Over the past few weeks, many businesses have seen a sudden drop in their total number of Google reviews and maybe even in their average star rating. While this might be alarming, rest assured that it is not a poor reflection of your practice! There is some rhyme and reason behind it and in the long run it could actually benefit your practice.
If you look a little closer, you will see that what is missing is any review your business received from an anonymous user. Google has taken the step to remove anonymous reviews of businesses from Google My Business in an effort to protect business owners from fake reviews. This means that any review that was left by “A Google User” should no longer be visible or counted in the overall review score or star rating. In addition to the removal of existent anonymous reviews, from this point onward, Google has stated that anonymous reviews will no longer be permitted. Again, while in the short term, business owners may see a reduction in their review count and score, this move is designed to help the business owner in the long run.
Why? For some time there have been complaints or questions about the reliability of customer reviews, with statistics showing that a high percentage of consumers suspect that they have come across fake reviews while investigating businesses. Requiring reviewers to identify themselves adds a level of scrutiny to the review process. Nevertheless this is by no means the end of fake reviews, not to mention that Google still has a long way to go to completely do away with anonymous reviews.
According to research by Bright Local, about 3% of reviews are anonymous and the average difference in star rating is 0.2 stars (meaning named reviewers gave 0.2 higher than anonymous reviewers). This means that the average business could see an increase in their star rating simply by eliminating these anonymous reviews.
The average star rating on your Google My Business page is important because it is a factor for your page ranking on Google and can influence your click-through rates to your website.
While many business owners have been shocked and maybe even upset to see a sudden change in their star rating or their overall number of reviews, this change is a first step to crack down on fake reviews that undermine the entire review system. If this has happened to you, it’s merely another reason to increase your efforts to request reviews from happy customers.
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