Just weeks after the Google Business Profile suspension nightmare, it seems Google learned nothing from all the problems they caused for businesses around the world and did it again. This time, they released a bug that caused hundreds of thousands of legitimate Google reviews to get removed from Google business profiles.
So what happened this time?
Mike Blumenthal broke the news of the possible bug over the weekend, after observing several posts on the Google Business Profile Community Help Forum.
Update: The saga continues
Found more cases of lost Google GPB reviews:
‘They had shortened the business name…& changed my website information to a different link that also went to my website. I realized all 105 of the reviews had VANISHED!’https://t.co/ClRqEpUOwp
It appears that Google has pushed changes live to Google Business Profiles following a Suggested Edits update, but with further investigation, Mike found that it was also changing the CID numbers of profiles each time—essentially creating a ‘new’ listing in Google’s eyes, dissociating existing reviews and then removing them altogether. As he highlights here, the two updates are rarely carried out at the same time, pointing to the high probability of a new bug.
What’s a CID? The Ludocid, sometimes referred to as the ‘CID’, is a unique ID that Google assigns to a specific business location in order to identify it within its systems.
Why is this so scary? Well, as a business owner or manager, you’ll know the importance of local business reviews for boosting your presence and general credibility. For those who actively engage customers in review campaigns, this will come as an incredible kicker if you are affected, meaning you could lose out on hard-earned reviews.
What you can do if you’re affected
You should be able to reinstate your business information fairly simply by clicking the ‘Actions’ button and rejecting any incorrect edits, but we’d recommend first taking note of everything that has changed in order to make your case to Google.
As for the CID number and review removals, you’ll need to provide your old and new CID numbers and highlight what has happened within a GBP Support Form, asking Google to reinstate your lost reviews.
Safety-proofing your business reviews
We don’t know for sure just how permanent the effects of this bug will be and, while it may be a temporary blip, it does highlight the importance of keeping track of any changes to your Google Business Profile. Here are some tips to ensure you’re prepped:
Keep a record of all your business reviews, including the name of the reviewer and its content. You could do this by setting up a specific folder in your email and ensuring you receive and keep every email notification for each new review your business receives.
You could also use a reviews plugin for your website that downloads and syncs all your reviews from the various review sites (google, facebook, yelp etc) to your website, thus maintaining a separate copy.
Top Tip: If you need to keep tabs on a vast amount of reviews, then the Reputation Manager in my Local SEO tools does it all for you in one place, storing review content and dates within the platform. Plus, you can export a CSV of your reviews to keep records handy.
Make sure you connect your GBP to Reputation Manager to automatically fetch new Google reviews daily. You can schedule this on a weekly or monthly basis if your GBP is not connected, but this way you won’t spot any instances where very new reviews may have been deleted.
Ensure you know and store your Google CID number in case of any changes like this. If you don’t know how to find your CID number, you can use our free Google Review Link & Place ID Generator to look up your business.
Keep track of any changes made via Suggested Edits in order to spot any inaccurate information and keep your business listing up to date.
If the guidelines are followed correctly, Google Business Profile (GBP) suspensions should not happen right? But if it does happen, getting your profile reinstated certainly shouldn’t take months, either.
But, for a few weeks in October, Google has been causing nightmares for tens of thousands of businesses around the world. it seemed that all it took to get suspended was simply looking at your GBP the wrong way, and the current response time for GBP support to reinstate suspended profiles was 1 month or longer. So what’s been going on?
It seems Google released sloppy code that contained a bug, which caused Google Business Profile suspensions to skyrocket.
Ben Fisher, Google Diamond Product Expert, and owner of Steady Demand, explained that there were a number of causes for suspension at the time:
“Causes for suspension right now:
Hitting the verify button (instant suspension)
Adding website parameters (33% suspended)
Editing a description
Editing address (This is normal, kinda)
Marking yourself ‘temporarily closed’
Breathing too hard on a GBP (OK kidding!)
“Normally when editing GBP, you will either have to wait for a review, it will be accepted, it will cause a re-verification or it will suspend the profile. As of a few weeks ago, the number of false positives has grown exponentially.”
What did the local SEO community experience?
