In this week’s update, learn about Twitter’s change of ownership; the uncertain status of Google Business Profile Manager; Google’s move to sunset Brand Accounts; new explainer videos for editing Business Profiles and ranking in local search; the demographics of online reviews; and the non-business sources of Google listing changes.
What Twitter’s Change of Ownership Means for Its Future
Elon Musk’s successful bid to purchase Twitter for $44 billion is likely to bring significant change to the company. Musk has reportedly speculated that he will seek to replace the current CEO, Parag Agrawal, who assumed the role last fall after founder Jack Dorsey stepped down. Musk also intends to develop new methods for monetizing tweets that go viral or are quoted in third-party publications. He has also floated the ideas of paying influencers (as TikTok does) and creating new subscription services. As for the current subscription service, Twitter Blue, Musk has proposed cutting the $2.99/month price, banning advertising, and broadly promoting the service as a way of ensuring Twitter is populated by real, verified users.
It’s also been widely reported that Musk intends to increase freedom of speech, stating that he wants Twitter to be “a public platform that is maximally trusted and broadly inclusive.” He has stated that by taking the company private and potentially removing all advertising, he would make Twitter more independent and thus more capable of maintaining an open forum that is free from undue influence by shareholders and advertisers. Many have speculated that increased freedom would also entail a relaxation of restrictions that ban hate speech and combat misinformation.
Any such changes will have to wait until regulatory approval of the deal later this year. In the meantime, it’s at least possible Musk could back out, though he would have to pay a $1 billion termination fee for doing so.
The Uncertain Status of Google Business Profile Manager
Several users of Google Business Profile Manager saw a notice in their dashboards recently whose headline read “Managing your Business Profile is moving to Search and Maps,” followed by the statement: “From early 2022, you can no longer manage your business here.” The notice was confusing for a few reasons. First, when the Google My Business dashboard became Google Business Profile Manager last fall, Google stated that the dashboard would continue to be available, in particular for multi-location businesses. But the notice appeared indiscriminately for SMB users, multi-location brands, and agencies managing multiple business locations. Second, the reference to “early 2022” seemed odd for an announcement about the future.
It turns out that the notice was delivered in error, according to a statement from Google. The company has reaffirmed that multi-location brands and agency users will have access to the Google Business Profile Manager dashboard for the foreseeable future. In its statement, Google did not mention whether SMBs would continue to have access, though it has been reported separately that there would be no hard-and-fast shutdown of the platform for any user type. Clearly, Google wants to encourage SMBs to use the new Search and Maps interfaces to manage their listings; whether they will be forced at some point to do so exclusively is now anyone’s guess.
Notice delivered to Google Business Profile Manager users in error, according to Google
Google to Sunset Brand Accounts
In another example of confusing messaging, several Google Business Profile users received an email from the company recently with a subject line that read: “Upcoming changes to your Brand Accounts.” The body of the email stated that Business Groups will no longer be able to manage Brand Accounts as of August 1, 2022, and that users must opt in to continue to have access to their Brand Accounts. Though the email was sent only to GBP users, at the bottom it stated that the change would have no impact on Business Profiles.
Despite this reassurance, the message was difficult to interpret and caused some consternation among our clients and others. After consulting with Google support, I can report that no action is required in response to the message, unless users want to maintain access to a type of account called a Brand Account that was previously capable of managing multiple services, but will in future only apply to a brand’s YouTube channel. If you have no awareness of or need for a Brand Account that may have been created for your company at some time in the past, you can safely ignore the message. No changes will be made to the ownership or management of Google listings either way.
Google’s New Explainer Videos for Ranking and Editing Your Business
Google has recently published two new explainer videos, adding video embeds to its help pages entitled “Edit your Business Profile on Google” and “How to improve your local ranking on Google.” The videos showcase methods for updating listings and improving local ranking performance respectively, and both videos feature the new Search interface that Google is encouraging small business users to utilize in preference to the Google Business Profile Manager dashboard. Neither video contains new information, and in fact the ranking video fails to include the recent addition of product listings to that help page. This may be because the videos are designed to introduce a new audience of comparatively inexperienced small business users to the platform.
The Demographics of Online Reviews
Bright Local has published the results of a new demographic survey of consumers that investigates habits and preferences around online reviews in relation to age, gender, and other characteristics. The study finds some disparity between genders, with women being nearly 10% more likely to state that they always read online reviews before visiting a business. Women are also more suspicious of fake reviews than men when it comes to Google, Amazon, and Facebook, whereas male suspicion levels spike when reading reviews on Yelp, TripAdvisor, and Better Business Bureau. Overall, Amazon and Google are seen as the sites with the most fake reviews.
As for age demographics, the study finds that older consumers are more likely to leave a review after having a positive experience with a business, whereas younger consumers are more likely to review a business after having a negative experience. The top two reasons for leaving a positive review were “The business went above and beyond to ensure you had an exceptional experience” and “You initially had a negative experience that was turned into a very positive experience.”
The Sources of Google Profile Updates
Sherry Bonelli at Search Engine Journal offers a helpful discussion on the sources of profile updates on Google that are not directly authorized by the business. Bonelli notes that it can be harder than ever to maintain accuracy of one’s Google Business Profile these days, due to Google’s reliance on multiple sources of information aside from businesses themselves. Many of these sources will provide accurate information that merely reinforces what a business might provide on their own, but some may be inaccurate or unwanted.
Google’s main non-business sources include public information such as company websites, external citations, and government publications; data Google licenses from third parties; information supplied by Google users including photos, suggested edits, reviews, and Q&A responses; information gathered from interactions at local businesses; and updates generated using artificial intelligence. Business owners receive an email notification most of the time when updates are made, and can log in and manually accept or reject them in the Google Business Profile Manager dashboard. However, this requires constant vigilance since Google will publish updates from other sources when the business does not respond.