Limited GMB Functionality Due To Coronavirus Epidemic

It is clear that Covid-19 has brought in difficult times for local businesses all over the world, where many are being obligated to adapt or shutter swiftly as measures are put in to curb the spread of the disease. During this unprecedented coronavirus situation, we are committed to ensuring that our consumers are always updated on any advancements affecting local SEO, and we witnessed the first noteworthy change by Google in the last week. According to a post presented on 20th March 2020, Google declared that it was provisionally limiting and disabling several features in GMB, saying;

“During the rare coronavirus situation, we are taking procedures to care for the healthiness of our team associates and decrease the urge for persons to come to our offices. Hence, this would cause temporary delays and limitations in support as we prioritize key services.”
On 25th March 2020, a “provisionally closed” option was declared into GMB for companies that are closed due to covid-19.

The features suspended by our support team due to the coronavirus epidemic.

  1. New reviews: During this unprecedented coronavirus situation, no new reviews will be put out to GMB profiles. Customers will still be allowed to see or post their reviews at this period, but they will not be visible to the public. Also, Google My Business has not yet declared whether these reviews will be made visible to users once Google eliminates the limitations.
  2. Review replies: COVID-19 has led to the restriction of review replies. Since no new reviews will be seen on the GMB profiles, there is less urge for companies to be able to give their feedback. Nevertheless, companies will not be able to reply to current reviews on their profile. This also relates to revising the content of the current review feedbacks- if that is even an issue!
  3. Question and Answers: in possibly the greatest change, questions, and answers have been eliminated from profiles. Thus, all the existing Question and Answers will not be publicized, and consumers will be unable to post new questions. In a post published by google about the significant change, they only referred to ‘new Question and Answers,’ but having checked several companies, Question and Answers seem to have disappeared.
  4. Claiming, verifying, and adding listings: since no functionality is being eliminated, the listing review process of Google is being prioritized for health-associated companies. Companies that are not health-associated can anticipate postponements when claiming and adding listings and getting listing confirmations. Google has so far not declared the extent of the postponement.
  5. Editing business data: companies that are not considered health-associated can also anticipate postponements to the listings revises, including:
  • Special hours
  • Business attributes
  • Open and closed states
  • Business descriptions
  • Temporary closures

Although Google does not officially verify it, several SEOs realize other changes in GMB.

  1. Google posts: Although google posts are still available at the time of editing, SEOs are reporting a rapidly increasing number of rebuffs. Google has not confirmed why several posts are getting rejected or whether new strategies are temporarily in place. Until issues become more apparent, Google posts are an efficient way to guarantee vital information and modifications to processes are visible to the public.
    Note a point where Google posts being rebuffed. If your post is rejected, do not worry, you are not alone.
    Update: Although Google posts were temporarily suspended, they are on operational as of 31st March 2020.
  2. User-generated content: although Google has not yet confirmed, Joy Hawkins has stated that user-generated information is also deferred.
    “I added (as GLG) photos to a park profile three days ago, but none of them can be seen on the profile, and it appears to be receiving views- displayed in the Google Local Guide-dashboard.”
    I tend to think all user-created content is disabled right now.
    Delivery available/take out’ in companies’ names: Google is always quite strict when it comes to company names in Google My Business, but it seems to have loosened its rules by letting restaurants to add take out available’ or delivery available’ to their company names.
    A “temporary closed” button is available on the GMB dashboard! On this button, you can mark a company permanently or temporarily closed. The button is significant as it allows companies to mark themselves as provisionally closed. You can also eliminate this company from your account. Companies using this dashboard will probably notice a drop in ratings as open businesses is prioritized by Google. Nothing can advocate that this will cause any long-term effect to ratings once companies reopen, and we powerfully recommend companies to keep their data as truthful as possible to assist consumers at this challenging time.Both Yelp and Bing Places also have options to show a company has been provisionally closed.

Reasons for the suspension of GMB features

Google may be suspending Google My Business features due to the following two reasons;

  • To restrict the burden on companies which are likely to be inundated with questions related to coronavirus
  • To ensure that health-associated companies are capable of keeping consumers updated about crucial information.

Google should be applauded for taking care of the team’s health and prioritizing its objective on companies that provide essential health services to their groups. On the other hand, several companies will be dependent on GMB to guarantee consumers are updated on moderations like opening hours. If they offer critical health services to a group, then updated information is going to be significant to make sure consumers are not making unnecessary trips.
In addition, local companies need as much assistance as possible at this time, and eliminating reviews inhibits consumers from supporting the local companies that are around them. Last week, the local SEO community supported on Twitter by posting the reviews they had left for companies they like and inviting other people to do the same.
“Share a review of a company you like, post a picture, and tag three people and encourage them to do the same. Minor companies are struggling, but reviews can motivate them back when we revisit.”

How Bluelight consumers will be affected

These modifications will have less effect on the massive majority of services and features provided by Bluelight, but there are minor insinuations.

  1. Reputation manager
    It might feel like declaring the obvious thing, but not until the review delay is lifted, you will witness no new Google review in Review Inbox or Monitor Reviews. You will also not be able to reply to current Google reviews if you have connected a location to GMB. It remains to be checked if reviews edited during this time will be publicized at a future date. If they are not lost, then we are self-assured; we will be able to bring this information into the Reputation Manager as soon as they get publicly visible.
  2. Get reviews
    In case you have Get Reviews campaigns that allow consumers to post their reviews on google, we encourage you to modify this out instantly. Although users will be able to post a review, you will not see the importance since reviews are not visible to the public. We take this as an incredible chance to see beyond Google as the only platform to capture reviews. You may need to use this chance to improve your reputation on other famous platforms such as Yelp and Facebook. Or you can aim at industry-specific platforms that have considerable sway over customers.
    Regardless of what may be running in your mind, many users are being recommended to leave company reviews as a method of supporting their chosen companies, so this is a perfect time to reach out to people with a Get Reviews movement. If you are in need of being data-driven about it, you can utilize the ‘Sources’ tab in your Reputation Manager console to identify where to emphasize your attention.
  3. Citation builder
    Although Google focuses on the health-service business, we may notice a delay in how fast we can update and add Citation Builder crusades that cover Google listings. We are still not aware of the length of Google delay, but we will remain to work on Google programs with the same competence as usual.

What is next?

There is no timescale on the length of these modifications and restrictions will remain, and we envisage they will not be the last modifications we will witness during the coronavirus epidemic. In addition, LocalU has published a manual resource that is compiling every common GMB change during the coronavirus epidemic.

At Bluelight, we have always been aware that the local SEO group is quite unique-I am honestly not sure is I have ever seen another company with such vast knowledge sharing. We then say a big ” Thank You” to everybody who maintains a close eye on advancements affecting our company and giving their advice to assist many agencies and businesses who may be hurting at this hard time. Over the coming weeks, we will be posting more about the strategies Bluelight is establishing to assist our consumers during this difficult time.

The Bluelight Marketing agency has more than 5 years of experience in Google Ads marketing and over 100+ successful campaigns under management, book a free consultation today and learn how we can help you.