Harmony Huskinson, Local SEO Specialist at Portent said:
“I was on a screenshare with my client when their listing got suspended at the end of September, an agency’s worst nightmare. I was showing them how they can update their profile to a primary category that is more accurate and this triggered a suspension. I have another client who’s needed me to add UTM parameters to their URLs for weeks, but that project is on hold until Google fixes this bug.
“At this point, we’ve been waiting for reinstatement for three and a half weeks, so we’re only halfway through the backlog, probably. I’ve read that folks are waiting up to six weeks to hear back from Google. The location that was suspended has lost quite a lot of business for this, they were ranking fairly well in their local community and all that progress is negated by this unprecedented suspension. As a marketer whose first priority is helping local businesses see results, I’m feeling pretty stuck.
“They’ve lost quite a bit of business to this, from what I hear.”
Ashley Romer of PaperStreet, who works with a number of clients in the law industry, was equally as frustrated by what has happened:
“So right now I am dealing with one client who has multiple locations. She went to add a new location and it was immediately suspended right away. I have submitted a reinstatement and keep following up. I believe we are on the 4th week without a resolution.
“Most law firms, especially smaller ones, rely on their Google listing for business. So waiting weeks to get it back online can really cause a strain.”
Bug Fixed, but Reinstatement Times Still Affected
As of the afternoon of Friday, October 21, 2022, the suspension bug has been fixed.
“Google has just confirmed that the bug causing small edits to trigger suspensions should be resolved now.”
But the reinstatements are still taking a long, long time. So we’ve been talking to the experts about the problem to see what you need to know, and what you can do.
Tim Capper, Google Platinum Product Expert, and owner of Online Ownership, says:
“You need to identify the reason for suspension, fix the issue and submit a reinstatement request. A long delay in hearing back from your reinstatement request is not the bug. The current response time to a reinstatement request is around 25-30 business days.”
Tim explained that the bug kicked in when you got a response to your reinstatement request.
A normal response is:
We require additional information about the business.
I’m happy to confirm that we are able to reinstate the business profile and no further action is required.
A nonstandard (bug) response is:
This case is being sent to a specialist.
Your profile is live and verified (but it won’t be when you check)
While the bug was active, when you replied to either of the above responses, you got the exact same response a few days later. So perhaps this may be described as more of a reinstatement loop. If this ever happens, your profile’s reinstatement has landed in the bug cycle!
You may have noticed that GBP displays your case ID and progress status on all business support pages, support requests, and also on the help forums home page.
The progress status also refreshes every time you get a non-standard response, so you think a human is viewing your request, but unfortunately not.
Google Business Product Expert Stefan Somborac (of Marketing Metrology), shared the experience he’s had with helping reinstatements on the forum:
“The support team is taking 3-4 weeks to respond to US reinstatement submissions. I suspect there is a regional factor here. I had a Canadian case resolved in 2 weeks and an Australian case resolved in less than one week … Recommendation: patience.”
What can you do to avoid any reinstatement issues?
If you are aiming to get reinstated, all the advice strongly recommends you double, maybe even triple, check your GBP and the reasons it was suspended. Create a strong case and make sure you provide Google with a thorough explanation, with documentation, that proves why your GBP should be reinstated.
“Because responses are running slowly, it’s best to prepare your case thoroughly before submitting your reinstatement request. Make sure you update your listing to comply with Google’s guidelines and be sure your supporting paperwork is consistent and correct. By providing proof of your listing’s accuracy and compliance with the guidelines, you help Google to get your listing back online quickly.
“My point is that if you send Google all the info they need at the beginning of the process, the timeline should be shorter.
“Most [reinstatements] are seeing four weeks, but that’s my experience, nothing formal from Google. It’s not consistent, though; I’ve seen some take less time as well, but that’s rare.”
Elizabeth Rule, Local SEO Analyst at Sterling Sky and Google Gold Product Expert, echoes Amy’s advice:
“Though there is still an average 22-day (or longer) wait to hear back on reinstatement cases, anecdotally I am seeing quicker action taken for businesses who have tons of proof their business is legit and located where they say they are, versus businesses who don’t have much proof and say things like ‘my business has been verified for 5 years with no issues’. That may be true, but if you do not have definitive proof, Google is less likely to reinstate you despite how long you’ve been verified.”
Joy Hawkins, owner of Sterling Sky, told us that her business hadn’t been affected by the suspensions bug, but gave some excellent advice on ensuring GBP quality so your profiles do not get suspended in the future:
“At Sterling Sky, we haven’t experienced any suspensions due to edits and are proceeding as normal with our clients. We never suggest doing tons of major changes to things like the business name, phone number, website, etc. at the same time.
