How to keep reviews from being filtered on Google

How to keep reviews from being filtered on Google

Google reviews have become an increasingly important part of online reputation, but Google filters some reviews because Google views them as “spam” or as not meeting certain guidelines. If a review is filtered, it won’t show up on Google maps and can cause issues for businesses down the line. So, let’s take a look at some tips to keep Google reviews from getting filtered!

First and foremost, make sure that your clients follow Google’s guidelines when writing their reviews.

The most common reason why Google might filter a review is that it violates one of the company’s policies. Avoid using offensive language or content, making unfounded claims about services or products, including personal information like phone numbers and emails in the review, etc.

Another tip is to ask your customers to add a photo or video when posting their reviews.

Google tends to take reviews more seriously if they come with credible visual evidence. Photos and videos make Google reviews look more genuine since it confirms that the customer actually visited your business location.

Finally, if you are asking for reviews, slow down your campaigns to a more natural review level.

Google frowns upon businesses that are constantly pushing for Google reviews, so be sure to avoid spamming your customers with review requests.

Google Reviews can be a great way to boost your business’ presence, but they must be handled with care in order to remain valid. By following Google’s policies and best practices, you can help ensure that your Google reviews stay visible on Google Maps and don’t get filtered out.

Using AI is never perfect.  Some real reviews may get filtered out as spam.  You can try to reach out to customer support if you have a valid claim.  It might help to have a screenshot of the review from your customer before contacting Google Business Support

If you would like help getting more reviews for your business, we have some solutions that have proven to work.  Contact us for help with Google Business Reviews


Local Businesses Supported In March 2021

We interact with other small businesses online to learn about their stories and even find inspiration.  Then we try to give a little back by posting links to their profiles.  In some cases, we will post their business information on our blog or do a quick podcast post just to help them build awareness and improve their search optimization.  Below you will find the local businesses supported in March 2021.

Supporting local businesses is a passion of ours.  If you would like to join us in that passion just follow us on Instagram.  Helping these companies with a like or comment can go a long way.  If you would like some help with your local SEO marketing or Google My Business listing please feel free to fill out the form on the right or contact us.  Cheers to supporting local businesses!

Local Businesses Supported In March 2021

Burr & Berry Coffee

1221 Transformation Ln
Indian Land, SC 29707

(704) 313-0760

Locally owned/operated, independent specialty coffee & tea.

The Brickyard Downtown

85 W Boston St
Chandler, AZ 85225

(480) 963-1373

Fun restaurant and bar that believes in nourishment, community & creativity.  Check out their specialty cocktails.

Reads & Company

234 Bridge St
Phoenixville, PA 19460

(484) 920-3695

Reads & Company is a first-class independent bookstore with an extensive events schedule, carefully-curated inventory, and an exceptional commitment to readers, authors, publishers, and their hometown region.


221 E Colorado Ave
Telluride, CO 81435

(970) 728-8088

CashmereRED works closely with leading mills in Scotland and the USA to design timeless pieces that will be passed down for generations.

Google Local Guide Benefits

Many local business owners learn about the Google local guide program when a reviewer of their business stands out with a badge over their profile image.  Most users get invited into the program when they first leave a review or add a photo to a business profile, but then forget about the program.

Basically, the Google Local Guide program is a way for users to earn points as they share their reviews, photos, and other map edits.  Google has offered special leveling up perks in the past to users as Google Local Guide benefits.  They gave out free Google Drive storage one year and I was sent a pair of Google socks in the mail as a surprise once.

Local Guide Recognition

Currently, the Google Local Guide program goes from Level 1-10.  At level 4, users start to stand out since Google places a small local guide badge next to their profile picture.  The icon changes as the local guides move up in the ranks.  The star badge has the same number of points as the local guide’s current level.  The badge caps out as a 10 point star for a level 10 guide.  Signup for the Local Guide program if you are interested.

Google Local Guide Point System

How Do Local Guides Affect Business Owners?

In most cases, the review for a business by a local guide is no different than others.  However, their badge and level can show others that they are experienced and trusted users of the Google Maps platform.  Sometimes their reviews can draw more attention than others.  Business owners can take a little extra time when responding to a review from a local guide and it might encourage other guides to take more time for their review.  Many local guides read through other reviews before posting theirs.  Remember not to offer incentives for leaving reviews because that is against Google’s policy, but kindness goes a long way :).  We also suggest reminding customers to leave reviews for your business.  We offer free review request stickers if you would like one for your business.

Local Businesses Supported In February

Most small business owners struggle daily to get the word out about their brand.  It is surprising that even businesses that have been around for decades will still hear “I drive by here all of the time and I never knew you were here!”

