Google My Business (GMB) has become an important factor in SEO campaigns and improving rankings. Google has increasingly placed importance on it, and businesses that take advantage of the feature see the benefits. GMB has tons of benefits from map listings, customer reviews, Q&A, and more, but the platform has been plagued with issues.
One of the biggest issues has been with reviews. Online reviews are key to having a successful online business. It’s the first thing most customers look at before purchasing a product or hiring a service. Unfortunately, many shady businesses have taken advantage of this by either flooding their own GMB with fake positive reviews or even worse, flooding their competitors with fake bad reviews. Getting Google to remove this hasn’t always been simple, and review spam has been the biggest issue with the platform for a while. Thankfully they seem to finally be addressing that with their latest updates to the feature.
Here’s what’s changed.
The process for flagging a review is the same, but the page now looks a bit different. The business owner is asked “why are you reporting this review” and is offered these options:
- Off Topic: review doesn’t pertain to an experience at or with this business
- Spam: Review is from a bot, fake account, or contains ads and promotions
- Conflict of Interest: Review is from someone affiliated with the business or a competitor’s business
- Profanity: Review contains swear words, has sexually explicit language, or details graphic violence or other illegal activity
- Bullying or Harassment: Review personally attacks a specific individual
- Discrimination or Hate Speech: Review has harmful language about an individual or group based on identity
- Personal Information: Contains personal information such as addresses or phone number
After selecting which option is best, business owners are also shown a new confirmation screen after submitting a review flag.
The changes are small but significant. One key change is that the descriptions for the review choices weren’t there before. This will help people select which option to choose and give greater insight into what types of reviews are against Google’s guidelines.
Another change is that there previously used to only be one option called “hateful, violent, or inappropriate”, which has now been split into three specific ones. The personal information option is also new and will really help businesses that have had their employee’s personal details posted.
What it Means
These changes are long overdue, and hopefully, these suggest that Google is paying more attention to the platform they have been pushing for so long. Many businesses have been reluctant to join GMB because of the review spam and abuse that have long-gone unchecked. The new changes will hopefully make the review flagging feature faster and easier to use.