The ways in which the Coronavirus pandemic is affecting us all are still being realised, but online, you’ll have noticed social media and news feeds changing up the ways they prioritise activity and posts. Almost every website you use will likely now have a statement or signpost to further information on COVID-19. One business marketing facility however has made some major temporary changes – and that’s GMB (Google My Business).
What is Google My Business (GMB)?
Google My Business refers to the overall management tool of a business’ presence on Google – through search results, maps and local listings. Qualifying business’ can claim their Google My Business listings for free and work from there to optimise their web presence. This includes standard SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) work, ensuring a mobile friendly offering and co-ordinating your business’ online presence across all digital channels, not just your website.
Temporary GMB Changes
There are several services within Google My Business that have been suspended currently. At present these include, but may not be limited to in the future:
- New Reviews – Users will be able to publish and view their own reviews, but these will not be publicly visible
- Review Replies – Entirely suspended. There will be no new reviews, but businesses will also be unable to respond to existing reviews on their profile
- Q&A – Entirely removed. Existing Q&As have been removed and the feature has been suspended
- Adding, Claiming and Verifying Listings – All businesses that are not health-related will be re-prioritised for these services and can expect delays
- Editing Business Information – All businesses that are not health-related will be re-prioritised for these services and can expect delays
Although not confirmed by Google in their statement or other official comms, there is anecdotal evidence online to suggest that there may also be suspensions and/or delays in service in regards to the approval process of posts, user-generated content and business usernames (especially where reference is made to ‘delivery’ or ‘takeaway’).
Why is Google My Business Making These Changes?
Google officially released a statement on Friday 20th March 2020 detailing the changes that they would be making to Google My Business and explained why they were doing so. Put simply: Google are being a responsible employer and lessening any services that rely on their staff having to be IN the office to operate.
It’s fair to say that given the prioritisation of health-related businesses over other sectors, that Google are also being responsible toward the communities within which they operate and are supporting public health efforts, as well as looking out for small businesses who otherwise may be inundated with questions from the public on their protocol and services throughout the COVID-19 pandemic disruption.
What Happens Now?
None of us can predict exactly how this current situation will pan out or how long it will last. Therefore, there is no set time scale for the reinstatement of these facilities back to their prior service levels.
What Can My Business Do About The Changes?
Realistically … nothing. If you’re a healthcare business, make it clear in the name and/or listing information of the company. Ensure your marketing and SEO is clear across all channels and that your website is mobile friendly and adaptive.
If you’re not happy with something specific in your Google My Business (GMB) online marketing presence and are unsure how to fix it, or at least to lessen its effects on your search engine results, get in contact with a digital marketing specialist, as they may be able to advise you further. You should also log your query with Google, but if you’re not a healthcare business, be prepared to wait for an official answer.
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