It’s official. Google removes anonymous reviews. Google confirmed that it will no longer accept anonymous reviews and has been deleting all of them from Google My Business since May 2018. As a crucial part of a robust local SEO strategy, reviews help share what’s so great about your shop.
While this news means you’ll likely have fewer reviews, overall, this is a positive (and long overdue) development.
How could removing anonymous reviews be a good thing?
For one, positive anonymous reviews are discounted by consumers. If you’re not willing to back your review with your name, how credible can it be?
Secondly, while consumers may discount the value of positive reviews, not so when it comes to negative reviews. Consumers may perceive leaving an anonymous negative review as credible. After all, not everyone wants to sound like a whiner and let the world know who they are. More importantly, negative reviews impact your rating. And, if negative reviewers can’t leave an anonymous review, they may think twice about leaving it in the first place.
It’s uncertain how much of an impact Google’s decision will have given the fact that just 3 percent of Google reviews were anonymous, according to BrightLocal. In the short-term, Google’s removal of anonymous reviews will have a small impact on the volume of business reviews, but in the long-term, the move will help businesses protect themselves from fake reviews.
Google first began removing anonymous reviews back in May 2018, sending many business owners into a panic. Seemingly overnight some businesses with a high volume of reviews began noticing they lost dozens of reviews.
Most of these reviews, published by “A Google User,” weren’t recent reviews, however. Many were published in 2011 and earlier before Google+ rolled out. We believe the reasoning behind Google’s decision — transparency — makes sense, particularly in light of the recent push by consumers demanding better transparency from social media and business websites.
No, and for the reasons we already mentioned, you shouldn’t worry. Overall, this is a net positive for local businesses. Moreover, Google didn’t randomly or discriminatorily remove anonymous reviews. Everyone was hit. Google made the deletions as part of changes to their core algorithm and by deleting the reviews from their Google My Business database.
If you’re still worried or upset about the loss, don’t be. Sure, losing hard-earned reviews in a seemingly spontaneous purge may feel unnerving, but you’re not alone. Just keep in mind that a) every business — including your competitors — were affected equally; and, b) Google makes its own rules, rules that we’re compelled to abide by and adapt to. As Hyman Roth reminded Michael Corleone in Godfather II, “And I said to myself, this is the business we’ve chosen.”
Also, we can be thankful that Google’s reasoning behind the change actually made sense (as opposed to their often cryptic and ambiguous explanations) and that the changes were universal, rather than affecting only some businesses, while leaving others (sometimes your competitors) unaffected.
Google’s actions are a good reminder, though, on why it’s critically important to make a serious commitment to consistently secure positive feedback and reviews from your customers. If a customer seems pleased by their experience, by all means, encourage them to leave a review by asking at that moment and following up with an email or text message reminder and thank you.