More threads by Cherie Dickey

Cherie Dickey

Local Search Expert
Jan 30, 2018
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Hi all!

I have a client who spoke to Google, and was given advice that contradicts what I thought was best practice.

It's a no-no to ask for people to leave reviews while they are at the business, and especially not from the same computer, because it would appear that they all came form the same IP address and potentially cause them to be filtered out for spam, correct? I swear I've seen an article before specifically talking about this, but can't find it now..

This is what my client was told:

"someone at Google who told her that they DON'T track the IP addresses on Google reviews"

The doc is now confident she can ask people to leave reviews in office, which is what we counsel against. I mean... if they are on their cell phone and not connected to the business' wifi, then that's ok... but also overly complicated to monitor or ask for. Easier to just say not to push for reviews to be left while on location...

Has something changed? Have I just been misunderstanding the policy?

Hey Cherie,

Technically, I haven't seen anything explicitly from Google about reviews on a premises.

Prohibited and Restricted Content - Local Guides Help

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Format Specific Criteria - Maps User Contributed Content Policy Help

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I think the idea of the IP address has mainly come from Yelp's policies and ways that they prevent solicitation of reviews. The idea that multiple reviews coming from the same IP is a way to identify soliciting reviews from clients (and nobody is going to actively solicit 'bad' reviews.)

The logical concern is that if you see a ton of reviews from the IP that the business owner may be trying to influence the reviewer or even writing the reviews for them.

You never know when the rules will change, but there doesn't seem to be anything explicit about getting reviews at the place of business.

If anyone else sees a rule in Google's ToS, please point it out here so we all can know for sure.

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Thanks so much for weighing in Garrett! Ya the rules change like the wind so who knows for sure today.

Don't have time to check right now, but last I read the guidelines there was a sentence in there saying "review stations" are not allowed. Pretty sure that's how it was worded. So maybe do a search on the guidelines for the word station to double check. Or Joy will know and pop in to give us the scoop.

EVEN if it's no longer stated and even if someone at G told them they don't ck IPs, I would def follow your gut on this one Cherie and advise against it. Not just due to the rules, but to avoid customers feeling pressured AND to give chances a boost that you (with a little tiny suggestion in the email) can get the type of review, services and keywords you'd like to be mentioned in the review.
Hey Linda,

So it turns out you were absolutely right. There was an explicit reference to review stations/kiosks as highlighted in this article from Legal Marketing Maven:

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So it was there, but in that same section it currently looks like this:

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As you can see, it says 'include, but are not limited to'. It's interesting that they actually removed that explicit reference to kiosk/review stations. So they could say it's against the rules at any point, but it's not in there as of today.

Maybe they agree with companies like us and GFS that are trying to help well run businesses that aren't using them to manipulate rankings as much as giving their happy customers a stronger voice ;)

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Ip tracking is a weird thing , since many people leave reviews while at business location using their wifi. I know I do .
Thanks so much for the insight everyone! I knew I wasn't imagining things, haha!

Searching for Google review Stations, it looks like it's still mentioned here in this help article at the bottom: Create a link for customers to write reviews - Google My Business Help


It could be that the page was just not updated though. As Garrett pointed out, that wording is now missing form the review policies - but the "not limited to" leaves it open ended.

Ip tracking is a weird thing , since many people leave reviews while at business location using their wifi. I know I do .

True. But mobile devices are generally logged into unique Google accounts. Info is also exposed through web browsers that Google is able to tap into for information about a user, I'm sure. What browser you are using, what OS you are using, what fonts you have installed, what cookies are stored in the browser, etc can all be used to identify a unique device - even if they all are coming from the same public IP. I wonder if that's what the Google rep meant... they don't track IP addresses, but what is left unsaid is that they don't NEED the IP to be able to tell the difference between unique devices?

In any case, I agree that it's better to be safe than sorry.

Thanks again for the help everyone!

Hey Cherie,

I just wanted to jump in because I asked Google a while about this since it's not listed in their guidelines specifically but is listed on that random page you referenced. It's definitely still a policy and something they act on. I find that reviews from the same IP are often filtered out and don't even stick anymore on Google.

Feel free to send her this article I wrote on the topic: Why Did Google Remove Some of My Reviews? - Whitespark
Hi Guys, I have a new lawyer client who has a decent amount of positive, REAL reviews. The problem is that a few of his competitors have TONS more Google reviews and they look very fraudulent. Most of them just give stars, or add one line "about the service" or have fake pics and not many reviews. Is there anyway to report the competitors to google in order to get these taken down? I ready your recent article, Joy, (GREAT JOB AS ALWAYS!!!) and it sounds pretty hopeless for my client, correct?

Valerie Marbach

Unfortunately, in my experience, there isn't much Google does about these types of reviews.
I'd suggest email info(at)reviewfraud(dot)org with the business names, addresses, phone numbers to investigate the situation and provide better insights on next steps.
I'd suggest email info(at)reviewfraud(dot)org with the business names, addresses, phone numbers to investigate the situation and provide better insights on next steps.
Thanks @JoyHawkins @keyserholiday for your input, and Digitaldar : good question! This website does not look totally legit. Google really has to get this fixed, its corrupt!
I know this probably isn't the advice you want to hear, but the only real way to combat fake positive reviews is to keep on working on positive reviews for your client :/

@keyserholiday do you feel like you're making pretty good progress with identifying fake positive reviews? And is it just this current issue you're working on or others as well?
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From one extreme at Yelp to another at Google regarding reviews. When businesses get reviews from a majority of customers that have never done on it seems that the informed customer will see through it. If anyone hears of any changes, sure would appreciate an update.

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