A List of the Major Updates We’ve Seen Impact Local Businesses Recently (Updated Weekly).
Google Starts Displaying Testimonials on GMB WebsitesFebruary 12, 2019
If you’re using a Google My Business website, Google appears to now be displaying testimonials on your site if you have good reviews. Mike Blumenthal shared a link to see examples here.
Google Testing Google Posts in the Local FinderFebruary 8, 2019
Dave DiGregorio noticed that Google is pulling in snippets from previous posts into the Knowledge Panel. I have been unable to replicate it.READ MORE
Google Confirms they are Consolidating to Canonicals in Search ConsoleFebruary 6, 2019
On April 10, 2019 Google will be unifying data from January 2018 so that all data shows on the canonical URL. For those of us in Local Search, this means we can’t use UTM parameters in Google My Business to segment traffic in Search Console.READ MORE
[Bug] Google My Business Messaging Doesn’t Work With Location GroupsFebruary 4, 2019
If you set up Messaging via the Google My Business app and your listing is connected to a Google My Business dashboard that utilizes location groups, your messages won’t arrive.
Social Icons are Back on Local Knowledge PanelsJanuary 28, 2019
We’re seeing social media icons in Local Knowledge Panels for tons of small businesses. It’s been a long time since we’ve seen these consistently on a large number of local businesses.READ MORE
[Bug] Google My Business PhotosJanuary 25, 2019
“Profile” photos in Google My Business are now called “Logo”January 24, 2019
What you previously uploaded as a “profile” photo in the Google My Business dashboard has been re-named to “Logo”.
[Bug] Google Wipes Service Menus From GMB ListingsJanuary 17, 2019
Lots of people are reporting issues with Google removing the service menu from their GMB listing.READ MORE
Spammers Add Future Opening Dates to Remove GMB ListingsJanuary 16, 2019
Google has fixed this issue that was making it possible for spammers to completely remove verified listings by adding an opening date in the future.READ MORE
GMB Updates Guidelines Regarding Virtual OfficesJanuary 15, 2019
This update finally makes it explicitly clear that you must have your own staff to qualify for a GMB listing at a virtual office.READ MORE
Massive Drops in Search Console for Sites Using UTM Codes in GMBJanuary 14, 2019
Something has changed where Search Console is not reporting on the UTM codes for impressions (they are still reporting for clicks) which is causing a huge drop in impressions for anyone utilizing UTM codes in Google My Business.READ MORE
Yelp Has a Huge Algorithm Update Wiping Out Tons of ReviewsDecember 19, 2018
It’s hard to put a date on this since it started in November and continued into December. Yelp updated their “recommendation software” which resulted in a lot of businesses losing reviews.READ MORE
Over 3 Million Fake 4-Star Reviews PostedDecember 3, 2018
I believe this is the largest fake review attack we have seen yet. Due to the massive amount of businesses it impacted, it deserves a spot on our timeline.READ MORE
Google Rolls out “Sold Here” to Local Search ResultsDecember 1, 2018
Google is now showing “sold here:” in the local results for product searches.READ MORE
You Can Now Include Hashtags in Google ReviewsNovember 27, 2018
Google made it so that hashtags are clickable in the Google Maps app when they’re in reviews.READ MORE
Google Launches a New Sign Up Process for Service Area BusinessesNovember 20, 2018
When you go to add a new listing to Google My Business, the second step now asks you if you want your business location to be visible on Google Maps. If you select “no” it will un-associate your address with the listing.READ MORE
Google Changes Communications Managers to Site ManagersNovember 14, 2018
Google is renaming the roll of Communications Managers to Site Managers. This user type will be able to create & manage Google Posts, update business hours/address/phone number, and manage business attributes on the listing.
Google My Business App Gets UpdatedNovember 14, 2018
Google launched a new version of the GMB app that includes a customer tab showing information about followers on Google Maps, a message tab for customer messaging & more.READ MORE
Google Adds “See Other Locations” on MobileNovember 12, 2018
Previously this only showed up on the Google Maps app (near the bottom of the listing) but Google is expanding this to show up right below the address field on mobile browsers as well.
Google Adds a Follow Button on Google MapsNovember 2, 2018
Google has added follow buttons to Google My Business listings on the Google Maps app on Android. Once you follow a business, updates from them will show up in your “For You” tab.READ MORE
Google Automatically Removes Addresses from Service Area Business ListingsOctober 31, 2018
If you run a service area business that had the address hidden, Google automatically deleted it from the Google My Business dashboard. They also removed the option to target a radius around your business address.READ MORE
[Bug] Images Are Missing in the Knowledge PanelOctober 29, 2018
If you aren’t seeing images in the Knowledge Panel, it’s not just you.READ MORE
Add a Listing With a Future Opening DateOctober 24, 2018
Google announced that they’re allowing businesses to add listings for locations that are not open yet.READ MORE
Reserve with Google Now Shows in the 3-PackOctober 22, 2018
There are now booking calls-to-action directly in the 3-pack for business listings that utilizing Reserve With Google.READ MORE
Google Ads Automates Location ExtensionsOctober 22, 2018
Previously a business owner had the option of connecting Google My Business with Google Ads. According to this email, this process is going to be automatic as of October 22, 2018 which means a business has to opt out in order to keep their Google My Business listings from showing as Location Extensions on their ads.READ MORE
Google My Business Adds Products [Beta]October 19, 2018
This feature is currently in Beta but allows business owners to add a digital catalog for products that the business sells which can be organized by “collections”.READ MORE
Google Rolling Out More Graphic-Heavy Local Finder ResultsOctober 18, 2018
Google seems to be rolling out the image-heavy Local Finder results to more industries.READ MORE
Google My Business Adds Branded Search Reporting to InsightsOctober 18, 2018
Google added a new metric in the local Insights report where you can see how many people search for your brands related to your company.
