Google+ Local ReviewsGoogle+ Local (formerly known as Google Places) has become a favorite target for posting fake reviews. For every legitimate way to help websites rank well in search results, there are 100 ways to game the system. No one knows that better than Google, and they recently posted the following notice about improvements to their spam detection:

“Online reviews have been in the news a lot recently, and we at Google are committed to helping people to get ratings, reviews, and recommendations that are relevant, helpful, and trustworthy. To protect both business owners and customers from spam reviews, we have systems in place that may remove individual reviews.

No one likes spam, and we’d like to talk about what you can do to make sure all of the reviews on Google+ Local are useful, honest, and written by real people!”

Here are some of the highlights about reviews in Google+ Local:

  • Don’t put URLs in the text of your reviews.
  • Don’t hire an SEO or reputation management company to generate reviews. Those get identified as fake and get taken down.
  • Don’t believe someone who says they can help you remove reviews from Google.
  • Don’t set up a computer or tablet device in your place of business for customers to leave reviews. Consider sending a reminder email so customers can post reviews on their own time.
  • Obviously Google is tracking IP address and other location data when reviews are posted. So if a dozen reviews are posted from your business location, they will look suspicious even if they were written by a dozen different real customers.
  • Don’t post reviews on behalf of others. So if you have comment cards or written reviews from customers, don’t post them for your customers.

Check Google’s Policy on Review Content for more details.