Welcome, WebPunchers, to another edition of WebPunch’s School of Online Reputation Management. I am your host and professor, Matt Jones. What’s been going on lately? Gosh, I just got back from Europe where I was frolicking in fields of tulips and seeing brown bears and I went to Dracula’s castle, which was amazing, and had Danish in Denmark and just had an amazing time in Sweden and saw pirate ships and it was an awesome time. So back to work and back to some big things for the world.
So, Google just made a big change. As we all know, we’ve pointed out several times that they make about 400 changes to their algorithms in any given year. This is going to be a big change; not to their algorithm but to their policy. So what they’re talking about lately is gating. Now, what the heck is gating? There are Reputation Management companies or businesses out there who, before they ask their customers for a review they want to make sure that the customer had a good experience. So they filter the ones who’ve had a good experience from those who’ve had a bad experience and the ones who’ve had a happy time are the ones they ask to post a review. That’s called gating. So you’re not asking all of your customers for a review, you’re just selecting the ones who’ve had a good experience. And Google feels like that is deluding the organic nature of what they want their review ecosystem to be and so, they don’t want that to happen.
Again, it’s been talked about before, reviews are all about trust. So, it’s interesting with that happening they’ve said that if you are review gating there are going to be some consequences. How is Google going to know that you’re gating? Well, that’s a good question. They will know if someone reports you. So, I don’t think that there will be any Google police out there going through everyone’s processes and trying to determine if it’s gated or not. Even though they’re huge, they are not that huge. They’ll rely on people coming to them and saying, “Look, this is unfair. This goes against your terms and conditions,” and that’s how they’re going to know. People are going to report and there will be some snitching going on.
What’s Google going to do about it? Obviously, I’m not Google. We don’t know exactly but in the past what they’ve done to penalize companies who violated their policies is to go in and remove the reviews that happened after they started gating. So, if Google’s policy came out today and you got two reviews that were gated tomorrow, they would remove those reviews. That’s probably what they’re going to do. That’s what they’ve done in the past—go through, remove your reviews that happened after their policy change. So, that’s something to keep in mind. We are Reputation Specialists. We keep abreast of this stuff and we come to you to let you know what’s going on so that you can change your business practices, and there will be more about this. We’re going to be talking more about this to both our clients and to the world so stay tuned and in the meantime, check out WebPunch, go to our Facebook page, our Twitter, and you can follow us to keep abreast of the latest things that are happening in the Reputation management space so that you can knock out your competition one review at a time.