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Google Is Taking Action On Recent One-Star Review Scams & Blackmail

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A recent New York Times piece highlighted blackmail threads taken on small restaurants that threaten and blackmail the owners. These threats say the person will leave a one-star review, hurting the business’s reputation in Google Maps and Google Search if they do not send money through digital gift cards.

Google responded on Friday by posting a notice in the Google Business Profiles Help forums saying Google is aware of this issue and taking action. Kara from Google wrote:

We’ve recently become aware of a scam targeting businesses on Google with the threat of 1-star reviews unless they send money via gift cards. Our policies clearly state reviews must be based on real experiences, and our teams are working around the clock to thwart these attacks, remove fraudulent reviews, and put protections on business profiles that may have been affected.

If your business is being targeted by these scammers, please do not pay them. Instead, please flag the reviews here or reach out to Google support via our Help Center, so that our team can review and remove policy-violating content. If you haven’t yet claimed your business profile, you can do so here.

You can also learn more about how our review moderation systems work to ensure that Google reviews remain helpful and authentic.

The NY Times explained, “a new scam targeting restaurants, criminals are leaving negative ratings on restaurants’ Google pages as a bargaining chip to extort digital gift cards.” The text threat was the same in each email: “We sincerely apologize for our actions, and would not want to harm your business but we have no other choice.” The email went on to say that the sender lives in India and that the resale value of the gift card could provide several weeks of income for the sender’s family. The emails, from several Gmail accounts, requested payment to a Proton mail account.

So if you do get these email extortion threats, follow the details above posted by Google.

Forum discussion at Google Business Profiles Help.

Source: www.seroundtable.com

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Google Hanukkah Decorations Are Live For 2023

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Google Hanukkah 2023

Hanukkah (aka Chanukah) starts this coming Thursday night, December 7th. Google has added its Hanukkah decorations to the Google Search results interface to celebrate. Google does this every year and I expect to see the same rollout in the coming weeks for Christmas and Kawanzaa but for now, since Chanukah is in the coming days, we have the Hanukkah decorations live at Google Search.

Here is a screenshot of the Chanukah decorations as they look like on the mobile search results.

Google Hanukkah Decorations 2023

You can see it yourself by searching on Google for [chanukah], [hanukkah], but not yet [חֲנוּכָּה‎] or other spelling variations yet but it should soon. It looks better on mobile than it does on desktop results.

To see the past, the 2023 decorations, 2021 decorations, 2020 Chanukah decorations, 2019 Google holiday decorations, the 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010 and so on.

Happy Chanukah, everyone!

Forum discussion at X.

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Google Pay Accepted Icons In Google Search Results

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Woman Checking Out Store Google Logo

Google seems to be testing a Google Pay Accepted label or icon in the Google search results. This label has the super G logo followed by the words “Pay accepted” words next to search result snippets that support Google Pay and notate such in their structured data.

This was first spotted by Khushal Bherwani who shared some screenshots of this on X – here is one:

G Pay Accepted Google Search

Here are some more screenshots:

Brodie Clark also posted some screenshots after on X:

Google Pay Accepted Google Search

I tried to replicate this but I came up short.

This is not the first time Google had similar icons like this in its search results.

Forum discussion at X.



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Google Discover Showing Older Content Since Follow Feature Arrived

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Dog Astronut Google Logo

Typically, Google Discover shows content that is less than a day old, but it can show content that is weeks, months, or even years old. However, typically, Google will show more recent content in the Discover feed. Well, that may have changed with the new Google follow feature.

Glenn Gabe, who is a very active Google Discover user, noticed that since the Follow feature rolled out, he has been seeing content that is weeks and months old way more often than before the follow feature rolled out. Glenn wrote on X that “this could also be playing a role. i.e. Google isn’t providing as much recent content, but instead, focusing on providing targeted content based on the topics you are following.”

It makes sense that if you follow a specific topic and if Google Discover only shows the most authoritative types of content, it might be hard for Google to find new content on that topic. So it does make sense that Google may show older content more often for that specific topic you follow.

Here are screenshots Glenn shared:

Google Discover Old Stories Follow

Google Discover Old Stories Follow2

Have you noticed this in your Discover feed?

Forum discussion at X.



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