Google Announces They are Shutting Down Google PlusOctober 8, 2018
The inevitable has finally occurred. Google announced yesterday, “We are shutting down Google+ for consumers.”READ MORE
Google My Business Launches a Migration Tool for the Agency DashboardOctober 5, 2018
Google My Business has just announced that they are launching a migration tool to help organization migrate existing GMB accounts.READ MORE
Local Services Ads Add a Same-Day Service OptionSeptember 28, 2018
As pointed out by Tom Waddington, some listings now allow you to add “Same-Day service” as an option in the Local Services Ads dashboard.
You can Now Manually Add the “Located In” Feature to a GMB ListingSeptember 28, 2018
Previously this could only be done by contacting Google My Business support. Colan explains how there is a way now to edit the listing and add this information yourself.READ MORE
Google Posts Move to the Bottom of the Knowledge PanelSeptember 27, 2018
Mike Blumenthal and Ben Fisher alerted me that they are noticing Google Posts are now showing up at the bottom of the Knowledge Panel.READ MORE
Advanced Verification Launches in CanadaSeptember 27, 2018
Locksmiths in Canada are now required to pass Advanced Verification to run ads. This is the first time Advanced Verification has expanded outside the USA.
Google Posts Now Support 1500 CharactersSeptember 26, 2018
Google Posts content went from 300 to a max of 1,500 characters.READ MORE
Algorithm UpdateSeptember 26, 2018
This algorithm update seems to be tied to the Medic update in August.READ MORE
Google My Business Review Replies are Editable from the Knowledge PanelSeptember 14, 2018
It’s now even easier to reply to reviews on Google My Business. You can now reply directly from the Knowledge Panel.READ MORE
September 8-11 Algorithm UpdateSeptember 8, 2018
On September 8-11, Google started rolling out another pretty significant algorithm update. We’ve seen this as more of an “adjustment” to the Medic algorithm update that happened in August. Mostly the same sites have been effected and we’re seeing this impacting both organic and the local search results.READ MORE
Local Services Ad Unit Now Shows PricesAugust 23, 2018
Google is now showing typical prices in the area for many common home services within the Local Service ad unit.READ MORE
Google Adds the Veteran Led AttributeAugust 21, 2018
Google has rolled out the “veteran led” attribute for business listings in Google My Business.
Product Posts Now Show in the Knowledge PanelAugust 20, 2018
Google has added a “browse some featured items sold here” icon for businesses that are using product posts.READ MORE
GMB Adds “Menu” and “Posts” Tab For Brand Searches on MobileAugust 16, 2018
Google is testing “Menu” and “Posts” Tabs directly in the local results on mobile for branded search terms like “State Farm Eugene”READ MORE
Google Now Displays Pending Edits in Knowledge PanelsAugust 15, 2018
For quite some time Google has showed pending edits to a listing on the Google Maps app on mobile. Tom Waddington noticed yesterday that Google is now showing this on desktop as well.READ MORE
Change to GMB InsightsAugust 13, 2018
Google just alerted us that they recently made a change to GMB Insights that allows Google to include more places where customers find you.READ MORE
BBB Makes Big Change to Review DisplayAugust 12, 2018
The BBB made a big change in the way that customer reviews were displayed on their profiles. The review stars that display are now a reflection of the customer reviews instead of the previous composite score .READ MORE
GMB Testing “View previous posts on Google”August 7, 2018
Google is testing out a “View previous posts on Google” at the bottom of the local knowledge panel when a listing has no live Google Posts.READ MORE
Facebook is Rolling Out Recommendations to Replace ReviewsAugust 6, 2018
Now, when you recommend a restaurant or local business to a friend, Facebook will encourage you to write a more robust version of that recommendation by requiring a minimum character count and letting you add photos. That will then be added as a review to that establishment’s Facebook page.READ MORE
Visible Email Addresses of Other Managers in Google My BusinessAugust 2, 2018
Ben Fisher noticed on Twitter that you can now see the email address of other owners and managers of a listing inside Google My Business. To do this you need to hover over the name of the person and the email address will appear.READ MORE
Core Algorithm UpdateAugust 1, 2018
There was a big algorithm update on July 31-August 1 that is still rolling out. We’re seeing some huge changes in both organic and local rankings.READ MORE
Google My Business Websites are Upgraded to HTTPSJuly 30, 2018
Existing and new GMB websites and custom Google domains that route to the GMB website will have the upgraded security of HTTPS.
