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In this week’s update, learn about Google’s new algorithm tracking page; how to become a Yelp Elite reviewer; how to market your business on TikTok; Musk’s attempt to back out of the Twitter deal; a bug causing Google listings to disappear; and a guide to Google justifications. 


Finally, Google Tracking Page Logs Algorithm Updates


Google has finally decided to publish a help page that tracks updates to its organic search algorithm. Previously, these updates were sometimes accompanied by an official announcement, but such announcements came in the form of one-off posts on the Google blog with no central repository to keep track of updates over time. The new page is a welcome historical record of updates including the so-called core algorithm updates that occur every few months, as well as the relatively recent product review, link spam, and page experience updates. 


The page, in its current form, only tracks updates from January 2020 onward, and only reports on updates that are, according to the help text, “relevant to website owners.” Given that most major updates seem to be covered on the new page, the ones that are left out must be minor or of a type that Google has chosen not to disclose. Regardless, the new page will make it easier to examine historical trends and find information on past updates. Relevant blog posts for each update are linked from the new help page. 


How to Become a Yelp Elite Reviewer 


Yelp has a new post outlining how users can join the Yelp Elite Squad, a select group of reviewers who have made their name as valuable contributors of reviews and information about their local communities. Yelp Elite Squad members get a special badge on their Yelp profiles and are invited to attend community events hosted by Yelp. In order to qualify, you must use your real name and photo in your Yelp profile, and you must have written at least some (presumably a good number) of helpful reviews. Yelp Elite Squad members are required to be of legal drinking age and cannot be business owners. Users can self-nominate in order to join the Elite Squad, and if not approved the first time, can re-nominate in order to try again. The Yelp Elite program is one among several strategies Yelp has made use of in order to build trust and community involvement in its platform. 


TikTok Offers Marketing Tips for Local Businesses


With TikTok projected to reach 1.5 billion users by the end of 2022, businesses are becoming increasingly aware of the potential to reach new audiences on the platform. Now TikTok is providing some assistance with a free, email-based correspondence course, designed to help SMBs (presumably including franchise owners) learn the ins and outs of marketing themselves using TikTok’s tools and ad products. The training series will walk business owners through the process of setting up a free Business Account, using the Creative Center to gather content ideas, and launching campaigns with the TikTok Ads Manager. The program lasts six weeks and begins today, July 11. Insights will also be shared by business owners who have seen success using the platform. 


Musk Tries to Back Out of Twitter Acquisition Deal


Elon Musk’s bid to purchase Twitter has reached an uncertain stage, with Musk reportedly seeking in earnest to back out of the deal. Previously, Musk had hinted at bad faith on Twitter’s part in their official claim that bots represent only 5% of all Twitter users, but had not yet stated that on this basis he no longer wanted to purchase the company. Now Musk’s attorneys are claiming that Twitter is in breach of the agreement because of false or misleading statements related to bot activity. 


Analysts have hinted that Musk’s real issue is the stock market downturn, which has eroded value for Twitter, making it a less valuable property, and for Musk’s own companies, including Tesla, threatening his access to the capital needed to complete the acquisition. Twitter denies making misstatements and wants to proceed with the deal, but it may now be locked up in the courts until a decision can be reached about Musk’s claims. 



Bug Causes Unverified Google Listings to Disappear


An extensive thread at Local Search Forum delves into a recent issue, experienced by more than one user, whereby listings are disappearing from the Google Business Profile Manager dashboard. This appears to be happening when adding a new listing but before the listing has been verified, or when an existing listing goes into re-verification status. Though the listing seems to be gone from the dashboard, the user can get back to it with a direct link, for instance by clicking through from a confirmation email. 


One user suggested that the phenomenon seems tied to manually adding new listings to an account that has already been bulk verified. In a possibly related problem, some newly added listings are also showing up in accounts with a string of numbers in place of the business name and contact info. Google is reportedly investigating these problems.



image showing business information being replaced with numbers in GBP listings


Business information replaced with numbers in GBP dashboard, courtesy Local Search Forum / Jaimie S


New Guide to Local Justifications


A new guide from Sterling Sky’s Erin Jones offers many tips and insights about Google justifications, those snippets of text that appear in local packs and other search results reinforcing the relevance of the result to the query the user has performed. Jones covers the many types of justifications, including those sourced from reviews, the business website, menus, service attributes, Google Posts, and other places. 


Jones makes a few useful points about the behavior and value of justifications. She reports that they update very quickly, often appearing in search directly after the source content is published. They do not directly affect rankings (with the possible exception of website justifications), but they do assure the user that this business has what they need, so are likely helpful with conversions. Some justifications, derived from Google user input, cannot be controlled by the business, but many can be influenced by the content you add to your Google profile or website. It appears that the attributes “Online appointments” and “On-site services” block justifications from appearing, so these should be disabled if you want justifications to display in your listings. [Note: We’ve done some testing in regard to this last point, and it appears that justifications are only sometimes blocked by attributes. Results may vary by device type and other factors.]

Damian Rollison

With over a decade of local search experience, Damian Rollison, SOCI's Director of Market Insights, has focused his career on discovering innovative ways to help businesses large and small get noticed online. Damian's columns appear frequently at Street Fight, Search Engine Land, and other publications, and he is a frequent speaker at industry conferences such as Localogy, Brand Innovators, State of Search, SMX, and more.

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