A List of the Major Updates We’ve Seen Impact Local Businesses Recently (Updated Weekly).
Google My Business Launches Offer PostsMay 15, 2018
These have been in Beta for a while but as of today I’m seeing Offer posts on all my listings in Google My Business.
Google Now Emails Customers Review ResponsesMay 11, 2018
Google is now sending notifications (via email) when a business owner responds to a Google review. They plan on releasing mobile push notifications later this year.
Google Posts Now Accept VideosMay 8, 2018
You can now add a video to Google Posts. Google says in their help center: We accept the following file formats for video: AVI, MP4, MOV, FLV, WMV, MPG, M4V, MKV, M2TS, and MTS. The maximum size for videos is 100 MB.
Google Adds a Clear Option for AttributesMay 3, 2018
Google added a “clear” option to attributes. Rather than being forced to select ‘yes’ or ‘no’ for attributes offered by your business, the ‘clear’ option allows you to clear any value you previously provided for that attribute. Once an attribute value is cleared, any future Google Updates to that attribute will be considered a secondary update.READ MORE
Google Announces Users Will Need to Pay for Maps APIMay 2, 2018
This change is coming June 11th. Google says “Beginning June 11, you’ll need a valid API key and a Google Cloud Platform billing account to access our core products. Once you enable billing, you will gain access to your $200 of free monthly usage to use for our Maps, Routes, and Places products. As your business grows or usage spikes, our plan will scale with you.”. What does this mean for businesses? If they are using a plugin on their website to generate a map of their location, this will likely stop working on June 11th. If they are simply embedding a map straight from Google, this shouldn’t be impacted.READ MORE
[Bug] Google Reviews Go Missing from ProfilesApril 26, 2018
This bug is now resolved but lasted for several days where reviews that a user left were not visible on their profile.READ MORE
Posts Move to the Top of the Knowledge Panel on MobileApril 23, 2018
As first noticed by Andy Simpson, Google Posts were given more visibility due to Google moving them to the top of the Knowledge Panel on mobile devices.
Google Adds to Guidelines for Restricted ContentApril 17, 2018
Google has updated the guidelines for restricted content such as alcohol, gambling & guns and added the following items:
> Content cannot feature calls to action.
> Clarified this applies to products and services that are subject to local legal regulations
> Clarified that images of menus are fine.
> Clarified that images where alcoholic beverages are present but not the main focus are also fine..
Bug: Review Notification Emails BrokenApril 13, 2018
There is a bug with email notifications where clicking the “read review” button results in a 500 error and a blank screen. One of the other Top Contributors has informed Google about it already.
Review gating is now against the google my business guidelinesApril 12, 2018
Google has updated the review guidelines to clarify that review-gating is not allowed. They added the following to their guidelines:
“Don’t discourage or prohibit negative reviews or selectively solicit positive reviews from customers.”READ MORE
Google Updates the Guidelines for EventsApril 12, 2018
Google has added a section to the guidelines that clarifies the policies for events on Google Maps.READ MORE
Google My Business Adds Services FieldApril 5, 2018
This is similar to the menu feature that was launched in February but now applies to businesses that offer services. You can add the name of your service, description, and how much it costs. It’s not available for all categories and is still rolling out so you will probably see it in some accounts and not others.READ MORE
Bug: Delay in GMB Edits Being PublishedApril 4, 2018
There is a bug that’s causing a delay in edits from Google My Business from being published. This means that content you add in the GMB dashboard doesn’t show up live in the search results right away as usual. This is impacting Posts, Descriptions, & other fields.
Google My Business Adds the Business Description FieldMarch 27, 2018
Google has now rolled out the business description feature for Google My Business.READ MORE
Google Starts Sending Email Notifications for Q&AMarch 26, 2018
Google made an update to their notifications so that now businesses are notified via email when someone posts a question to their business listing.READ MORE
Review Links Can No Longer Pre-Fill Five StarsMarch 23, 2018
This tactic that used to allow you to send a link to customers that would have the 5-stars pre-filled no longer works. Stan from Pleper confirmed that the links still direct users to the page where they can leave you a review but the 5-stars are not automatically filled in anymore. This is a great change since this tactic violates Google’s guidelines and has been known to cause businesses using the tactic to lose reviews.