Google Local Services Adds Highlights & PhotosJuly 27, 2018
Google Local Services added options in the dashboard to add highlights to your ads along with photos.
Google Now Shows Events on SearchJuly 26, 2018
Google has made it so that users in the USA searching for things like “events near me” will trigger a list of events in your area.READ MORE
Google Now Notifies You When New Listings Go LiveJuly 17, 2018
Provided you don’t have a bulk account or agency account, Google is now sending notifications when new listings go live on search.READ MORE
[Bug] Insights Download IssueJuly 13, 2018
There were many reports of locations missing in Google My Business Insights when people download insights in bulk. The issue was corrected July 26th for the regular dashboard but is still broken in the Agency dashboard.
Google Adds a “Call Button” to Google PostsJuly 12, 2018
Google is now allowing you to add a “Call Now” button as the call-to-action on a Google Post. Previously, it only allowed you to add a link to a page on your website.READ MORE
Facebook Expands Options For Flagging ReviewsJuly 3, 2018
Facebook now has a new interface for flagging reviews. Instead of just being able to report the review, you can now specify why it should be removed.READ MORE
Google My Business “Queries” Are Added to InsightsJuly 2, 2018
Google has started to roll out a feature inside Google My Business Insights that tells you the top queries people used to find your business. This used to be in the dashboard back when Google Places existed. Google has confirmed that this is not a test and will be rolling out to everyone soon.READ MORE
[Bug] Google Posts Getting RejectedJune 26, 2018
There was a bug at the end of June that rejected Google Posts that weren’t violating any guidelines. This has been corrected now.
GMB Launches Subjective Attributes in InsightsJune 26, 2018
Google My Business launched a subjective attributes report inside the Insights section of Google My Business. These are attributes that Google relies on customers’ opinions for.READ MORE
Google Launches Performance Cards in GMB DashboardJune 25, 2018
Google adds a performance card to the homepage of the GMB dashboard that shows how many view, searches, and actions your business has received in the last 28 days (compared to the previous period).READ MORE
Google Allows Brands to Claim their Knowledge PanelJune 22, 2018
Google has made it possible for brands to claim their knowledge panel. I cannot help but notice that the photo they use shows it going to Google Posts and it makes me wonder if they’ll be integrating Google Posts for brands.READ MORE
Google Clears Out Tracking Numbers in GMBJune 22, 2018
I heard lots of reports that Google switched out call tracking numbers on Google My Business listings. So far, adding them back seems to have worked.READ MORE
Google Adds Section About Confidential Information to the Google My Business GuidelinesJune 21, 2018
Google updates the Google My Business guidelines and clarifies that sharing confidential information is not allowed.READ MORE
Google Launches Attribute for Watching SportsJune 14, 2018
If you allow customers to watch sports at your business, Google has released a “good for watching sports” attribute. In the Google My Business dashboard, some categories now have a “sports” attribute that they can select. This shows as a icon on their About tab on mobile and Google says that the attribute will also be featured on the Overview tab (mobile only) for the month of the World Cup. So far, I’m only seeing this for restaurants but it likely is available to a few other categories as well.
Google Stops Showing Local Results For Many Sex-Related Legal QueriesJune 10, 2018
We don’t know the exact day in June that this happened but Google stopped showing local results for many criminal lawyers for queries related to sex crimes.READ MORE
Google Now Emails You Confirmation For Flagging ReviewsJune 6, 2018
When you flag a review inside the GMB dashboard, Google now emails you to confirm that they received your report.
Google My Business Launches a Dashboard for AgenciesJune 5, 2018
Google announced that they launched the new agency dashboard. Unfortunately, in order to set it up you need to have an email attached to your domain name that currently has no listings attached to it.READ MORE
[Bug] GMB Edits Aren’t WorkingMay 29, 2018
There is a bug currently that is keeping edits in the Google My Business dashboard from publishing. Although you see something updated in the dashboard, the live version of your listing is still wrong.
Google told me the bug should be fixed by June 4th.
Google Adds the Ability to Search for Keywords in ReviewsMay 29, 2018
Google announced you can now search reviews on listings on the Google Maps app.READ MORE
Google Removes Anonymous ReviewsMay 24, 2018
If you noticed your review count drop recently, it’s likely due to Google no longer counting anonymous reviews. This was an intended change and the reviews will not be coming back.READ MORE
Google Sues Marketing Companies Scamming & Updates Terms for 3rd PartiesMay 23, 2018
Well-Known scammers like Point Break Media & Beyond Menu are being targeted by Google as they work with the FTC to take legal action against companies that are misleading small businesses. They also updated their policies for 3rd parties and have a form now to report violations.READ MORE
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
Google Launches Product PostsMarch 25, 2018
This new type of Google Post is designed to highlight your products and has its own tab on mobile.
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