With the COVID-19 crisis, businesses are facing unusual challenges. Some struggle to stay afloat and retain relevance while others are overwhelmed with brainstorming strategies to help them recover when it’s over.
It’s at a time like this that most businesses can commend Google for some of their actions geared towards helping users and businesses.
On March 20th, 2020 Google released the first update to inform users and businesses of the new limiting features in GMB.
Let’s look at what they are and what they mean for your business.
New Reviews, and Review Replies
Following this period of the pandemic, users will be able to leave new reviews for businesses. However, while the users can see the review, it will not be publicly visible and will not impact the business star ratings or be added to their review count.
As for replying to these new reviews, Google disabled that feature as stated in the March 20th report. The reason being that the new reviews do not show publicly or count, anyway. Businesses were still able to reply to old reviews and even edit them.
But, as of April 7th, 2020 Google provided a new update now restoring review replies. They also say that “New user reviews, new user photos, new short names, and Q&A will gradually return by country and business category.”
For some businesses, their Q&A’s appear to have vanished. We believe Google aimed to limit users’ ability to post new questions, and that led to removing the feature completely.
Adding, Claiming, and Verifying Listings
Thankfully, it’s still possible to add, claim, and verify listings. There is only one small change which is that Google now prioritizes healthcare or health-related businesses for these processes. So those who are not under this niche will experience delays when performing any of these actions on GMB.
Takeout/Delivery Available Option
Now more than ever, customers need to know what options are available for food vendors across countries. To assist both users and businesses, Google has loosened its guidelines to allow restaurants to add ‘delivery available’ or ‘takeout available’ to their business names.
Temporarily Closed Option
Yes, many businesses have shut their doors during this pandemic, but how do customers know who’s open and who’s closed? To help both parties involved, Google now includes a temporarily closed feature. While this might influence business rankings because Google prioritizes open businesses, we can’t say for certain that the effects will be permanent.
What do the changes mean for you?
Depending on the nature of businesses, the implications differ. But there are ways to make the most of the situation. Google’s recent updates are helpful for the crisis and users. You can take this opportunity to boost your reviews and ranking on other sites like Facebook and Yelp. If your business can’t perform optimally due to the crisis, switch strategies to becoming a source of information, helpful tips, or encouraging messages. Stay relevant and preserve your business reputation through this time.