Google clamps down on negative reviews by ex employees. Fully fair?

Can you challenge a negative employee review?

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This concerns something which many of us would regard as ‘naming and shaming.’ Many Google My Businesses owners have increasingly become worried about this practice and the potential harm it can have on their businesses, by overly critical reviews being released into the public domain.

Many business owners have regularly voiced concerns about the rules and regulations surrounding this within Google My Business – often complaining that things aren’t clear enough or very fair. Below may be an example of why.

You can read (former) Google guidelines for making reviews, by clicking the link. Specifically the wording under conflict of interest says “if you own or work at a place, please don’t review your own business or employer.” That would lead many of us to believe that all employees (both past and present) should not make a review because it would amount to a conflict of interest. This concept hasn’t entirely been clear however, as there are documented cases where an ex-employee has left a negative review about a company, and following a complaint Google has upheld the decision to keep the negative review, essentially stating that these reviews were giving a reflection of the customer experience of the organisation and thus are a valid review.

As of a few weeks ago, the rules and wording have now been changed which now state that no employee whether past or present can leave a negative review about a business or organisation. If this has happened to you in the past or recently you now have good grounds for contacting Google, and they should be able to give you a helpful response and redress to get the matter sorted.

Take a closer look…

Whilst this is a logical step providing greater clarity, it fails to address a fundamental point. This may be an incidental point to many people but it is certainly valid and could cause grounds for arguments from the opposite side.

Google now states that negative reviews are not allowed by any employees. It doesn’t make reference to positive reviews. Yes, we get that no one is really going to complain about a positive review, but remember the issue (which Google cited) is about conflict of interest. What we are trying to get at here is that even a positive review from a current or former employee is ‘biased’ and so amounts to a conflict of interest, yet nothing has been mentioned or clarified on this. Arguably this makes the concept just as unfair, except this time, in the opposite direction. In order words, a current or former employee could start to complain about not being able to make a negative review, because they are allowed to make a positive one and this apparently appears not to be a conflict of interest, so what is the difference?

Some may get the feeling that this decision has been slanted in companies and businesses favour – something else which may not go down very well with some people. It seems that whilst providing clarity, this decision has also made things more confusing at the same time!

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