We found these great businesses via social media and shared a bit of their story online.  We would like to take it a step further by sharing their information here to help the worldwide web point to their site.

Supporting local businesses is a passion of ours.  If you would like to join us in that passion just follow us on Instagram.  Helping these companies with a like or comment can go a long way.

Leather Repair Small Business Marketing

Rago Brothers Shoe & Leather Repair

142 Speedwell Ave
Morristown, NJ 07960

(973) 539-7949

With 100+ years of leather repair expertise, Rago Brothers is a family-owned and operated shop in Morristown, NJ.

Pilates Studio Local SEO Marketing

Whole Living Pilates

1750 Telstar Dr #120
Colorado Springs, CO 80920

(719) 204-3104

Whole Living Pilates is Colorado Springs’ premier boutique Pilates studio. They offer small group Pilates classes, private, one-on-one Pilates sessions to create a holistic experience for your fitness needs.

Shop Local Cupcake Marketing

Bleu Moon Bakery 

Las Vegas, Nevada

All of their treats are 100% vegan/plant-based always!

local brewery seo marketing

True Anomaly Brewing Company

2012 Dallas St
Houston, TX 77003

(346) 704-5701

Brewery with Taproom, focusing on Belgian Ales, Hop-forward Ales, and Mixed Fermentation + Sour Ales

Positive Review Response Tips

Responding to reviews is a metric that Google keeps track of.  When you log into your Google Business Profile, they have implemented a sorting feature to see all of the reviews that are still awaiting a response.  When you respond to a review, the customer gets an email from Google with your response, so a short response with “thank you” is fairly lame.   Here are tips for writing better positive review responses via the Google My Business platform.

Positive Review Response Tip #1 – Be Quick

We suggest responding to reviews within 24-48 hours.  Part of our management service includes logging into each business portal 3-4 times per week to check for and respond to reviews.  When the customer gets an email with your response it will reinforce that you actively care about your business and online presence.

Positive Review Response Tip #2 – Be Personal

Address the response as if you are sending an email to a client or customer (because you are).  Address the person by their name or user name.  You can also be more personal by including a reference to the date of their review.  A response example may start out… “John thank you for leaving us an excellent review yesterday…”

When potential customers read through your responses they will find comfort knowing that your business responds to both positive and negative feedback quickly.

Positive Review Response Tip #3 – Be Precise

Too many businesses respond with a quick “Thank you” to positive reviews.  This gives the impression that the owner is just checking items off a to-do list.  If your customer takes the time and effort to share their experience with your business, you should make the effort to write more than two words.

Promote your brand

Use the review response to reinforce your mission statement or company culture.  Potential customers are reading your review responses so consider this part of your sales process.

Positive Review Response Tip #4 – Be Grateful

A positive review is one of the best compliments your business can receive.  Thank them for their time and support.  Showing appreciation for a positive review encourages other customers to do the same.

Positive Review Response Tip #5 – Promote Positive

positive review response poster

Positive reviews on your Google page don’t need to end there.  Share them on social media or at your storefront.  A great example of this is restaurant printing reviews and displaying them in their waiting area.  A review or testimonial that gets displayed in your business or shared as part of your email newsletter, encourages others to leave a review also.  People are used to seeing testimonials on websites so we don’t find it as productive, but it’s a great start.  It is against Google’s terms to offer discounts or freebies for positive reviews so don’t cross the line, but gratitude can be more effective.

Free Promotional Materials

Google will help you print some posters and get some marketing materials FOR FREE.  Just check out their website –

Get Into The Top 3 Local Search Results

The number one question that we get asked is “How do I get into the top 3 and ensure my business shows up in the local business results when someone searches on Google?”  The business owner or manager then wants to know how much it will cost and what their budget needs to be.

Unfortunately, there is not a guaranteed solution to ensure your business ranks in the top spot for every search result in your town.  You could argue that if your town was small enough to only have one plumber, one gas station, one restaurant, one chiropractor etc. that it would be easy to guarantee search results for those listings, but I doubt that type of business owner is still reading this.

If you get a phone call from someone that can guarantee your local ranking results please send them our way.  I have a never-ending list of business ideas that would be extremely successful in New York City if they can guarantee my listing appears first in all search results.

“In life, there are no guarantees, only opportunities” ~Unknown

Define your search goals

What keywords would you like your business to rank for?  What do your customers search for to find your business?  You would be surprised what search terms potential customers are using to actually find your business.  Take a look at the insights for your Google My Business profiles and you might be shocked.  Here are some examples of business owners not realizing what they rank for…

  1. A plumber would like to rank for water heater installs, but only gets calls for toilet repair.
  2. Used car lot would like to rank for used trucks but keeps getting calls about truck repair.
  3. Self-storage facility only gets calls about RV and boat storage.
  4. The restaurant owner would like to be in the top 3 for margaritas, but only gets inquiries for quesadillas.

