Google Updates its Online Review Policy: Targets Review-Gating
On April 12, 2018, Google made an important update to its Terms of Service for online reviews. The updated Google review policy is a clear message to businesses that were utilizing a biased approach toward review solicitation. The policy states that going forward, businesses should ask for reviews from all its customers, irrespective of whether their experience was positive or negative, and in doing so, they (businesses) should not pre-check their customer’s intention before asking them to submit reviews, i.e., they should not resort to ‘review-gating’ anymore. “Don’t discourage or prohibit negative reviews or selectively solicit positive reviews from customers.”
Review-gating generally looks like this:
- You send a message to your patients asking if their experience was positive or negative
- If the patient replies positively, another text message and email with a review submission link is sent, asking the patient to leave a review online
- If the patient says he/she had a negative experience, a link to submit their feedback is still sent, but the option to post the review online is omitted this time (This is called "review-gating" as the potential negative review was ‘gated’, making it more difficult for an unhappy customer to post a review).