On March 20th, 2020, Google announced that they would begin rolling out changes to some of its Google My Business (GMB) functionality. What began as a suspension of reviews and Q&A, has turned into a larger issue, impacting most functionality on GMB. In particular, no new reviews can be posted on Google, business owners will not be able to respond to reviews, Q&A has been removed from the knowledge panel, and edits to business listings may take longer than usual. 

Just one day earlier, Yelp announced that it would place stricter guidelines on new reviews. The company stated that “to protect local businesses from reputational harm related to these extraordinary circumstances,” it will not permit, for example, “claims in reviews of contracting coronavirus from a business or its employees” or “negative reviews about a business being closed during what would be their regular open hours in normal circumstances.” For now, Yelp is still allowing users to leave reviews.

Both Google and Yelp took these actions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has changed the way many local businesses operate and completely shuttered the doors of others. In an effort to protect vulnerable local businesses, Google and Yelp are trying to prevent an onslaught of reviews that might be ill-informed or malicious in nature. Until things go back to normal, businesses need to be aware of how these changes will affect them online.

As many small businesses in our communities count on Google My Business (GMB) as an incredibly critical part of their Search Engine Optimization (SEO) efforts, the big news on March 20th regarding COVID-19 impacts to updates GMB listings including long delays for Business verifications and info update approvals and especially no longer posting new Reviews and Q&As was a big jolt.

Well, there is finally some good news from the Googleplex in Mountain View, CA.  According to an update posted recently on the Google My Business Help page:

Business posts were temporarily disabled for some businesses and have since resumed. We’re working to reprocess previously rejected posts – please check within a few days to see whether your post is live, or create a new one. In addition, if you are creating a post about business updates related to COVID-19, you can now create a “COVID-19 update”, which will be featured more prominently within your Business Profile.

Also the BIG news:

Review replies are now available. New user reviews, new user photos, new short names, and Q&A will gradually return by country and business category.

So all the Reviews your customers have been leaving and the response you have made to them as well as the Business information you’ve been updating will slowly be being approved and being added to your GMB listing.  That is some great news!

As always, if your business needs help navigating the confusing and constantly changing Digital landscape connect with us either by requesting an Online Visibility Report, Chatting with us here on our website, or by dropping me an email to dwatts@waynation.com.

We look forward to hearing from you…Be Healthy and Be Blessed!