Google My Business is finally giving businesses a little more information and control over their reviews with a new tool available here.

Through the tool, business owners or managers can view reviews, submit a request to remove misleading or problematic reviews, and check the status of takedown requests for these reviews.

How To Use The New Google My Business Review Tool

Rather than being built into the Google My Business dashboard, the tool is available through the GMB Help Center.

To get started, simply sign into the Google account related to your business and go to the help page. 

From there, select whether you want to check the status of a review or file a new report for a problematic review.

If you wish to submit a new takedown request, Google My Business will pull a list of your recent reviews which can be viewed and reported within the tool.

If you are simply checking the status of a past takedown request, the tool will show all your most recent requests along with information about the status of the request.

If you select a review, you can also get more in-depth information about the review and request. You can also submit an appeal from here if you believe a request has been improperly denied.

Only Available For Small Accounts

At this point, it appears the tool is only available for accounts with just a few Google My Business listings. Several SEO specialists who manage dozens or even hundreds of listings say they have received a message stating “Based on the number of Business Profiles you manage, this process is not available” when attempting to use the tool. It is unclear if or when GMB plans to expand the tool for larger accounts.

Getting your customers to share user-generated content like pictures with your products may be an unexpectedly powerful tool in swaying over other shoppers.

A new report from eMarketer claims that 62% of consumers are strongly influenced by user-generated content, including being more likely to buy after seeing pictures of a product shared by other shoppers. 

The survey included consumers from around the globe, including in the US, Canada, France, Germany, and the UK.

Why Shoppers Like Customer Photos and Videos

When asked why shoppers responded so strongly to user-generated content like customer photos, the surveyed consumers said:

  • It may highlight something that wasn’t obvious (24%)
  • Like to see a product in action before they buy (21%)
  • Feel more confident that the reviews are accurate (17%)
  • It’s easier to see the quality of a product (17%)
  • It’s easier to see the size/fit or color of a product (11%)
  • It’s easier to see the material of a product (7%)

Unsurprisingly, social media is largely where shoppers are finding this type of content. The survey says more than a quarter of respondents pointed to Facebook as the best place to find customer photos or videos, followed by Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest, TikTok, and Snapchat. 

With all this in mind, eMarketer principal analyst Jeremy Goldman believes user-generated content will only grow in importance for brands.

“Consumers are less trusting of the mainstream media and slick corporate marketing, turning instead to user-generated content and influencers to find their own truth.

“Why would brands spend more time and money on large-scale productions when this option exists, particularly in a world where content must be created and shifted quickly?”

Although the report largely identifies social networks as the key place for user-generated content, it is worth noting that many online retailers are also allowing customers to upload images with products directly in their reviews. By doing this, other shoppers can find this type of information without ever having to leave the page to buy your products.

Blog comments are a tricky issue for many business websites. 

On one hand, everyone dreams of building a community of loyal customers that follow every post and regularly have a healthy discussion in the comments. Not only can it be helpful for other potential customers, but comments tend to help Google rankings and help inspire future content for your site. 

On the other hand, most business-based websites receive significantly more spam than genuine comments. Even the best anti-spam measures can’t prevent every sketchy link or comment on every post. For the most part, these are more annoying than being an actual problem. However, if left completely unmonitored, spam could build up and potentially hurt your rankings.

This can make it tempting to just remove comments from your blog entirely. If you do, you don’t have to worry about monitoring comments, responding to trolls, or weeding out spam. After all, your most loyal fans can still talk about your posts on your Facebook page, right?

Unfortunately, as Google’s John Mueller recently explained, removing comments from your blog is likely to hurt more than it helps. 

John Mueller Addresses Removing Blog Comments

In a Google Search Central SEO hangout on February 5, Google’s John Mueller explored a question from a site owner about how Google factors blog comments into search rankings. Specifically, they wanted to remove comments from their site but worried about potentially dropping in the search results if they did. 

While the answer was significantly more complicated, the short version is this:

Google does factor blog comments into where they decide to rank web pages. Because of this, it is unlikely that you could remove comments entirely without affecting your rankings. 

