Linda Buquet

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OK here's an important 2 'fer. It's long but if you have review problems, you want to read the whole thing. There are 2 important posts in one here, that both deal with the Google Review Spam problem.

#1 A great example of ONE of the reasons why the review spam filter is wound too tight.

#2 A hot trick that could help you with one aspect of the review problem.

#1 - I have SO much sympathy for all the honest businesses that have lost reviews or have them blocked due to over aggressive spam filters. But I also know that many businesses hire spammy reputation management companies OR do spammy things to get reviews OR unknowingly violate the guidelines.

Then again there business owners that lie and pretend to be innocent, while blatantly breaking the rules. Here's is an example of one I just busted in the Google forum.

Where are my google places reviews? (Snippets below abbreviated, click to read all.)

Eric Johnsa, owner of Chateau Restoration wrote in a previous post:

"I understand businesses who put computers in their lobbies soliciting reviews = spam. Got it. But we at Chateau Restoration know for an ABSOLUTE FACT that ALL of our positive reviews posted by happy customers have disappeared without cause…These facts are indisputable."

(Linda replied)

I always WONDER when business owners say "I know for a fact I got all these legit reviews and they are gone". Because customers don't always tell you they left a review.

BUT IF YOU ARE REVIEWING YOUR OWN COMPANY then you'd know for certain a review was left right? REVIEWING YOUR OWN COMPANY IS A MAJOR VIOLATION and that's why your reviews are likely blocked now.

Here are some of your REVIEWS that Google deleted. And you wonder why???

Eric Johnsa reviewed 2 months ago (Eric is the Owner)
Quality Excellent
Chateau Restoration, LLC, a division of Chateau Development, Inc., is Better Business Bureau Accredited Business with an A+ rating. We are absolutely committed to high standards of excellence in every field of endeavor. You can read reviews of our company at Kudzu: (long link) and at the Better Business Bureau: (long link)

Here are several more blatant self reviews.

That's just part of my post, you can read the entire thread at the top link if you like. But my point is…
here is a business swearing he only had honest customer reviews. Not only did he self review which is the worst violation, but he did several other things we suspect (or know) trip a filter. 1) Links in reviews.
2) Duplicate content in review. 3) Promotional content in reviews (blatant ads for his own company in fact.) 4) I assume but don't know that some of those self reviews were done from same IP.

So not to totally defend Google, because IMO the spam filter IS wound too tight. But multiply the above times 50,000 small businesses that do the same thing (as far as writing their own reviews). Then take just one of the spammy rep management companies that writes hundreds of fake reviews for hundreds of clients with hundreds of fake Google accounts - now multiply all that times 1000 and you have thousands more fake reviews.

OK so big problem. I can see it from all sides. The filter is still wound too tight and too many babies are being thrown out with the bath water, but I do understand the need for the filter.

#2 Hot trick to help you FIND reviews Google has deleted.

Sure sometimes customers tell you they leave a review. But you don't ever know for sure if they did it right OR maybe they posted it on a dupe somewhere OR maybe posted something obvious that tripped a filter.

If you could DISCOVER and INVESTIGATE all your missing reviews (or your client's) then:

A) You may be in a better position to find out what tripped the filter and possibly help guide other customers not to do the same thing.

B) If you could FIND them, they would not just be lost in the ether never to be seen or shared again.
You could copy them to a testimonial page on your site, for example.

C) If you could find them you could SHOW GOOGLE that they were all totally innocent and not like Eric's. :eek: Possibly even get some restored. (I've had some success getting Google to do this in cases I've escalated - but with live proof it would be even easier.)

So here's HOW to view reviews Google deleted! Let's say Eric is a new customer that comes to you and says "you need to fight for me to help me get all my honest customer reviews back!"

Here is Chateau Restoration LLC's Google+ Page. As you can see there is only one review. It's a negative, and he complained that all his totally honest customer reviews had been deleted by Google.

Travis M80 at the Google forum gave me a review tip and I asked him to explain in more detail. Instructions with screen shots - how to FIND & VIEW deleted reviews.

So using Travis' instructions above, first I searched Google+ from the home page, for "Chateau Restoration LLC". Then after all the results came up I could see all the self reviews scattered in between other posts. So to isolate the posts from the owner I searched for "Chateau Restoration LLC Eric Johnsa" since his name was on all the reviews. Link to hidden/deleted Chateau Restoration reviews.

Hot trick? Very useful! Thanks Travis M80!
What do you guys think? Will this come in handy?


UPDATE: I meant to give a disclaimer. I have not tried the hidden review trick more than a couple times. I don't want to imply it will surface every deleted review. But the ones I checked, I did find some. So it's just one tool worth trying.
 

JoeSweeps

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I had actually tripped across this trick a while ago. I guess I didn't realize how valuable it was. Not to toot my own horn, though, what happened when I tried to use the info I gathered is what's important.

This trick showed the trail that had formed as local-help did their machinations of deciding for me which listings on Local were valid and which weren't; and their machinations of allowing reviews to show on which listings and not. In the end as I tried to get Rosy to re-instate reviews that I could find it pissed her off to the point that she declared "we decide what reviews are displayed and what reviews are not. This is non-negotiable." That was when I discovered Google's true name to be Godgle.

