“Review Gating”: what it is and why it should be avoided?

The authenticity of customer reviews is vital. Without it, reviews left by people on Google lose all their value.

The system is based on trust. Firstly, Google, because the search engine is supposed to moderate misleading and abusive reviews but also towards other users.

To read a review is to assume that the user has been visited that establishment. And that they are reporting their experience honestly. However, this did not stop some people from practising “review gating” or discouraging or filtering out negative reviews

How does “Review Gating” work?

It’s straightforward. Here are the prominent examples of “review gating”:

  • Sending a message to customers asking them whether they liked their experience or not before asking for a customer review
  • Sending a message to customers asking them to rate their experience and then ask those who liked it to leave a review
  • Promising a reward to the customers who leave a positive review

Of course, such practices are not the norm. But some do not hesitate to implement them.

Google vs. “Review Gating

In 2018, Google officially asked businesses not to “discourage or prohibit negative reviews, or even ask only for positive reviews from their customers”.

In 2022, this instruction was even given its own section (“fake engagement“) in the section on content to be banned on Google and Google Maps.

The search engine is therefore officially opposed to “review gating”.

Why is Google acting against Review Gating”?

Because it is in the company’s interest to do so: the authenticity of customer reviews is the backbone of Google’s e-reputation system. Without this trust, it collapses. And no one reaps the rewards: nor the establishments, nor the potential customers, and certainly not the Web Giant.

In a world where Google reviews can no longer be trusted:

  • Gone are the reviews that reassure and make people want to visit establishments
  • Consumers are deprived of a powerful tool. They can no longer rely on the opinions of their peers to make their purchasing decisions

In short, trust is at the heart of Google’s vision. It is also at the heart of Partoo’s vision, and we are happy to work with companies that share this value.

The risks of “Review Gating

“Review gating” is not illegal per se, but it is highly immoral. It does not mean that the practice is without risk; on the contrary.

The main risk is the temporary or permanent suspension of your store’s profile. It is a severe penalty: disappearing from the search results is a massive loss of earnings for most outlets.

“Review gating” can therefore be catastrophic for your online presence. It is best not to risk it.

How to solicit customer reviews?

The first thing to do is to be transparent. To avoid “review gating”, here are some good practices:

  • Be honest about how you collect customer reviews
  • Do not try to hide or delete justified negative reviews
  • Encourage all customer reviews, even negative ones
  • Identify and report false customer reviews

What is the right way to ask for customer reviews?

  • Do not force things. Ask your customers to leave a review, not demand it
  • Send SMS messages. It is a great way to ask your visitors to leave a review on your business listing
  • Provide context: this is about explaining to your customers why reviews are so important to you. They will probably be more easily convinced if they have the reasons in mind.

Partoo is obviously against “review gating”. Companies that use our Review Booster to collect more online reviews are assured of the authenticity of the reviews. They accurately represent the customer experience and are not filtered in any way.

This authenticity guarantees trust and quality for companies and their customers. Preserving this ecosystem is essential. By allowing your visitors to share their feelings honestly, you can improve the customer experience.

No experience is perfect, and customers know it. When they look at reviews, they seek honest and reliable information.

Maintaining trust between retailers and their potential visitors is key. We are doing everything we can to work towards this goal.