How Blog Comments Impact Search Rankings

Google sees comments as a separate but significant part of your content. So, while they recognize that comments may not be directly reflective of your content, it does reflect things like engagement and occasionally provide helpful extra information. 

This also means that removing blog comments is essentially removing a chunk of information, keywords, and context from every blog post on your site in the search engine’s eyes. 

However, John Mueller didn’t go as far as recommending to keep blog comments over removing them. This depends on several issues including how many comments you’ve received, what type of comments you’ve gotten, and how much they have added to your SEO.

As Mueller answered:

“I think it’s ultimately up to you. From our point of view we do see comments as a part of the content. We do also, in many cases, recognize that this is actually the comment section so we need to treat it slightly differently. But ultimately if people are finding your pages based on the comments there then, if you delete those comments, then obviously we wouldn’t be able to find your pages based on that.

So, that’s something where, depending on the type of comments that you have there, the amount of comments that you have, it can be the case that they provide significant value to your pages, and they can be a source of additional information about your pages, but it’s not always the case.

So, that’s something where I think you need to look at the contents of your pages overall, the queries that are leading to your pages, and think about which of these queries might go away if comments were not on those pages anymore. And based on that you can try to figure out what to do there.

It’s certainly not the case that we completely ignore all of the comments on a site. So just blindly going off and deleting all of your comments in the hope that nothing will change – I don’t think that will happen.”

It is clear that removing blog comments entirely from your site is all but certain to affect your search rankings on some level. Whether this means a huge drop in rankings or potentially a small gain, though, depends entirely on what type of comments your site is actually losing. 

To watch Mueller’s full answer, check out the video below:

YouTube’s Trending section is one of the most coveted areas for video creators to appear, as it introduces countless users to entirely new channels and topics every day. As it is one of the few areas on YouTube which isn’t influenced by users’ watch histories, opening the opportunity for people to find things they otherwise never would have watched. 

Perhaps most importantly, the list of videos is the same for users across an entire country, meaning a video creator could theoretically reach every American user if they manage to get into the YouTube Trending section. 

Of course, as the section content creators most aspire to be in, the Trending section has also developed its fair shares of myths and misunderstandings about how it works over the years.

From the idea you have to pay someone to get in, to the belief that there is an ideal time to publish your video, YouTube’s Creator Insider channel recently debunked some of the biggest myths surrounding the prized YouTube Trending section.

Myth 1: Preferential Treatment

Perhaps the oldest myth about the YouTube Trending section is that it’s all about who you know or who you pay. Unless you have connections at YouTube or you are willing to grease some palms, you won’t break into the VIP-esque Trending section. 

Now, this is obviously not true. There is no one you can pay or buddy up to in order to get into the Trending section. 

While YouTube’s algorithms are extremely complex and can be hard to decipher, it is clear there is a method to the madness. Specifically, YouTube considers these factors when selecting the latest Trending videos:

  • View count
  • How quickly the video is generating views
  • Where the views are coming from (including off YouTube)
  • The age of the video
  • How the video performing compared to recent uploads from the same channel

Additionally, videos have to be free of excessive profanity, violence, mature, or disparaging content to appear in the Trending section. 

Myth 2: You’ve Got To Be Well-Known

Due to its nature, there is a commonly held belief that the Trending section is dominated exclusively by famous comedians, talk-show hosts, and influencers with massive followings like Jake Paul or PewDiePie. 

Not only is that not how the Trending section works, it goes against the actual purpose of the list. 

While many recognizable faces regularly appear in YouTube Trending, the company actually works to guarantee at least half of the videos at any given time come from smaller creators. 

In addition to this, the YouTube Trending section also includes areas which specifically showcase a daily “creator on the rise” and “artist on the rise.”

Myth 3: There’s a Perfect Time To Publish

Since YouTube has never revealed the more minute details about the Trending section, many have developed theories about the ideal time and way to publish their video to boost their chances. 

This one falls under mostly false. The YouTube Trending feed updates every 15 minutes, so exactly when your video is uploaded does very little to directly influence your chances. 

