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Instagram is making it easier to find nearby businesses and places using its interactive maps.

The feature was revealed by Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg in a post showcasing the new maps features:

In the past. Instagram’s maps were limited to strictly showing popular posts from users nearby. With this new update though, users can search or filter the maps to find local businesses similar to how Google Maps lets users search for local businesses.

What sets Instagram’s map features apart is how they function. 

Firstly, only businesses with a professional Instagram account are eligible to be included in Instagram’s maps, unlike the automatically populated maps found on Google.

Secondly, the feature is still focused on the social experience. Rather than giving users a wealth of contact information like Google Maps or Google Business Profiles, when users tap on a business they are given the option to visit the associated page. save the company’s page for later or immediately start following the brand’s Instagram account. 

Why Is Instagram Getting Into Local Search?

It might seem odd for a social network to be essentially establishing a local search engine, but trends indicate many are already using social media for this purpose. In fact, just recently Google Senior Vice President Prabhakar Raghavan addressed this exact trend at a conference, saying:

“In our studies, something like almost 40% of young people, when they’re looking for a place for lunch, they don’t go to Google Maps or Search. They go to TikTok or Instagram.”

With this in mind, it is clear Instagram is simply making it easier for users to do this with the introduction of its new map features.

No one likes receiving a bad review. Not only do they affect your company’s morale, but they can also easily scare off future customers if they check your reviews – and they will almost certainly read your reviews. Studies have shown that 98% of consumers read online reviews before doing business with a local company.

At the same time, there is usually very little you can do about a legitimate negative online review. In most cases, the best solution is to be humble, apologize for not delivering the quality service or products expected, and do your best to make it right.

Still, there are a few types of reviews that require more extreme responses. Thankfully, when dealing with fake, spammy, or inappropriate reviews, you may be able to get the offending reviews deleted entirely.

When Can a Review Be Deleted?

There are strict rules about what types of reviews can be deleted. 

For obvious reasons, complaints that appear to be legitimate complaints about a poor experience with your brand can not be deleted. 

However, Google can remove reviews for your business if they break the company’s policies and guidelines. These include rules banning deceptive, explicit, or irrelevant. Below, we will talk a bit more about exactly what violations may make a review subject to removal.

Offensive Content

As described by Google, offensive content may include any sort of content “that is clearly and deliberately provocative.”

This includes any form of hate speech or harassment, as well as reviews containing personal information.

Deceptive Content

Misleading or inaccurate reviews are a regular occurrence online. In some cases, competitors may try to hurt your reputation by manufacturing a poor experience. Personal conflicts between individuals may also boil over and result in negative reviews in an effort to get an individual fired.

This is why Google does not allow any review that is not an accurate representation of a real experience with a brand.

Mature Content

To ensure content on the search engine remains safe for all users, Google will delete any reviews containing profanity, sexually explicit content, adult themes, or graphic violence.

Regulated or Illegal Content

Reviews may not contain calls to action for products or services which may be subject to local legal restrictions. Additionally, Google warns that dangerous activities or illegal content will get reviews removed.

Irrelevant Content

Lastly, reviews must be related to an actual experience with a company’s products or services. That means rants, off-topic content, or attempts to promote one’s own products are subject to removal.

How To Get an Online Review Removed

Obviously, brands can not directly delete reviews from their Google Business Profiles. Instead, a company representative must report a review for removal through Google Search or Google Maps.

Once reported, Google will assess the review and determine if it violates any of the platform’s policies. Though this process may take several days, brands can also mitigate the damage of a misleading or inappropriate review with a response explaining the reality of the situation and noting that the review has been reported to Google.

Google Maps reviews have long been an important tool for both consumers and brands – allowing shoppers to share their experiences with other potential customers and letting brands showcase their great services where shoppers are most likely to be. 

Now, the company is finally explaining how this system works, including how Google Maps moderates reviews and automatically spots fraudulent, misleading, or inappropriate reviews among the millions of legitimate reviews posted every day.

In a recently published overview, the company says it relies on 5 key strategies to consistently ensure reviews on Google Maps are authentic, useful, and relevant for other consumers.

1. Strict, Up-to-Date Content Guidelines

The first line of defense against malicious or inappropriate Google Maps reviews is a strict set of guidelines dictating what sorts of content are appropriate on the platform. 

As the guide says:

“We’ve created strict content policies to make sure reviews are based on real-world experiences and to keep irrelevant and offensive comments off of Google Business Profiles.”

Additionally, Google points to its regular updates to these policies to stay ahead of bad actors. For example, the company points to the quick steps it took to prevent reviews criticizing health policies following the spread of COVID-19.

“We put extra protections in place to remove Google reviews that criticize a business for its health and safety policies or for complying with a vaccine mandate.”

