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Google Maps is Cracking Down on Fake & Incentivized Reviews

april 2022 google map reviews disappearing

As of April, 2022, Google and other online review giants like Yelp, have been cracking down hard on fake reviews, which unfortunately has caused a lot of legitimate reviews to go unseen as well.

If you left a review or someone left one for you and it shows up in the admin area but not online, it is likely the automatic system has decided it is a potential violation. Sadly, even some good legitimate reviews are being blocked from going live in Google.

Avoiding Conflicts of Interest

Systems are now in place that use little signals from a large variety of sources to determine if the person leaving the review is a competitor, an ex or angry employee, a friend, or family. If there is a circle of people leaving reviews for each other, Google will figure that out too.

No More Incentivized Reviews

Offering money or items, prizes, etc… in exchange for reviews is being cracked down on. You want to be very careful that this does not seem obvious or in any way looks like you are giving an incentive for a review. This includes simply asking people to review you.

Get Legitimate Reviews

If you have 20 people leaving a review and all of them are new accounts with you as the only person they have reviewed, this can look fishy. Google may stop showing reviews at all for your business, even legitimate ones.

What Can You Do To Get Legit Reviews?

For our clients, we create business cards with a note on the back that says…

"Got Love? Got Hate? Please go to Google Maps, type in our business name and leave us a detailed review regarding our service. If you are unhappy in any way, please call and talk to us as we will bend over backward to make sure your frown is turned upside down."

List Of Top Business Review Websites

Why Are Reviews Important?

Google themselves have come and and in 2013 stated that reviews are about 30% of the buying decision, that number has no doubt grown, especially with the boom of the Google map system and local search.
  • People are 95% more likely to use your business if you are the only one with 3 stars or more
  • Below 3 stars and it’s enough to change the mind of someone who already decided to buy
  • About 50% of people now use Google maps when search for local businesses
  • The buying decision is based 30% upon the reviews of other people

Google and Yelp share the same complicated review system, your initial thought is to have a bunch of friends make fake reviews or make some fake ones yourself from your own account(s). That’s not going to work. The system can track where the reviews came from, who made them, what physical location the review was made in (aka, trying to cheat by having a room full people make reviews from their phones in the same room at the same time… won’t work). The system has become so intelligently complex that the only way to truly get good reviews as a business owner, is to deliver great service and ask people to review you after, making it legitimate.

Use a Professional Service To Manage Your Reviews

You’ll never manage those reviews on your own, managing reviews and doing it right so that the reviews come out on top of the competition in Google or Bing search, and in the search engines, takes skill, experience and knowledge to do it right. Review management has become part of enterprise SEO plans because in order to dominate an industry, you have to know how to
misery loves company - bad reviews

Misery Loves Company – Bad Reviews Are Like Poison

So if you have 5 bad reviews for a business that deals with the general public, you can safely estimate that you have disrupted the happiness of over 100 people. If you have a 2.7 rating, you can safely assume your business is ruined.

Negativity loves company – the more bad reviews you get, the higher your chance of getting even more.

If someone was upset by your service and sees other people having written the same thing, it’s enough to turn them from just being slightly offended and having might not have said anything into a devout follower in the mob against you.

But Bad Reviews Can Also Be A Blessing

Bad reviews online aren’t exactly all that bad, they are an opportunity to get powerful feedback about how to maneuver your business’s customer service structure and revamp your products or services to better meet the needs of people.

According to a study by  Lee Resource Int’l, for every 1 customer who complains, 26 others remain silent.

Review Statistics from

  • 84% of people trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation
  • 7 out of 10 consumers will leave a review for a business if they’re asked to
  • 90% of consumers read less than 10 reviews before forming an opinion about a business
  • 54% of people will visit the website after reading positive reviews
  • 73% of consumers think that reviews older than 3 months are no longer relevant
  • 74% of consumers say that positive reviews make them trust a local business more
  • 58% of consumers say that the star rating of a business is the most important

“3 Star” VS “2 Star” Reviews

People will generally continue their decision to buy after seeing 3 stars, but get 2 stars, and even people who had made the decision to buy will turn around and go somewhere else.

Having 2.9 or fewer stars in a Google Map listing can devastate a local business. Having a damaging review on a high authority bad review website can devastate a business, and responding to it without using a professional service can make it even more devastating, possibly even irreversible on some of the worst websites.

If you are a doctor and get a bad review on Quack Watch, you’re probably screwed. There are other review sites that are just as evil for normal businesses too.

You’d be amazed at what can get removed and turned around with the right wording and knowledge… and what can be devastated by handling it wrong.

How Much Business Are You Actually Losing From Bad Reviews?

How much local business traffic are you actually losing from having negative reviews online? This is just a general rule of thumb based on experience with dozens of review management clients and depends on the quantity as well, but it’s pretty close to accurate for most local businesses.

  • 5 stars – 0% loss
  • 4 stars – 3% loss
  • 3 stars – 15% loss
  • 2.5 stars – 50% loss
  • 1-2 stars – 80% loss

It’s better to give stuff away these days than to get a bad review. We are entering an age where no one can hide from their reputation. Review management is not an option, it’s a necessity.

We Can No Longer Hide From Our Reputation

Reviews are going to be the main staple for thriving businesses in the years to come.

Right now is the time to make sure you have a good base and solid business practices with services that actually benefit people.

If you are the kind of person who cheats people, gets angry quickly and retaliates instead of stays calm, you’re either doomed or you need someone doing your customer service for you.

No one hides from their reputation these days, and if you try to by removing all mentions of your business online so there is no place to review you, know that in the coming years the businesses which started early on will have hundreds of positive reviews if not thousands.

In some reports from large review companies, they state that around 66% of people will read reviews before signing up or buying something.

That number is only going to go up with time and businesses without reviews will be buried by it.

How Recent Does A Bad Review Need To Be To? is a major review management software company, below are some statistics they produced on the value of recent reviews along with a chart of the most businesses that had a demand for reviews before making a buying decision in 2015.