However, it is very possible there is a best time to publish for your audience. This is something that can only be discovered through trial, error, and analysis, though, so I wouldn’t spend much energy listening to anyone who says you have to be publishing at a specific time to make it on the Trending list. 


To hear more about these myths and their explanations, check out the full video from YouTube’s Creator Insider channel below:

Google released its “Year in Search” report breaking down the biggest trends in search in 2020. As you might expect with everything that has happened this year, though, the biggest trends show a more somber, serious tone than in the past. 

Coronavirus and the 2020 election dominate many of the lists, even directly affecting the trends for concerts, events, and recipes we searched for this year.

Still, there are some bright spots among the year’s search trends. Not only did we find new ways to connect with those we love and care about, the social limitations we faced pushed us to try new things, learn new hobbies, and watch some distinctly Oklahoman TV shows.

In Google’s report, you can find data and topics from around the world, including 70 different countries. Below, we’re going to share some of the most revealing US search trends from this year.

Top US Search Trends in 2020

When we look at the big picture, it is immediately apparent how much covid has impacted our lives. The topic accounts for 3 of the top 5 spots for the overall top searches.

Top US Searches

  1. Election results
  2. Coronavirus
  3. Kobe Bryant
  4. Coronavirus update
  5. Coronavirus symptoms

Next, let’s explore a few new categories directly inspired by coronavirus:

Top “How to Make” Searches

  1. How to make hand sanitizer
  2. How to make a face mask with fabric
  3. How to make whipped coffee
  4. How to make a mask with a bandana
  5. How to make a mask without sewing

Top Virtual Searches

  1. Virtual field trips
  2. Virtual museum tours
  3. Virtual Kentucky Derby
  4. Virtual learning
  5. Virtual NBA fans

Top “… During Coronavirus” Searches

  1. Best stocks to buy during coronavirus
  2. Dating during coronavirus
  3. Dentist open during coronavirus
  4. Unemployment during coronavirus
  5. Jobs hiring during coronavirus

As Google says in the opening of the report, “2020 was the year we asked ‘why?’”

This is because “why?” searches were more common than ever before for a huge range of topics:

Top “Why?” Searches

  1. Why were chainsaws invented
  2. Why is there a coin shortage
  3. Why was George Floyd arrested
  4. Why is Nevada taking so long
  5. Why is TikTok getting banned

And, of course, we have to talk about the biggest TV shows of the year. 

It didn’t matter where you turned in 2020, you were bound to hear about Tiger King, a documentary series about a ragtag web of exotic animal breeders which somehow included murder, cults, and international drug-smuggling. 

The rest of the list is entirely made up of Netflix shows, highlighting the services dominance as we have been cooped up at home.

Top TV Show Searches

  1. Tiger King
  2. Cobra Kai
  3. Ozark
  4. The Umbrella Academy
  5. The Queen’s Gambit

If you’re interested in expanded versions of the lists below, or the top searches from around the world, be sure to check out Google’s Year in Search Report for 2020 here.

After shuttering the public verification process more than three years ago, Twitter is relaunching the system – with some changes. 

Recently, the company stated it plans to reopen the public verification application process in early 2021 after collecting feedback about the process. 

As Twitter says in the announcement:

“We plan to relaunch verification, including a new public application process, in early 2021. But first, we need to update our verification policy with your help.

This policy will lay the foundation for future improvements by defining what verification means, who is eligible for verification and why some accounts might lose verification to ensure the process is more equitable.”

While many of the changes are yet to be cemented until the platform has gathered more feedback, Twitter has given some insight into how it will be approaching verification.

Who Can Be Verified?

According to the announcement, you must meet two criteria to be verified.

“To receive the blue badge, your account must be notable and active.”

The first half of this means that six different types of public figures, organizations, or companies are eligible for the public verification process.

