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Google updated the rules about online reviews

In this week’s Wednesday Workshop video, we share the details about Google’s recent updates to its Terms of Service regarding reviews. All reviews have to be unbiased, and you have to provide the same experience to every customer…

What does that really mean? It’s a fancy way of telling businesses that they can’t use review gates anymore. Watch this week’s video for all the details on the update (and why it’s not really a bad thing in the long run).


Welcome back to another Wednesday Workshop from DealerOn. This week, we’re talking about a pretty important update to Google’s Terms of Service for online reviews.

Last month, Google released an update that basically says all online reviews on Google must be unbiased – specifically, it said

“Don’t discourage or prohibit negative reviews or selectively solicit positive reviews from customers”

In other words, you can’t “review gate” anymore. In a review gate, you ask customers a simple question to determine if they’re happy or not. Customers who are happy are sent to a page that asks them to leave a review on Google or other review sites, and customers who aren’t happy are taken to a private form that they can fill out. That form gets emailed to you, but the review isn’t public.

Now, when you ask customers to leave a review, you have to ask everyone the same way, and you have to provide the same experience. If you’re using review gating, either through your own system or a third party vendor, you have to show everyone the same “leave a review on Google” screen to stay in compliance.

Thousands of dealers have been using review gating, so it might be a bit scary to think of asking every customer for a review. As long as you’re providing great service to everyone, it’s not going to be a problem for you. If you’re scared because you know you’ll get a lot of bad reviews, it’s time to look at your staff and your processes to figure out what needs to be fixed.

If you continue to review gate, and Google finds out about it, you’re at risk of losing all of your reviews – obviously, that would be a disaster for your dealership.

And actually, some studies have shown that eliminating review gating results in getting more reviews. Plus, think about how you read reviews when you’re deciding what to buy or where to buy it… You never read the positive reviews, you skip right to the negative reviews.

Customers do the same thing for your dealership. If you’re review gating and haven’t had a bad review in ages, it doesn’t look “real” – people know that sometimes, things go wrong… and they want to read how you respond to the bad reviews to see what kind of dealership you are.

So now you know about Google’s review update – check your processes or your reputation management vendor and make sure you’re compliant…

That’s all the time we have for today. As always, if you’ve got questions or comments, leave them down below, and we’ll get back to you shortly. Thanks for watching, and we’ll see you again next week for another Wednesday Workshop from DealerOn.

Author Greg Gifford

Greg Gifford is the Vice President of Search at DealerOn. He has over 16 years of online marketing and web design experience, and has specialized in automotive SEO for the last 8 years, helping hundreds of auto dealers thrive while the industry has struggled during the recession. Greg speaks internationally at both automotive and SEO conferences, teaching thousands of small business owners and marketers how to get their sites to show up higher in local search rankings. Greg also spends his spare time doing freelance website design and SEO for local businesses. He graduated from Southern Methodist University with a BA in Cinema and Communications, and has an obscure movie quote for just about any situation.

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Join the discussion 2 Comments

  •' Eleanor says:

    Hi Greg, I had a negative experience with a company, gave them a negative review. The business called me complaining arguing with me, refused to deliver an item that i paid in advance to have delivered and waited an entire day for. At 7:30pm he refuse to deliver because i gave a negative review that was the truth. This seems wrong

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