Got Fake Google Places Reviews?
Unless you are smart about it (is that an oxymoron?), then probably not. I have been watching my competitions reviews get chipped away for the last day or two and being legit has never tasted so good.
During the last few months I have been experimenting with some dummy listings, trying to isolate exactly what is the bare minimum you can do to sneak past the Google Places review filter. From what I can tell, they have stepped up their game considerably from the last time I conducted this test. Here are my findings:
August 10th-30th Tests
During this time I had 3 Google Places dummy pages set up, which I dripped fake reviews to over this period. I followed general scrubbing procedures, used brand new Gmail accounts created on US IPs and all businesses were in the US. When it came to the posting I used 1) Intl IPs 2) State IPs 3) City IPs.
Reviews posted from IPs outside of North America were removed. Surprisingly, as long as you were in North America, reviews stuck.
Oct 1st-17th Tests
All the same variables existed as my August tests except in this test I used 3 different fake business listings.
All results remained the same as the last test until October 15th-17th when many reviews got slayed. Those reviews left from an out of country IPs were toast. Similarly, those left from an IP in the same state, but not the same city, some were slayed, others remained. There was no pattern to how far from the city one should be…it was erratic. Finally, reviews left from an IP address in the same city all remained.
Another thing I noticed is many of those reviews that were posted with out of state IPs in my first tests disappeared too. So Google isn’t just cleaning new reviews, they went back and cleaned old ones that seem fishy too. My last observation was that accounts that have reviewed more than one company faired better. Granted, those same accounts that had done multiple reviews were also more often logged into and used. Thus, it is hard to make the conclusion that accounts that are more active fair better or those that have left a few reviews.
Make of it what you will, but I could not be more sure that Google Places is tightening it up. Those Blackhats who are trying to skip the line are going have a lot of more trouble and with luck will be pushed out of Google Places. Of course there is no way to get rid of them all, but Google has done a great job so far. Some monumental changes included the switch to post card verification and the addition of the organic component.