These are:

  • Government
  • Companies, Brands and Non-Profit Organizations
  • News
  • Entertainment
  • Sports
  • Activists, Organizers, and Other Influential Individuals

As for being active, Twitter defines this based on 4 factors:

  • Completion: Accounts must have a full profile name and bio, as well as profile and banner images.
  • Present: You must have logged onto Twitter at least once in the past 6 months. 
  • Secure: The account must have a confirmed email address or phone number.
  • Following Twitter’s Rules: Accounts that have been locked for 12-hours or 7-days due to user conduct within the past 6 months are not eligible for verification. The only exception is if you have successfully appealed the account suspension.

Prohibited Types of Accounts

Some types of accounts will also be ineligible for the public verification process, even if they meet the “notable and active” requirements. These include:

  • Parody, newsfeed, commentary, or fan accounts.
  • Accounts for pets or fictional characters unless directly affiliated with a verified brand or entertainment production. This means that a verified account for Scooby-Doo would be allowed if the account is operated by Hannah-Barbera or one of the channels it airs on, but not one operated by you or me. 
  • Accounts which have engaged in severe violations of Twitter’s guidelines on platform manipulation or spam, such as buying or selling followers or retweets.
  • Accounts representing individuals or groups linked to harmful or hateful activity. 

Of course, Twitter reserves the right to revoke an account’s verification at any time. This could occur for a variety of reasons, including:

  • Letting the account become incomplete or inactive.
  • The individual is no longer in the public position which made them eligible for verification.
  • Violations of Twitter’s rules and guidelines.

Subject To Change

Currently, nothing is set in stone regarding the public verification process when it comes in 2021. Even the posted policies could be tweaked or changed before the final version is implemented. 

To help decide on any changes, Twitter is holding an open feedback period from November 24, 2020 to December 8, 2020. If you would like to provide your opinion, you can by completing this survey.

YouTube is giving video publishers new insights into where their views are coming from with a new report in YouTube Analytics. 

As explained in the latest update on the Creator Insider channel, YouTube’s team says the new report will make it easier to see where people are finding your videos along with what is overperforming and underperforming. 

The new data is directly viewable in the Overview area of the Analytics tab in YouTube Studio. 

In the section called “How viewers found this video”, you’ll find details on the percentage of views generated by each traffic source along with the overall number of viewers from each source. 

Currently, the sources in the report include: 

  • Notifications
  • Subscriptions feed
  • YouTube recommendations
    • YouTube Home
    • Up next
  • Channel pages

There is also a category labeled “Other” which would include any other traffic sources like links sent between friends or random placements. 

Along with the raw data on traffic sources, the report includes a green arrow, grey arrow, or dash next to each source. This reflects how the traffic source is performing compared to other videos on your channel. 

A green upward pointing arrow indicates the traffic source is performing better than usual. A sash or no indicator would suggest either the traffic source is performing about the same as usual, or the system does not have enough data to estimate the relative performance of that source. 

Lastly, a grey downward arrow says that source is underperforming. 

While it is perfectly normal for the traffic sources for each video to vary based on a number of factors, consistently low numbers from a source may show you need to invest efforts to improve in that area. 

For example, you might find that subscribers are not returning to your latest videos – suggesting your latest topics are not as relevant to their interests. 

Also mentioned – New Free YouTube Audio Library

In the same video, the Creator Insider channel revealed that YouTube is providing creators with a free collection of thousands of songs and sound effects to use in your videos. 

This should make it immeasurably simpler for video creators to find copyright-free music and ensure your video will not be penalized or removed for licensing issues. 

Most importantly for those driving revenue through YouTube, you can still monetize videos when using the licensed audio from the YouTube audio library.

Search engine algorithms are tightly protected, with most of what we know pieced together through data. Google, YouTube, Bing, and Facebook prefer to keep as little publicly known as possible, to prevent people from “gaming” the algorithm to leapfrog to the top of the results. 

This week, however, YouTube revealed quite a bit about its video recommendation algorithm in a Q&A, including how a few signals directly impact rankings. 

Below, we’ve collected a few of the best questions asked in the Q&A, as well as the responses from YouTube’s team responsible for maintaining the YouTube recommendation algorithm.

