Need-To-Know: Google My Business Shutdown of Reviews
From the start, Google has been in the business of providing relevant information to users. Currently, there is another priority: preserving the health of office workers. This combination of enterprise-level and mission-level goals is at the core of recent service changes.
Google is temporarily changing Google My Business due to COVID-19 concerns. Most notably, the search giant has officially paused certain functions.
Here’s the rundown on the state of this development — the what, how, why and when of Google’s response.
GMB has put several functions on hiatus. New content now displays a warning indicating it may not be published immediately. The officially paused sections are:
- New reviews
- All responses to reviews (current and existing)
- The question-and-answer section
These are the main social (open, user-generated) elements of the service. However, these sections also serve as a reliable, stable information base that many businesses have cultivated as part of a long-term SEO strategy.
The Google team will now manually handle any changes you make to your profile information. This creates a tighter bottleneck than before on approval, so there could be a related delay.
The first priority is critical edits to health-related business. For other verified businesses, Google will also prioritize these types of changes:
- Hours (closed-or-open status, special hours and temporary closures)
- Factual attributes, such as “remote consultations available” or “home delivery”
- Business descriptions
Google has stated that these changes are to reduce the necessity for people to come into the office. It is also clear that the company wants to provide accurate, up-to-date information about medical care.
Apart from ensuring their workers’ safety — and the health of the community at large — the stated focus right now is maintaining “the quality and reliability of information on Google Search and Maps.” The current restriction furthers these goals in a number of ways:
- Critical information will still be prioritized and published for at-a-glance reference during the crisis.
- After this current situation passes, review information will continue to be useful in a general sense.
- From a technical perspective, the restriction preserves data quality, ensuring the set remains useful as a search-engine resource.
There is no set date for reinstating reviews and Q&A. Although this is speculation, we can probably assume Google will continue to track posting behavior and re-enable complete functionality when two things happen:
- When is safe for Google employees to go back to the office, and
- When COVID-19-related content posting slows down and user activity returns to normal.
Until then, while it may be frustrating to lack access to any virtual platform while working remotely — and while it may seem like this is a disadvantage, given recent social media campaigns to positively review local businesses — this move will probably be an overall benefit for companies that have Google My Business campaigns in place.
Thank you for reading. As always, FORWARD Marketing is here to answer your questions and provide marketing support, based on the latest available information. Call us at (773) 227-3269.