Review Gating: What is it and What Does it Mean For Your Business?
By Jane Garfinkel - Review Response Specialist
In April 2018 Google made a change to its review policy, adding the following sentence: “Don’t discourage or prohibit negative reviews or selectively solicit positive reviews from customers.” With this update, Google clarified that review gating is against their policy.
What is review gating?
To put it simply, review gating means filtering which reviews are published onto a GMB page. Companies do this by sending customers a survey about their recent experience. Customers who respond positively are prompted to leave a Google (or other site) review, while those who respond negatively are instead asked to provide private feedback. In this way businesses are able to stream positive reviews straight to the public while handling unhappy customers behind the scenes, resulting in an inflated GMB rating.
What are the consequences of review gating?
Google’s review policy states: “We may review content to determine whether it is illegal or violates our policies, and we may remove or refuse to display content that we reasonably believe violates our policies or the law.” If a business gets caught review gating, Google may remove their reviews.
While the promise of a five-star rating on your Google My Business page is tempting, it is not worth the risk of having your reviews deleted. Potential customers rely on reviews to decide whether or not they want to patronize your business. In fact, customers read an average of 10 reviews before they feel they can trust a company. As well, reviews and their responses play a role in improving your SEO. Don’t ruin the work your team has put into earning genuine feedback with review gating.
What does this mean for your business?
You may already have a review solicitation strategy in place. In that case, it’s important to take steps to ensure that your process of collecting reviews abides by Google’s policy. If you are new to review management or looking for additional support, consider working with a technology partner such as Widewail. Since we were founded, we have advocated for an open and honest dialogue between consumers and businesses. This is why we believe that review response is the ultimate tool for online reputation management. Even when negative reviews happen, responding promptly and personally is the best option for serving your customers and representing your company in a positive light. To learn more about how Widewail can help your business improve its online engagement, click here.