Beginning around November 2021, Google turned up the dials on their review spam detection algorithm. Most attorneys have noticed this in 2022 and this is why their Google user reviews are not displaying.
The Google Spam Detection Algorithm:
Every day I see law firm’s profiles loaded up with fake reviews. And at least once a week a client asks me why their legitimate review is not displaying.
This is very frustrating. After all, getting someone to leave a review in the first place is enough of a headache.
- The bad news: Not much is known about Google’s spam detection algorithm other than it uses a variety of variables. It’s terrible as it allows fake reviews to flow through and occasionally blocks good reviews.
- The good news: Everyone else is having the same problem you are. While I hate to be the bearer of bad news, at least the playing field is level (somewhat).
Once in a great while, the spam detection algorithm actually works. I’ve seen it work properly in a variety of niches. Unfortunately, there are a significant amount of law firms (especially personal injury law firms with multiple fake locations) who purchase fake reviews 365 days/yr. And it’s not just law firms: Rehab centers, locksmiths, garage door repair companies, plastic surgeons, cell phone repair companies, hotels, restaurants and all sorts of businesses are actively gaming Google’s reviews to get a higher score.
The spam detection algorithm may flag a review to be hidden when it sees the user’s account is new, or your account is new, or the user leaving certain keywords in the review, or it may be a variety of factors I’ve never even considered. They haven’t come out and stated how it works, so in this case your guess is as good as mine.
We DO know that Google filters reviews. When this occurs, the reviewer will see the review they left, but it won’t publicly display in your Google Business Profile to the public. It’s been filtered, and, unfortunately, there’s nothing you can do about it.
Legitimate Reasons Google Filters Reviews:
This is probably not affecting you, but there are KNOWN reasons Google will filter your reviews.
Here are some reasons why this occurs:
- Inaccurate business listings
- Duplicate business listings (reviewer left a review on the wrong, identical profile)
- Violating Google review guidelines (spam, hate speech, profanity)
- Reviews with URLs or Links in them
- The user could have deleted their review
- Some reviews will display up to 14 days after they’re left
- A Google bug (A few times each year, Google has an issue and reviews are delayed by a few days)
- A paid review (When Google suspects the review has been incentivized)
Google Clearly States Legitimate Reviews Are Filtered:
If you’re finding this tough to swallow, rest assured you’re not alone. In the Google Business Profile help forum, where I’m active, I’ve seen thousands and thousands of people ask why their legitimate reviews are missing. Google has been clear(ish), they DO accidentally filter real reviews.
Understand reviews removed by spam detection:
Google uses automated spam detection measures to remove reviews that are probably spam. These measures help improve people’s experiences on Google and ensure the reviews they see are authentic, relevant, and useful. Some legitimate reviews may be inadvertently removed.
Actionable Advice and Moving Forward in 2022 and Beyond:
If you’re buying fake reviews, please stop. Some of us in this industry are actively working with your Bar Association to bring penalties to you. I don’t know if we’ll get anywhere, but we’re working on it. 😉
If you need assistance growing your law firm’s digital presence and getting more clients please feel free to contact us today to see if we’re a match.