Google recently made a statement in their forums about how they are “committed to helping people to get ratings, reviews, and recommendations that are relevant, helpful and trustworthy.” They said they have made some recent improvements to their spam detection algorithms that have increased the number of Google reviews that appear on some local Google+ pages.

In the forum they offered guidance on how both business owners and customers can help make sure all of the reviews on Google+ Local are honest, productive and authentic!

For business owners:

  • Be leary of any SEO or reputation management service that sells the promise to generate reviews for your business. Google watches this closely and will remove reviews that appear to be generated this way.
  • Google will not remove negative reviews for simply being negative. You are encouraged to utilize the owner response functionality to respond to the review and address the reviewer’s concerns.
  • Google does not work with any third party reputation management companies so be leary of any company that guarantees the removal of negative reviews. Google only removes reviews that violate their guidelines.
  • Google does not support setting up a computer or tablet device in your place of business for customers to leave reviews or get gifts or discounts as incentives to post positive reviews. Instead, they suggest sending a reminder e-mail so customers can review on their own time.

For those posting Google reviews:

  • Take a look at the Google review content guidelines.
  • If you are posting reviews for multiple locations of the same or similar type of business, be sure to customize each review to the specific location, otherwise it could be viewed as spam.
  • Don’t write reviews for your current employer.
  • Don’t include links/URLs in the reviews. Google will NOT show your review because spam bots use URLs to redirect to other sites or potentially spread malware.

For everyone: If you see a review that violates Google’s policy guidelines, you can report the review by clicking on the gray flag icon next to the review in question. You’ll be taken to a form to advise why you flagged the review. Google will not follow up with you individually, but they claim to review 100% of the flagged content and handle accordingly.