Over the last couple of years, we’ve shared a lot of Google My Business updates with you in our Wednesday Workshop videos; everything from your listing becoming your new home page, to other GMB adaptations you must make to stay competitive. Now, during this time of great commercial uncertainty, it is more essential than ever to make sure you’re monitoring your Google My Business listing closely.
Beginning in March 2020, Google has rolled out a number of changes to listings across every industry in light of the Coronavirus. These changes can greatly impact both how you do business, and how your business is perceived. For these reasons, we will do our best to keep this post updated; so that you can refer back to it at any time to see if Google has issued a change that will affect your GMB listing.
- Posts, business information edits, reviews and Q&A are being limited
As of Mid-March, Google began limiting much of the functionality within the listing as they prepared to reduce the number of employees needed to come into the office. This included changing some workflow prioritization, adding automation steps, and adjusting schedules to accommodate working from home and fewer people in house wherever possible.
These processes are becoming more streamlined, and some of this functionality has been reinstated; or at worst, may face a slight delay. At our last check on March 31, 2020, GMB posts are partially restored and previously rejected posts are being reviewed for release. Reviews are also being posted on a case-by-case basis, as are review responses.
If an information change is required due to procedural adjustments during the pandemic, you are now able to create a COVID-19 Update in your dashboard; which will display these changes more prominently to the public. As of March 31, 2020, this particular kind of update will expire after 14 days.
At this time, there are no public updates as to when these features will be 100% returned.
UPDATE: As of April 7, 2020 the ability to respond to Google reviews has returned. It is currently unknown if this is a permanent or temporary change.
- Verifications, claim requests, and new listings will be temporarily delayed
Google is currently using a manual review process for new listings, claim requests, and verifications, with a priority toward health-related businesses. If you are experiencing additional lag time in processing one of these types of requests, please be patient. The team at Google hasn’t forgotten about you.
- Warning messages added to listing in search results
As of March 30, 2020, Google has issued a warning message that “hours or services may differ due to COVID-19” in all maps and business listings. This is a great feature for business who may have altered their hours, but not yet inputted that information into Google My Business. Of course, we recommend you keep your listing as up to date as possible for a better customer experience; but at least Google has you covered in the short-term.
- Marking your listing as “Temporarily Closed” no longer negatively impacts ranking
Historically, marking your business listing as “temporarily closed” has had a pretty big effect on your ranking prospects. For now, Google is allowing businesses to apply this functionality as needed, without a negative consequence on your search visibility.
Once you mark your listing with a temporary closure, you’ll no longer be able to receive new reviews. You’ll also need to make adjustments in AdWords, as this particular change will not sync with your Google Ads account.
If you don’t want to limit your ability to receive reviews, you can set special hours for a limited time, as well. Just make sure you remain diligent about adjusting your business information as procedures change.
- Google may rely on other “authoritative data” to determine automatic changes to your listing
If you are part of a region in which a stay-at-home order or other widespread closure has been implemented, Google may rely upon other authoritative data sources to determine whether or not to mark your business as “temporarily closed.” These data sources include government organizations, non-profits, educational institutions, and other businesses.
At our last check on March 31, 2020, if your listing has been closed in error, you can update the status of your business to reopen in your Google My Business dashboard. If the closure becomes permanent, you can make this amendment here as well. This change will be effective immediately. Otherwise, the closure status will be removed at the end date determined by these authoritative data sources.
If you are experiencing any additional issues with your listing, or if you find that the information we have provided needs to be updated, please feel free to share your thoughts with us in the comments section. This is a developing situation and we want to make note of any changes as soon as possible to help you be more successful during this trying time.
We appreciate each one of you as our readers and clients; and we hope to remain your partner as we move forward into the next steps.