Amazon Review Changes, What You Need to Know
As a selling platform, Amazon understands that the foundation of its success is built on the satisfaction of its customers. For that reason, the platform has always been committed to putting the needs of its customers first, and has made Amazon review changes. Recently, Amazon has felt this relationship is being threatened as shoppers have begun to lose trust in the validity and reliability of Amazon reviews. Fearful that this could lead to discontent with the platform as a whole, Amazon has taken some proactive measures to better vet product reviews.
Naturally, this has become a hot topic for many sellers who worry that their listings will be negatively affected by removed, blocked or split reviews. In this blog, we’ll outline the major Amazon review changes taking place with Amazon’s system, and how these adjustments may affect your Amazon business.
We’ve all heard rumors of reviews suddenly being removed from Amazon listings, and you’ve probably been asking yourself, “why is this happening?” and “could this happen to me?”
While a removed review may seem like a slap on the wrist from Amazon to the seller, removed reviews usually have more to do with the quality of the reviewer than they do with the product itself.
When leaving a product review, the reviewer must abide by the Community Guidelines set forth by Amazon. These include criteria such as, providing helpful and relevant content to customers and respecting the diverse opinions of other users, just to name a few. If a reviewer is found to have violated one of the Amazon Community Guidelines, their review may be taken down.
Although a removed review, especially one that speaks highly of your product, may seem like a negative for many sellers, this process of vetting reviewers goes a long way toward fostering a safe and welcoming Amazon Marketplace. A marketplace in which consumers enjoy shopping and want to return to.
Not only that, but by eliminating offensive, inaccurate or overly promotional reviews from the platform, Amazon ensures that only the best and most useful reviews make their way onto product listings. And as a seller, aren’t those the kind of reviews you want anyway? Those that accurately represent your product and give shoppers the right information they need to make the best and most informed buying decision.
In some extreme cases, product listings have lost so many reviews that their star rating has declined. While this is undoubtedly unfortunate for the seller, it makes for a more reliable assessment of the product in the long run. If removed reviews played a major role in boosting the rating of a product, it is probably a sign that these reviewers were falsely elevating that product in the first place. Over time more trustworthy reviews will take their place and a more accurate picture will be painted of the product.
While these extreme review removals do take place, it is more likely that you’ll see just a handful of reviews removed from your listing – if any. If you’ve noticed that a review or two has been removed from your page, don’t panic. A few reviews probably won’t do too much damage to your listing. And if you do see a slight shift in your rating, look at the big picture and realize that this is just a short-term reflection of Amazon’s efforts to create a better shopping experience for buyers and sellers alike.
While some listings have had reviews removed, others have had reviews blocked from ever going up in the first place. This is due to Amazon’s recent monitoring of “review velocity.” Essentially, Amazon has put speed limits in place that monitor and control the number of reviews a listing can receive within a given length of time. If the speed limit is exceeded, reviews are blocked for some predetermined time period.
During this holding period, Amazon conducts an audit of the listing to determine if the reviews coming in are authentic or if the product is being spammed with an influx of bogus reviews. If everything checks out, the ban is lifted and reviews can continue to come in. If Amazon detects suspicious activity, the account is suspended.
Two interesting things to note in regards to blocked reviews are:
- Verified reviews are given more leeway than unverified reviews
- All listings receive the same limits, regardless of how many reviews they receive
In a nutshell, listings are allowed a greater number of daily verified reviews than unverified reviews. So while a listing might receive 7 verified reviews in a day and not be flagged, the same listing could receive just 3 unverified reviews and have their reviews blocked.
If the goal of review blocking is to ensure that incoming reviews are authentic, this practice makes complete sense. Unverified reviewers who have not purchased the product on Amazon or have made the purchase at a heavily discounted rate are likely less reliable reviewers.
The second note makes a little less logical sense. Instead of setting review limits based on a percentage of sales, Amazon uses a static number of about 6-10 reviews a day across all listings. For products with hundreds of sales a day, it is not uncommon to exceed this number on almost a daily basis. In some cases, even Amazon’s own products have exceeded the limit and have had their reviews blocked.
It’s not clear why Amazon has chosen this static number to use when blocking reviews, but based on the large number of listings that are hitting or exceeding this limit, we wouldn’t be surprised if Amazon amends this standard in the near future.
Splitting Reviews by Variation
In the past, if your product was available in several different variations, say different colors, for example, reviews made on any of those variations would be applied to the listing as a whole. This benefited sellers because it brought up the seller’s overall review score for similar products.
Now, Amazon is changing the game and applying a review only to the specified variation, meaning that the star rating and review count under the title will change with every variation.
This poses a new challenge to sellers. One in which all of their variations must be top quality to ensure that each variation is reviewed and rated well. In order to be successful within every variation, sellers must provide exceptional customer support and work hard to prevent negative reviews from popping up.
So What Do I Do Next?
As Amazon tries to get reviews under control by removing, blocking and splitting variations, sellers are left wondering what they can do to make sure they are maintaining a high number of positive reviews.
The best advice we can give sellers is to continue focusing your efforts on selling a great product – one worthy of authentic, organic customer reviews. It may be tempting to cushion your listing in the short term with manipulation tactics and the purchasing of bulk product reviews, but this will only raise red flags with Amazon and hurt your credibility with the platform and customers.
Continue to do what you do best, offer a high-quality, reliable product and the reviews and ratings will follow.