You likely have heard of Google Business Profile (formerly Google My Business). GBP is a free platform where your business is verified so that you may claim and optimize your GBP listing.
If you own a business, creating this profile is the first step. Get started at https://google.com/business.
Once your listing is verified and published by Google, you can begin to collect reviews. With the prevalence of hackers and illegitimate companies, Google’s requirements to post your listing are more stringent than ever. It’s worth the effort, however. Think of it as your best free SEO (at least for now).
Google reviews represent to Google that your business is authentic, and the number of legitimate reviews received can improve your rankings. Here are tips to respond to reviews and to avoid having your Google reviews penalized:
Posting fake positive reviews or trying to manipulate your review ratings can lead to severe consequences, including having your Google listing removed or penalized.
Always encourage genuine feedback from real customers.
In 2018, Google stated in its policies: “Don’t discourage or prohibit negative reviews or selectively solicit positive reviews from customers.”
Also in 2022, Google renamed Google My Business to Google Business Profile and users managed profiles through Google Maps. At that time, their policies no longer specified the language above.
Some interpreted this omission that there was no longer a penalty for review gating.
However, as of the publication of this guide, current Google policies explicitly address fake engagement and deceptive content and behavior for businesses.
“Contributions to Google Maps should reflect a genuine experience at a place or business. Fake engagement is not allowed and will be removed.
Source: Google’s Policy on Fake Engagement.
Review gating manipulates a business’s online reputation. Platforms like Google and Yelp have policies against these practices, encouraging businesses to collect reviews organically. Attempts to filter out negative reviews or selectively direct customers to leave positive reviews may lead to penalties or the removal of all reviews, ultimately impacting the credibility of your business and website.
My professional opinion is review gating manipulates a business’s online reputation. With platforms like Google and Yelp creating policies against these practices, I will NOT encourage my clients to participate in review gating.
The best practice is to treat all customer feedback equally and not to influence the process of leaving reviews based on their sentiment. Encouraging genuine feedback is an ethical and sustainable approach to managing online reviews.
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background & credentials
I created TBW to help small businesses find the right words and website platform to create a sustainable website presence.
After launching in 2020, it became clear that my clients often need more than website copy and content—they also need an affordable, effective website solution between DIY website builders that don't perform and custom websites that are expensive (and rightly so!).
So I expanded my copywriting business to include website design as an add-on to website copywriting, so you can maximize your marketing dollars.
the bonus writer