Before we begin, I just want to say, please stay safe and make sure that you are practicing social distancing wherever you go. Thank you!
This past Saturday morning, March 21st, I was browsing Twitter and came across something extremely surprising, yet very insightful. Google has made a host of changes to Google My Business in light of the global coronavirus pandemic. I will go over them and let you know tips on what you can do, and why you should care.
Google Has Temporarily Disabled New Local Reviews as Well as the Ability for Businesses to Post Review Responses.
Local businesses are vulnerable right now, especially with the confusion and turmoil created by the global pandemic and business closures.
By doing this, Google is attempting to prevent a flood of reviews that may be misinformed or malicious. Don’t worry, it will be back. In the meantime, consider sending people to your social media to leave a review or another review site that you may use for your business or business type. (Please note: Yelp is taking the same route by saying it would not allow claims in reviews of contracting coronavirus from a business or its employees or “negative reviews about a business being closed during what would be their regular open hours in normal circumstances.”)
Google is Prioritizing Business Information Edits.
As stated in an article from Google, “We will prioritize reviews for edits critical to health-related businesses. At this time, we will also prioritize reviews for open and closed states, special hours, temporary closures, business descriptions, and business attributes edits for other verified businesses.”
In other terms, if it is not an hours update, it most likely will take more time to be approved and posted live. We know this is a frustrating thing to deal with, but again, we will hopefully see normalcy back on GMB soon. What you can do in the meantime is make sure that your website has the most up to date information. Customers will be visiting your site for answers and updates as well, so please make sure it is correct when they visit.
Google is Prioritizing New Listings, Claims and Verifications for Health-Related Businesses at This Time.
Again drawing from the Google article mentioned earlier, “Our support team will manually review new listings, claims, and verifications for critical health-related businesses. While we prioritize these critical services, please expect a delay for publication of new listings, claims, and verifications for other types of businesses to Google Search and Maps.”
What that means is if you are attempting to create a new listing, claim a current listing, or verify a listing, it is most likely going to take more time than it normally would.
Here’s a few things that you can do on your Google My Business listing to make sure your customers are staying informed of your status:
- Change your business hours. If your business hours have changed, update the times when you’ll be open or closed. The hours will show when the customer visits your Business Profile, and they’ll know exactly when to visit.
- Manage your information (as well as you are able). Explain whether or not your business operations are affected by COVID-19. You can share information about any extra precautions your business is taking, such as moving to takeout or delivery only. You can also share if you’re providing any extra services to the community, or whether you’re experiencing delays.
- You can mark your business temporarily closed. This feature is available to business owners. A new page on Google’s support forums explains how business owners are able to mark their location as “temporarily closed” in Maps and Search. This shouldn’t be used by businesses running limited hours as a result of the outbreak, but rather for those that have had to shut down operations entirely in the midst of the outbreak or any local shelter-in-place orders.
- Create a post. We have experienced issues with posts being rejected because they are being MANUALLY approved. New posts may not show up right away, so please be aware and patient. Share timely updates about what’s going on with your business. You can continue to use Posts to directly communicate with your customers on a regular basis as your business changes. Google has also added a tab that is dedicated for your businesses Covid-19 updates. It includes a spot for content and a learn more
As we continue to live in these unpredictable times, we must remember to stay patient with each other and continue to work together. If assistance is needed with Google My Business you can contact myself or my colleagues here at PCG Digital and we would love to help.