2. Integrating Content Policies Into Google’s Algorithms

Once a policy is set, it is disseminated to every relevant area of Google Maps. That means it not only goes into training material for human moderators but also goes into Google’s own machine learning algorithms.

Broadly, this allows Google’s algorithms to evaluate new reviews for a variety of red flags, including:

  • Does it contain offensive or off-topic content?
  • Does the Google account have any history of suspicious behavior?
  • Has there been uncharacteristic activity – such as an abundance of reviews over a short period of time? Has it recently gotten attention in the news or on social media that would motivate people to leave fraudulent reviews?

3. Using Human Moderators To Understand Nuance In Reviews

Of course, automated systems do not always understand the subtleties necessary to tell the difference between legitimate and illegitimate reviews or criticism. This is why Google Maps reviews also rely on a robust team of human moderators to review content and guide algorithms.

As the blog post explains:

“Training a machine on the difference between acceptable and policy-violating content is a delicate balance. For example, sometimes the word “gay” is used as a derogatory term, and that’s not something we tolerate in Google reviews. But if we teach our machine learning models that it’s only used in hate speech, we might erroneously remove reviews that promote a gay business owner or an LGBTQ+ safe space. Our human operators regularly run quality tests and complete additional training to remove bias from the machine learning models.”

4. Encouraging Community Moderation

Google doesn’t believe moderation ends once a review or comment gets posted. Once visible to the public, Google strongly encourages businesses or other users to report fake or inappropriate reviews. 

“Like any platform that welcomes contributions from users, we also have to stay vigilant in our efforts to prevent fraud and abuse from appearing on Maps. Part of that is making it easy for people using Google Maps to flag any policy-violating reviews.”

5. Predicting Where Fake Reviews Will Happen

Lastly, Google works to stay ahead of users by identifying listings in Google Maps which are most likely to be the targets for malicious activity. For example, Google may increase protections for a listing if it is involved in a political event or has recently been in the news.

As the guide explains:

“In addition to reviewing flagged content, our team proactively works to identify potential abuse risks, which reduces the likelihood of successful abuse attacks. For instance, when there’s an upcoming event with a significant following — such as an election — we implement elevated protections to the places associated with the event and other nearby businesses that people might look for on Maps.”

Modern consumers rely on online reviews more and more, and Google Maps is one of the biggest places for shoppers to turn before doing business with someone. Though bad actors may manage to slip through the cracks from time to time, it is good to know that Google is always striving to ensure consumers and businesses can rely on these reviews to give an honest assessment of local businesses.

Google Business Profiles (formerly called Google My Business) has added a new waiting period for new profile managers or owners when they have been added to an account.

If you try to edit your business listing during this period, users will get an error message alerting them that their access is temporarily suspended.

This new information was discovered in the recently updated help guide for adding or removing profile managers or owners,

A single person – typically the business owner or an executive responsible for a brand’s online presence – can “claim” their Google Business Profiles listing to become the primary user without experiencing the delay. 

However, if you then add an employee or marketing agency to manage your listing, they will be required to wait 7 days before they will be granted full access to the account. 

As the new help document explains:

When a new owner or manager is added to an existing Business Profile, they must wait for 7 days before they can manage all the features of the profile. During this 7 day period, the new owner or manager gets an error if they try any of the following:

  • Delete or undelete a profile.
  • Remove other owners or managers from a profile.
  • Transfer primary ownership of a profile to themselves or a third user.
  • An existing owner or manager tries to transfer primary ownership of the profile to a new owner or manager still in their first 7 days.

If the new owner or manager deletes their account within the first 7 days, they’re removed from the profile. If they undelete their account, they must be added to the profile again.

Most likely, this temporary delay has been added as a means to prevent hackers or other bad actors from attempting to illicitly access Google Business Profiles accounts.

Wish the process of updating your Google My Business listings was a little more streamlined? Well, your wish has been granted as Google has made it possible to edit much of the information in your local listing without ever having to visit a dedicated dashboard or profile page. 

Since last year, Google has been introducing the ability to edit your business listings directly from the search results or map pages, and the latest move brings that ability to all businesses – as well as expanding what type of information can be updated this way.

Now, rather than just updating your address and basic information, you can edit your services and hours, implement takeout or delivery tools, and even create Google Posts without having to access the Google My Business dashboard. 

To help understand everything possible without leaving the search results pages, let’s review exactly what parts of your listings you can now edit directly from the search results.

Add/Edit Your Services

Businesses providing local services (such as hair stylists, plumbers/electricians, and lawn care companies) can quickly update the services they offer on their GMB listings, as well as the local areas covered. 

Create Google Posts

In a bid to raise the awareness of Google Posts and make them more accessible for brands, Google will now let you create and publish new Posts directly from the search results. 

Even better, the company is introducing the ability to create posts specifically for highlighting upcoming events which will be available to brands next week. 

