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Google My Business updates for COVID-19

In this week's episode of Local Search Tuesdays, we share the details about recent updates to Google My Business related to the coronavirus outbreak. Watch and learn what's changed and why the changes are important to your business.

VIDEO TRANSCRIPT

Welcome back to another episode of Local Search Tuesdays. This week, we’ve got some new updates about COVID-19 and Google My Business…

We’re a few weeks into the whole self quarantine thing now, and geez, I had no idea my hair would grow out so quickly…

As more cities are locking down and more businesses are closing, Google has released a few important updates to Google My Business, so we wanted to tell you about what’s going on in today’s video.

Most importantly, Google has “paused” reviews - for now, and until further notice or change in the coronavirus situation, reviews have been turned off for all businesses. That means no new reviews can be left by customers AND no review responses can be left by business owners.

In the grand scheme of things, it may not even be on most business owners’ radars - but it’s important to stop any review outreach you might be doing. You don’t want to ask people to leave reviews if there’s no way to leave them. Pause your review outreach emails, and if you have a “reviews” page on your site with a link to your GMB profile, you should update the page with a message that Google isn’t currently allowing reviews.

Google has also completely removed the Questions and Answers section from GMB profiles. This is unfortunate, since many forward-thinking businesses were using the Q&A section to seed questions and answers about how they were responding to the situation. Now, the entire widget is gone.

Another interesting update lets some businesses break the standard GMB rules. Restaurants and bars are allowed to add phrases like “curbside pickup”, “serving to go orders”, or “delivery available” to the end of their business name. The standard GMB guidelines haven’t been updated here, but we know it’s allowed for restaurants and bars.

So far, it doesn’t apply to other businesses - but if your business is in an area with a shelter from home order, or where the local government has directed businesses to close, it might not be a bad idea to add a similar phrase to your business name if you’re still able to stay open.

We’re also seeing lots of businesses report that their Google Posts are being rejected, and that  number seems to be growing - so you might want to expect that your Posts might not work for a bit.

Google has automatically marked some businesses as temporarily closed - if that happens to your business but you’re still open, just log into your GMB dashboard and un-mark your listing as closed. It should update pretty quickly. If it doesn’t, you’ll need to contact GMB support.

If you ARE temporarily closed, your best bet is to use the holiday hours feature in Google My Business - that will leave your listing intact, but show that you’re closed.

So that’s it for this week’s update on GMB during the coronavirus outbreak. The good news is that virtual high fives don’t break any social distancing or quarantine rules - sol put your hand right here on the screen… we totally just high fived cause you learned something awesome. Stay home and stay safe, and we’ll see you next week for another episode of Local Search Tuesdays.