The list goes on and on.  We try to tell clients that no lead is a bad lead, but sometimes they are just too far out of left field.

“If you don’t know where you are going,
you’ll end up someplace else.” ― Yogi Berra

Follow Google’s Guidelines for Small Businesses

This is a long-term game and over the years Google has tried to keep the playing field even.  This area of marketing is one were the local mom and pop coffee shop can outperform the Starbucks Coffee Giant.  If someone has called your business and offered a guarantee, questionable advice you can visit the Google My Business Support Pages to verify their claims.  Some of the tips that you will find include…

Engage with your customers via the Google My Business Service.

    1. Respond to reviews
    2. Post business updates
    3. Add messenger capabilities
    4. Post photos
    5. Share your menu or services offered

This is just a small list of things we suggest for small business owners to help them rank in the top 3.  If ou would like a free review of your Google listing please give us a call

Business Photos For Your Google Listing

Google Business Photos

A professional stock photo used to make a business appear to be a leader in its industry isn’t the best choice.  The common consumer can see through these images like a cold caller on the phone.  People want to see the real you, which is why they are taking to the internet.  Not every image needs to be shot in the perfect light during the golden hourUpload real business photos, and don’t be afraid to use your cell phone.  Some of the best performing images on a business’s page are shot by customers with their cell phone during a visit to your location.

Consistency Is Key

We have found that uploading images regularly helps the business get more views overall.  It’s tempting to dump 20-50 images at a time while it’s on your mind, but this doesn’t appear to give the same results when we look at Google’s Insights Data for businesses that we manage.  Search engines can tell when an image was created and even where the image was taken if you have your GPS location services turned on for cell phone images.   This is just another example of how a long term strategy and consistency beats out the competition over time in search results.

Use The Google Photos Categories

Exterior & interior photos

Show your potential customers what to expect when coming to your location.  Wide-angle photos of the outside of your building and the entryway are a great place to start.

Product photos

Not every product needs to be uploaded at once, but show off the various product lines you carry.  Adding new products and then posting about them can be great content.

Service business photos

This is a great opportunity to show your team interacting with customers.  Service area businesses also have the opportunity to include on-location photographs.

Food & drink  menu photos

If you are a restaurant, this is a must.  Have you ever noticed customers that look around the restaurant only to ask the waiter what someone else is having?  Here you can show customers photos of the dish and let their eyes do the ordering.

Common area photos

This is a great genre of photos for apartment complexes, office buildings, shopping malls, etc.  Sometimes there are bonus reasons nearby that put your location ahead of the competition.

Employee photos

A great team can make or break a business.  Headshots work for this category, but team photos and candid shots can help show your company culture.

Track Photo Views

The best part about digital marketing is that results are trackable.  Google lets you know what business photos are performing the best, so you might pivot your strategy to include more of that photo category.

If the task of adding META data to photos and uploading every week seems overwhelming, our team would be happy to help implement your strategy and do the grunt work!

9 Blog Writing Tips For 2021

Blog Writing Tips

Writing articles for your website is like a trip to the dentist.  We procrastinate setting the appointment, we look for excuses not to go, but in the end,  you always feel better when the task is completed.  Here are our blog writing tips for next year to help build your search engine optimization (SEO) strategy.

  1. Set Goals
  2. Research
  3. Plan Your Format
  4. Create Images
  5. Keep It Simple
  6. Digitally Network With Links
  7. Stay Focused & Manage Your Time
  8. Just Do It
  9. Edit, Share & Share

1. Set Goals

We made this one plural on purpose because there are typically multiple goals for adding content to your website with a new article or post.  Usually, you are trying to share your expertise with the end-user, but more and more studies show that people have their pet poodle’s attention span.  That leaves us listening to our SEO advisors who tell us to publish content because of the old saying “content is king.”   This second goal of staying relevant in your field may be the most important reason to continue writing and researching content.  I typically brainstorm 2-3 new articles or topics for every article that I write.  Focus on the keyword that you want to write about, create your headline, and move on to your next step.  Don’t worry if your headline is wrong; the backspace key is one of the most commonly used keys on the keyboard. 😊

2. Research

A quick Google search of your new headline will likely show that you aren’t as creative as you think you are.  Researching a topic is the most important of my blog writing tips because it helps keep you current in your field.  I typically spend 10% of my work week reading blogs, online message boards, and listening to podcasts.  Sure I will still read a new book on the topic, and I enjoy going to trade shows, but in the fields of digital marketing and local search engine marketing, the news gets old fast.

