We seem to be setting into a new, hectic normal with regards to Google My Business. Changes are coming fast and furious, but with vague explanations. Google continues to be short-staffed. And although GMB seems to be changing hourly, ranking changes have been relatively quiet. Here are the recent changes we’ve been tracking:
- March 25 – Google added a temporarily closed button to the GMB dashboard. This allows business owners/managers to easily mark their businesses open and closed based on the changing way the wind blows these days. Flexibility is the name of the game. Indicators are that toggling the button on and off does not cause a listing to go into “pending review,” but that could happen. As with most GMB changes, we recommend you make one change at a time so as not to overwhelm the machine review gremlins.
- March 26 – The temporarily closed button no longer impacts ranking. The label was added last week and the button in the GMB dashboard appeared on 3/25. But prior to the 26th using the label could make businesses disappear from the search results. This prompted many businesses not to use the label as they didn’t want to disappear and wanted to be “back in business” when safety measures are lifted.
- March 26 – Google has added takeout and delivery options to several categories. We see this surfacing in a few different spots: the local business listing (or local knowledge panel) and within search results. Within search results, we’re seeing an addition to the restaurant carousel that adds a card for takeout and delivery before the regular restaurant category cards. We’re also seeing a label of Dine-in, Delivery or Takeout right on the business listing.
March 27 – Google Posts have been temporarily permitted for chains. Bulk posting for more than 10 locations prior to this change was impossible. Now multi-location businesses can take advantage of the special COVID-19 post type and other post features to keep consumers informed.
- March 30 – Google added a warning message regarding hours and services being impacted by COVID-19 on most search results. We’ve been seeing this label in search results, but it’s more widespread now in maps results and on individual business listings.
- March 31 – Google changed its messaging upon the submission of a review that implies that reviews are being queued up and will be moderated and published once the pandemic-focused changes and restrictions are over. Crystal Horton shared an image on 3/30 where Google stated it was delaying contributions at this time. Delay implies “saving for later.” Speculation made its rounds until the 31st, wherein Mike Blumenthal, A GMB Product Expert, shared an update indicating that reviews would be moderated and published when they removed the moratorium on new reviews.
Local Search Rank Flux
Finally, some good news in a very turbulent time … the BrightLocal Local RankFlux tool reports fairly calm seas with just a small blip on Saturday. A deeper look at the tool shows that most of the bumpy road is exclusive to restaurants & bars, hotels, and bed & breakfasts.