Why Did My Google Reviews Get Removed?

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This year has been extremely volatile for Google reviews. There has been an increase of complaints from business owners that their customer reviews are missing, never got published, or have been deleted. We’ve compiled the full details on what is happening and what you can do – in some cases – if your reviews are getting removed.

Who is Losing Google Reviews?

Google uses an AI to review and filter any reviews that it finds to be spam or not a genuine experience. Many times, however, it will remove legitimate reviews by mistake. Starting in February of 2022, the local search forum had an influx of complaints about reviews gone missing. Mike Blumenthal shared this graph to show the spike.

This spike is indicative of the mass pruning of Google reviews and removing them in large quantities. The SEO community shared an update this month (October 2022) explaining how Google is still taking down reviews in waves. These removals are not unique to any one industry and is simply Google looking more closely at reviews to take down any that their filter deems to be illegitimate. Some businesses are losing 30+ reviews all at once.

Takeaway: This is a global takedown. Google is removing reviews in waves every few months.

What Caused My Google Review to Get Removed?

Filtering reviews is not a new practice for Google; they have done this for years. Lately, however, they are simply removing more reviews than in the past and removing them in bulk. Google will not explicitly notify you as to why they removed a review.

Google includes a long list in their guidelines as to what type of content warrants a removal. They state: “Reviews are automatically processed to detect inappropriate content like fake reviews and spam. We may take down reviews that are flagged in order to comply with Google policies or legal obligations.”

PaperStreet and the SEO community have noticed inconsistency with the types of reviews Google will take down and at times it seems as if there is no rhyme or reason.

Takeaway: Google removes reviews that are violating one of their guidelines. If it is not a fake/spam review, it was simply a casualty and removed by mistake.

What Can Businesses Do? Can I Get My Removed Google Reviews Back?

If you find that Google has removed a legitimate review from your listing, you can reach out to support to find out if they can add it back. A warning: if your business location is not abiding my Google’s guidelines, such as using a virtual office space that is not staffed during business hours, you will risk Google suspending your listing.

If you do decide to move forward with escalating to Google, you can submit the name of the reviewer, the date it was posted, and the content of the review itself by reaching out to support. Normally you will have this from an e-mail notification when it was originally posted. If it is not recovered in 5 days, you can submit it to the Google Business Profile Forum and include your original case number.

Keep in mind there is no guarantee that any review will be recovered. Most of the time, Google won’t reinstate a lost review. That is why it is important for businesses to determine if it is worth the time recovering any that are lost, or to simply move forward with gaining new reviews. Overall, reviews are a long-term process, and it is just part of the game for businesses to lose a few here and there.

Takeaway: You can reach out to Google support to ask them to recover the review and post to the forum if not recovered in 5 days. However, it’s NOT a good idea to escalate lost reviews for locations in violation of their guidelines -- such as virtual office spaces.

Can We Prevent Reviews from Going Missing?

Since Google is so inconsistent with the reviews they don’t publish or delete, there is no direct formula to ensure a review that is posted will stay that way. There are some methods that you can try, but none of them are foolproof. These are merely suggestions on what may work in order to prevent Google’s filter from tagging a review as spam.

  • Ensure you aren’t gaining lots of reviews all at once. An influx of reviews in a short window of time may raise a red flag.
  • Try to avoid reviews in the same format/pattern. For example, don’t ask all of your clients to post the same text.
  • Some business owners try asking clients to find the business listing through a Google search instead of a direct link in case Google can see all users coming from the same source. There are mixed reports if this helps or not.  

Overall, the main thing businesses can do is gain reviews on a continual basis. If you gradually get reviews over time, it won’t be a huge issue if a random review goes missing. Invest in an automated tool to help speed up the process.

Takeaway: Follow Google's rules to get real reviews, but there is no foolproof way to prevent real reviews from getting taken down. A better option is to put your energy in obtaining more.

Additional Information

In addition to these review takedowns, Google has been very active with rolling out new algorithms and paying more attention to spam in general. Below are a few articles that also show how Google has been updating their search engine.

Remember, PaperStreet helps with your review management as part of our SEO campaigns. We also have options to help you get more reviews. Contact us to learn more.

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