3. Plan your format

Typically you will hear about short-form and long-form posts for blogs.  I tend to error on the side of short-format posts.  Typically people are reading your article because you are saving them time.  You did the research portion for them and are presenting that information so it can be ingested quickly.  This isn’t a courtroom on television, and you don’t need to build your case.  Present the information in an upside-down pyramid format with the important info right up top.  The rest of the fluff and supporting evidence can be saved for below the fold content.

4.  Create Images

Ideally, you have a graphic designer who can help you put together an image that helps sell your article’s interest.  Chances are, however, that you don’t have photoshop, but there are free tools online like Canva that can help you put together something simple to draw attention to your article.  A decent image will be important later when you share your article via social media and other tools.

5. Keep It Simple

Remember the old acronym KISS (keep it simple stupid).  This is over the top important for most writers.  This isn’t applicable if you publish an article in a trade journal, but most blogs and websites are not that technical.  During step one, you defined your goals for the article, and you should know your customers.  If you are uncertain how your customers find your business or website, please contact us to set up a free consultation.  We can help ingest your Google Insights and Google Analytics data to understand your customers and digital traffic better.

6. Digitally Network With Links

Don’t share links solely for your SEO strategy, but do it to help support your ideas and create a better user experience.  Links that leave your website should open in a new window so that people can find their way back to your article when ready.

7. Stay Focused and Manage Your Time

Your time is the most important asset of your day, and this is one of my blog writing tips that will protect your shot clock.  I pick a time of day when I can focus on writing and set a timer to ensure I don’t spend 12 hours writing an article in one sitting.  My general rule is 1 hour of research and 60-90 minutes for writing.  In addition to my time tracker, I also have an egg timer that sits on my desk to help me stay focused during my research phase.  The timer is set for 10 minutes, and each time it goes off, I evaluate if the website I’m currently researching is directly correlated with the article I’m trying to write.  If not, I shut down all of my browser windows and “reboot my research.”

8. Take Nike’s Advice To Getting Started – “Just Do It”

I remember my Dad offering me advice about setting goals, playing sports, and making other decisions growing up.  His advice was to follow the Nike slogan and “Just Do It.”  It is always easier said than done, but the first step to running a long-distance race is the most important because you have to get the ball rolling and build momentum.  One of the first questions clients ask me is, “how often do I need to write an article for my blog?”  There is no correct answer, but very few shortcuts to success actually work out.  So if you pass the task to Brantley in the mailroom, the article will either not sound correct, or Brantley will be the next expert in your industry and have his own successful company.

9. Edit, Share, & Share

Take a break, then read & edit your own articleShare your article with a co-worker or someone you trust to take the time to read it and offer sound advice.  If you don’t have someone that you trust to help edit your article, try out some editing websites like Grammerly.  Publish and share your work.  Share it on social media and with clients.  Remember they are one of the main reasons you wrote the article in the first place!  The links that refer back to your website will help build SEO strategy and reputation in your industry.  Don’t get bothered if your article doesn’t get a million clicks and reads; the research portion alone is enough to help you stay relevant and continue dominating your industry.



Are Websites Going to Become Obsolete?

Are Websites Going to Become Obsolete?

How important is it to have a website for your business?

Do you need a custom website that costs thousands of dollars?

With so many websites in the world, how hard is it to rank for meaningful keywords?

These are just some of the questions that we considered when looking towards the future of websites and how the general public interacts with the web.  Smart devices that include Amazon’s Alexa, Google Assistant, and even Cortana are answering user’s questions without taking them to websites.

Google displays answers on the search page and doesn’t require you to actually visit the website.  Even though we love how many services Google gives away for free, we can’t forget that they are in the business of selling ads and collecting data.

Trying to make an appointment at a hair salon?  Artificial intelligence can call the salon and make an appointment based on the calendar it already manages for you.

Is the future creepy, a little.  Is it coming faster than we think, absolutely!

All of these are reasons we do what we do here at Toast Local.  A business owner can refuse to participate on social media, send out newsletters, or rank your Google My Business listing, but I promise you that your competitors will fill the void.

Our local search optimization services not only include a full revamp of your Google listing, but we log into your account multiple times per week to updates user data, add posts, add photos, and “play the game” on your behalf. We can’t answer the question – “Are websites going to become obsolete?” But we can help you plan for whatever turns the future brings.

Are you wondering if this could work for your business, let us prove it to you!