Updated August 2020: GMB features mentioned in this article have since become available again.
Around the globe, companies are adjusting to the many changes associated with the COVID-19 outbreak. Mandates are ordering unessential businesses to close or take extensive precautions, and many organizations find themselves making changes. Whether you’ve altered your hours, switched to delivery or online ordering, or temporarily closed, there are a lot of adjustments occurring. If part of your digital marketing strategy includes using Google My Business (GMB), then you should be aware of these GMB features suspended due to COVID-19.
Three GMB Features Suspended Due to COVID-19
Last week, Google posted that they were temporarily disabling and limiting a handful of features in GMB. These changes exist to prioritize service for essential and health-related businesses throughout the pandemic. Below, we explain which features GMB removed.
For the time being, additional reviews will not publish on Google My Business profiles. While you can still submit a post and see your existing reviews, they will not be visible to the public. Google has not specified whether or not reviews will stay hidden once they remove these constraints.
Replies to Reviews
Similar to new reviews, GMB disabled review replies as well. This change applies to existing reviews already posted on business’ GMB profiles. Likewise, any edits to existing replies are also blocked.
You may find the most profound changes happening to Google’s Q&A, as they’ve been removed entirely. Although Google only noted that new Q&As would be made unavailable, it appears this may apply to all existing Q&As.
Are Other Features Limited?
The short answer to this question is yes. While Google didn’t permanently change how Google My Business runs and operates, they clearly stated that their time and focus is centered around helping critical health-related businesses first. Non health-related companies can still add and claim their GMB listings but should expect delayed response times in listing verifications.
Additionally, users and businesses that fall outside of health-related categories should assume there will also be delays related to listing edits including:
- Special hours
- Business descriptions
- Business attributes
- Open and closed states
- Temporary closures
Other Noteworthy Changes
Aside from the changes mentioned above, several SEO experts noted some additional modifications to Google My Business structures, including:
- Rejections to Google Posts
- Hidden user-generated content
- Lifted restrictions on adding carryout or delivery options to business names
It’s unclear as to why Google is hiding and rejecting more content than usual. However, it may be related to the limited team members that Google has operating as a precautionary health practice.
How Does This Impact You?
Overall, these temporary modifications should have minimal impact on those with an existing GMB listing. If you’re a business owner, you may encounter small inconveniences when it comes to managing your Google reviews. Despite these changes, it’s more crucial than ever to make sure that your local search engine optimization (SEO) is in top-notch shape so that your consumers can find you wherever they are.
There’s no way of knowing how long these changes will last, but you can rest assured that the experts at Front Porch Solutions are keeping a close eye on updates. Get in touch today for help managing your listings and overall digital marketing strategy!