Guides

I’ve been in SEO (and Local SEO) for a while, and while I’d come across Local Guides before, I hadn’t really paid much attention to it – so I did some research. It’s a way to contribute to Google Maps – most likely rising from the ashes of the death of Google Map Maker, which I’d used previously (with limited success – but that’s an aside). What’s more is that it’s gamified: contributors can earn points and badges, and can ‘level-up’.

Google Local Guides points screenshot
At first I thought it was just a prestige thing, but then I came across something quite interesting: at one point (fairly recently), they offered a Google Play perk, whereby “Local Guides who reach[ed] Level 4 and beyond by 31 August 2017 [had] a chance to receive 3 months of Google Play Music and 75% off a movie rental on Google Play.”

Google Local Guides perk screenshot
…Which I’ve screenshot, just in case the page gets taken offline in the future.

Of course, Google’s Maps User Contributed Content Policy states that “contributions must be based on real experiences and information” – but here’s the thing: how can anyone prove or disprove that a review was based on a real experience? Given that Google are incentivising Local Guides by offering them a Google Play discount, what’s stopping Local Guides from randomly leaving random reviews/ratings in order to get points, including businesses they’ve never even dealt with and/or places they’ve never even visited?!

Click to read more!

The 1-Star Sucker-punch – Dropping the Ball on Online Reviews

Seeing stars imageAs SEOs we often have our focuses and our biases: our remit is to help improve clients’ visibility in search engines, after all.

However when working with SMEs in particular, you might be their go-to guy/girl for all their online marketing questions – not just SEO. I always try to offer help and advice on other areas if I can – such as social media and UX – but ultimately some things slip through the cracks. This post is an example where giving the client too much a focus can actually be a bad thing… They may perform one task really well, but then struggle to adjust strategy when it matters…

One of my clients has a big focus is on Local SEO: boosting the Map listing. If you Google “[keyword] [location]” keywords then oftentimes a Google Map shows up. And a big factor of that is getting positive Google reviews against the listing. We do pretty well all things considered, especially given that they’re not based in Cardiff city centre and instead operate on the edge of the city.

I did all the right stuff: I told them who was best to contact (happy clients) as well as the optimum time to contact them (just after a project had finished). I gave them an adaptable email template to use, containing info for the clients on how to leave a review and the appropriate links to the listing, etc. Over time, they hit the (ideal) minimum of five reviews and just kept going and going, eventually hitting more than ten 5-star reviews.

Click to read more!

How I Removed A Slanderous Google Review – A Case Study (2013)

* Important intro note * – Originally the title of this post was “How To Remove Slanderous Google Reviews,” because – at the time (March 2013) – following these steps (especially #4, country-depending) would work well to remove your review. Over the years however, Google have changed their processes, making this post obsolete in some aspects – you’ll see in the comments (especially later ones) that more and more people have said that the steps below haven’t necessarily worked for them. I wanted to keep this post up for reference, but please understand that what’s written here may not 100% correspond with what you need to do these days. I’m actually considering writing a follow-up, as my folks’ business has been hit by another fake bad review (as of October 2015), in which case I’ll update this post with a link to it.

* Regarding contacting me * – I sometimes get people contacting me asking for help with this, especially if they’re struggling. Please understand that if you followed the instructions in this post, there’s really not much more I can do to help I’m afraid. And while you can hire me for SEO work, I don’t offer help on this front on an individual basis. Sorry.

Evil Computer photoEarlier this week, I had to deal with a slanderous review left on my parents’ company’s Google Places (a.k.a. Google+ Local) page. When researching how best to get it deleted, I came across a mishmash of info on a mix of blog posts and forums, which wasn’t very helpful, so I wanted to write about my experiences in getting it sorted.

Surprisingly, Google doesn’t exactly make the process easy. Well, they do, but it’s one of those ‘once you know, you know’ scenarios. And after reading about some horror stories, I wanted to outline how I managed it. So if you’re in a similar boat then I hope this helps you out.

The review’s discovery

Computer Recruiter logoMy parents run an IT recruitment agency called Computer Recruiter. I’d been working from home on the day that we discovered the review, as I was still recovering from an on-going, on-again-off-again illness (more about that in an upcoming blog post by the way), but as my folks are based nearby, they invited me over for lunch. We were talking about recent rankings (as I’ve done a bit of work for them in the past) and we got onto the subject of their Places page. I wanted to show them something on the page, but then we spotted it…

A review, left 3 weeks ago, with a rating of “Poor to Fair.”

Then we actually read the review…

Click to read more!