Google reviews are a great source of credibility to your website. Aside from having testimonials from real individuals, it is a significant help in search results to have legitimate reviews on your Google Places page. But Google has always had enforcement to be certain illegitimate reviews are minimized or eliminated. They have recently announced increased efforts “to protect both business owners and customers from spam reviews” by having systems in place to remove these reviews.
Google’s goal is not to prevent negative reviews, rather to prevent spam reviews. They want to make certain all reviews on Google Places and Local pages are honest reviews written by real people. This comes with a warning to companies attempting to improve their Search Engine Optimization (SEO) results with fake reviews. Nor can a company digitize reviews they have received elsewhere and add them to a Google+ Local page. Every review on a Google page has to be written by an individual Google account from a customer or patron of the company. It is also just as challenging to remove a legitimate negative review.
All these actions are with the intention of maintaining the integrity of Google reviews. With growing competition like Facebook’s Graph Search, Google must make certain to keep the quality and legitimacy of their Google+ Local review system. All this is good news to keep the SEO playing field more even, so long as you play by the rules.