For weeks I've found myself saying the same one-liner, "reviews are missing from your Google+ Local listing, we reported it to Google but there's not much else we can do."
I find myself cringing every time I have to utter those words. I send them the link on Google's response to missing reviews, which really doesn't say much, and then we all wait. After coaching a dealer to ask customers to post reviews for them on Google, how do you explain to them why Google would then delete nearly every single one of those positive reviews, only leaving the negative reviews behind? For two years I have motivated dealers to hop on the Google train, branding them online as "Top Rated Dealer on Google" - but they aren't the top rated dealer anymore.
Did we all make a big Google mistake?
I've looked outside the auto industry and I have been tracking the very same issues for other businesses. Mike Blumenthal of Blumenthals.com has even took it upon himself to collect all the issues pertaining to missing reviews so that they are reported on the Google forum in one post. He also posts his own formula on the missing reviews.
Since there is not much a client or SEO can do, I also provide them with the 6,6,6 rule for lost reviews to guide them as to what to expect in terms of recovery of the reviews. It might offer some small comfort.What is the 6,6,6 review rule? (any client imagined thoughts about the devil suggested by my guideline are actively encouraged)
- If reviews don’t come back to the Google Places page in 6 days, they might return in 6 weeks
- If they don’t return in 6 weeks they might return in 6 months
- If they don’t return in 6 months they have descended to Dante’s 6th Ring of Hell
Joking aside, what are the next steps for a dealer who has had their reviews missing from Google? And what about a dealer who has had all of their positive reviews go missing?
Google is a free tool, after all, we don't have to use it. In fact, when you create a Google login their terms of service that you probably blindly accepted made that very clear:
"OTHER THAN AS EXPRESSLY SET OUT IN THESE TERMS OR ADDITIONAL TERMS, NEITHER GOOGLE NOR ITS SUPPLIERS OR DISTRIBUTORS MAKE ANY SPECIFIC PROMISES ABOUT THE SERVICES. FOR EXAMPLE, WE DON’T MAKE ANY COMMITMENTS ABOUT THE CONTENT WITHIN THE SERVICES, THE SPECIFIC FUNCTION OF THE SERVICES, OR THEIR RELIABILITY, AVAILABILITY, OR ABILITY TO MEET YOUR NEEDS. WE PROVIDE THE SERVICES 'AS IS'."
Did we make a mistake in molding a business' digital presence around something no one has control over? Do we start over, or do we keep fighting?
I'd love to know your thoughts on this.