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Running competitions for google reviewsA significant component of the strategies we encourage businesses to seek greater engagement is to gather more online reviews. The most powerful platform for reviews at this time is Google reviews. It’s rewarding to walk away from a consultation or seminar to watch a business jump into action some of my advice. But I have had to add a caveat to this advice. Too many businesses went back to their offices and made this major blunder. They run competitions for reviews, and it’s a big mistake. You can be penalised, but we will get to that in a minute.

Genuine reviews can be a powerful tool to create trust and a greater connection between your business and potential clients. Even bad reviews handled well can give potential customers a positive perspective on worst-case scenarios.  Running competitions for Google rules is a really bad idea, lets’s look at why

So let’s have a look at Google’s actual review policies

Contributions to Google Maps should accurately represent the location in question. Where contributions distort truth, we will remove content. This includes reviews, photos, or videos not related to the location or business where they are tagged.

Seems pretty clear.

Reviews are automatically processed to detect inappropriate content like fake reviews and spam. We may take down reviews that are flagged in order to comply with Google policies or legal obligations.

Under the heading Fake engagement“, it reads…

Contributions to Google Maps should reflect a genuine experience at a place or business. Fake engagement is not allowed and will be removed.

This includes:

  • Paying, incentivising or encouraging the posting of content that does not represent a genuine experience.
  • Content that is not based on a real experience and does not accurately represent the location or product in question.
  • Content that has been incentivized by a business in exchange for discounts, free goods and/or services.
  • Content that has been posted by a competitor to undermine a business or product’s reputation.
  • Content that has been posted from multiple accounts to manipulate a place’s rating.

Can you be penalized? Yes

Once again we refer to google’s fake and fraudulent contributed content post

Let me highlight the important bits for this discussion…

  • We blocked or removed 55 million policy-violating reviews and nearly 3 million fake Business Profiles. This is 20 million fewer reviews than we removed in 2019 as we saw a drop in the overall number of reviews due to fewer people being out and about during COVID-19.
  • We took down more than 960,000 reviews and more than 300,000 Business Profiles that were reported to us by Google Maps users. This is an increase over 2019 largely due to increased use of automated moderation which complements the manual review of flagged content performed by operators and analysts.
  • Our technologies and teams disabled more than 610,000 user accounts after detecting and investigating suspicious or policy-violating behavior.

So here are some other reasons you should not run competitions for reviews.

They smell bad.

Consumers are getting better and better at identifying shady reviews. They are also looking for authentic relationshipps with the brands they are doing business with. When they come across reviews that look shady, easier for them to feel a little suspect about the other

You leave a history that can be used against you.

In order to

Up your authentic review game.

A good authentic review from someone who is authorised goes a lot further than a nameless, impersonal 5-star.



Pay close attention.

Having a process for monitoring your Google reviews is important for both growing your review portfolio and also creating a positive outcome for bad reviews.

Firstly responding to any review on any platform is a good way to showcase the human connection you have with your customers, it shows you are watching and you value their feedback.

Secondly, it’s the best way to manage the negative feedback you receive. Remember that negative feedback will happen and people expect that not every customer will be happy. What interests potential customers is how you handle these negative comments. This is a great opportunity to demonstrate what happens when things go wrong; are you empathetic or professional? Can you work towards a positive solution?

Earle Webber

With over thirty years in content marketing and brand development, Earle is the director of, and Earle is also a founding partner at

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