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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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Generating Fake URLs On Competitors Site Shouldn’t Hurt The Site, Google Says

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Google Intersection

John Mueller from Google said that bulk-generating fake URLs of your competitor’s site should not lead to negative SEO and ranking issues for that site. “This is not something I’d worry about,” he added.

Mike Blazer asked John, “Bulk generate non-existing URLs on a competitor’s site that lead to 5XX server errors when opened. Googlebot sees that a substantial number of pages on that domain return 5XX, the server is unable to handle requests. Google reduces the page #crawl frequency for that domain.”

John replied on Mastodon saying, “I can’t imagine that having any effect. This is not something I’d worry about.”

Here is a screenshot of this conversation:

Generating Fake Urls Google Seo Toots

Do you agree?

Forum discussion at Mastodon.

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Microsoft Bing Testing Infinite Scroll

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Bing Phone Scrolls

Microsoft Bing is testing infinite scroll just a month after Google fully launched continuous scroll on desktop search. I guess this should come as no surprise that Bing would test this, it does not seem to be live yet, so this is just a test.

Frank Sandtmann posted this on Mastodon and shared the attached screenshot showing how as he scrolled, Bing loaded page two of its search results. Here is that image:

click for full size

Frank wrote, “Bing is once again following Google in SERP appearance, this time with endless scroll on desktop. They somewhat improved the search experience by displaying the respective page count.”

I do wonder if Bing will ultimately follow suit and launch infinite scroll (or continuous scroll) on its search results.

Forum discussion at Mastodon.

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Google Sök ber om ursäkt för pågående problem med sökresultat på önskat språk

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Google pencils

Google’s Search Liaison, Danny Sullivan, posted a message on Twitter and other social networks, apologizing for the ongoing issues and complaints with Google showing the preferred language in the search results. Google said the issue seems to be from mobile sites not being properly configured and Google’s mobile-first indexing being more widespread.

Google said, “We appreciate the concern expressed by those seeking results in a preferred language. This is a priority for us to resolve. We will continue to investigate solutions, but we also need time to ensure those work well.” We have not made any recent change in how our systems determine the languages of results to display. However, as we crawl more of the web on a mobile-first basis, issues may arise when we index multilingual content not properly indicating which version we should display.” Our guidance about multilingual content is here. We’re also further checking our own systems to understand potential issues or improvements we can make. Again, we appreciate the concern. It is a priority for us to address.”

Google also posted the message in Catalan because that is where most of these complaints have been coming from for the past month or so:

The issue has been going on for a couple months now, here are some older tweets Danny replied to so you can see yourself:

Recently, Danny posted a response to this:

Anyway, Google is working on something but it does not sound like it will be a quick fix.

Forum discussion at Twitter.



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