I guess the first lesson learned is that it's still important not to piss off the Gods. Information that shows Them painting Themselves into a corner can piss Them off. As the capricious b*****s that They be They can still just decide to nuke you if They want.

Second lesson is that They can archive and find and re-instate any review They want. They do have the ability to override the filters. Hmm. I know because I now have reviews showing that were posted before the Local listing on which they now display even existed. That listing "appeared" as a 'bot-created listing I tried to have removed 3 times. It became my primary listing after Rosy decided the listing I was using wasn't us and deleted it. The reviews were previously that displayed on the listing I was managing seem to have lingered in the ethers until they appeared one day on the listing Rosy decided to keep. It's not all of them, but it's some. Every time we approach the magic number of 10 reviews, we lose some so we have 6.
Here's our "current" listing: Billy Sweet Chimney Sweep - About - Google+

So maybe lesson 3 is that the review feature of Google Local is a bunch of malarkey and consumers should be highly suspicious and check reviews on other sites!
 

Linda Buquet

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Second lesson is that They can archive and find and re-instate any review They want. They do have the ability to override the filters. Hmm. I know because I now have reviews showing that were posted before the Local listing on which they now display even existed. That listing "appeared" as a 'bot-created listing I tried to have removed 3 times. It became my primary listing after Rosy decided the listing I was using wasn't us and deleted it. The reviews were previously that displayed on the listing I was managing seem to have lingered in the ethers until they appeared one day on the listing Rosy decided to keep.

Yes reviews are kept in a separate database, so I think they will sometimes just re-attach to whatever listing is a close NAP match. BUT that's not always totally predictable because it seems to me reviews are also tied in part to CID and a new listing has a different CID. But still sometimes they do re-attach.
 
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Hey Linda!

Do you know if your local page needs to be merged with your business page? I tired this and it didn't seem to work for me. My local and bus page have not been merged, so I am assuming that's why.
 

JoeSweeps

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This arbitrary, random appearance of reviews, whether legit or spam, really indicates to me that reviews on Google+ Local are pretty much useless. I don't trust them, I don't care anymore if they show up for us because I know that there is no way to know whether a list of reviews is truly representative. When Plussers, read Consumers, catch on to the vaporousness of reviews Local will be in even deeper trouble than it is right now.
 

Linda Buquet

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Linda

Thanks for the quick reply. I'm sorry for not clarifying, but I was referring to if both pages need to be merged in order to use Travis M80's trick to view hidden/lost/deleted reviews.

I tried his suggestion, but I was not able to see any missing reviews or any reviews for that matter. I am assuming its because my places and bus page have not been merged.
 

JoeSweeps

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Hi Michael - merging the pages WILL NOT solve the problem. It may make this problem worse while adding new problems. As Linda said MERGING pages is STRONGLY DISCOURAGED right now. Check to make sure that when you start the search that you are on your G+ stream, not in the Local tab-view. Only search for the company name as it is/was created as a Local page. That "should" deliver to you any hits that include the company name. If the bus. page used a different name than the Local page you may have to repeat using that name.
 

Flash

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Re: HOT Google Review Trick & Great Example of Why we Have a Review Spam Filter

Right after Travis posted that technique, I tried it on a couple of people to test it and it seems to work well. I then tested it on one of the most vocal people in the main "Where's my reviews?" thread, and found that he does have a review that is blocked... that's right, a single review.

Also, for Eric the "I've done nothing wrong" guy; he has since fixed it on my advice; but his From the Owner description was a comma separated list of about 50 keywords. I suspect that also prevented his reviews from posting.

---------- Post Merged at 04:00 PM ---------- Previous Post was at 04:00 PM ----------

Right after Travis posted that technique, I tried it on a couple of people to test it and it seems to work well. I then tested it on one of the most vocal people in the main "Where's my reviews?" thread, and found that he does have a review that is blocked... that's right, a single review.

Also, for Eric the "I've done nothing wrong" guy; he has since fixed it on my advice; but his From the Owner description was a comma separated list of about 50 keywords. I suspect that also prevented his reviews from posting.
 

Linda Buquet

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Re: HOT Google Review Trick & Great Example of Why we Have a Review Spam Filter

Right after Travis posted that technique, I tried it on a couple of people to test it and it seems to work well. I then tested it on one of the most vocal people in the main "Where's my reviews?" thread, and found that he does have a review that is blocked... that's right, a single review.

Also, for Eric the "I've done nothing wrong" guy; he has since fixed it on my advice; but his From the Owner description was a comma separated list of about 50 keywords. I suspect that also prevented his reviews from posting.

I meant to give a disclaimer and will add it to original post now. I have not tried the hidden review trick more than a couple times. I don't want to imply it will surface every deleted review. But the ones I checked I did find some. So it's just one tool to try.

Ya I've been wondering about the description spam thing and have been reading what you and Andrew have said. I'd wondered about patterns I was seeing for a long time too.
 

Flash

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I've found little to no reviews on the majority of people I've tried it on. It could be that it's intermittent; but I'm also willing to bet that it's just as likely that people aren't getting a ton of reviews, they read about the filtering, and they decide that it must be the filtering that is causing it. Never mind that reviews didn't happen all that often for most users before the filtering; it has to be the reason!!!
 
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Thanks JoeSweeps and Linda for your input. I tried an older name for our place page and it seems to work. Thanks again for you help!
 
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