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Google prohibits bribing customers to remove negative reviews

September 20, 2022 0 comments

Has this ever happened to you?

A customer leaves a bad or negative review about your local business. You reach out to them, try to make amends, and offer them a discount or free goods to make them happy. As a result, they modify or remove the negative review.

Seems like an excellent idea, right?

Not anymore, unfortunately.

Google has updated its Google Maps review guidelines. According to this late update, incentivizing customers to modify or remove negative reviews is now prohibited by Google.

The guidelines say, “Content that has been incentivized by a business in exchange for discounts, free goods and/or services.”

Now, Google has added the following line of text to the guideline, which makes it prohibitive for local businesses to use incentives for modifying negative reviews:

“This includes merchant requests for revision or removal of a negative review through offered discounts, free goods or services, or other incentives.”

Fake Engagement |Deceptive Content

In “Fake engagement”, under the “Deceptive content” section, Google has the following guidelines.

  • Paying, incentivising, or encouraging the posting of content that does not represent a genuine experience.
  • Content that is not based on real experiences and does not accurately represent the location or product in question.
  • Content that has been incentivized by a business in exchange for discounts, free goods, and/or services. This includes merchant requests for revision or removal of a negative review through offered discounts, free goods or services, or other incentives.
  • Content that has been posted by a competitor to undermine a business or product’s reputation.
  • Content that has been posted from multiple accounts to manipulate a place’s rating.

The idea of these guidelines is to ensure that Google Maps reflect a genuine experience of a business or place.

You can read the full set of guidelines regarding prohibited and restricted content here.

The takeaway for local businesses

If you have a local business listed on Google Maps, it may be tempting to incentivize people who left negative reviews and ask them to modify their bad reviews.

Don’t.

It is now explicitly prohibited by Google and goes against the user-generated content policy that Google has for Google Maps.

In addition to this, remember that incentivizing or encouraging content that does not represent a genuine experience is also against Google’s policies. Similarly, encouraging or incentivizing people through free goods/services or discounts in exchange for positive reviews is also prohibited.

Learn more about how to ask and get more positive customer reviews.

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