UPDATE: If 2018 was Google’s Year of Change, 2019 Will Be Adaptation

To say Google was extremely busy throughout 2018 would be an immense understatement. As it pertains to reputation management, Google implemented various new policies regarding consumer feedback and how to appropriately acquire it via Google My Business(GMB); and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Google not only has ramped up efforts for their GMB reviews, but massive updates to Google Maps were also rolled out in 2018.

Google invested countless hours changing various policies regarding Google reviews in 2018, and now they’re cracking down on the changes they’ve implemented. In the past, businesses were able to alter the linked destination a recent customer would be taken to depending on the initial internal feedback they gave from within the email. Often referred to as ‘review-gating’, this allows businesses to send customers to certain sites, such as Google, to share their feedback if it’s above a certain star rating.

This was specifically nullified by Google a year ago, as to ensure the accuracy and of reviews by ensuring businesses were not able to somehow manipulate the feedback they publicly received.

Google Cracks Down on Review Policies

Though this may not have seemed like a big deal prior to their announcement of the change, the aftermath in the eyes of the consumer and the business were conflicting; highlighting the importance of implementing the change from the get-go. Regardless of who felt this change more, the burden was certainly left on the business.

Since 2019 began, Google has made it clear that they’re taking these updates on their policies very seriously, and should a business aim to keep the entirety of their reviews, they best follow their guidelines. This could mean that should an abnormally large amount of reviews pour in for one particular business in a short period of time, that will likely flag the business for breaking their updated policy.

*See our recommendations for staying compliant with Google’s update to their review policy*

Additionally, the concern of fake business sites to steal customers away from the intended business and manipulate a sale has risen. This can easily raise concern amongst business owners, and for that, Google responded. They’ve createda form where users and business owners can submit false information regarding their business on Google Maps and GMB.

Fraudulent Activity Form

The form, titled the “Business Redressal Complaint Form”, allows businesses who believe there has been fraudulent activity related to the web URL, phone number and physical address of a business listed on Google Maps. Say your website is the pride and joy of your business, yet you notice there’s one almost identical to yours in address and styling, yet it contradicts the purpose and selling point of your business; you could fill out the form.

Google has stated that these forms will be reviewed by humans, not bots, to ensure the final report is accurate and all elements are taken into consideration. As it pertains to the potential spamming of businesses with fake reviews, users have the ability to flag it within GMB and Google Maps. If you are flagging a review as spam, it is recommended that you come prepared with evidence to fully support every aspect of your claim.

The release of this new form came several days before it was reported in a Google My Business forum that as of March 4, there are new guidelines regarding Google My Business accounts and who qualifies to possess one. The guidelines spell out numerous businesses that are no longer able to exist on the GMB platform, including those who do not have face-to-face contact with their customers¬†ever,¬†to list one of the many changes they’ve made.

‘Offers’ Tab in GMB Dashboard

Although Google may be gearing up for a spam war no one can easily quantify, that won’t stop them from releasing constant updates to the GMB platform; especially with their recent rollout of the new-and-improved GMB app for mobile devices. Google has added a new “Offers’ section in business’s GMB dashboards, allowing them to advertise and promote up to 10 special offers in their carousel at a time; directly from the GMB dashboard.

Follow Businesses via Google Maps

Towards the end of 2018, Google announced that users will be able to ‘follow’ various businesses from within Google My Business and Google Maps. This allows customers and intrigued consumers to receive notifications regarding specials, sales, pop-up events and much more.

Additionally, if you have an up-and-coming business that’s not quite open yet, you now have the ability to create a Google My Business profile for your business, and add pertinent information regarding the opening date, hours and anything else you want your future customers to know prior to your grand opening.

Lime Meets Google Maps

Lime, a company that allows consumers to rent bikes and electric scooters via their mobile app, has integrated with Google Maps.In over 80 cities worldwide, users will now be able to locate a Lime bike or scooter directly within Google Maps, starting last week. What this will do for both companies is yet to be known, but it’s surely something to watch out for.

At ReviewPush, we’re dedicated to ensuring our customers and readers alike are educated in the coming trends and changes to the world around them. We put the worries and concerns of our customers first and understand that each niche has different, specific needs. When it comes to ensuring you’re performing within the bounds of Google’s regulations, we have your back. As always, stay tuned for any pressing updates in the tech world, and feel free to comment with questions below or on our social accounts.


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