With these posts, you can show what type of event you are putting on, when/where it is occurring, and whether it is in-person or entirely virtual. 

Manage Takeout & Delivery Services

While Google My Business has allowed brands to integrate takeout and delivery tools through third-party services for some time, this typically required manually integrating the services through the Google My Business dashboard. 

In the coming weeks, however, businesses providing takeout and delivery services will be able to directly add or update your online ordering options from Google Search, including specifying whether your brand’s takeout/delivery preferences help customers make the most informed decision. 

To top this off, GMB is also letting restaurants and other food providers update their menus from search or maps by clicking ‘Edit profile’.

Implement Pointy To Highlight Your Physical Products

Retailers will be excited to see that it is easier than ever to add in-store product inventory info on their Google My Business listings through improved integration with Pointy. 

Pointy is a Google-owned service which aims to help you digitize your in-store inventory listings without having to manually update every product listing. 

Importantly, Pointy is also free for all businesses now until September 30, making now perhaps the best time in history to take your inventory online. 


To update any of these listings, simply sign into your associated Google account and make a search for any query that will return your local business listing. Then, click “Edit profile’ on your business listing and update any information you desire.

Google My Business has officially launched a new label that highlights the number of years you’ve been in business within local search results.

The “years in business” label has been in testing over the past few years, and was quietly launched officially on February 9th, 2021.

While it is just a small label added to your listing, this could prove to be a significant way to differentiate yourself in the crowded “local pack” search results.

As Google put it in the announcement, you can now “add an opening date to your Business Profile to tell customers when your business first opened, or will open, and its address.”

To get an idea of what the label looks like, Barry Schwartz from RustyBrick (and who first noticed the launch of the label) took a screenshot of his own business listing with the new tag.

Source: Barry Scwhartz/RustyBrick, Inc.

How To Get The ‘Years in Business’ Tag

Adding this label to your own Google My Business listing is relatively simple. All you have to do is add the open date of your business within your GMB profile. 

To do this, just sign into your GMB account, click the location you want to update, then select the “info” option in the menu. From there, click “add opening date”, update with your own date you opened up shop, and voila. The label should be added to your local listing within the next few days.

“I’ve Been Seeing This Label For Months”

Many might have noticed that Google has been slowly adding this label to many of the listings which are eligible over the past year. Users first spotted the tag way back in September of 2020, with a larger roll out done in November.

Still, this week marks the official launch of the feature for all Google My Business listings.

How This Helps You

Thanks to bad actors listing non-existent or questionable businesses within Google My Business, it has become more important than ever to visibly show that you are a real, active, and trustworthy business within your listing.

This feature allows you to quickly do this by showing you have been a part of your community for years – if not decades – and won’t be going anywhere anytime soon.

Google is making several tweaks to its shopping-related search results to make it easier to find the products you want locally and choose the pickup method you are most comfortable with. 

As the country gradually returns to our normal in-store shopping habits, many are making adjustments to ensure the safest trips to the store. 

For example, Google says that searches for “curbside pickup” and “safe shopping” have increased tenfold over the past few months and remain heightened. 

Making this more difficult, many businesses remain closed after mandatory shutdowns have passed, while others are struggling with inventory due to shipping disruptions around the world. 

With all this in mind, Google has announced three significant updates to shopping search results which make it easier for shoppers to know who’s open, what’s in stock, and how they can most safely make a purchase. 

Filter By What’s Available Locally

When looking for a specific type of product, searchers can now limit their search results to only products available nearby. 

This can be done in two different ways. 

  • Users can tap on the “Nearby” filter when looking at results within the Shopping tab.
  • Users can add “near me” to product searches to automatically find products available nearby.

“Want to see an item in person before purchasing, or can’t wait for shipping and delivery?

Whatever you’re looking for, whether it’s a new laptop for working from home, a baby jacket for fall or a grill for backyard barbeques, Google makes it easy for you to see what’s available locally.”

Compare Local Hours, Locations, and Inventory

Making a trip to the store only to discover they are out of what you are looking for or the store is closed was already frustrating before the COVID-19, epidemic. 

To help solve this issue, Google is making it easier to compare the stock of local shops and see which businesses are open now. 

These details will be shown when searching “[product] near me” in a carousel of images and pricing details.

Find Convenient and Safe Pickup

Since the onset of the pandemic, Google has been prioritizing retailers who offer safe pickup options including contactless delivery or curbside pickup. 

Now, the company is introducing new ways to find safe purchase options with new labels in shopping searches. 

Along with these details, the listings will include a direct link to Maps directions so you can quickly and easily find the stores nearby. 

At the same time, Google emphasizes that calling to speak with someone is the most accurate way to check the inventory of products in real-time.

The popular hyper-local community app Nextdoor is introducing new ways for local businesses to connect with their nearby audience. Starting this week, the service is launching “Business Posts” which appear in the Nextdoor neighborhood news feed. 