“If you are working in spammy industries like locksmiths, drug rehabs or personal injury attorneys, be very careful not to submit too many edits to the listing in Google My Business at once or it could trigger a suspension. For example, I wouldn’t suggest adding attributes, a business description, and changing categories all at the same time. Instead, spread this work out over time and only do one or 2 edits at a time.”
Our key takeaways from the current issues with GBP suspensions and reinstatements:
Before the suspension fix, experts advised you not to update your Google Business Profile unless absolutely critical.
Suspensions were happening for all kinds of basic reasons, sometimes for simply clicking ‘verify’ or performing basic edits.
Reinstatements are still taking at least 22 days, and in many cases even longer.
When submitting a reinstatement request, prepare a thorough case for reinstatement and make doubly sure your listing adheres to Google’s guidelines.
Now that the suspension bug has been fixed, things shouldn’t be quite as bad for local businesses and marketers. It’s worth stating that while many suspensions happened for seemingly superficial reasons, sticking within Google’s guidelines for GBP is essential. This is particularly the case with the slow reinstatement issue.
Create eye-catching pop-ups. Invite your visitors to join your email list by attention-grabbing pop-ups. Use beautiful designs, give discounts, and get only the necessary details, such as customers’ names and email addresses.
Jiggy Puzzles has this sample colorful pop-up enticing you with a 10-percent discount when signing up for their email list:
Design your email newsletters attractively. Leverage stunning newsletter templates and ready-made layouts. This way, you can simply fill in blank sections with your product photos, links, texts, and other elements.
Build email funnels. Plan your messages according to the stages of the customer journey your subscribers are in. For example, first-time subscribers receive a welcome message, shoppers with abandoned carts receive enticing messages to complete their purchases, etc.
Here’s a sample welcome message by Black Mango, featuring ratings and reviews, the promised discount code, and a CTA button for quick shopping and instant conversions:
Finally, automate your email campaigns to personalize your messages and send them instantly according to your set triggers and schedules.
You can even automate your transactional and client support emails using robust customer service email management software.
2. Customer feedback integration with marketing
Feedback from your customers can be a goldmine of information and insights to help improve your products, services, customer experience, and your marketing efforts.
Customer feedback allows you to get an outsider’s perspective on your business and understand your customers and their needs better.
Make providing feedback more engaging and easier for your consumers. Get feedback using emojis to entice customers into providing their two cents about their experience with your brand.
Use tools such as Emoji Response to create custom feedback forms with emoji widgets as rating options.
The tool consolidates and analyzes your collected feedback data. It helps you extract relevant insights to spot gaps in your marketing and the customer experience and address weak points to improve them.
Incorporating customer feedback into your marketing and business strategy can help you:
Assess your marketing initiatives’ performance
Map out the customer journey
Be more proactive about communicating with your audience
Leverage positive experiences from satisfied customers as social proof in your ads
Develop more customer-focused marketing content and strategies
SEO is a set of practices to optimize your website and online content for higher rankings in the search engine results pages (SERPs).
The higher you appear on the search rankings, the better your chances of customers clicking on your web pages, increasing your site traffic and number of potential buyers.
The likelihood of your web pages appearing on search results usually depends on factors such as keyword relevance, domain authority, mobile responsiveness, page load speed, and others.
For example, when I type in “cheap cupcakes in US,” these results appear, featuring shops such as Magnolia Bakery and Sprinkles Cupcakes:
Get the best possible SEO results for your online business with these tips:
Get your loading speed at below three seconds and optimize your pages, images’ and videos’ size and resolution. Consider investing in better quality cloud hosting or a cheap dedicated server so you don’t have to share resources with other website, improving your page load speed.
If you’re working with a marketing agency, MSP marketing service provider, or any other third-party company, discuss how you can harmonize your SEO strategies with your other campaigns to achieve a unified promotional plan.
It’s also vital to use reliable SEO tools such as SERanking to help improve your content and reputation and website’s code, supporting your efforts to boost your on-page, off-page, and technical SEO strategies.
4. Video marketing
Video marketing is the practice of leveraging videos to promote your products, boost customer engagement on digital platforms, educate consumers, and reach more audiences.
