September , 2018

Google My Business Review Replies are Editable from the Knowledge Panel

It’s now even easier to reply to reviews on Google My Business.  You can now reply directly from the Knowledge Panel.

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September 8-11 Algorithm Update

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.

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August , 2018

Local Services Ad Unit Now Shows Prices

Google is now showing typical prices in the area for many common home services within the Local Service ad unit.

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Google Adds the Veteran Led Attribute

Google has rolled out the “veteran led” attribute for business listings in Google My Business.

Product Posts Now Show in the Knowledge Panel

Google has added a “browse some featured items sold here” icon for businesses that are using product posts.

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GMB Adds “Menu” and “Posts” Tab For Brand Searches on Mobile

Google is testing “Menu” and “Posts” Tabs directly in the local results on mobile for branded search terms like “State Farm Eugene”

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Google Now Displays Pending Edits in Knowledge Panels

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.

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Change to GMB Insights

Google just alerted us that they recently made a change to GMB Insights that allows Google to include more places where customers find you.

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BBB Makes Big Change to Review Display

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 .

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GMB Testing “View previous posts on Google”

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.

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Facebook is Rolling Out Recommendations to Replace Reviews

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.

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Visible Email Addresses of Other Managers in Google My Business

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.

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Core Algorithm Update

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.

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July , 2018

Google My Business Websites are Upgraded to HTTPS

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 & Photos

Google Local Services added options in the dashboard to add highlights to your ads along with photos.

Google Now Shows Events on Search

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.

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Google Now Notifies You When New Listings Go Live

Provided you don’t have a bulk account or agency account, Google is now sending notifications when new listings go live on search.

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[Bug] Insights Download Issue

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 Posts

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.

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Facebook Expands Options For Flagging Reviews

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.

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Google My Business “Queries” Are Added to Insights

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.

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June , 2018

[Bug] Google Posts Getting Rejected

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 Insights

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.

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Google Launches Performance Cards in GMB Dashboard

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).

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Google Allows Brands to Claim their Knowledge Panel

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.

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Google Clears Out Tracking Numbers in GMB

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.

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Google Adds Section About Confidential Information to the Google My Business Guidelines

Google updates the Google My Business guidelines and clarifies that sharing confidential information is not allowed.

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Google Launches Attribute for Watching Sports

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.

 

 

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Google Now Emails You Confirmation For Flagging Reviews

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 Agencies

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.

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May , 2018

[Bug] GMB Edits Aren’t Working

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 Reviews

Google announced you can now search reviews on listings on the Google Maps app.

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Google Removes Anonymous Reviews

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.

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Google Sues Marketing Companies Scamming & Updates Terms for 3rd Parties

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.

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Google My Business Launches Offer Posts

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 Responses

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.

 

 

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Google Posts Now Accept Videos

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 Attributes

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.

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Google Announces Users Will Need to Pay for Maps API

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.

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Google Announces They’re Launching a Google My Business Partners Program

To be alerted about when it launches, sign up here.

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April , 2018

[Bug] Google Reviews Go Missing from Profiles

This bug is now resolved but lasted for several days where reviews that a user left were not visible on their profile.

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Posts Move to the Top of the Knowledge Panel on Mobile

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 Content

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 Broken

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 guidelines

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.”

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Google Updates the Guidelines for Events

Google has added a section to the guidelines that clarifies the policies for events on Google Maps.

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Google My Business Adds Services Field

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.

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Bug: Delay in GMB Edits Being Published

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.

March , 2018

Google My Business Adds the Business Description Field

Google has now rolled out the business description feature for Google My Business.

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Google Starts Sending Email Notifications for Q&A

Google made an update to their notifications so that now businesses are notified via email when someone posts a question to their business listing.

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Google Launches Product Posts

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 Stars

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 Dashboard

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.

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Google Launches Secondary Updates to the Classic GMB Dashboard

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.

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Google Starts Removing Inactive G+ Local Pages

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.

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Bug: User Contributions Disappeared

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 Insights

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.

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Algorithm Update

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.

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Core Algorithm Update

There was an algorithm update that we’re just calling the “March 9th algorithm update” that impacted both organic and local ranking.

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Bug: Google My Business Insights Issue

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.

Google Introduces a Women-Led Attribute You Can Add To Your GMB Listing

Google has added a “Women-Led” attribute to GMB in honor of 

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February , 2018

Q&A is Now Visible on a User’s Profile

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.

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Google Adds in Top Questions from Customers for GMB Messaging

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 Often

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.

On mobile devices, Google is now showing a directory tab on the Knowledge Panel for shopping malls that lists the stores inside the mall.

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Restaurants Can Now Add Menu Items Directly in GMB

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.

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Add an Opening Date in Google My Business

Google starts prompting businesses to add the date their business opened via the Google My Business dashboard in search.

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January , 2018

Google Updated the Review Filter

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 Business

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.

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Google Posts Now appear on Google My Business Websites

If you have created a Google Website via your Google My Business listing, your Google Posts now appear live in your website.

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Yelp Allows you to Add Users to Manage Your Business Account

You can now add other users to your listing without sharing your owner login.  

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Google Updates the Review Guidelines

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).

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Videos Come to Google My Business

The option to upload videos to a Google My Business listing showed up in the Google My Business dashboard.

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