Earlier this month, Google called attention to changes in its Google My Business photo and video guidelines, announced last year. The company is letting local marketers know that all images or videos will now be reviewed before being published.
We’ve made changes to our photo and video content policy. All photos and videos are now reviewed before publication. If you’re having issues adding photos, check out our photo criteria: https://t.co/XR21n7uM9Z
— Google My Business (@GoogleMyBiz) March 5, 2020
Manual and machine moderation. Search Engine Land’s Barry Schwartz asked Google whether this was a manual or machine-based review process. The company responded that both humans and machines are involved, although wouldn’t provide more detail. Here’s the official statement:
To ensure consistency with our policies for user contributed content, we rolled out additional criteria for photos and videos for merchants late last year. We will continue to update and improve these policies over time to ensure all content that appears in the Business Profile is relevant, high quality, and appropriate. While we don’t share specific details about our moderation processes, we do use a combination of automated and manual reviews, and continue to work on making photo approvals as efficient as possible.”
— Google spokesperson
In early February, many local SEOs reported Google Posts with images were being rejected. The initial speculation was that Google was more strictly enforcing its guidelines, which prohibit stock photography among other things. However, Google subsequently clarified that the problem with Posts was really a bug, which was quickly fixed.
Why we care. SEOs will need to understand and follow the image and video guidelines in order to avoid rejection of their content. Portions of the guidelines are ambiguous, which will create some challenges. But this is arguably the most important provision: “Screenshots, stock photos, GIFs, other manually created imagery or imagery taken by other parties should not be uploaded. To be relevant, photos or videos must be taken by users at the location in question. If the primary subject of the content is irrelevant to the location, it may be removed.”
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