Google has made, or will be making in the near future, three changes to its policies and procedures that are pretty significant. These changes may affect your business’s online presence…even small local businesses in Kalamazoo.
These changes are the prevention of review gating, implementing the Google Maps Platform and the Google Analytics retention data changes. We provide an overview of each of these major changes and how they may impact businesses like yours.
So what exactly does review gating mean? It’s when a company filters reviews from customers based on whether they are positive or negative reviews. For example, a boilerplate email is sent to all customers asking them if they had a positive or negative experience with the product or service. If the response is positive, they are asked to leave a Google review; if negative, they are requested to send private feedback with no option to leave a public review.
Some businesses look at negative reviews as bad and want to avoid them at all costs. Of course, positive reviews put a much more– well, positive—spin on your brand, but would you trust a company that had NO negative reviews?
Face it, you can’t please all the people all the time. Bad reviews can actually be good for your business. The important thing to remember about any reviews, especially the less-than-stellar ones, is to monitor and reply to them to mitigate their impact.
If you ignore the latest review gate guideline implemented on April 12, 2018, you run the risk of Google actually removing your reviews. It will work similarly to Google’s guidelines on businesses who offer incentives for reviews. If the business is reported for doing so, all reviews are removed from that date forward.
Instead of review gating, you may want to leverage a system that intelligently encourages reviews, but also allows for both private feedback and direct to Google posting, without blocking or gating. That is the system we suggest and apply for clients.
On June 11 2018, Google is launching an update to its Google Maps API platform. This change is a major one that will simplify the Google Maps developer offerings. Google claims it will facilitate the leveraging of Google’s mapping and location-based technologies by combining the current 18 individual Maps APIs into three core products: Maps, Routes and Places. Google promises that existing code will still work without changes.
Currently, the platform is available through a Standard (free) and Premium plan. The new model has one pricing plan that includes $200 worth of free monthly usage. Regardless of whether you ever go over that amount, the new platform will still require developers to have a valid API key and a Google Cloud Platform billing account (with a valid credit card on file). However, you only pay after the fact for what you use with no up-front commitments.
If you are using this API to place Google Maps directly on your website (which you should be for SEO purposes), Google should have sent you or your website developer a usage estimate. This estimate will let you know if you have been within the free $200 range or over it. If you are concerned, reach out to your website developer now so you aren’t surprised later.
The changes to Google Analytics retention data are reportedly a direct result of the recent General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) that went into effect on May 25, 2018. As of that date, Google Analytics will automatically delete user and event data older than the retention period you select. If you do not select the specific period, it defaults to 26 months.
The change will affect the way you can run reports in Google Analytics. According to the documentation from Google, allowing them to get rid of your data won’t “affect most standard reporting based on aggregate data.”
But reports using aggregate data are canned reports; your ability to create ad-hoc reports WILL be impacted. Purging historical data will eliminate your ability to run ad hoc reports that require that data.
If you haven’t checked this setting yet, you should ASAP. Who knows exactly when they will eventually get around to your account. Better to be safe than sorry on this.
If you need assistance in determining if these changes will impact you and how, we can guide you through the process.
Contact us today to learn how we can help your business in all areas of its online presence!