Found: Yelp Reviews Copied and Published as Google Reviews

December 5th, 2013 by Amy Arnold

In the last week, one very alert client saw saw some very recent reviews on his Google Plus Local listing that looked pretty suspicious.  All 4 of these reviews were published within the week:

Google reviews are copies of Yelp reviews

The client immediately flagged “Oscar” as a spam review on Friday, November 29th.  By Tuesday, December 3rd, we saw that the review was gone.  Removed from the client’s G+ Local.  That was super fast response by Google, which was a pleasant surprise.

When we looked at the Google+ profiles for Paul, Suzanne, and Mike,

  • none of the 3 had information on their G+ Profiles except where they lived.  No posts.  No videos.
  • none of the 3 lived within 1,200 miles of our client.
  • 2 of the 3 had 100-200 people in their Circle, despite having no account activity.

With the fast success of the first spam review removal, we immediately flagged the other 3 as spam reviews. Within 1 day, 2 of the 3 remaining spam reviews were removed.   The only one that’s left is “Paul.”  We’re watching Paul, and hopefully, that one will come down fast too.

Plagiarizing Yelp Reviews

These Google reviewers were pretty easy to mark as spam based on their Google+ profiles being so bare and their slim reviews profiles — only 1 review each — but I think the real reason they were taken down was because they are not original review text. They are all copy and pasted from Yelp reviews.

And stating the obvious, the copied reviews are for different businesses and from different reviewers, so there is nothing legitimate about the Google reviews published on our client’s Google listing.

Suzanne’s Google review…

Yelp review copied for Google review

appears to be a close copy of “Cecile Mighty Mouse M.” May 2013 review on Yelp.

Plagiarized Yelp review used on Google

Mike’s Google review:

Google eview copied from Yelp review

appears to be a close copy of “Ben S.” July 2013 review on Yelp.

Yelp review plagiarized for use by Google reviewer

Paul whose review is still on our client’s G+ Local as of this moment,

Google review copied and used by Google reviewer

is a close copy of  “Grainne sounds like Grawn-ya…not Grainy M” May 2012 review on Yelp

plagiarized reviews on Google

If you’re curious to see if a review is spam, try dropping a chunk of it into Google to see if a Yelp review shows up as a close copy. If so, then definitely flag as spam to Google. Has this happened to you? Share your tips and stories of spam comments below.