Is Google Replacing LSA Reviews with GBP Reviews?

A UK notification suggests that LSA reviews are going to be "unified" with Google Business Profile reviews in July.

Is Google Replacing LSA Reviews with GBP Reviews?

Local Services Ads (LSA) reviews have long been total crap and wildly effective at deceiving consumers. They are easily faked, readily bought, open to a great deal of abuse and offer no effective moderation process. They have been distinct from Google Business Profile reviews and I have long wondered why Google didn't just create a single, effective review system.

Now, they might just be heading in that direction.

A user in the UK recently shared this LSA notification with me indicating that (at least in the UK) LSA reviews are going to be replaced with Google Business Profile reviews.

Widespread LSA Abuse

When LSAs first rolled out, the idea was to have reviews from verified customers of a business. However the links provided, instead of being job specific, were generic and allowed anyone to leave LSA reviews, including spammers.

Not only were LSA reviews easy to buy, the system was easy to game, with businesses figuring out how to "borrow" thousands of reviews from national parks and other popular locations. Inevitably this led to significant fraud in the LSA world.

Lack of Moderation Filters

Starting in winter of 2022, under pressure from the FTC, Google Business Profiles implemented new AI driven review filters that addressed a great deal of home services review fraud. While these filters were imperfect, with a fair number of false positives, they were an improvement and have continued to improve. No such filters made their way over to LSA reviews. Thus purchased reviews stayed up, even if they were obviously and easily identified as fraudulent or manipulated.

No Escalation Process

To comply with new EU regulations, Google Business Profiles created a relatively successful support-based escalation process that allowed businesses experiencing fake review attacks (and missing reviews) to file a ticket. The process offered the option of several appeals and the hope of Google intervention with some possibility of redress. While not even close to perfect, it is dramatically better than the LSA method.

No such process existed for LSA reviews until recently. Last year a simple reporting form was provided. But submissions via this form went into a deep, dark hole and provided no communication once the report was filed. If the reviews were not removed there was no appeal options, let alone a way to communicate with the LSA team.

So while jobs booked via LSAs were "guaranteed" by Google, LSA reviews were largely a joke – but consumers were regularly fooled.

Hope Springs Eternal

Your old customer reviews link will expire by 2024-07-08 as we're unifying review collection with Google Business Profile. In order to receive a new link and continue serving ads please complete business profile verification

The message posted above has not been seen in the US and has not been confirmed by Google so we can't be sure if this is a local UK change or (hopefully) a worldwide rollout.

In March, there were reports of an improved LSA verification process rolling out that requires verification within 60 days or your LSA will be removed. While the GBP review process leaves a lot to be desired, we can only hope this verification process and review change are part of larger changes that clean up LSA reviews as well.