How does it work?

Browse through the library of demo videos that explains how, Cloodot's reputation marketing software grows your business.

All Posts

What is Review Gating, and What are the Risks of Review Gating


Published on October 19, 2023

Share on X
Share on Facebook
Share on Linkedin

In today's world, reviews have become a ubiquitous part of our lives. What used to be reserved for professional critics of movies, restaurants, music, and art has shifted into the hands of everyday consumers armed with smartphones.

It's no surprise that people love reviewing everything, be it hotels, gyms, doctors, or lawyers. There are now countless niche review websites covering almost every industry imaginable. Given the prevalence of consumer reviews and review platforms today, it's clear that they hold significant sway over local businesses.

Research indicates that the two most crucial factors for local consumers when perusing reviews are a high star rating and positive descriptions of experiences. The value of positive reviews is evident. However, some businesses may be tempted to adopt strategies that selectively promote positive reviews while suppressing negative ones. It's important to note that review gating can have adverse effects on your overall reputation and is also in violation of Google's terms of service. Cloodot will never engage in review gating.

What is review gating? 

Review gating is a practice where a business selectively prompts satisfied customers to leave positive Google reviews or displays only favourable reviews on its platforms, like product pages or a website section.

Initially, the company seeks private feedback from customers to gauge their opinions without making it public. Subsequently, they reach out to individuals who are likely to provide positive feedback and encourage them to share their reviews on a review platform, creating a collection of screened or gated reviews.

Also read: The pitfall of buying Google reviews 

RealWorld Examples of Review Gating

  • PreReview Inquiry Emails: Contact customers via email to gauge whether their experience was positive or negative before soliciting a review.

  • RatingBased Text Messages: Sending text messages to customers and inquiring about their experience, then proceeding to request reviews exclusively from those who rated the experience highly.

  • Incentivise Positive Reviews: Encouraging customers to leave positive reviews by offering incentives, like receiving a discount on their next service in exchange for a 5-star review.

How Google review gating can damage your business

Negative Impact on Reputation: Review gating can severely damage your company's online reputation, a critical factor in attracting new customers. If your reviews are artificially skewed toward positivity, potential customers won't have an accurate understanding of your business. Once consumer trust is eroded, it's often challenging, if not impossible, to rebuild.

Risk of a Google Ban: Can you get banned from Google? 

Violating Google's review gating policy can result in a permanent ban from the platform. Given that Google is a primary resource for users seeking products and services online, such a ban could have catastrophic consequences for your business.

Learning Opportunity: In contrast, authentic online reviews provide a valuable source of both positive and negative feedback. This feedback allows your organization to gain insights into what it's excelling at and where improvements are needed, ultimately guiding you toward becoming a better business.

FTC guidelines on review gating 

In January 2022, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued guidance for businesses regarding customer reviews. Among these guidelines is the one directed at online platforms. The FTC review gating explicitly advises companies against selectively requesting reviews only from customers they expect to leave positive feedback.

The FTC review gating makes it clear that positive reviews should not be prompted or influenced by incentives like rewards, discounts, or free items. Lastly, companies are urged not to obstruct or discourage individuals from submitting negative reviews.

The FTC review gating maintains strict regulations concerning review gating and imposes fines on companies that violate these rules. For multi-location businesses, it is crucial to avoid engaging in review gating on any platform, especially Google and your website.

Also read: how to deal with customer complaints and resolve them 

What are the risks of doing a review gating?

  • Negative reviews can harm a restaurant or service business, just as they can damage your company's reputation when shared on various review platforms.

  • Some businesses may be tempted to gate reviews to avoid the risk of bad reviews becoming public, even if it means potential penalties.

  • A major issue with review gating is that it doesn't comply with review site guidelines and the FTC's framework.

  • Responding to negative reviews online has its advantages, as it provides valuable insights for improvement and demonstrates a commitment to customer care.

  • Negative reviews show that feedback matters to your business and can signal to other reviewers that their opinions are valued.

  • Engaging in review gating may lead to potential fines from the FTC and actions taken by review platforms, such as removing your reviews or flagging suspicious activity for public view.

  • Long-Term Sales Impact: Review gating may provide short-term sales boosts but erode trust, leading customers to seek alternatives. Studies suggest that 55% of consumers won't return to a brand they don't trust.

  • SEO Consequences: Selectively showcasing positive reviews can mislead users and harm trust. Search engines might penalize the website's search rankings. To maintain transparency and credibility, businesses should allow all customers to leave reviews, irrespective of their experience.

Also read: how to ask for reviews from customer 

What are the alternatives for review gating?

1. Encourage reviews in compliance with guidelines:

    Instead of review gating, encourage customers to leave reviews while strictly adhering to the guidelines set by Google, the FTC, and other review platforms.

2. Optimise GBP and website for reviews:

 Ensure your Google Business Profile (GBP) and website are user-friendly and make it easy for customers to leave reviews.

3. Respond to all reviews:

 Prioritise responding to all reviews, starting with the most recent and addressing negative reviews first. Engaging with customers' feedback demonstrates your commitment to customer care.

4. Utilise email and surveys:

Leverage email and surveys to collect more reviews and gather valuable feedback from your customers.

5. Create user-generated content (UGC) from positive reviews:

With permission, transform positive reviews into user-generated content (UGC) to showcase authentic endorsements of your products or services.

For further guidance on managing reviews,  enhancing your brand reputation, and bolstering your online presence, see the multi-location marketer's guide to online reputation management.

Your partner for ethical review management

Cloodot, as a company, has consistently advocated against review gating. Our product lineup is crafted to eliminate bias, providing a fair and accurate depiction of both business owners' and consumers' experiences.

Eager to elevate your online presence? Cloodot assists small businesses in effective online reputation management, simplifying the process of collecting and overseeing reviews, and chats ensuring customer satisfaction, and more.

Interested in exploring our solutions? Begin your free trial with Cloodot today.

Related Articles

Nov 14, 2023


Unlock business success with the right number of Google reviews! Learn key guidelines, industry insights, and leverage AI-automation for efficient review management. Start building trust, standing out, and attracting customers today

Nov 10, 2023


Learn how automating Google reviews through actionable measures can drive success for your local business. Explore AI-driven strategies, centralizing reviews, and leveraging platforms like Cloodot to enhance customer engagement and insights.

Subscribe to our newsletter

Attract More Customers with 5-Star Reviews

An all-in-one reputation marketing software to automatically generate, monitor and market reviews for your businesses.

© Copyright 2023, All Rights Reserved by Cloodot

An all-in-one reputation marketing software to automatically generate, monitor and market reviews for your businesses.

© Copyright 2023, All Rights Reserved by Cloodot

An all-in-one reputation marketing software to automatically generate, monitor and market reviews for your businesses.

© Copyright 2023, All Rights Reserved by Cloodot