All posts by Mike Blumenthal

Who’s Really Behind Fake Online Reviews?

Reviews, reviews and more reviews.

Jason Brown of ReviewFraud participated in an interesting investigative news report on fake reviews. He wrote about it on his blog: Bulletproof Digital busted selling Fake reviews to NBCLA.  Here is NBC Southern California report:

Who’s Really Behind Fake Online Reviews?

Jason also covered an interesting story in the review space that doesn’t seem to die, Review solicitation and blackmail  about a small SEO firm in Colorado that was threatened for blogging about a review company in the space.

Last week though was a busy one on the review front for me and around the web as well. I participated in several webinars and there were some other interesting articles.

Video Webinar : The Ins and Out of Reviews and Reputation in 2018 – Local University Join David Mihm, Aaron Weiche, Joy Hawkins & me as we look at the changing roll of reviews. (video + transcript)

Video Deep Dive: A Look at Review Spam with Jason Brown & Joy “The Hawk” Hawkins – Local University – Spam? What spam? Google has yet to get their spam act together against networks buying reviews. We look at the implications. (video + transcript)

How to Deal with Fake Negative Reviews on Google – Joy Hawkins explains what to do when your business is attacked.

 

Mike B Around the Internet

Here are some articles that I have recently penned or collaborated on this past week:

Google Adds Q & A Notification Option to GMB

Google has added (or has the intention to add) direct notifications of new questions appearing on the Knowledge Panel of local businesses. The option (pre-selected) is available in the settings preferences panel for any location.

That being said, I have the settings on but I have yet to receive notifications of questions that are being asked. Perhaps the setting is in anticipation of sending out alerts.

Local U Advanced Austin – April 12th

I love local and I love LocalU Advanced. We have scheduled our next events for Austin. We will be doing an SMB event there to help fund Celia Bell’s training foundation on April 11th and on the night of the 11th and the day of the 12th we will be doing a full day Local U Advanced.

The speaker line is incredible with Cindy Krum talking how to attack the new opportunities in voice, David Mihm joining us and taking a look at the how agencies and in-house SEOs need to adjust for the coming years and Joy Hawkins will be doing her deep dive into the quirks and issues with Google My Business. And a lot, lot more.

The pricing is currently pre agenda at $549 but it goes up very soon.

Here is a video that was recorded around our last event in Santa Monica:

Google Bulletin – Hyperlocal Community News App in Testing

I was alerted on Twitter by Marc Nashaat, a link builder in Toronto, about a new app from Google called Bulletin. From their page:

Bulletin is an app for contributing hyperlocal stories about your community, for your community, right from your phone. Bulletin makes it effortless to put a spotlight on inspiring stories that aren’t being told.

What’s special about a story on Bulletin? A Bulletin story is…

  • Impactful: Bulletin helps you tell the stories that aren’t being told
  • Open: Bulletin stories are public and easy to discover: on Google search, through social networks, or via links sent by email and messaging apps
  • Effortless: No setup is required to create a story – all you need is a smartphone

With Bulletin you can contribute to local stories and be the voice of your community!

The early access request form appears to indicate that it is initially being tested in Nashville, TN and Oakland Ca. And that Google is primarily interested in testing across a range of mobile devices.

As noted, the content does appear in the index. I experimented with a few URLS until I landed up this one: site:posts.google.com/bulletin/ which surfaced three results from Oakland, two of which have live content dated January 23.

Here is an example from the Woman’s March Oakland:

The page on which it is hosted offers a bold headline, and simple real time display of captioned photos, videos and short commentary in a time stamped stream like presentation. By default the postings appear to be licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Short text inputs laid out as cards
Video is also supported
In the footer there is a call to action for potential authors that goes to the info page and the Creative Commons licensing.

There are a set of guidelines that prohibits the usual suspects ( spam, deception, plagiarism) and a few that I had not seen before like the prohibition against Medical Advice. Promotional content and otherwise copyrighted material are likewise banned. There is the ability to “report” a story as abusive:

As noted by Google the content is surfaced in search and is visible in the index. The title of the event auto populates the Title Tag. Since there is little page content and no meta-description tag there is no content currently showing in the description area other than the title.

