Earlier this month, a series of dealerships became the target of a Google Reviews clean-up, executed by automated systems within Google’s network. This ended with at least three dealerships’ scores dropping dramatically, due to a majority of their reviews being wiped out completely. When asked for reasoning, Google simply stated “sometimes our algorithms may flag and remove legitimate reviews in our effort to combat abuse.”
Google has since restored some of the reviews, but the dealers are still questioning just how much the loss of reviews will damage their business, as their predominately positive review scores are now in the lower range, due to a mostly negative set of reviews being left over.
The big question being asked however, is what can dealers do to prevent it from happening to them? Sadly, there isn’t an answer appearing, as Google has not publicly released a series of rules as to what constitutes a legitimate review over one that would be flagged for removal. With Google providing no warning or explanation for the removals, this is extremely troublesome to dealerships who work to get customers to provide reviews, as they can at any time be flagged and removed without notice.
Will we see a change in this kind of delete first, ask questions later policy in the near future? Hopefully, but until then, be careful how much you rely on the reviews you have on your Google+ Local page, and keep an eye on your score, as it can change rather suddenly.
You can reach Josh Moon at firstname.lastname@example.org.