Last week, it was revealed that Google is testing a “reviews not verified” label to indicate when reviews aren’t verified in Google Maps or search results.
What is the Google “reviews not verified” label?
Google’s “reviews not verified” label is a statement that pops up right above the Reviews section. When you click on the label, a pop-up appears that says “reviews aren’t verified by Google, but Google checks for and removes fake content when it’s identified.”
As with anything Google tests, this label is being rolled out slowly. Our team happened to come across this label this week, but the instances of the label still seem low. Google’s future plans for this new feature are unclear.
Why this change matters for you
Because Google is testing this new feature, it means Google is paying more attention to reviews and how. This affects local SEO and could change how Google Maps and the Google Map Pack look at reviews.
As Google shifts how it considers reviews, what should you do to safeguard your website and your business?
Hennessey Digital advises the following:
- Focus on getting verified/real reviews. As Google continues introducing the “reviews not verified” label in stages, real reviews become all the more appealing for businesses.
- Always respond to customer reviews on Google. We address back-end technical needs for online reviews, but we do not write reviews as these are personal and should always be written by the client.
- Don’t post fake reviews on Google. Not only do we think Google is planning to take action against fake reviews, but states’ attorneys general are also starting to raise legal action as well.
Our take on this change
At this point, it’s still early days. We speculate Google is taking action against fake reviews, and it could mean they’re currently auditing real versus fake reviews on websites.
With this investment in a new reviews label, it’s not a stretch to assume that Google is putting more weight on reviews as a ranking factor.
There are services out there that fight fake reviews and identify businesses that use fake positive Google reviews to protect their communities, and we’re likely to see more of this in the future.
The bottom line is that fake reviews are bad for ranking, businesses, and society. We stress the importance of real customer reviews because it builds trust between our clients and their customers, and we believe this will only become more crucial down the road.
With this latest move, it looks like Google is taking more aggressive steps to separate verified reviews from less reliable ones.