I know I know now all the Google gods are going to reign down fire on me and my kin from above for my headline and this post. Or worse maybe they don’t index this post.
But here is the thing–at the end of the day if you are a business owner do you care more about strictly adhering to Google’s policies no matter what? Or do you care more about growing and keeping your own business more profitable with a good online reputation so that your family doesn’t starve? I am going to say if you continue reading you are more concerned with the latter.
First, why would I ever say that there are times when you should completely ignore Google’s rules and their terms/policies? Well, I say any time Google contradicts itself (happens more than you think) and it is to the point where it can damage your business? Cost you money? Then yes, I think at that point you should ignore what Google says and be sure to continue feeding your family.
So now let’s get into some specifics when talking about your business on Google and your online reputation. You have your Google Business Profile all setup and verified or maybe you have had your local google business profile for a long time. There within the Google Business Profile is a place for people to post reviews about an experience good or bad they have had with your business. They are allowed to leave from 1 to 5 stars with 1 being the worst and 5 the best. Google allows reviewers to use their usernames instead of their real legal names. Google does not verify that the reviewer is actually a customer of your business. Lastly, Google allows reviewers to leave a review with no text at all. When you allow the general public the ability to anonymously post whatever they want about any business and then try to regulate that? In my 18+ years of dealing with Google, I say that is a recipe for disaster.
So what happens when you as the business owner do everything correctly? Let’s find out. assuming you treat your customers great, go the extra mile, and all that. You ask your happy customers to leave 5-star reviews for you on Google. Maybe a few do but most of the happy customers never write anything about how great their experience was with your business. It’s like the old adage: “do a great job and the customer might tell one person. Do a bad job and they will immediately tell 10 people.” So this way can work somewhat but what do you do when Google has a large Google Business Profile update like they just did a couple of weeks ago? Those precious real 5-star reviews that you worked so hard to get can be wiped out in an instant if Google’s algorithm decides that your real review looks like a fake. Even with AI, it is very difficult for Google or anyone else to say for sure if a review is real from a real customer of that specific business or not. You are left either with no reviews or a fraction of what you had. Or even worse, half your 5-star reviews are now gone but in the update Google kind of conveniently left out of their algorithm the 1 and 2-star reviews, whether real or fake/spam. There is nothing worse than logging into your Google Business Profile account and seeing 19 total reviews when the day before you had 102 total reviews. Business owners just get blindsided by this there is never any warning.
So in this situation what can you, the business owner, do to fight back and level the playing field? This is the part where I tell people if you own a business. you should completely IGNORE Google’s review policies in this situation. Here’s why – if you follow everything according to Google? you can still lose a lot of real 5-star reviews any time they decide to do an update. The worst part is that if you had any 1 or 2-star reviews those usually remain through any updates. Google seems to ignore those even the ones that look obviously fake. Through no fault of your own now your business rating went from 4.8 stars out of 5 to 3.9 stars due to the update. Effectively Google has lowered your rating which in turn hurts your reputation and your traffic. You can see where I’m going with this right? Every time Google does a significant update where your business loses good reviews, they take money from that business.
So I say if you want to compete and keep your online reputation looking good you have to fight fire with fire. This is why any time any of our clients get a 1 or 2-star review we immediately flag it for all 7 reasons from external google accounts and then we flag it again for all 7 reasons inside of the admin dashboard of the Google Business Profile. We let Google determine if there is any violation We also provide real 5-star reviews from real google users to offset any of the real 5-star reviews that get removed in an update. This is the only way to keep that 4.8 rating where it should be. The combination of removing some 1-2 star reviews while adding real 5-star reviews is what keeps your rating high and that traffic coming in.
How do I know that Google itself doesn’t always know what its own people or algorithms are doing? Easy because I deal with this every day it’s what I do. But let’s get more specific so you can see just how confusing this can be to any business owner
without the knowledge or experience to deal with it. While monitoring one of our clients last week I find 2 reviews that are exactly the same. It looks like both reviews were cut and pasted. Also, both the reviews were from the same Google account same person. So, of course, I flag them both right away and Google comes back with “we found no violation” blah blah blah meaning they are not taking them down. So I emailed directly to Google Business Profile support. I explained everything and that I had already flagged the duplicate reviews and been denied. So they come back and said they would escalate it and investigate. A few days later I get an email saying sorry they cannot be removed (see image below).
I figure that’s that and decide to move on. Two days later after they said the reviews cannot be removed? I got another email from the same sender that says yes they violated Google policies as duplicates and then it was removed. So in this case you can clearly see that not everyone at Google knows what everyone else is doing and this includes all of their AI bots. This is just one example. I could provide many examples just like this one or worse. What you have to understand if you are a business owner that cares is that people searching online use Google. So if you want to win you have to play the game.
In the end, you have to do what is best for you and your business regardless of what Google or anyone else says. Keep in mind violating Google’s terms is not violating any law most times it’s just their own made-up laws made to mostly benefit them that can contradict themselves. If you are looking for help maintaining a high Google rating for your business fill out the contact form on the homepage we will be in touch within 24 hours.