Recently, Google published a revision to its content policy indicating that one should not “discourage or prohibit negative reviews or selectively solicit positive reviews from customers”.
What does the policy update mean?
The policy update means that a business should not pre-filter unfavorable reviews from appearing online. This process is referred to as review-gating. One way in which businesses actively review-gate is when utilizing a review-soliciting software that emails customers asking them about their experience. If a customer indicates they had a poor experience they are then directed to provide feedback that will only be seen internally, while a customer who indicates a positive experience will be prompted to provide a 5-star review on a public platform, such as Google Reviews. Google’s policy update is aimed at providing its users with the most relevant, informative, and robust information possible which includes both positive and negative business reviews.
How does the update affect my business?
Business owners should take steps to ensure that any software used to communicate with customers have the gating feature deactivated. If your business manages reviews internally, it is best practice not to individually select only happy customers to email asking for great reviews.
What are the consequences of continuing to review-gate?
If someone notices that you are review-gating and reports you to Google, there is the possibility that Google may remove any reviews received since the policy update announcement. As previously mentioned, if you use a third-party service to filter customer reviews, contact the service and make sure your settings are appropriately adjusted.
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