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Google Maps Details How It Handles Review Spam & Policy Enforcement

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Google Maps Details How It Handles Review Spam & Policy Enforcement

I believe for the first time, Google has provided more detail on how it handles review spam policy enforcement for Google Maps. The search company wrote a blog post, accompanied by a short video, describing what they do to tackle issues with reviews in Google Maps.

The blog post goes over the policies, the enforcement of the policies, how Google moderates reviews with machine learning and human help and more.

Here is the video if you want to watch it first or not:

Google said “when governments and businesses started requiring proof of COVID-19 vaccine before entering certain places, 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.” So I asked some local SEO experts on this and this is what I heard:

Google added it uses both humans and algorithms to fight review spam, and machine learning is Google’s “first line of defense,” the company said. Google’s algorithms look at reviews from these angles:

  • The content of the review: Does it contain offensive or off-topic content?
  • The account that left the review: Does the Google account have any history of suspicious behavior?
  • The place itself: 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?

Google’s automated methods look for patterns, Google disclosed a couple patterns it looks for including (1) a group of people leaving reviews on the same cluster of Business Profiles to a business or (2) a single place receiving an unusually high number of 1 or 5-star reviews over a short period of time.

Google said its “human operators regularly run quality tests and complete additional training to remove bias from the machine learning models.”

But while the automated methods act quickly, sometimes things do need human review. And humans can flag reviews in the platform for human review. Google said its “human operators works around the clock to review flagged content. When we find reviews that violate our policies, we remove them from Google and, in some cases, suspend the user account or even pursue litigation.”

Anyway, we all know Google has its issues, espesially with map spam and review spam – but it is nice to see Google trying to be more transparent about it – on some level.

Forum discussion at Twitter.




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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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