Google My Business Features Suspended Due to COVID -19
These are hard times for many businesses across the globe. Local government is forcing companies to stop operating, while others are voluntarily doing so. Others are trying to figure out how to adapt to this ever-changing landscape quickly.
At Beyond Creative, our entire team is fully committed to keeping you up to date on all aspects of Digital Marketing and how it affects your business. Furthermore, we are here to weather this s#&t storm by your side.
Google stated they would be temporarily disabling and limiting some Google My Business features. They wrote the following in a post published Friday, March 20, 2020:
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.
So, What Features Did Google Remove?
New GMB Reviews
For now, there will be no new reviews published to your Google My Business profile(s). Although a user will still be allowed to post and view a review, they won’t be publicly visible (at this time). We don’t know yet if reviews made now will become visible once Google lifts their current restrictions.
GMB Review Replies
The capability of dealers to reply to their Google My Business Review has been disabled, too. There is a lesser need to reply if customers are not able to publish new reviews. Dealers will not be able to respond to reviews that have had already been previously made to their profile, however. Dealers will not be able to edit replies they had made to their reviews either.
GMB Questions and Answers (Q&A)
One of the most significant changes that Google has made to your My Business profiles has been to remove Q&A capabilities from your profiles altogether. All of your existing Q&A will not be available to viewers. Users will be unable to ask new questions, either.
What Features Are Limited?
Adding, Claiming and Verifying Listings
Google is not removing any functionalities related to adding, claiming, or verifying a My Business listing. The listing review process, however, is naturally being prioritized for businesses in health-related industries. Since dealerships are not health-related, we can expect delays when it comes to adding and claiming new listings, as well as getting listing verifications. Google has yet to share what the expected length of this delay will be.
Editing Business Information
Dealerships can also expect delays when making business edits, which includes the following:
- Open and closed states
- Special hours
- Temporary closures
- Business descriptions
- Business attributes
Delays apply to changes made by both the business owners or managers and Google users.
Is There Anything Else You Should Know?
It is still unclear exactly how these Google My Business updates are affecting Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Our team, however, along with other Digital Marketing Agencies and Powersports Marketing experts are noticing traffic influxes.
As of this time (March 23, 2020), Google Posts are still available. Our Search Engine Optimization (SEO) team has reported a spike in the number of post rejections.
On their official post, Google did not make any references as to why they are rejecting Posts in higher numbers. Google has not yet referenced whether there are new guidelines temporarily set in place.
Use Google Posts as an effective way to communicate critical information updates and changes to your dealership’s operations. Google Posts hold a substantial amount of real-estate on search.
Google has not confirmed this yet, but by all accounts, it seems as though Google has suspended all user-generated content as well.
‘Takeout/Delivery Available’ in Business Names
The following does not pertain to dealers, and you can see it as an extra nugget of information to keep informed. Most dealerships know that Google tends to be very strict when it comes to their business names on Google My Business. Yet it seems that Google has loosened up guidelines and is currently letting restaurants add ‘delivery available” or ‘takeout available’ to their GMB business names.
Why All the Changes?
We think Google is doing this for two main reasons:
- To facilitate how health-related businesses keep customers up to date about critical information
- Diminishing the burden on companies that may be overwhelmed with questions related to COVID-19
Google is protecting the health of its staff and prioritizing focus on businesses that provide critical health services to our communities. Google must remember that many businesses continue to rely on Google My Business to alert customers of significant changes, such as new business hours. With the Coronavirus limiting social interaction and local authorities mandating social distancing, it’s more important than ever for consumers to have up-to-date information. Correct information will prevent the public from making unnecessary trips.
Powersports, Marine, and RV dealerships and other local companies need all the support they can get right now. Pausing new reviews prevents the public from supporting the dealers and other local businesses they love.
How Will Beyond Creative Customers Be Affected?
Although Beyond Creative services will be minimally affected, there are some important implications to consider.
Until Google removes the suspension they implemented on new reviews, you will not see any new reviews in any of our reporting. Keep in mind that this only pertains to Google; Facebook, Yelp, and Foursquare remain unaffected. You’ll also be unable to respond to existing Google reviews if you’ve connected a location to Google My Business.
We still do not know if the reviews written during this suspension period will be made available at a later time. If the reviews made now are not lost, we will be able to report on our dashboard as soon as Google has made them visible.
If we request reviews on your behalf, we recommend updating requests to only Facebook, Yelp, or other networks immediately. Although your customers can post a review, you won’t see any benefit from it since reviews will not be made publicly visible.
This change is a terrific opportunity to look past Google and expand your online reputation on other relevant networks for SEO, such as Facebook.
Regardless of popular perception, consumers are being encouraged by many media giants to leave reviews as a way to support their local business. Right now is a great time to ask your customers to help their favorite Powersports dealership with review requests.
If you need examples of successful review requests campaigns for your dealership, reach out to us. We’ll gladly show you what has worked for our dealers time and again.
Listings and Citation Management
Do we manage your dealer’s online listing and citations? If so, you may see a slight delay in how quickly new profiles get added and updated if those profiles are related to Google sites. It is still unclear how long Google is running behind. Our team will continue to work on Google listings with the same efficiency.
So, What Comes Next?
Google did not provide a timeline on their post about how long they expect these changes to remain in place. And unfortunately, our crystal ball is at home practicing social distancing. We do not think these will be the last changes Google will make due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
We’ll continue to work tirelessly – from home – to make sure you stay informed via our blog, by email, social media, and the Facebook Powersports Dealers Marketing Group. We will make sure you are made aware of any further rollback to your dealer’s profiles as well as any new developments. Until then, stay healthy.