Google Launches Location Groups to the New GMB DashboardMarch 22, 2018
With this feature you can create a location group that groups together a bunch of locations that you can share easily. This is a much easier alternative to business accounts.READ MORE
Google Launches Secondary Updates to the Classic GMB DashboardMarch 22, 2018
Google announced yesterday that they have now split the “updates” to your listing so that you can view the more important updates separately. Google has defined secondary updates as “non-sensitive” attributes that have been added when the listing owner has not added the value themselves.READ MORE
Google Starts Removing Inactive G+ Local PagesMarch 16, 2018
Google has started sending out emails to businesses that have not been active on Google Plus that state the pages will be removed if the business does not post something to the page within 30 days. This is another step in the divorce of Google Plus and Google My Business.READ MORE
Bug: User Contributions DisappearedMarch 15, 2018
All reviews and Questions and Answers from users disappeared. This is a known bug that was fixed the same day but we have observed that several user’s ability to publish edits was negatively affected as a result.
Changes to the Heatmap in GMB InsightsMarch 14, 2018
This update will better allow you to track which areas customers request all forms of directions from, at various zoom levels (post code, city, country). Direction requests from some post codes may appear as blank due to user privacy consideration but are included at the city level.READ MORE
Algorithm UpdateMarch 14, 2018
On March 14, 2018 there was a big shift in the search results (both organic and local) which was a tremor from the big update that happened March 9th. A lot of the changes we saw on March 9 got refined. In some cases unexplained losses from the 9th update got corrected.READ MORE
Core Algorithm UpdateMarch 9, 2018
There was an algorithm update that we’re just calling the “March 9th algorithm update” that impacted both organic and local ranking.READ MORE
Bug: Google My Business Insights IssueMarch 6, 2018
According to Google: Due to a logging bug, you may see a drop for customer actions and direction requests for March 6-12th. The bug has been fixed but will not be able to backfill this data.
Q&A is Now Visible on a User’s ProfileFebruary 23, 2018
Google has added a tab for Q&A to a user’s public profile on maps. This is only visible on the Google Maps app.READ MORE
Google Adds in Top Questions from Customers for GMB MessagingFebruary 21, 2018
We noticed Google now has quick common questions from customers in the Messaging feature in Google My Business. I’m waiting for feedback from Google on how this feature works.
Google Starts Showing Ads in the 3-Pack More OftenFebruary 20, 2018
Previously we were only able to trigger 3-pack ads when the person was searching really close (proximity) to the location. Now, we’re able to see them for businesses that are nowhere near us.
Google Adds Mall Directories to Shopping Malls Local Knowledge Panels.February 18, 2018
On mobile devices, Google is now showing a directory tab on the Knowledge Panel for shopping malls that lists the stores inside the mall.READ MORE
Restaurants Can Now Add Menu Items Directly in GMBFebruary 1, 2018
Now, in addition to using the GMB API or 3P menu service, listing owners will be able to showcase their menu directly on their Google listing for consumers on mobile by adding their own structured menu using the GMB Info tab.READ MORE
Add an Opening Date in Google My BusinessFebruary 1, 2018
Google starts prompting businesses to add the date their business opened via the Google My Business dashboard in search.READ MORE
Google Updated the Review FilterJanuary 29, 2018
This is a trend several of the Google My Business Top Contributors observed based on several threads where users lost their reviews due to the review filter that ran later in the fall of 2017 and then got them all back at the same time in January 2018.
Driving Direction Requests by Zip Code in Google My BusinessJanuary 19, 2018
It’s now possible to see where your users got driving direction requests from all the way down to the zip code level. Previously it showed the name of the city.READ MORE
Google Posts Now appear on Google My Business WebsitesJanuary 17, 2018
If you have created a Google Website via your Google My Business listing, your Google Posts now appear live in your website.READ MORE
Yelp Allows you to Add Users to Manage Your Business AccountJanuary 17, 2018
You can now add other users to your listing without sharing your owner login.READ MORE
Google Updates the Review GuidelinesJanuary 8, 2018
Google changed the wording to clarified that both positive and negative reviews from an employee or competitor are against the guidelines (before it just said negative was).READ MORE
Videos Come to Google My BusinessJanuary 3, 2018
The option to upload videos to a Google My Business listing showed up in the Google My Business dashboard.READ MORE