Underperforming Videos

Many believe that having even one or two underperforming videos can hurt your channel overall. Is it true that a few poor videos can affect your future videos’ performance?

YouTube recognizes that not every video is going to be a smash hit. In fact, they regularly see that some channels have videos that perform very well, while others fail to hit the mark. 

This is why YouTube focuses more on how people are responding to a given video, rather than past video performance. 

As the team says, the recommendation algorithm will always “follow the audience”.

Too Many Uploads

Is there a point where a creator can be uploading too many videos? Can having a large number of uploads in a day hurt your chances of being recommended?

The simple answer here is no. YouTube’s recommendation algorithm does not directly punish channels for uploading too many videos in a day. 

In fact, there are channels which benefit from uploading numerous videos in a series at once. 

What it comes down to is how many videos your viewers are willing to watch at once. 

The recommendation algorithm will continue to recommend your videos to viewers so long as they continue to watch. 

However, if you begin to lose viewers with each successive upload, it may be a sign that your audience is at their limit. 

While there is no limit to how many videos YouTube will recommend from your channel, there is a limit to how many notifications viewers will receive in a given day. Viewers can receive up to three notifications for new videos from a single channel in a 24 hour period. 

Inactive Subscribers

After a few years, channels can develop a significant number of inactive subscribers. Can these hurt your channel, and would it be beneficial to start a new channel to reduce these numbers?

YouTube knows that there are many reasons subscribers can become inactive. Because of this, they do not factor in inactive subscribers when recommending videos. 

With this in mind, there is no real value to starting a new channel to reduce inactive subscribers or reconnect with lost viewers. 

The only reason you should consider starting a new channel is if you decide to go in a different direction with your content.

External Traffic

Does external traffic help your channel?

External traffic is absolutely a factor that YouTube’s recommendation algorithm considers and can help your videos get recommended. 

However, there are limits.

While external traffic will help your video get recommended to viewers, it has to continue to perform well to continue being shown. 

To continue being recommended, viewers have to not only click on your video but respond well to the content. 

Does this mean it will hurt my video if I’m getting lots of traffic from external websites and it is dragging down my click-through-rates and average view durations?

This is actually a common phenomenon so YouTube will not punish your video if the average view duration drops when receiving large amounts of external traffic. 

What really matters is how people respond after clicking on your video in their recommendations.

To hear the YouTube recommendation team answer these questions in more detail, watch the full video below:

The holiday shopping season is starting to heat up as retailers across the country prepare for the onslaught following Thanksgiving.

This year, the holiday shopping season is almost definitely going to look a lot different than in past years. Still, all estimates suggest this year’s holiday sales will be as big as ever.

To help you get prepped, Google is releasing a 27-page guide full of case-studies, useful data, and insightful predictions on this year’s holiday shopping. 

While these bits of info cover a wide range of topics, they broadly fall into 3 categories: search behavior, changes in online shopping, and buying behavior.

Google Search Behavior and Holiday Shopping

In the guide, Google highlights a range of specific search terms that have been shooting up in popularity:

  • Searches for “best affordable” have grown globally by over 60% year-over-year.
  • Searches for “fashion online shopping” are up 600% year-over-year.
  • Searches for “online clothing stores” have increased 100% globally year-over-year.
  • Searches for “available near me” have grown over 100% globally year-over-year.
  • Searches for “curbside pickup” have grown over 3,000% globally year-over-year.
  • Searches for “support local businesses” grew by over 20,000% since last year.

What This Means For You

This data provides two real takeaways for business owners. The first is that Google is seeing a huge influx of new online shoppers – especially when it comes to buying clothes. This leads us to the second takeaway, the COVID-19 pandemic has made many people reluctant to shop in-store, even when they want to support local businesses.

To accommodate this shift in behavior, it is more essential than ever that businesses provide a range of shopping methods including online stores and contactless pickup.

