Google wants to make sure that your reviews accurately reflect the sentiment of the marketplace. Recently they have stated in their terms that businesses are not to use any review process that moderates the reviews that get submitted. How Google will catch a business using this practice (called 'review gating") is questionable but here is one way Google is approaching the problem.
If your website involves ecommerce, very likely there is a Google Guarantee associated with the purchase. That provides Google enough information about who is purchasing your products to then solicit reviews for the buyer's shopping experience. SNEAKY! I just got this in my email today - from Google about my purchase on Queensboro.com (a company I highly recommend but that's beside the point.)
Now it's not just the business asking for reviews, Google is asking the business' customers. Think this is an intrusion? Better get used to it.
In this case, you don't get to head a bad review off at the pass.
Just as a side note, we don't like review gating either but we recognize that some clients would rather deal with the problem before it is made public and I can't argue with that. However, most businesses, if they just get enough reviews, will end up with a 4-5 star rating even with a couple of negative reviews. It's to be expected.
TRAP - REVIEW GATING
Review gating is the practice of soliciting reviews and then ONLY sending the good ones to Google. You may think this is a good idea but be careful. Typically when we see clients soliciting reviews they are not even asking real customers. How does Google know the quality of the review? Here are some clues:
1. The reviewer only has a single review and it's for your business
2. The reviewer has no other activity in his Google account (account was setup to create a fake review)
3. The reviewer reviews other businesses even though the likelihood of using those businesses at the same time is low (lawn care is a good example).
4. The reviewer only has ever given positive reviews
5. The reviewer has only ever given negative reviews (competitor bashing)
6. Multiple reviews for the listing coming in at the same time (email solicitation).
7. Reviews have very little or no content.
8. Reviews for different businesses by the same reviewer say essentially the same thing.
9. Reviews come from the same location or IP address (don't set up a review station for your business for example)
10. Reviews come from outside of your published service area.