Additionally, the company is promising a suite of tools and analytics is coming in the near future for businesses running ads or organic posts. 

How Do Business Posts Work?

For the most part, Business Posts are extremely similar to the typical organic posts any user can make on the platform. Once a brand has claimed a local business page, they can create posts which can include pictures with a full description. Just as with a typical post from users, others can then “Thank” or comment on the posts. 

Just looking at the posts, the most obvious difference is that Business Posts include a label which informs users that “this post is from a Local Business.”

Behind the scenes, there are a few other limitations which may frustrate some businesses. 

For now, Business Posts will only reach users within two miles of your listed business address. So far, the brand has remained mum on whether they are considering changes or options for brands that operate with a service area that may not directly correspond with their physical address. 

Interestingly, the platform also says they will consolidate posts from multiple businesses into a single carousel post when five or more Business Posts are queued in the neighborhood feed at once.

Another important detail is that brands only get two Business Posts per month for free. The phrasing of the announcement implies that brands may soon be able to pay to create more frequent posts, but the company has not offered any details about this prospect. 

How To Make The Best Nextdoor Business Post

To help brands make the most of this new feature, Nextdoor also released a number of examples and recommendations in a companion post

Among the tips, Nextdoor says:

  • Posts with at least 5 recommendations have 30% higher engagement
  • Post between 5 – 7 pm receive higher engagement
  • Posts on Thursday and Friday see more engagement than weekend or early-week posts
  • Post at least once every two weeks
  • Posts with photos and business pages with profile photos are more visited and have greater engagement

Analytics is Coming

Currently, Nextdoor offers next to no tools for tracking or analyzing the reach and engagement of business-related posts. That will change later this month, though, as the platform launches its own business owner dashboard with tools for measuring the performance of both Local Deals ads and Business Posts.

These will include details on the number of users who have viewed, clicked, or recommended your posts.

Google has introduced a new way to quickly and easily show that your business is temporarily closed in accordance to Oklahoma’s “Safer at Home” order and other states’ shelter in place laws during the ongoing COVID-19 epidemic.

This comes at a critical time as people are turning to Google’s local listings to see what essential businesses are still operating around them and what revised hours they may be operating. For example, although grocery stores are remaining open, many are changing their hours to allow time to restock and let employees rest.

Meanwhile, countless others have been forced to close up shop for at least two weeks for the sake of public safety. Google is the first stop many are turning to in order to see what type of changes your company has had to make.

How To Temporarily Close Your Business On Google

To help, Google has shared easy-to-follow instructions explaining how to “mark a business temporarily closed.”

The first step is to sign in to your Google My Business account and select the “Info” section in the menu on the left.

From there, you will find a section marked “Close this business on Google.”

Within this section, you will be presented with three options – to mark you listing as temporarily closed, permanently closed, or entirely remove your listing.

Why It Is Important To Update Your Listing

With so much confusion and uncertainty, people are relying on the internet for up-to-date information more than ever. This is especially true for Google’s local listings.

However, the surge in GMB updates has overwhelmed Google’s reduced staff to the point that many areas of local listings are being suspended – such as reviews and Q&A’s. Closing your listing temporarily is currently the easiest way to let people know that although you have had to close for the time being, you will be back in action soon.

Google is asking businesses to update and revise their Google My Business listings if their operations have been affected by the spread of COVID-19, commonly called coronavirus.

The company released a new help document listing ways companies can use GMB to update customers, including sharing updated business hours, ensuring phone numbers are accurate, and even using business descriptions or Google Posts to provide more detailed information.

To raise awareness of the recommendations, Google has placed a prominent alert at the top of all Google My Business-related support pages which reads: “If your business is affected by COVID-19, update your profile to provide the most accurate info. Learn more.

What To Do

If your business has been affected by COVID-19, Google recommends using your GMB listing to update customers by doing the following:

  • Change your business hours: If your business hours have changed, update the times when you’ll be open or closed. The hours will show when the customer visits your Business Profile, and they’ll know exactly when to visit.
  • Update your business description: Explain whether or not your business operations are affected by COVID-19. You can share information about any extra precautions the business is taking, if you’re providing any extra services to the community, or whether you’re experiencing delays.
  • Create a post: Share more detailed and timely updates about what’s going on with your business through Posts. For example, add information about what products and services you have available, and link to other resources. You can continue to use Posts to directly communicate with your customers on a regular basis as your business changes.
  • Update your phone number: Make sure your phone number is correct so that customers can reach you.

Keep Your Customers In-The-Know

Updating your Google My Business listing should always be a first step when making changes to your business, whether that means changing your business hours, moving locations, or just launching a new promotion. This is especially true during issues of public concern, like the ongoing coronavirus spread, when even regular customers may be checking your listing for the latest information.

Mask icon courtesy of Freepik