Changes In Shopping Behavior

With this in mind, Google conducted a survey to see how holiday shoppers are adapting to the unique challenges of 2020. Here’s what they found:

  • 69% of US shoppers plan to shop online for the holidays more than in previous years (with more people going online to browse and buy for the very first time.)
  • More than 50% of surveyed US shoppers tried a new shopping service for the first time this year.
  • More than one in ten surveyed US shoppers tried a new shopping app for the first time this year.
  • 70% of US shoppers said they were open to buying from new retailers.

What This Means For You

We are all generally resistant to change, but the reality of this year has everyone outside of their comfort zones and trying new things. This is clear in our shopping behavior.

Not only are shoppers trying new ways to shop, they are opening themselves to buying from new retailers who have stepped up to the challenge. 

Buying Behavior of Holiday Shoppers

The last selection of stats and data turns the attention towards what shoppers are expecting as they enter the holiday shopping season:

  • 62% of US shoppers will start holiday shopping earlier to avoid items being out of stock.
  • 46% of online US shoppers expect retailers to offer discounts.
  • 77% of US holiday shoppers said they would browse for gift ideas online, not in-store.
  • 46% of surveyed US shoppers agreed that “I make a deliberate effort to shop at businesses that align with my values.”
  • 66% of US consumers who plan to shop this holiday season said they will shop more at local small businesses.

What This Means For You

While the swell in people shopping locally online may seem like a broad shift in consumer desires and behavior, it can also be read as a sign that many local shoppers have been pushed online this year. 

Additionally, many consumers are making a concerted effort to support businesses in the community who may be struggling during the pandemic. 

The increase in tension surrounding the elections is also reflected in this data, as many showed they are focused on shopping at places which align with their values. 

To read the full report yourself and get even more insights into the 2020 holiday shopping season, click here

Over the weekend, YouTube announced a series of 5 new updates to make it easier for people to find, watch, and interact with videos on mobile devices. 

The updates affect a wide range of features while also introducing a few new ways to use the YouTube app, including:

  • Easier Browsing of Video Chapters
  • Streamlined Player Pages
  • New Gestures
  • Suggested Actions
  • Bedtime Reminders

As the video platform says in the announcement

“With a global community of two billion people on YouTube, we’re always looking for ways to make it easier to watch and interact with your favorite videos.”

With that in mind, let’s explore these new updates which are now available for all mobile users.

Better Video Chapters

YouTube is building on its video chapters feature (which lets content creators break up their videos into digestible sections).

Now, users can browse a complete list of all the chapters in your videos as they are watching. This makes it easier to rewind or skip to the most interesting sections. 

In the list, each chapter will have its own individual thumbnail, title, and timestamp. 

As before, these chapters are set by simply writing out the timestamps and titles in the description section of your videos. 

The only requirements are that you include at least three chapters in your video, with the first one beginning at “0:00”. Additionally, each chapter must be at least 10 seconds long. 

These chapters also appear in Google search results, making this a powerful form of SEO for your videos. 

Streamlined Video Player

YouTube has subtly simplified its player page with a few tweaks:

  • Closed Captions button has been moved to the top.
  • Autoplay toggle has also been moved to the top.
  • Rearranging some buttons, such as the “Save” and “Share” buttons previously at the top.

New Gestures

The app has been improved to support new gestures, including a quick way to exit full-screen mode. Now, you just have to swipe up to enter full-screen mode, then swipe down to exit.

You can also quickly pull up details like elapsed time and time remaining by tapping the timestamp. 

Suggested Actions

YouTube is now notifying users when a video is meant to be watched a specific way. For example, a VR device will be recommended when trying to watch a video made for virtual reality, and the app will suggest rotating your phone to properly view a widescreen format video. 

Bedtime Reminders

The last feature is focused on helping users maintain their well-being by setting specific times to stop watching videos and go to sleep. 

The feature can be set up in the settings section or by tapping your profile picture and selecting “Time Watched”. 

From there, you can set up reminders and select if you would like the tool to “Wait until I finish my video to show reminder”.

When the alert appears, you can snooze the reminder which will turn it off for 10 minutes. After that time the reminder will pop up again. 


These features are all available now for all users on iOS and Android devices. They are rolling out to others in the next few days.