Google My Business and Covid-19 Outbreak
Whether you run an eCommerce website or operate out of a brick-and-mortar location in Dallas, you have probably felt an enormous impact on your business traffic and sales due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
But don’t worry about that. Google is not going to let your business fail.
As a response to the COVID-19 outbreak and how the nationwide lockdown has affected businesses across the country, Google My Business has introduced a couple of key changes in the last few weeks — here’s what you need to know:
Google added a temporarily closed button to the GMB dashboard
The majority of businesses are temporarily closed as the country has gone in a state of emergency to minimize the spread of coronavirus. Google has responded to this by allowing business owners to mark their business or any of their locations as “temporarily closed.”
Important: If you mark your business as “Temporarily closed,” your local search ranking or visibility will not be affected since it will be treated similarly to open businesses.
Marking your local business as temporarily closed lets your customers stay updated on your opening hours so that they are not surprised if they show up at your store expecting to receive service. To make your business profile appear as temporarily closed, all you need to do is sign in to your Google My Business account, select ‘info’ from the top-left menu icon (☰), scroll down to ‘Close this business on Google’ and then click ‘mark as temporarily closed.’
Reviews have been suspended.
On the one hand, Google has provided some additional functionality to help companies keep their customers constantly updated during the violent COVID-19 outbreak. On the other hand, it also had some trusted features temporarily suspended.
Firstly, Google My Business has officially confirmed that no new reviews will be published until further notice. While users may still add reviews to your business profile, they will not be shared publicly. Review Replies and Q & A entries have also been suspended, meaning you cannot respond to any reviews or answer any questions about your business. This is partly due to the fact that Google is short-staffed, although the nationwide shutdown also suggests that reviews have very little value at this time.
At the same time, no new listings, claims or verifications will be reviewed by Google’s support team for the time being — with the exception of healthcare-related companies and essential businesses.
Business information edit delays
With Google working with limited resources, it is no wonder that any changes made to the company information on the Google My Business profile will take a little longer to be reviewed by Google. Although businesses related to healthcare and critical services will be given preferential treatment here as well. For businesses that fall outside of these exceptions, only the following bits of information will be reviewed by Google:
- Changes to open and closed states
- Special hours
- Temporary closures
- Business descriptions
- Business attributes
Google says it may take up to three days to review these changes.
Post a COVID-19 update
Google My Business posts allow you to provide all the necessary information — such as events, new product lines, offers, and policy announcements — to target customers. Given the current public health crisis, Google has added a new post type, ‘COVID-19’, to help businesses get the message out to users in their targeted region. COVID-19 posts differ from regular Google My Business posts in that they appear more prominently on your business listing, making it easier for your customers to understand the current status of your business and how you run things during these trying times.
Some examples of announcements you can make using ‘COVID-19’ post type may include temporary closures of physical locations; new operating hours; changes to regular service (such as if you are only offering delivery or take-out instead of full-service); safety precautions being taken by the business to keep employees safe; in-stock, low stock, or out of stock announcements for high demand products; and so on.
To create a new post, sign in to your Google My Business account, click on ‘Posts’ from the top-left menu icon (☰), choose the ‘COVID-19’ post type and then click publish.
The shelf life of a COVID-19 post, as it stands, just the same as any other Google My Business post — i.e., 14 days. However, with the situation changing rapidly, it is possible that this timeframe could change. But you should assume that your post will be valid for only 14 days and you will need to re-publish it if the information is still relevant after that period of time. Of course, if anything changes, you can always edit or remove a post at any time.
Possible issues with Google My Business
Pretty much every business, including global tech giants like Google, has been severely impacted by the ongoing coronavirus outbreak and is, therefore, unable to deliver its usual services. We hear reports on a number of issues relating to Google My Business functionality despite the efforts made by Google to equip businesses with the tools they need during these trying times.
At the outset, Google suggested that companies should add or modify their business descriptions to make people aware of the damaging effects of COVID-19 on their services, times of opening, and so on. That being said, a surprising number of Google My Business users report that they are unable to do this, and Google has since removed the suggestion from their help documentation. In addition, far too many users report that their posts have been rejected, even though they have complied with Google’s terms of service. Some businesses also report being marked as temporarily closed, even when they have not requested for it.
Alas, as a byproduct of the outbreak, Google My Business is no longer providing phone or chat support, so you will need to fall back on Google’s email assistance if you experience either of these (or some other issues).
When it comes to Google My Business functionalities, a lot has changed in the past few weeks and there could be even further developments in the months and years to come – we will be sure to keep you updated on all the major ones. The Dallas digital marketing team at Click4Corp is ready to answer any questions you may have about online marketing for your business during this critical juncture.
Need help with your Dallas Google My Business listing and page posting? Contact us today!