In April 2018, Google upgraded its policies on customer reviews for Google My Business (GMB) listings to more clearly state their viewpoint on businesses requesting favorable business reviews on google, instead of any reviews (negative and positive). This method is more commonly called ‘Google Review Gating’. While the majority of people thought this was an update to their review policy, review gating has likely constantly against Google’s review policy. The update in April made their policy very clear:
“Do not discourage or restrict unfavorable reviews or selectively request favorable reviews coming from clients“.
So once we’re extra sure review gating is a no-no for Google, what does that mean for your company and correctly how should you proceed? Just before diving in, let’s start with the fundamentals.
What is review gating?
Review gating is the process of screening or ‘gating’ customer reviews before they’re published online. This procedure generally takes place via a review funnel webpage. A client is asked to review a business, commonly through e-mail or text, and also the page they’re driven to is a customer review funnel page that makes it possible for the business to establish rating criteria to determine favorable ‘brand advocates’ even before they are motivated to review the business online. Any negative reviews can be filtered and directed to someone at the company for direct follow-up.
Review gating proactively pushes satisfied clients to leave behind reviews on third-party web sites and filters unfavorable reviews for internal follow-up and action. This method has been widely used in the past, and while it is not unethical, Google tries to maintain reviews as honest as possible. Thus, screening negative reviews- even with the intent to make it right just before the negative experience turns into a review- includes a level of identified bias.
An example of a review gating :
Debbie Online marketer visits her favorite hair stylist to get the most recent hairstyle and color. After her visit, Debbie gets an e-mail coming from her hairstylist asking her to leave a review. She clicks the link on the e-mail and lands on a web page that inquires about her experience:
If Debbie chooses 4 or 5 stars, she will be motivated to leave a review on a third-party review web site, like Google My Business. If Debbie selects three stars or less, the business may inquire her to clarify Debbie’s experience, willing to understand where they missed the mark. That review is funneled back internally to Debbie’s hair stylist, and Debbie is not directed to leave behind a review on a third-party website.
Using this example, you can easily observe that review gating is one technique to proactively reach out to clients in an attempt to obtain reviews (positive or negative)- enhancing pleasant experiences or fixing unfavorable experiences before a client can leave a review on a third-party website.
Why does Google look at review gating as bad?
For a business, review gating sounds like an audio strategy for increasing your online reputation. As brilliant marketers know, reviews do not happen without methods in place to direct clients into leaving behind reviews as simply, quickly, as well as timely as possible. Because reviews have a considerable effect on companies, it is essential to include a review generation strategy in your digital marketing campaign. Therefore what’s Google’s beef along with review gating?
Like any business, Google is going to continue to look out for themselves and their profits. Google profits when customers continue to use them as their ‘go-to’ resource for search and to remain that resource, they require to regularly be providing the most prompt, relevant, and exact search results. Review gating is considered companies are influencing or removing customer reviews that could potentially be important for future customers. Just because your business does not like the reviews do not suggest it should be suppressed coming from various customers. Google isn’t the only website to experience through this regarding review gating; Yelp also has a rigorous policy regarding it.
If reported or discovered, Google could remove your reviews even ones generated naturally, without being filtered leaving you along with extremely a couple of reviews or none at all.
How do I proceed in a world without customer review gating?
Don’t worry, since for each problem, there is a remedy, and also for review gating there are many. If you are currently requesting reviews and are utilizing a review funnel webpage to filter reviews, it’s absolute best to quit this procedure today. You can still inquire your clients to leave you a review, and you’ll just now need to direct them straight to the source (Google) to prevent penalty and alter how you request customer reviews.
Customize your ask:
An alternative approach to review gating is asking your clients directly if they possessed a disappointment and enabling all of them to contact you directly instead of creating that decision for all of them. In this particular example, you’re still requesting for a review however are not being specific with their responses.
Continue to constantly ask for reviews:
Keep in mind that before Google’s policy explanation, customer review gating didn’t restrict customers coming from leaving negative reviews. A customer could always browse to your listing naturally and also leave unfavorable reviews. If you’ve developed a good quantity of reviews, after that a couple of unfavorable reviews over time will not have a huge effect on your rating. Even unfavorable customer reviews make a business seem even more genuine.
Requesting reviews using e-mail or text is excellent, but it’s not the only technique to request reviews. Encourage your teams to obtain more engaged along with review motivating face to face by asking clients that appear satisfied to leave you a review.
Respond to customer reviews:
Motivate customers to remain energetic in responding to any customer reviews, and in some cases, we even perform this for all of them on their behalf. Why? Google has stated before, that remaining energetic along with a listing, and its reviews is a favorable element for rankings. So unfavorable reviews, unless in a majority, will certainly not negatively influence rankings.
Remember, a sound online reputation management program needs to be utilized as an opportunity to analyze why unfavorable reviews continue to be trouble internally. You will never be able to shut out review responses entirely, but customer review management tools can enable you to much better handle ongoing or even possible problems.