March 31, 2020

Google My Business During COVID-19: What's Changed

Google now is making ‘Google Posts’ available through the API for chain businesses and making attributes such as “Delivery Available” more prominent in the near future.

Jane Garfinkel

By Jane Garfinkel - Review Response Specialist

Within the past week you may have noticed some differences on your Google My Business (GMB) page. Like much of the world, Google has been impacted by COVID-19. They are simultaneously dealing with the constraints caused by the pandemic and responding to the unique needs of businesses during this time. Below, we discuss what these changes entail. 

Limitations

In an effort to protect their employees, Google has adjusted their normal office operations. This includes having those who are able to work from home, changing schedules to limit the number of people in their office, and prioritizing certain services. Considering the unusual circumstances, Google’s main goal is to ensure that the information displayed on their site is reliable and accurate. Non-critical support requests may be delayed and certain features are temporarily suspended. 

1. Updating business information

Understandably, Google is putting much of their effort into maintaining the GMBs of health-related businesses. Changes made to these pages will be reviewed first. For non-health-related businesses, prioritized updates include whether a business is open or closed, business descriptions, and business attribute modifications.

2. New business claims

Again, health-related businesses will be first on the list when it comes to Google reviewing new business claims.

3. Reviews and Questions and Answers

Around March 20th, Google completely halted all reviews, review responses, and Q&As. While it is possible for users to create a review, clicking “Post” will not send it live. As of April 8th, review response is available. Google plans to make new reviews and Q&A available over the coming weeks, beginning in certain countries and business categories and expanding from there.

We are unsure what will happen to reviews that are posted during the down period. Once these features return to normal operation, we will notify our clients and, if needed, process any backlogged reviews as quickly as possible.

*Update 4/9:

Google has reopened review responses and is slowly starting to reactivate reviews in the coming weeks by business category and location. As of this morning, we began to see reviews written on 4/9 enter our system. Read more from Google here.

New Features

While Google negotiates the challenges of the current climate, they are also working on expanding certain features to support businesses in the same situation. 

1. Access to Local Posts for chain or franchised businesses 

Local Posts is a feature typically reserved for businesses serving a specific location. Google has extended this feature to chain businesses so they can share messages across their many locations and ensure proper Google My Business optimization. The updates must be specifically about COVID-19, such as how the business is addressing sanitation or if they have changed their hours. For all businesses, there is now a specific “COVID-19 update” call to action that can be used when creating a post. 

COVID-19 update

COVID-19

COVID-19

COVID-19

2. Attribute changes

GMB users have the option to display attributes, such as Pets Welcome and Wheelchair Accessible, on their page. Google is now prominently highlighting the attributes “Takeout,” “Delivery,” and “Dine-in'“ at the top of food-service GMB pages. Additional attributes for all businesses will be rolled out in the future, including “Pickup,” “Curbside pickup,” and “No-contact Delivery.” Widewail will be watching for these additional attributes and will assist our customers in making the necessary adjustments to best represent their business.

Widewail’s recommendation:

You likely have already made COVID-19 specific information available on your website and through other marketing efforts. We would like to offer our support and ensure that this important information is visible on your GMB page. Currently, we’re offering our GMB Post service free of charge.

In order for us to assist you, we need the following information:

  • Image (if this can be utilized we will, some posts allow it and some don’t)

    • A brand logo works well, or an image specifically related to COVID-19, aligned with your existing marketing and communication efforts

  • Description (1500 character limit)

    • Describe your efforts to create a safe environment for your customers and your staff

  • A link to additional information posted on your website (if available)

It is more important than ever to update your GMB and keep your customers informed. Contact us at info@widewail.com to discuss how we can help.

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Jane Garfinkel

I’m a New Jersey native who joined the Widewail team during my brief stint in Burlington. Now living in Jersey City, I currently serve as the Response Team Lead and Content Specialist. My background is in writing and my work has been published by Thrillist, Reductress, McSweeneys, The Rumpus, and more. I occasionally update my own blog No Meat, Some Potatoes, and in my free time I hang out with my dog Jake.

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