Being visible to customers with the right information at the right time can be a challenge to any local business even in the best of times, and the global spread of the novel Coronavirus has created an unprecedented situation.
Milestone is committed to making sure our clients are able to stay as connected to their consumers as possible, enabling any necessary updates on websites and local listings directories, publishers, maps and more.
Part of that commitment includes working with our partners to understand what resources and opportunities are available, and what changes may be taking place. Over this past weekend, Google announced that they have started to temporarily limit the functionality on Google My Business.
(Source: Google My Business)
Features with reduced functionality
Business information edits
Google reviews all updates made to information – hours of operation, business description, photos, etc – before publishing. Generally, these edits are reviewed and approved (or rejected) very quickly. However, at this time the review process has slowed significantly. Google is prioritizing edits that are “critical to health-related businesses”. They have also stated they are prioritizing edits to information related to hours, temporary closure, special hours and business attributes, but we are seeing delays of several days at this point, and edits remain in an “under review” status.
(Source: Google My Business)
New listings, claims and verifications
As with edits, priority for new listings, claims and verifications is being given to critical health-related businesses. All other new listings are being manually reviewed and should expect to have a delay.
Temporarily suspended features
New reviews are not being published. Users can still leave reviews – and see their own reviews when logged into their account – but the reviews are not getting published. Google has not yet indicated if these reviews will be published at a later time.
Review responses to existing reviews are also not being published. Reviews and responses published previously remain visible on search and maps.
Update by Google on April 7, 2020: “Review replies are now available. New user reviews, new user photos, new short names, and Q&A will gradually return by country and business category.
New questions and answers are not being published. While there is no official mention of changes to existing Q&A, it does look like entire Q&A section has been removed from the listing on both search and maps.
Actions to take now
Ensure the latest data is submitted to google and under review
While Google may be taking more time to review, it’s important to submit the latest data so that when they resume publishing the business edits, the latest accurate information is available to end customers looking on Google search and maps.
For Milestone clients, the GMB API is still connected and running from the Milestone Presence Cloud (MPC) platform, and updates are going to Google and being pushed into the review status. Any changes you make directly in the platform (or through your CSM) will be published to the rest of our distribution partners, as well as positioning you correctly for Google My Business. Our platform will continue to monitor and manage all of your listings every day, pushing any necessary updates.
As of publication of this post (March 23, 2020), Google is still allowing businesses to publish Google Posts. These are an excellent way to get timely information out to consumers finding you on search or maps, on mobile and desktop devices.
(Source: Milestone Presence Cloud)
While posts are still not supported by all industries (particularly hospitality), for those industries supported, it’s a good method of getting any latest updates to your business – changes in offerings, services (like delivery!), hours of operation and more.
All posts can have a photo, small description and a call to action, driving both visibility and engagement for your customers.
As the world continues to adjust and react to the changes driven by COVID-19, remember that the Milestone team is here to support you. As features and timelines change, we’ll continue to bring you updates and help you take the best actions for your business.