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Why are my Google Reviews not showing? Here’s why…

Mark Tomkins
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Noticed your Google Reviews not showing up or the amount of them not increasing, even although your customers have been leaving you reviews?

Well, we’ve experienced the same – and having done some investigation, here’s why.

As you know from our previous articles and out general best practice advice, making sure you have a process to seek Google Reviews from your customer base brings great benefits for business, large or small. It’s a completely free way to seek and demonstrate in your local search results – and for company name searches – how your customers feel about your service and products.

The reviews get displayed on your Google My Business profile in search results with the ubiquitous gold stars next to your company name and the number of reviews and as such, play a really vital role when it comes to your search strategy.

But since the Coronavirus pandemic, the Google Review process has been an unwitting victim – or rather, the businesses that use them has.

Google announced on 24th March that it was suspending many of its services – Reviews was one of them. However, it was a very low-key communication and you could be forgiven for not noticing it – we’re Google Partners and we weren’t even aware until we noticed our Google Reviews not appearing or increasing in number.

Around the 24th March we had 35x 5-star reviews and 1x 4 star review. However, we had many people say they had left us glowing reviews after a recent project to provide colouring pages for children across the world in support of the #StayHomeSaveLives messaging.

Google reviews

We had emails from people saying ‘we’ve left you a lovely review but it’s not showing. Have I done something wrong?’

And so we began to investigate and discovered that, whilst we all though the Google Review process was 100% algorithm and programmatical, it appears that there were huge amounts of people who worked in the Reviews team unable to work – and so the Reviews service (along with other Google services) were suspended.

We contacted as many people as we could in the GoogleSphere to get their thoughts.

At the time of writing this article, the situation is this:

  1. Google officially suspend Google Reviews services across the world
  2. A very few sectors still remained functional – weirdly, hospitality sectors (bars, restaurants etc)
  3. Visibility varied from country and business sector – some sectors, the Reviews showed but you weren’t able to leave a new one. Some, the reviews just didn’t show at all.
  4. Later in April, Google announced it was going to look at enabling Reviews again, country by country but no detail on who and when.
  5. It was not clear if the reviews that had been left since suspension would ‘catch up’ and get published.
  6. Later in April, Google then announced that it would start to publish Reviews that had accumulated (in accordance with their Terms of Service rules).
  7. Globally, the Reviews function is being enabled sporadically.

Summary

The reason for the suspension of the Reviews service begs the question as to why? If it was completely automatic and algorithm-based, there would be no need for humans and therefore, the pandemic should not affect the service.

The answer is, there is always a human element to Google services – usually comprising a support element (for Reviews, it’s staff to answer the many “why is my profile wrong” questions”, plus a layer of manual review (Google has teams in every service to check their systems are doing the job right).

What we do know is that Google Reviews are vital – particularly for small businesses operating within a local area because Google puts a great deal of weight behind supporting the local Google My Business service and delivering local results for local searches.

With that in mind, in these tough times making sure you have a post-sales process for asking your customers to leave you a review is more important than ever.

  • Make sure your Google My Business profile is all set up
  • Log in to the admin area of it and grab the short URL to leave a review and share it with your customers
  • Always respond immediately to reviews, good or bad.
  • Good reviews – thank them. Short, concise and thankful.
  • Bad reviews – thank them and apologise that they felt strongly enough to leave the review and that you will contact them offline to see how you can help them resolve whatever the problem is or was.
  • Bad reviews left by competitors trying to harm your business (can’t avoid this) – thank them but publicly acknowledge that you have checked and cannot find any record that they are a customer and perhaps they have mistaken you for someone else. Always offer to resolve issues offline. It takes the sting out of it and shows to others that you want to actively resolve people’s problems.

UPDATE – 18th May 2020

Google reviewsYesterday, we notices that our Google Reviews jumped up from 36 to 84 overnight and that all the reviews left by our customers during the period Reviews had been disabled had all caught up and been published.

We’ve checked others businesses locally – some have returned, some haven’t yet but it is a good sign that things are returning to normal.