From all indications, it looks like anonymous reviews no longer count towards the total rating for businesses on Google My Business. In some cases, anonymous reviews have disappeared completely from some pages on GMB.
This new move by Google closely tailors similar policies by local review websites like Yelp and Trip Advisor which allows only registered users to submit reviews. There are whispers in certain circles that this crackdown is coming on the heels of Google’s announcement to crackdown on negative and fake reviews dropped by disgruntled employees to compromise the online reputation of certain businesses. A lot of business owners will agree that a high number of negative and fake reviews come from anonymous users that cannot be identified or tied to any legitimate Google account.
There are arguments that this development is a smart move by Google as allowing only authentic and registered users to drop reviews will result in more honest reviews being made and less overly critical reviews from users who for one reason or another had a less pleasant experience with the business.
On the part of the business, it helps to identify who is leaving a review, whether positive or negative as it allows the business acknowledge the positive reviews and provides an opportunity to make amends next time the dissatisfied customer comes around.
There is as yet no official word from the people at Google concerning this change, however it is clear that reducing the impact of anonymous reviews that can be hijacked by disgruntled employees, competitors and trolls would bring up GMB to the standard of other prominent review websites that already understand the need to protect businesses from unfair press and provide customers with a platform where they can freely speak their mind.
Having said that, if you notice that your business is still getting negative reviews from actual customers and registered users, chances are there is actually a real problem that needs to be addressed promptly. While both positive and negative reviews have several benefits to businesses, there has to be a balance otherwise your customers will be getting the wrong impression about your business. And when this happens, it is safe to say that there is no amount of Google updates that would be able to solve that problem for you.