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Here’s How Limited Google My Business Functionality Will Affect Your Local Business During The Coronavirus Pandemic

 

Google has implemented a new policy for GMB (Google My Business), in which some features will be suspended or work with limitations. 

Why? 

Google has mentioned that they are taking these steps to ensure the safety of their employees by enabling them to work from home during the coronavirus outbreak. Due to this, some features may work in a limited capacity, as critical services will be prioritized by Google. 

What’s Google’s Priority?

Google has shifted its focus on maintaining the quality of Google Search and Google Maps to ensure that users can access reliable information during this pandemic. Essential features including special hours for businesses, or whether they are open or not, are also a priority for Google. 

Here’s how you can manage your business in these challenging times. 

List of Changes in GMB Features

Here are some important GMB updates:

Editing Business Information

  • Main reviewing priority for any edits in GMB information will be given to businesses in the healthcare industry.
  • You can mark your business as open/closed, or list special hours during this time. However, businesses that are not in the healthcare industry may face delays for review. 
  • Verified businesses will also enjoy priority review support for edits in business description or attributes. 

Adding New Listings, Verifications or Claims

  • Healthcare-related businesses will be given priority for the review of their new listings, verifications, or claims. Google will manually review their applications.
  • For businesses in other industries, publication of new listings, etc. on Google Maps or Google Search may be delayed by 24 hours, during this time.

Google Reviews

  • Adding new reviews will remain suspended during this time.
  • Users can add new reviews, but they will not be visible to the general public.
  • Replying to reviews will also remain suspended during this time. 
  • Businesses will not be able to respond to reviews. However, as no new reviews will be posted, there is no need to respond. 

Q&A

  • All Q&A features will remain suspended during this time.
  • Google has removed Q&As from all profiles at the moment. Even the existing Q&As will no longer be visible. 

List of Unofficial Changes in GMB Features

The SEO community has pointed out some other GMB updates that they have come across related to Google My Business.

Rejection Rate for Google Posts has Increased

While still available to view, a lot of Google posts are being rejected. Google has not yet commented on why the number of post rejections has increased.

Google posts still remain a great way to share important information with your customers.

Blocked User Generated Content

Some experts have noted that user generated content has been temporarily suspended. 

Update for Restaurants

Google is allowing businesses to add the “takeout or delivery” option to their descriptions in GMB. Previously, this was regulated strictly. However, during the Coronavirus outbreak, they have allowed restaurants to inform their customers about the takeout & delivery options. 

How Will Changes in GMB Affect Your Business?

Here’s a fact to show the importance of GMB; between Q4 2017 and Q4 2018, direct searches grew by 38%, while website clicks from GMB listings grew 29%, according to BrightLocal

Here’s how your business will be affected by changes to GMB;

  • If you were looking to update business information or business attributes in your GMB listing, you will face delays, as priority will be given to healthcare businesses. 
  • If you were looking to update open or close state, special hours, or temporary closure in your GMB listing, you will face delays, as priority will be given to healthcare businesses. 
  • If your business is verified by Google, you may enjoy priority over unverified businesses. 
  • If you run a business in the healthcare industry, your new listing, claim or verification on Google Search or Google Map will be reviewed manually. 
  • For businesses outside the healthcare industry, new listings, claims or verification on Google Search or Google Map will be delayed. Delays may take upto 24 hours.  
  • Businesses will not be able to receive reviews from customers on their GMB listing during this period. 
  • Businesses will not be able to reply to any existing reviews. 
  • Q&A sections will be temporarily unavailable to businesses and their customers. 
  • Suspension of reviews and Q&A will allow you time to focus on keeping your business operational. 

Why is Google Making Changes to GMB?

Google has always focused on increasing value for people who engage with their products & 

services. This change in their policies is in line with Google’s values. 

Here’s why these changes have been implemented;

  • To allow businesses in the healthcare industry to provide critical information to their customers and general public. 
  • Suspending the reviews and Q&A features will ease the worries of businesses, who otherwise would have been bombarded with questions related to Coronavirus. 
  • Allowing Google’s employees to put their safety first by working from home. 

How Will These Changes Affect Marketalist’s Customers?

Although we will continue to provide a wide range of our service, some specific features/services may get affected by Google’s new policies. 

Reputation Management & Other Google Reviews Related Services

As mentioned above, posting new reviews will not be possible during this time. Responding to reviews will also remain suspended. Google has not made it clear if the reviews written during this time will be made publicly available when these restrictions are lifted or not. 

We will be able to provide this service optimally when Google lifts these restrictions or provides further clarity on the current policy. 

Citation Services

Citation building services for GMB listings will be affected, as Google has prioritized healthcare related businesses during this time. Google has not exactly specified how long these delays might be, so we will be back to full efficiency when restrictions are lifted or Google comes forward with more clarification. 

GMB Management

Google My Business management will be tricky during this time, as Google will delay their review process for all businesses except the healthcare industry. GMB post rejections are higher during this time, as mentioned earlier, so new posts will take longer to get through to customers. However, we will be back to full efficiency when restrictions are lifted or Google comes forward with more clarification. 

What to Expect Next?

As the spread of COVID-19 is showing no signs of slowing down, we can expect further changes to GMB and other Google Search and Google Maps features. In order to stay up to date with all the changes, and latest updates, keep following our blog and look out for our emails. You can also follow us on social media for real-time updates. 

Final Words

At Marketalist, we have always prioritized our customers’ needs and we are determined to provide you with reliable information during this tough period. You can count on us to bring you guidelines and tips to keep your business safe from losses. 

If you think we can help your business in any way, do not hesitate to contact us. In fact, just click here to book a meeting.  

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