Google Local Reviews and why you cannot trust them
The Irish have a saying that goes “If you can’t say anything, say nothing,” and it seems particularly apt in the case of Google’s Local Reviews where it is possible for any ¨person¨, who may have never used your service, to give your company a one star rating without any feedback, justification or explanation.
Such a state of affairs means anyone with a computer and multiple Gmail aliases has the ability to damage your company´s hard won reputation. And here lies the real problem – according to Google there is very little you can do about it.
This happened to Terra Meridiana. A ¨user¨ (robot, real, or otherwise we do not know) who to our knowledge had never used the services of our company, gave us a one-star rating, and this is the important bit…they did not leave any feedback about our service.
Now I am not saying my company is perfect, but we do try to offer a good service, so when we received this one star review we were pretty upset, especially since we had no record of this ¨person¨ ever having used the services of our company. Moreover, since the ¨person¨ did not leave any feedback, how could we know how we had failed or more importantly how to improve our service next time? It is entirely possible the person mistook our company for another company or simply did not like our website; it is also possible the user was a competitor – good or bad we wanted answers.
So we responded to the reviewer publicly and invited them to call or email us to explain the reason for their one star rating; to date we have not received a response. The result is overnight we went from an overall 5/5 star rating to 4.8/5 without any explanation or justification, so we decided to contact Google.
Google’s guidelines offer no guidance and fail to differentiate between ratings and reviews
I won’t bore you with the process of complaining to Google although if you are interested you will find some excellent resources online. Suffice to say, if your business has received a negative rating with no explanation as to why you will discover Google will not remove the rating since this does not meet Google’s ¨guidelines for removal.”
As this article, How to Delete a Google Review points out, bad reviews can break a business, especially one that is new, or is classified as a small to medium enterprise. Whilst Google does have a Small Business Support team where you can complain about a negative review, there is no guarantee that they will help, as we found out, because the review was not abusive, nor did it break any of Google’s other related policies.
Google does try to help and when it comes to reviews Google does provide some best practice advice for businesses:
¨Reviews from your customers can provide valuable feedback for your business and replying to reviews can help build your customers’ trust¨
However, we want to take this opportunity to give Google some valuable feedback regarding their best practice advice and Google Local Reviews:Adam Neale says: ¨A rating with feedback is useful; a rating without a review is not and should not be allowed, even if it´s 5 stars. In addition, Google should allow users to differentiate what exactly they are rating with feedback, for example:
- I want to give feedback about this website
- I want to give feedback about the services of this company
We suggested this approach to Google but to date we have received no response except an automated answer.
We would suggest that Google changes its policy and disallows reviews without feedback. This includes five-star ratings. A review is of no use to anyone unless it is honest and transparent. If you don’t like us, tell us why, but if you can’t say anything, say nothing, and step away from your keyboard!
By Adam Neale | Property News | March 11th, 2020