Why Are My Google Reviews Going Missing?

Why Are My Google Reviews Going Missing

Are your customers telling you they’ve left you a Google review, but you’re not seeing it on your Google profile?  Maybe you got an email telling you about a new review, but there’s no new review on your Google Business Profile when you try to respond to it.

I’ve heard from a lot of businesses that are in the same situation. I’ve even had reviews go missing from my business and reviews I’ve left other businesses!

This was mentioned on Search Engine Roundtable recently after I tweeted about Google asking me to “update” my review since they noticed I had previously left a review and was back at the business about 9 months later. The problem was that my review wasn’t “Live on the Map”. Only I could see it when logged in and updating it didn’t change this.

Has Google Review Changed
I gave the business a 5-Star review with text, but it’s not live on the map!

It can be frustrating as a business owner. You’ve worked to put a review system in place, but now legitimate reviews aren’t showing live on the map!

Why is Google Doing This?

Last year Google tightened its review filter to combat fake reviews on the platform. Unfortunately, it also means that legitimate reviews can get caught in the automated review filter. 

A review has been filtered if your customer can see their review while they are logged in, but no one else can see it live on the map.  If your customer is in incognito mode on their browser, logged out or logged into another profile the review won’t show up.

Viewing in Incognito Mode desktop browser:

  • Top Right Menu in Chrome Browser
  • Click New Incognito Window (Firefox: New Private Window)
  • Go to https://maps.google.com/
  • Search for the business and view the reviews

Viewing in Incognito Mode via Mobile App:

  • Open Google Maps App
  • Click on Your Image Icon in the top right corner
  • Select “Turn on Incognito Mode”
  • Search for the business and view the reviews
Google Maps Incognito Mode

How Can I Get My Google Reviews Back?

It depends!

Sorry, but there’s no easy answer for getting your Google Reviews back and live on the map.  There are some things you can do, but it’s Google, so there’s no guarantee it will work. Start by trying to determine why the review isn’t showing. Here are some of the reasons.

  1. URL’s and phone numbers in reviews are against Google’s guidelines. Have the reviewer remove them and see if this solves the problem.
  2. Violation of Google Guidelines. Google has a list of prohibited and restricted content. Make sure the review doesn’t violate these.
  3. Is the customer at your location using your Wi-Fi?  If your reviewer has used your IP Address, Google knows and the reviews will most likely be filtered.  This is also why review kiosks at locations are not advised.  You should set up a review strategy that emails or texts your customers once they leave your location.
  4. Is it a banned user? Google knows what each profile is up to and if a user makes a lot of suggested edits or other changes to the map that Google deems spammy, the user can be banned from leaving reviews. The user most likely won’t even know it. Here’s how you can find out if a reviewer is banned from leaving reviews or is having a high number of reviews filtered.
    • View a profile and see if reviews aren’t live:
      1. Go to https://maps.google.com/ (works easier on desktop)
      2. Click the Top Left Hamburger Menu
      3. Click “My Contributions”
      4. Click Reviews
      5. Copy the URL & Paste it into an incognito tab.
      6. Compare the user’s reviews you see on the map vs viewing them in incognito mode
      7. My Profile
    • If there is a problem with the user profile, ask the customer to remove the review and log in as a different user and leave the review.
  5. Business Category. Google stopped allowing some school and education categories from getting new reviews.  
  6. Reviewer Location. If your customer isn’t located anywhere near you and hasn’t visited your area. Google believes it’s a fake review and filters it.
  7. Long Review Text. This is one I’ve experienced but haven’t heard others talk about. It may or may not work. If the customer left a long and detailed review, Google may think it’s spam.
    • Ask them to remove the text and leave it as a star rating only. If they then see the review when in incognito mode, have them edit the review to add the text back and check to see if it shows live on the map.  If it’s a really long review, ask them to shorten it a bit. This may also work if they don’t have long text in the review, but it’s still been filtered.

These recommendations above are things that others and myself have tried and sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t.  It’s worth a try, especially if it’s happening with frequency to a lot of reviews. If it’s just one review, it may be worth it to try to resolve it, but don’t spend too much time dwelling on that one review. Focus on your review strategy and getting more customer reviews.

I want to note that these are for legitimate customer reviews. There are fake positive and negative reviews on Google that harm businesses as well. That’ll be in a future blog post.

I Got an Email From Google, but There Was No Review. What Now?

You might have a better shot at getting Google to publish the review if you received an email saying you have a new review on your Google Business Profile to reply to, but there’s nothing live on the map.  Contact Google support with the information in the email and ask them to publish it.  It can be a crapshoot when reaching out to Google help, so let me know if you need assistance.     

You Got A 5 Star Review On Google Business Profile
You Got A 5 Star Review On Google Business Profile

I recently worked on an issue for a client that didn’t receive an email and Google simply said: “It violates their abuse policy guidelines”.  From looking at the review, there wasn’t anything that appeared to be in violation, but Google will not clarify what specifically they are referring to. It’s definitely worth a try, but there’s never a guarantee you’re going to get it back.

Missing out on a Google Review from a legitimate customer can be frustrating.  If you try the above tactics and nothing works, I recommend you ask the customer to leave it on another review site and move on from it. I understand it’s harder said than done. I’m a small business owner myself and have been in the same situation.  Just remember that Google owns the platform, and they make the rules.

When setting up your review strategy you shouldn’t put all your eggs in one basket. You should have 2-3 places you send customers to leave a review.  They should be chosen based on your business.  If you’re in an industry with a niche-specific review platform (many Attorneys get reviews on https://www.avvo.com) or if there is a site that your competitors all get reviews on, you definitely need to consider adding those to your review system.

There are even instances where reviews are live on the map and weeks or even months later they go missing. This is harder to spot because you’re focused on your business and not constantly looking at your reviews and review count. This is something we look for each week on our client’s GBP to see if they have reviews that go missing so we can try to get them back. It’s a part of our GBP Pro and Elite packages.

Need help with your Google Business Profile?

Tricia Clements

I help small businesses get found online. My work focuses on your business’s Google Profile (Google My Business), Implementing a Review Strategy, Local SEO (Search Engine Optimization), business branding, and website optimization.

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