When produced strategically, these videos can grab your customers’ attention, build connections with them, and capture their trust.
Patagonia gives a stellar example of video marketing on their website:
This online shop posts its films with compelling CTA buttons telling visitors to watch them. They also regularly post videos on their YouTube channel:
Execute these best practices when running video marketing campaigns:
Diversify your videos into tutorials, product demos, customer testimonials, etc.
Post or embed them on various platforms, such as your website, email newsletters, and social media.
Get to your point in under five to 10 seconds.
Tell a gripping, interactive story.
Leverage robust digital marketing software such as Content Management System (CMS) to simplify adding and modifying video content on your website and social channels.
You can also couple your video marketing campaigns with reliable business intelligence tools to measure your performance and apply data-based improvements.
If you don’t have the in-house expertise and resources to produce high-quality videos, you can always work with a reliable digital marketing agency and professional video marketing service providers.
5. Brand collaborations
Brand partnerships or collaborations empower you to bolster your business by capitalizing on another company’s clout and audience.
Two brands serving the same consumers can offer distinct product lines and aid each other’s growth. You and your partner company can host giveaways, co-produce content, and roll out your joint merchandise together.
When you harness another brand’s customers, your marketing campaigns can capture a wider audience and skyrocket your success.
Here are a few tips for your brand collaborations:
Leverage social fan pages. Fan pages can contribute significantly to your social media lead generation and marketing efforts. They have established groups of enthusiasts on various subjects (e.g., pets, surfing, fitness, etc.). Since these themes already interest them, promoting your products and engaging the followers becomes easier. Send them a private message to begin your partnership.
Tap the right influencers. If you have a limited audience and want to amplify your exposure, tap influencers — people who are popular online, typically on social media, and often have thousands to millions of followers. Pick influencers who can positively represent your brand, exhibit your goods, and transform their followers into buyers.
6. Content marketing
Content marketing is among the evergreen marketing strategies on the Internet. It is the consistent, strategic act of creating, publishing, and promoting relevant online resources to captivate, engage, and convert your visitors.
This strategy is crucial because it answers your target audience’s queries. Today’s customers also expect their favorite brands to generate excellent content regularly.
Your content can come in several formats: blog posts, photos, videos, images, infographics, ebooks, quizzes, podcasts, webinars, and many more.
bioClarity shows a perfect example:
bioClarity has several narrative guides under various categories that visitors can choose to go to directly. It also how-to tutorial videos:
And a skincare quiz so shoppers can determine the best product for them:
Do these things when producing your content:
Focus on offering value rather than forcing customers to buy your products. This increases their buy-in and loyalty.
For instance, you can use landing page copy such as “Purchase well-written articles and get free backlinks” so potential customers can quickly see the value your brand can give them, encouraging them to convert.
Vary your content formats, or transform old resources into new materials.
Include calls-to-action (CTAs), such as, “Shop now” and “Explore gallery,” to compel customers to perform conversion-oriented activities.
Sprinkle your target keywords to boost your SEO efforts.
With content marketing, you can supercharge your products’ significance and motivate your customers to keep interacting with your business.
Don’t forget to organize, store, and centralize your content marketing assets and materials by using reliable marketing project management software.
Turbo-boost your online business now.
Leverage these and other digital marketing strategies and monitor and improve your execution to get your best possible online business performance.
Remember to align your campaigns with the current consumer demands, adopting new strategies that may emerge when appropriate, to ensure you keep and expand your target customers.
You need a reliable strategy to engage your audience to succeed in social media marketing.
After all, you could have thousands of Facebook and Instagram followers, but if you don’t engage them effectively, they end up as passive audiences instead of paying customers.
The solution? Leverage reliable audience engagement tips to optimize your social media marketing efforts.
That is what this guide is all about.
Read on to learn about some of the best ways to engage your social media followers to increase your conversion rates and sales.
1. Respond to your followers
Social media users generally want to feel like they interact with humans and not a faceless brand.
That is why you shouldn’t limit your audience interactions to your customer service software chatbot on Facebook (and other social media channels).
Reply to your audience comments, mentions, etc., to engage your followers.
Join your audiences’ conversations and comment to encourage constant interactions with your brand.
If someone leaves a comment saying, “This is amazing,” replying with “Thank you! We like it too!” can make a huge difference in how your followers see your brand.
