Google has a new review algorithm that the search company says it better anf faster at taking down fake reviews from local listings in Google Search and Google Maps. “In 2023, this new algorithm helped us take down 45% more fake reviews than the year before,” Google announced.
Google receives a lot of contributions to its Google Maps and local listings, this includes reviews, photos, updates to listings and more. In fact, Google said it receives “around 20 million contributions per day on Maps and Search.”
New reviews spam algorithm
Google said it launched a new algorithm last year to better to detect and remove fake reviews. Google explained that this is a “machine learning algorithm that detects questionable review paerns even faster.” It looks at “longer-term signals on a daily basis,” for example “if a reviewer leaves the same review on multiple businesses or if a business receives a sudden spike in 1 or 5-star reviews.”
The algorithm works to catch both “one-off cases and broader attack patterns,” Google wrote. For example, a network of scammers falsely claimed that for a low fee they would connect people to high-paying online tasks, like writing fake reviews or clicking ads across the internet.
Google said its algorithm was able to “quickly identied this surge in suspicious reviews thanks to its ability to continuously analyze patterns, like whether an account had previously posted reviews.” Then that was used by human investigators to analyzed reports from merchants who recently saw a spike in fake 5-star reviews. Google was then able ot use those patterns to refine the algorithm to remove more of these fake reviews.
This led to Google removing 5 million fake review attempts related to this scam alone in just a few weeks.
Review spam fighting metrics
Google, like every year, released some metrics on how it fought fake reviews and contributions to the local results in Google Search and Maps. Here are some of those metrics:
- Google blocked or removed over 170 million policy violating reviews in 2023 (up from 45% from 2022)
- More than 12 million fake business profiles were removed or blocked
- 14 million policy viloating videos in 2023 (7 million more than last year)
- Blocked over 2 million attempts to claim Business Profiles that did not belong to them (1 million more than last year)
Last year, Google shared the number of policy violating photos but omitted it this year. Google told me the number was higher, Google only wanted to share the wanted to highlight the video piece this year. Also, Google changed how what they look at for fake business profiles from creating fake profiles to claiming fake profiles.
Why we care. Spam and fake information in search is a hassle we all see and have to deal with as marketers. None of us like to be hit with spam, and none of us like to have fake reviews left on our businesses or clients’ business listings. Google is trying to reduce spam efforts but as you can imagine, it is a cat-and-mouse game.
As Google comes up with more ways and techniques to prevent and/or reduce spam, spammers find other ways around those efforts. You can see Google’s efforts last year, over here.