Google Ups Its Game With Changes in Local SEO 2018

Local SEO 17 May 2018

Google, the search giant, has always managed to make headlines for its constant updates and changes in its search engine optimisation policy. With millions of online users turning to it as the primary source of content, Google has to consistently monitor the authenticity and integrity of its links. The tech mogul has to ensure that it is not picking up news references that are fake or unreliable in nature. However, this is an extremely challenging and monumental never-ending task as countless links are published every second. Google has always assured its clients and users of the strong actions being taken against spam and low-quality content that does appear on its search engine result pages. Whilst some factors are beyond even Google’s power, it continues to monitor and evaluate its operational algorithms in an attempt to streamline all content search results. Google has set its goals straight in the year of 2018.

Removal of Inactive Google Plus Pages

For the finale of Google Local and G+ separation, Google has opted to start removing any pages that have been inactive for a long time. They have started sending out emails to the owners to give a notice of 30 days to relight their digital presence on the Google Plus platform.

Along with this, Google has mentioned that this move will not affect businesses’ GMB listings or their presence on Google Search and Map.

No Review Gating

The process of verifying candidate reviews on Google is known as review gating. Review gating is, now, against the Google’s review guidelines. The guidelines have been updated as,

“Don’t discourage or prohibit negative reviews or selectively solicit positive reviews from customers.”

As the review gating is used to filter customers, which lets only those users to leave a review publically who had a good experience with the business or company. For the reviewers who had a poor experience, it directs them to leave the feedback privately. The purpose is to display the positive stars only and in a way is slightly questionable as it does not portray both sides of the brand story.

Now, the question is what can business managers do? Just turn off the review gating function. What will happen if you don’t? Google will start taking down all of the reviews present on the website. You wouldn’t want to ruin your pre-built reputation. Right?

Modified “Business Description”

In 2016, Google My business had removed the option to edit the business description field. As an end result, the process to make any amendments became a complicated process. The good news for business owners that after a two-year gap, this feature is back.  The official new name is “Description from the Business” and can easily be accessed by going in the ‘Info’ section on the GMB dashboard.

The feature is optional and just an added benefit for you as a business owner. It will appear on business listings on Google search, but will not replace the Google generated editorial summaries that appear at the top of listings. Along with this, Google has also updated the “edit your business listings” to centralize the traffic.

Support Service Menus

Many of the businesses can now add their services to the menu. Previously this feature was available to only the restaurant owners who literally have menus. However, now more businesses, be it technicians or beauticians, can add to this feature on business listings. To gain access to this feature, all you need to do is go to the ‘Google My Business Listings’ and select the ‘info’ tab. From there, you go to the ‘Add or edit items’. Go wild here and list all the services you will be/are providing. However, Google has mentioned that this feature can only be accessed if the business is connected to a third party provider and the target audience consists of English speaking locals.

Google My Business Videos

The concept of digital video marketing is growing rapidly as commercial ventures comprehend that its customer segments prefer watching videos as compared to reading textual content. After all, a picture does speak a thousand words. As such, catchy images and visuals are more likely to capture the consumer’s attention. It also helps Google to track customer interactions and to make a judgment of how relevant your business is. Moreover, this eventually helps in the ranking of your business too.

For this reason, Google has now added the feature of ‘Google My Business Videos’ to its listings. Making and adding a video to GMB listings isn’t as difficult as pulling a rabbit out of a hat.  There are plenty of self-explanatory tools out there that can help you design awesome videos. According to the guidelines, a 30 second long video can be added by both the owners and customers. You can find this feature on your GMB dashboard. By clicking on the ‘Business location’, you can easily find the ‘Add video’ tab. Keep in mind, the videos must be shot at the location of business having interaction related to your business only, or else it can be taken down.

Guidelines for Events on Google Maps

Google has designed the ability for businesses to add events to Google Maps. According to the added guidelines, the event must be local and should be occurring at a specified location. Furthermore, event titles should not have any promotional language or calls-to-action statements.

Final Word:

Since Google hit the internet world in the late 1990s, it has been constantly upgrading and changing its polices to cater the evolving needs of a technology-centered user audience. Its focus on long term SEO policies has helped businesses achieve higher ranking positions on search engine result pages. It has also challenged them to improve their online customer experience by becoming more user friendly and engaging. Removal of clutter provided by inactive pages, actions against black-hat SEO and warnings against exploiting guest posts and intrusive advertisements clearly shows that Google won’t ever be losing its value, at least not in the near future.