Also, acknowledge mentions and posts of followers using your products. This comment from Barkbox is a good example.
Responding to your followers’ comments can help your brand come off as more “human,” friendly, and interesting. This lets you connect with your audiences better.
Take your responses to the next level by using the person’s name when replying to their comments.
Addressing your audiences personally can help them feel more special and connected to your business.
2. Use high quality visual content
Leverage high-quality visuals to help your business and content stand out from the hundreds of other brands on social media.
Post stunning and catchy videos, photos, GIFs, and other visual content types to grab your audiences’ attention.
Follow these tips to help you create effective visual content for social media.
Develop a visual strategy. A visual strategy allows you to create visual content with a narrative, timing, purpose, and other strategic elements.
Include audience research, themes, mood board, and the specific platforms you want to use in your visual strategy.
Know the basics of creating visual content. While you can unleash your creativity to create unique visual content, following the basic rules can increase your chances of succeeding.
For example, it’s always best to have a single focal point in your images, choose complementary colors, avoid over-editing.
Streamline producing visual content. Creating content takes time and effort. Optimize your social media content creation process by using nifty project management software.
The software helps you organize, manage, and prioritize your visual content creation tasks for seamless workflows.
Use the right social media visual content and strategies to give audiences a good reason to like, comment, share your posts, and, in turn, buy from you.
3. Encourage user generated content
Leverage User-Generated Content (UGC) to help drive engagement and connect with your audiences better.
UGC is anything your audiences and social media users create that you can share on your profile or feed.
When used properly, UGC can benefit both your audiences and your brand. It encourages audiences to interact with your brand while featuring their content on your social media page or profile.
Below are some of the best ways to encourage users to create and share content for your UGC strategies.
Use a compelling Call-to-Action (CTA) and offer incentives. Entice your audiences to create UGC with a catchy CTA and an irresistible offer.
For example, you can ask your followers to share photos of them using their favorite products from your store and offer a 10% discount coupon.
Create a hashtag strategy. Using hashtags can help expand your UGC’s reach beyond your followers.
Leverage branded and relevant hashtags with your UGCs. This helps you get more people to tune in to your content, increasing your opportunities to engage more people.
Hilton Grand Vacations has a strong UGC hashtag game. The brand asks Instagram users to include the #myhgv in their posts and shares the best images on the brand’s feed.
It’s a great way to inspire audiences to book their next holiday with the company.
A solid UGC campaign strategy can be one of your steps to social media success. This can result in higher audience engagement and more conversions.
4. Post regularly
Effectively engaging your social media audiences requires maintaining a solid online presence. Posting content to your social media channels regularly can help you achieve this.
Keep your content flowing to engage your audiences continuously.
For example, if you’re sharing content about conducting online seminars and conferences, follow it up by sharing a blog post on online summits vs. conferences.
It’s also crucial to post content at peak hours for maximum content exposure and avoid missing audience engagement opportunities.
As such, you’ll need to know the best time to post your content when your target audiences are most likely to respond.
You can’t be at your laptop 24/7, so leverage social media content scheduling tools instead.
For example, Hootsuite lets you plan, create, and prep your social media posts on a schedule, so that you can say goodbye to manual posting.
Hootsuite also offers essential features to help you stay on top of your social media engagement efforts. This includes an option to tag and track positive engagements for your weekly and monthly reports.
5. Leverage social media engagement tools
Streamline your social media audience engagement efforts using the right tools, such as:
Video creation apps. Generate more audience engagement by creating compelling and catchy videos. If you don’t have an in-house graphic designer, opt for user-friendly video editing apps to create beautiful social media videos yourself.
Photo editing software. Use photo editors to crop, add filters and effects, and adjust your images’ sharpness and saturation properly, even without graphic design skills.
You’ll get professional-looking images to help engage your social media audiences without burning through your marketing budget.
Analytics apps. Analyzing your audience engagement initiatives tells you where and how you succeeded or failed. Use analytics apps to measure your performance and gain actionable insights to improve your engagement efforts.
Are you ready to achieve social media marketing success?
It’s not only your number of followers that will set your business on the path to successful social media marketing.
You need to have a solid audience engagement strategy to connect with your audience, reach more people, and ultimately encourage them to buy your products. Start your engagement efforts with the tips in this guide and build on them to develop your strategy.