Google provided advice on what businesses should do with their Google My Business listings if they’re affected by COVID-19.
To assist customers, businesses affected by COVID-19 are encouraged to update their Google My Business profile with with the most accurate information.
Google has published a new GMB help page with further recommendations, which include:
- Change business hours: If your business hours have changed, update the times when you’ll be open or closed.
- Update business description: Explain whether or not your business operations are affected by COVID-19. Additionally, you can share information about any extra precautions your business is taking.
- Publish a post: Share detailed and timely updates about what’s going on with your business through Google Posts.
- Update contact info: Make sure your phone number is correct so that customers can reach you.
These are all tools that were previously available to businesses, so there are no new features being added. Google is just advising businesses on how to best utilize GMB in light of the coronavirus situation.
Perhaps specific features related to COVID-19 will be added in the future, but this is what’s available for now.
Google is temporarily removing some features from Google My Business as a result of limitations caused by the COVID-19 situation.
“During the unprecedented COVID-19 situation, we are taking steps to protect the health of our team members and reduce the need for people to come into our offices. As a result, there may be some temporary limitations and delays in support as we prioritize critical services.”
For the time being, these features will be temporarily limited or removed.
Reviews & Q&A
Google My Business will not be publishing any new reviews, review replies, or new Q&A until further notice.
Existing reviews, review replies, and Q&A will still be visible.
Presumably, any newly submitted reviews, replies, and questions will eventually be published when Google has the resources to do so.
In a statement to Search Engine Journal, local marketing expert Bill Hartzer gave his thoughts on the decision to restrict these features:
“Most likely, Google is doing this because they want to make sure that the information provided is valid and from trusted sources. I can only imagine how quickly the Q&A could potentially get out of hand if they allowed anyone to answer questions.”
New Listings, Claims, and Verifications
During this time, the Google My Business support team will prioritize reviewing new listings, claims, and verifications for critical health-related businesses.
That means, with Google prioritizing critical services, other types of businesses can expect a delay for publication of new listings, claims, and verifications.
Business Information Edits
Google’s prioritization of critical services will also extend to reviewing business information edits.
This includes reviews for:
- Changes to open and closed states
- Special hours
- Temporary closures
- Business descriptions
- Business attributes
If your business does not provide a critical, health-related service then it may be some time before you see any edits go live on your GMB listing.
Google Posts Not Affected
As far as I can tell, Google is not restricting Google Posts functionality.
That means, if you have new updates to share with your customers, you can still use your GMB listing to publish posts.
That may change as time goes on, however, as these are unpredictable times we’re living through.
Take advantage of Google Posts while it’s still available.
Source: Google My Business Help Center