Google My Business Temporarily Disables and Changes Features Amid COVID-19 Outbreak
Advertising COVID-19 SEO,
I wanted to share some updates with you regarding Google My Business profiles due to the coronavirus outbreak.
What’s that again?
GMB profiles are those local knowledge panels on the right-hand side of search results that allow businesses to share a ton of information about themselves, such as hours of operation, events, business descriptions, reviews and more.
New Listings and Profile Updates
As Google deals with their own staffing limitations, it will be prioritizing new listings, claims and verifications for medical-related businesses; other types of businesses should expect to see a delay.
For businesses that are already verified, Google will prioritize updates for special hours, temporary closures, business descriptions and attributes, so businesses can communicate new operations due to COVID-19 as quickly as possible with their customers.
Unfortunately, Google has announced it will temporarily disable some features: they will not publish local reviews, review replies and Q&A’s until further notice. However, I am hopeful these reviews will be published as things normalize.
Google has also added a “temporarily closed” button. GMB product expert Krystal Taing says: “If your business has adjusted hours or is temporarily closed for a short period of time (less than two weeks), you should use special hours. For longer extended closures, two weeks or more, you should use the temporarily closed status if you’re able to.”
Google is also using authoritative data sources to mark certain types of places automatically as “Temporarily Closed” on Google Search and Google Maps.
This should not affect rankings, as Google is treating temporarily closed businesses the same as it is open businesses.
Communicate with Your Customers
Keep your customers up-to-date on how your business has changed by utilizing Google My Business’s description and posts features. It is encouraged to provide as much context as possible, such as extra safety measures and precautions regarding your business operations. You can also promote alternative offerings, e.g. virtual classes, contactless curbside pickup, takeout and delivery options, online shopping, etc.
Pro Tip: According to local search expert Joy Hawkins, Google is now allowing certain businesses (restaurants and grocery stores) to update their Google My Business name to include terms like “Delivery,” “Takeout Available,” “Curbside Pickup” in order to communicate new information as quickly as possible.
During this pandemic, more and more users are turning to Google Maps and local search results to find out which nearby stores, restaurants and businesses are open. So, it’s more important than ever to make sure any new business information is reflected in your Google My Business Profile.