Google Local Negative Reviews Hack Leads To Harassment & Abuse

Sep 5, 2023 • 7:21 am | comments (2) by | Filed Under Google Maps

Frustrated Business Owner Laptop Google Logo

Did you know that Google is totally fine with customers leaving negative reviews, and then every few months, they "update" that negative review to ensure the review is labeled as "new" and remains at the top of all the other positive reviews?

Supposedly, this is a thing that has been going on for years and Google has no problem with these efforts. I get some businesses may not be perfect all of the time, and negative reviews do happen. But there is a reason reviews are dated.

In some cases, some really disgruntled customers have been leaving reviews and then coming back to that review every few months and "updating" the review to make sure that review really sticks out as a sore thumb for that business owner.

Joy Hawkins, local SEO expert, said on X, "The fact that Google is okay with a person updating their negative review constantly in an effort to make it so the review has more relevance and sticks to the top is absolutely ridiculous. How is that good for users?"

There is a new complaint about this in the Local Search Forums that reads, "I have a business owner with almost 800 reviews and a 5-star average who is in the middle of legal proceedings with a customer. Somehow that customer is able to refresh/bump his negative & aggressive review daily for several months so that it is tagged with "new" every day. I compared the text of the review yesterday to the bumped version today and both are identical."

Joy linked to an old thread in the Google Business Profiles Help Forums where she first investigated this and Google told her it does not violate their policies. "I heard back yesterday. Unfortunately, they said that this doesn't violate their guidelines," she wrote back then.

Here is an example:

click for full size

Truth is, Google should probably just keep that review where it was when it was first placed and not bump it up to the top.

What do you think?

Maybe you can try to use this new harassment feature to report the review but it seems like it won't help remove it?

Forum discussion at X and Local Search Forums.

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