Due to the rapid spread of the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19), Google has announced that it would temporarily limit the functionality of its business listing tool, Google My Business (GMB), to prioritize more important critical services.
“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.”
Here’s everything you need to know about this change with GMB, and how it will affect businesses.
What Functions is GMB Limiting?
In the update, Google announced that it will temporary put a hold on new customer reviews, as well as any new additions to business Q and A sections. This doesn’t mean customers won’t be able to submit new reviews, just that Google won’t post them until it has the capacity to do so.
This is a hit to the thousands of businesses whose ability to drive reviews — both in rating and recency — is a huge part of their lead generation strategy. With that in mind, the COVID-19 pandemic is making so-called “normal” business operation difficult regardless of what Google chooses to prioritize.
Verifications for New Listings
If you’re choosing now to launch a “non-essential” business, you may be out of luck when it comes to being verified by Google. The company announced that it would be prioritizing claims and verification for critical health-related businesses first for the time being.
The likely application for this would be if, for example, a hospital were to extend their services to a temporary satellite location to see more patients, this information would be able to be listed as quickly as possible.
Business Information Updates
As restaurants and other business change their hours, services, open dates, and other policies to respond to the pandemic-affected economy, they want to make repaid changes to the GMB profiles to reflect those. According to Google, that won’t be so easy.
Updating business information is another functionality that Google is limiting to prioritize health-related businesses. This means that if you submit a change to your hours, it may be a long time until you see that change reflected on your GMB profile.
So, How Can You Communicate Changes?
It seems that in the near future, using text and email updates as well as posting on social media will give you a better chance of reaching your audience with up-to-the-minute business changes or crucial information. With this in mind, Google Posts has been unaffected thus far, so for now — and there’s definite potential for this to change — you can post freely on your GMB profile any time there’s something you need your audience to know.