Here is the meta information from the page with liberal use of OG notation and the inclusion of authorship:

The implications of this are interesting, if abstract and my thoughts are still forming. Let me know what you think.

Google Local Spam Hall of Shame – The Naming Wars

I have previously noted naming abuses in the jewelry world around Toronto. Every once in a while I attempt to edit them for some rational outcome.

Rational outcomes though are sorely not part of the current Google business name edit world.

I rename, get approved, owner (or seo on their behalf) changes back. Rinse, Repeat. Rinse, repeat. Rinse, repeat.

Being a Local Guide Extraordinaire, my edits are instantly approved, over and over.  How sweet.

Google is nothing if not consistent.

Either the rules are the rules. Or they are NOT the rules. Make up my mind so I can exit the hamster wheel (OK I don’t need Google’s permission… I might just stop) .

 

Mike B Around the Interwebs

I have been heads down for the past several months exploring the ins and outs of Google Questions & Answers. Out of that came a ton of research* and finally some articles:

At Local U, Mary Bowling and I discuss Q & A:

Video Deep Dive: Google’s Q&A – Questions and Answers examined

A three part series on the ins, outs and outcomes for Google Q & A at GetFiveStars:

Part #1 – Google Q & A – Get To Know Google’s Latest Local Feature – The basics and why it matters.

Part #2 – The Big Guide To Google Questions And Answers (Q & A) – The ins and outs, how does this new brand hazard really work.

Part #3 – 5-Step Plan For Success With Google Q & A – How to succeed in this newest solcial, local environment.

At StreetFightMag, with David Mihm (always a fun discussion):

Two Big Facebook Moves in the First Two Weeks of 2018

And to my great honor, not something that I wrote but something I am very proud of:

Mike Blumenthal – The Search Community Honors You

  • And of course a new feature at GetFiveStars that allows agencies and brands to monitor it. This feature so alarmed me when it came out that Don, Aaron, Thomas and I decided to build a feature to allow locations, brands and agencies working on their behalf a fighting chance in the battle for location reputation.

Google Updates GMB Websites to Include Posts as They Pass 1.25 Million Sites Created

Google has announced an update to the Google My Business Website product to now integrate Google Posts into the website content.

This is an obvious first move as Google moves Websites from a minimal viable product to something more full featured but still easy to use. The inclusion of Posts creates allows a business to add additional relevant content over time, a win for the business and Google.

Simultaneously they announced the ability to add up to 9 photos distinct from your GMB photos and a quicker time to publish. It would appear that means that the rendering of the final HTML is not done until you visit the site the first time.

Click to view actual site

Since introduction Google has sustained a build rate of over 5000 new sites per day and they currently have 1.25 million sites created. While many of these are in the developing world, a significant percentage are showing up in the US and Europe. The inclusion of Posts should cement that trend.

The product is still missing basic SEO features like Title Tags but for a business that has chosen to only have a Facebook page this product could offer significant impact and value.

Google My Business Now Officially Supports Video

Colan Nielson of Sterling Sky spotted the video option in the Google My Business dashboard starting to appear last week. Google has now officially announced that every dashboard now has the feature to see what videos consumers have uploaded and to upload your own.

How it works:

Videos will appear in the overview tab of the Google My Business Dashboard Customer uploaded videos can be found in the ‘customer’ tab Merchant uploaded videos can be found in the ‘by owner’ tab All videos can be viewed together in the ‘videos’ tab After upload it could take up to 24 hours for the videos to appear. Once live, they will display where local photos do.

In addition to uploading videos, merchants will have the ability to flag inappropriate videos through their dashboard. Native mobile support and notifications for new customer videos are coming soon.

The feature is available via the Photos tab:

Videos on Google Maps first seen on the consumer side of Maps in late August and added to the API at the time of the last update.

Google Adds Insult to Injury as They Enter the Google Hall of Shame in 2018

In late October I reported of widespread name abuse in the jewelry industry near Toronto. I even flagged it on Google thinking that it was so very obvious that even with their collective spam fighting head stuck so deeply into a dark, posterior orifice they would be able to correctly identify it and remove it.

Ah but I am ever the optimist.

My suggestion, despite all evidence and common sense, was NOT applied:

And the category is still rife with abuse: