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Who Can Write a Google Review on a Google Business Profile

Many of our clients ask us who is technically allowed to write a Google review on their Google Business Profile (GBP). Usually, this question arises when either the company wants to encourage reviews on their Google business listing, or if they are trying to remove a potentially malicious review.

In this article, we address who is and is not allowed to write a Google review.

In full disclosure, our experience and insights expressed in this article are gleaned from a mix of three sources:

  1. Our analysis and interpretation of Google’s Prohibited and Restricted Content and Behavior Policies for guidance from Google. Keep in mind that this is simply our interpretation of the policies, and Google updates their policies frequently.
  2. Our extensive experience helping our small business clients collect reviews from legitimate sources. This includes reinstating authentic reviews that have been improperly filtered by Google’s automated review filtering systems.
  3. Our firsthand experience fighting against and removing review spam where bad actors leave negative reviews on business listings in attempts to manipulate search rankings on behalf of a competitor. Most of our spam fighting work is accomplished in conjunction with both Google support staff and the helpful Google Product Experts.

Who Can Technically Write a Google Review

At face value, anyone can use the Google reviews feature if they have a Gmail account or Google account. Once a user is logged into Google, they can simply visit a specific company’s Google Business Profile (GBP) within Google Search or Google Maps and click the write a review button.

However, Google has various automated systems in place, partially powered by SpamBrain, that attempts to automatically detect and filter out policy violating or malicious reviews.

In our opinion, Google’s entire policies are crafted around one centralized concept:

Anyone who has had a tangible experience with the company of interest can leave a review on their Google Profile.

Naturally, this is quite a grey area as tangible experience can easily go far beyond just a paying customer’s experience. As such, we’ve outlined a list from whom businesses could, and likely should, seek reviews.

customers leaving google review for small business

Who Can a Local Business Ask to Leave a Review

The following are a few ideas of who it would be acceptable for businesses to ask to leave them a review. Again, keep in mind that anyone who has had a tangible experience with the company can be eligible.

Keep in mind that these opportunities may vary slightly based on your industry, but this should get the creative gears turning.

Current Customers

Naturally, you should be asking current customers for reviews on your business. Current customers provide the best insight into what it is like working with your business right now. This is by far the most utilized source of reviews.

Past Customers

Our clients often inquire if it’s ever too late to ask a past customer for a review. In short, no. You can always ask someone who has done business with you to leave a review. That said, the closer the customer is to a positive experience with you, the more likely they will be to go through the time and effort it takes to write a review for your business.

Vendors and Suppliers

If you frequently work with the same vendors and suppliers for ordering equipment, supplies, or services, they definitely have experience with your business. They learn how easy it is to collaborate with your company, how fast you pay your invoices, the quality of your customer services, etc. As such, this is an often untapped, legitimate source for reviews.

Community Partners

Consider all the diverse types of partners that your company engages. Do you support a local non-profit organization, sponsor a baseball team, have a third-party referral partner that you’ve sent business to over the years, provide training for industry-specific groups, or volunteer as a team for a local cause? Those are all types of community partners that could potentially leave a review regarding the character of your team or quality of your business practices.

Who Should Not Leave Reviews for a Business

Incentivized Customers

Google states that you cannot pay or incentivize individuals to leave reviews for your business. As such, do not offer gifts or rewards conditional upon a person reviewing your business or leaving a pre-specified star rating. This violates Google’s terms of use regarding prohibiting deceptive content and behavior.

Family Members*

Family member reviews are a bit of a gray area. While family members can certainly be biased by familial connections, technically they could still become customers or even vendors. However, we’ve seen so many businesses get reviews from family members who have never even been a customer. We only recommend collecting reviews from family members if they have actually used your products/services (and paid to do so).


If you are an employee of the business in question, you should not leave a review for your employer. Note that employee reviews were listed in Google’s public prohibited content for many years. However, recently, they removed that wording. We’ve still seen cases where employees’ reviews can be removed by flagging the review as a “conflict of interest.”

As a result, we still believe it is not appropriate for employees to review their employers (regardless of whether the review is positive or negative). Instead, we recommend that employee reviews be collected on employment websites, like Glassdoor.

Conflict of Interest

Any reviewers that may show a conflict of interest may not be eligible to leave a review. In fact, when reporting a review for removal, one can select “conflict of interest” as the basis for having the review removed. This is a very broad category, but you should use it as a litmus test to ask if the reviewer has a conflict of interest. If a conflict of interest is present, the individual should likely not be writing a review.

Writing About Another Person’s Experience (Secondhand Experience)

Reviewers must be writing about their firsthand experience with the company of interest. If a person had a bad customer service experience at their local auto repair shop and told all their friends to write a review bashing the auto shop, this violates Google’s policies. Only the person with direct experience is eligible to write a review. We’ve seen where one person’s negative experience quickly turns into ten of their closest friends and family ranting and raving via reviews to fulfill a personal vendetta.

Beware the General Public

Technically, the general public can also have “experiences” with your business, both positive and negative. For example, if you are a local plumber and one of your fleet vehicles is seen swerving on the highway while the driver is talking on their cell phone, that creates a notable firsthand “experience.” As such, it is 100% acceptable for an impacted citizen to leave a review disparaging the quality of your staff’s driving skills.

While you would not ask members of your local community to rate your driving skills or your storefront décor, you are certainly making an impression at any given time. As such, it’s best to ensure the highest quality customer service and respectable business practices to avoid the public’s wrath as a result of inappropriate missteps.

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If you have specific questions about reputation management or Google reviews, feel free to contact us directly.

If a representative of Google reads this article and finds any factual errors in this document, please submit an edit request via our contact form. We will update the article as quickly as possible.

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