In this article we look at Review Gating and what happens if you do it. This is looked at from an overall SEO point of view.
Review gating is simply the pre-qualification of reviews. Low rated reviews are then not published in to the overall review score for a business. Sometimes the pre-qualification of a poor review will then direct the reviewer to a contact centre. The contact centre will then try and deal with the disgruntled reviewer. Typically when review gating occurs 1-star, 2-star and 3-star reviews will not make it in to the public domain. The business, or review platform, will only then publicise the 4-star and 5-star reviews it receives.
In the example below the business in question is looking to encourage Google Reviews which are only 4 and 5-star.
Google Guidelines for Review Gating
The Google guidelines for review gating are very clear – you shouldn’t do it. Here’s a screengrab of the specific guideline:
So, what happens if you do try and gate your reviews?
As with everything to do with Google, you’ll get away with it for a while. But after 3 months, 6 months or a year it will catch up with you and then you’ll get a penalty. Maybe not a massive one, maybe not one that will kill your business. However, if you’re unlucky then it could mean the end of your online presence in Google which would be a disaster for most businesses. In short, don’t gate reviews.
What does a Google Penalty look like?
There are several examples spoken about in the Google My Business Forum (https://support.google.com/business/community?hl=en-GB) where review gating has been used the penalty varies from all reviews being removed to a significant number. It really isn’t worth the risk!