Where did my Google Reviews go?
Have you noticed that some reviews that your customers have posted on your Google Business Profile haven’t been published? Well, you’re not alone.
The mystery of missing Google reviews seems to be an issue with businesses across the board, and it’s frustrating and annoying.
I’ve had personal experience of this with some of my clients telling me they posted reviews of my digital marketing business which haven’t shown up. I also posted a review recently for one of my suppliers and discovered that it didn’t appear – and I’m a regular writer of reviews,, so Google should trust me. And the problem isn’t just anecdotal either.
A recent article by Sterling Sky notes that a recent study showed there had been an increase in the number of threads at the Google Business Profile forum relating to the topic of missing reviews.
People have noticed that multiple reviews have been removed at the same time, and both old and new reviews have vanished. It’s affecting all industries and even detailed reviews written by Local Guides and regular reviewers have gone MIA.
What is Google’s review filter?
Google has always reviewed reviews to weed out fake ones and to keep things honest. The filtering is done automatically and anything that hints at a pattern that is unusual or unnatural is removed.
Could Google be removing reviews manually? This is highly unlikely, and the most obvious reason for reviews going missing is that the search engine giant is in a more aggressive filtering mode.
Generally, the individual who left the review can still see their post if they’re logged in when viewing the Google business profile, which is important to remember if you lodge a query with Google.
If you’re new to local SEO, download my Beginners Guide to Google My Business/ Business Profile for free.
Reasons why Google reviews are going missing
Here are some of the most common reasons why reviews don’t show up:
- Location of the reviewer. The reviewer who wrote the review isn’t located near your business or hasn’t travelled to your area recently either.
- You offer free wifi to customers or guests. Google gets suspicious if it sees that the reviewer was connected to the same IP address that you have for your Google Business Profile listing. Even if the reviewer left a review long after they had disconnected from your wifi, Google lumps their post with other previous reviews left by customers on site and deems it to be spam.
- Using an education category on your Google Business Profile. Google has disabled reviews for educational institutions in some countries.
- Review includes a link, URL or telephone number. Google doesn’t allow reviews with links and URLs to other websites – and it doesn’t love a phone number either.
- Inactive or duplicate Google My Business Listings
- Reviews from current or former employees or the Google Business Profile manager. These violate Google’s guidelines as they aren’t seen as genuine.
- There’s a rapid influx of reviews. This can trigger the spam filter and Google will filter more aggressively.
What can you do when reviews go missing?
If you notice that legitimate customer reviews have not been published, a good starting point is to post a thread on the Google Business Profile forum.
When you do this, remember to include:
- full details of your business
- the number of reviews that are missing
- the reviewers’ names (as they appear on Google)
- the dates the reviews were posted (and went AWOL)
- screenshots of the reviews that have gone missing. As mentioned earlier, the reviewer can see the review on their accounts even if it doesn’t appear on your profile, so you can reach out and ask them to send you a screenshot.
Google did acknowledge that an algorithmic update with Google Maps that aimed at removing fake reviews resulted in some legitimate reviews disappearing, so it’s worth seeing whether they will reinstate yours. Not every application will be successful, but with reviews playing such a critical role in customer buying decisions, it’s really worth making the effort. Hopefully, Google’s tools and systems will be reviewed so this trend is reversed and legitimate reviews that are gained through honest practices will be honoured.
As someone who has been in the digital marketing space for decades, I know how dynamic the online environment is. Staying on top of what Google wants and making sure your website is optimised properly to give it the best chance of online visibility is crucial – which is why I recommend you look at The SEO School.
This online self-managed course takes you on a hands-on learning journey through all the key aspects of SEO, including how to optimise your Google Business Profile listing. Every business wants to be at the top of the search engine rankings and this course will help you get there.
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