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Halloween may be over, but there’s still something spooky going on: disappearing reviews. If your business is listed on Google, chances are you’ve had some of your reviews vanish. There are a few reasons why reviews might get deleted by Google; some accidental, and some intentional. Read on to learn why your reviews are disappearing, and what to do about it!

It can take a while for Google’s spam filter to catch faulty reviews, creating “old review ghosts”

Google’s spam filters don’t run continuously. After all, it’s a tall ask for Google to be continuously crawling everything, always. Google is great, but that’s a bit above their bandwidth. The same goes for their keyword crawling to measure rank and SEO. That’s why your ranking may change seemingly randomly – even if you haven’t updated a page recently.

In terms of reviews, this translates to what is called “old review ghosts.” Essentially, this is when old reviews are filtered for spam, and get removed weeks, months, or even years after they originally posted.

New reviews are sometimes flagged as potential spam, creating “new review ghosts”

Sometimes, reviews are flagged right when they’re posted. The reviews will show on the customer view, but not on the merchant view.

In this case, you won’t be able to recover the review unless you have a screenshot! New review ghosts can be frustrating, since often the merchant is unaware that a new review has even been submitted.

Google’s spam filter can turn up false positives

New and old review ghosts aren’t always justified. Most functioning tests will turn up some false positives – and Google is no exception.

Still, it can be disconcerting to go to sleep with 100 reviews and wake up with 82. Backing up your reviews helps prevent this – especially when the reviews are legitimate.

Backing up your review information is the best way to reliably recover disappearing reviews

If your reviews are backed up, you have nothing to worry about. Google restores reviews as long as they meet their guidelines.

For multi-location businesses, it’s best to use a third-party platform to catalog and store your reviews. It’ll save you a lot of time and headaches.

If you just have one location, taking screenshots and noting the review IDs should be sufficient.

No matter how many locations you have, backing up reviews is essential for recovery. Especially when Google is buggy, it’s crucial to have your reviews somewhere for safe keeping. After all, social proof is king!

disappearing reviews

Luckily, reviews don’t affect your ranking

At the end of the day, it sucks to lose reviews. Whether it’s from a bug or a legitimate spam filter, it’s always sad to see your review count go down. But unless you lose a substantial number of reviews, it likely won’t have a profound effect on your business. 

Social proof drives conversions, yes, but Google won’t rank your business lower because you lost a few reviews.

For now, back up your reviews to avoid disappearances. Even Google makes mistakes, and keeping a record of your reviews ensures that your social proof is intact.

If you want to learn more about disappearing reviews, you can listen to our podcast episode with Ben Fisher. Happy reviewing!

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