A lot of businesses lately have reported issues with their reviews on Google+ Local disappearing. This is because Google has again changed the algorithms to try to catch review spam. Unfortunately, some legitimate reviews are going to be caught in this filter. How can you prevent this from happening to you?
First, make sure you’re not getting fake reviews. It’s really tempting to take the easy road and pay an SEO company to get fake reviews for you, and it will likely pay off in the short term. But Google isn’t stupid. They have to maintain the integrity of their online review system or the whole thing becomes irrelevant. It’s in their utmost best interest to make sure fake reviews get filtered out in order to create the best possible user experience. Eventually, you will lose those reviews and rankings.
Second, try not to solicit tons of reviews at one time. You see, Google is looking for patterns in the way reviews are posted. In the natural world of business, people leave reviews shortly after they do business with you. If you get 15 reviews in a short period of time, then nothing for many weeks, it doesn’t look natural.
So sending out an email blast to all of your customers requesting a review may not be a good idea since you will get an influx of reviews. You’re best off requesting a review at the time of sale. This is the best time anyway since the customer still has that good feeling from just doing business with you. If you want to hit up your old customers, do it in small batches, not all at once.
According to Google, “requesting” reviews is fine, but “soliciting” reviews is not. There’s a fine line between requesting and soliciting, but essentially, they are saying “It’s ok to ask, but don’t go around trying to get reviews from everyone you know.”
Remember, Google has a vested interest in maintaining the integrity of their online review system. If people lose confidence in their reviews, then the system is useless. Google likes to be useful.
One of the things we do with our Local Search Marketing clients is help them develop a strategy of requesting reviews from their customers. It’s not easy to do it the right way, and it takes longer, but in the long run, you’re much better off.