Have you ever noticed that your firm’s Google listing has fewer reviews than it did in the past? Or that a specific review from a satisfied client seems to have disappeared? You aren’t seeing things. Google has instituted filtering programs for the reviews on its Google My Business listings which will remove reviews they believe to be invalid.
A recent article by SEO professional Joy Hawkins presents an interesting summary of the filtering process and how reviews may get removed. In particular, note the filters that Google applies that may cause the removal of a valid review from a client.
1. Reviews that clients fill out using a computer in your office.
Some law firms have advised us that they maintain an office computer for clients desiring to submit reviews. This can be a great way to “strike while the iron is hot” and acquire reviews. Be warned, however, that one way Google filters reviews by the location from which the review is submitted. If a review is submitted from a computer in your law firm’s office, Google may assume that the review is not from a client, but in fact an employee of the firm, which may lead to its removal from your law firm’s Google listing.
2. Reviews that clients fill out after using Wi-Fi at your firm’s office.
Law firms regularly provide Wi-Fi access to clients visiting their offices. If a client logs into your firm’s WiFi, then later uses the same laptop or mobile device to write a Google review, Google may end up filtering out that review. The device’s digital trail would show that it was previously logged into the firm’s Wi-Fi, allowing for the possibility that an employee wrote a review.
Steps to take
Unfortunately, there is no action or series of actions a business can take to prevent every valid review from being removed by Google’s filter. However, Joy’s article concludes with one suggested solution. Speak to your IT professional about procuring a dynamic IP address. Without diving into the technical details, this could make it less likely for Google’s filter to believe that a review submitted by a client could actually come from an employee.
That being said, we can conclude that Google’s filtering techniques may cause valid reviews to be removed from your firm’s listing. Ultimately, the best way to address this is to make acquiring reviews a mandatory component of your marketing strategy, so that missing one or two reviews on Google doesn’t significantly impact your firm’s online reputation.