As a response to the increase in COVID-19 / coronavirus mandates, Google made a lot of changes to GMB this week. They’re caught between trying to serve users up-to-date information, while still letting businesses convey they’re operating, but with changed or limited capacity.
Changing GMB features generally tends to create hiccups in other features, and adding a new feature can sometimes break existing features. Google is trying, but businesses are frustrated, so finding a balance soon is critical.
Here are some of the changes we’ve seen from Google over the last week:
- Businesses switching to a take-out or delivery model can add “Takeout Available” or “Delivery Available” to their GMB business name.
- Google has turned off new reviews, review responses, and hidden Q&A from local business listings. That means no new reviews, review responses or Q&A will be available during the COVID-19 crisis.
- Many businesses are reporting that you cannot add new posts or add or edit their business descriptions.
- We’re seeing reports of a “COVID-19” GMB Post type, but it is very limited in scope right now. Some businesses cannot post at all, or have their posts declined. Allie Margeson of Whitespark tested it and found it to be very limited. There are no images or videos allowed, so the “why” is not very clear.
- Businesses are reporting being marked temporarily closed but did not initiate it themselves. Marking the business back “open” in the dashboard will fix it, although we have heard it can be delayed. If the closed message doesn’t disappear right away, contact support.
- New user-generated and uploaded photos are not showing. There’s no indication from Google that they’re being queued, so they may just be disappearing forever.
- Google is prioritizing reviewing new listings and verifications for critical health-related businesses.
- As if all of this wasn’t enough, GMB phone and chat support no longer works … you must send an email. This is likely due to staffing issues, but we’re not sure if it’s temporary or permanent.
Some say that adding the new COVID-19 post type is what created a lot of these snags and hiccups. It’s fairly common knowledge among those that deal with GMB a lot that prior to rolling out a new feature, existing features can break.
The Google My Business team is doing a lot of work with limited staffing right now, so patience is the watchword. That’s not comforting to businesses who are walking the line between open and closed, so hopefully they get some of these features back up to par and support working quickly again.
Local Rank Flux This Week
There was a bit of fluctuation in the SERPS this week, but BrightLocal’s Local RankFlux is showing nothing over a 2.9, so overall quite quiet. It’s possible some of the up and down we’re seeing is a result of listings changing and businesses closing and updating offerings due to the COVID-19 restrictions that are happening at all levels, from municipal to federal.