Following the Google Review policy is important and every business must be compliant to prevent fake or incentivized reviews, as if you don’t follow the guidelines there could be consequences. We know building a positive reputation for your business is no easy task. Be careful and read the Google policy requirements before taking any action.
This post is not legal advice, if you are unclear on the Google’s policies consult with a lawyer.
What are the Google Review policies?
Google review policies are a crucial set of guidelines found under the Maps User Generated Content Policy that must be followed by Google business owners.
Following the set of guidelines in the Google review policy are straight forward. The reviews have to be unbiased and from personal experiences dealing with the business.
You are not allowed to offer your customers incentives in exchange for leaving a review for your business, as that goes against Google’s policies.
You won’t face any consequences if you stay in the Google’s policy guidelines. Your business can be more creative in finding new strategies to generate more customer reviews once grasping the Google review policy and staying complaint to the guidelines.
How to get Google reviews without violating the policy?
1. Focus On Customer Satisfaction
Ensure that you give your customers outstanding customer service and check to see if they were satisfied with the product or service delivered. By providing quality experiences you can request them to leave your business a review.
2. Send A Google Review Link
You can make it easy for customers to leave a Google review by sending them a review link via Email, WhatsApp, Social Media.
To find the Google business link:
- Log into your Google Business Profile.
- Click on the number of your businsss reviews
- Select “Get more reviews”
- Share the link
3. Use The Google Review Marketing Kit
Asking for reviews from your customers has just got a whole lot easier. By using the Google Review marketing kit you customise the logo and text to match your branding. You can create stickers and postcards to send to your customers.
What violates the Google review policy? NEVER DO THIS!
1. Buying Or Selling Fake Google Reviews
As per Google’s policy statement, “Reviews should represent the genuine experience of the user, and should not be written by someone with a conflict of interest.”
It really goes without saying, buying google reviews is prohibited by Google’s review policy.
Examples of fake Google reviews include:
- Someone who has never purchased the product or service.
- Someone who is paid to write a Google review.
- Someone who is affiliated with business such as an employee
You should never buy reviews it can damage your reputation and business instead focus on providing the best service to your customers to achieve better credibility.
2. Conflict Of Interest With Competitors
As per Google’s policy statement, “Reviews should be unbiased and objective, and should not be influenced by a conflict of interest.”
We know there is a lot of competition in every market but business owners should never post fake or misleading reviews on business profiles of their competitors.
Examples of fake reviews with competitors include:
- The business owner or someone affiliated with the business.
- Written by competitors or employees.
- Someone who benefits financially
3. Misleading Business Information
As per Google’s policy statement, “We do not allow harmful content that contains deceptive or misleading health or medical information, and civic processes. We do allow content from verifiable authoritative sources only”.
You should avoid providing misleading business information about your product or services as customers lose the customer’s trust in your business and may post a negative review will will further damage your reputation.
4. Impersonating Profiles
As per Google policy statement, “We do allow content that contains alternative names for a person or organization where the content is not attempting to mislead others.”
Impersonation is when someone such as a business owner, employee or a competitor creates a Google account to leave a review using a fake profile.
5. Review Gating Is Prohibitted
As per Google’s policy statement, “Businesses should not discourage or prohibit negative reviews or selectively solicit positive reviews from customers.”
Review gating is when a business owners ask customers to leave a Google review if they had a positive experience or contact them privately if you they had a negative experience. This is called soliciting and is strictly prohibited.
What happens if you don’t follow the Google review policy?
If you decide to ignore the Google review policy and guidelines and if Google noticed that you violated their policy, your business listing will be suspended and legal action can be taken by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for business that have broken the law, such use service providers to buy reviews.
If you lose your reputation, you lose everything as customers will never trust or use your business again as you have lost your reliability and credibility.
Does Google change the review policy?
Google does update the review policy, for example in 2020 Google added new rules to their policies for reviews as they knew it would affect businesses.
You always need to check and keep up to date with the latest guidelines to avoid any problems with your Google business listing.
(FAQs) about Google review policies and guidelines
- Can I ask my customers to leave a review? Yes, you can ask customers for reviews., but you must follow Google’s guidelines for soliciting reviews.
- How to stop receiving negative reviews? You cannot stop customers from leaving your business negative reviews. You need to figure out the reason for the negative feedback and work on improving your customer service, products or services.
- Should you respond to Google reviews? Absolutely, you should definitely respond to Google reviews as it shows the customer you care.
Final thoughts, we understand following the Google review policy can seem overwhelming at first but its very simple once you understand the basics and by doing this you will improve and build the trust and reputation of your business.