These are difficult times for individuals and families, as well as for businesses. But if you are the proprietor or manager of a business, it pays to be informed of any changes in the institutions that you use to keep your business running. Google My Business, the Google tool that millions of U.S. businesses use to boost their online profile to improve their visibility in searches and maps, has suspended several of its features. We answer questions about this dramatic change.
Why is Google Suspending GMB Features?
On Friday, March 20, Google posted this on their Google My Business Help page:
“During the unprecedented COVID-19 situation, we are taking steps to protect the health of our team members and reduce the need for people to come into our offices.”
The reduction in staff has affected several areas of Google’s operations, but for Google My Business the following functionalities have been temporarily suspended:
- Business Information Edits
With the exception of healthcare-related businesses and a few other businesses that have been separately verified through an unspecified process, Google has suspended all business information edits.
- New Listings, Claims, and Verifications
The Google team is manually reviewing new listings for critical and health-related businesses only. According to the help page, Google has not suspended publishing new listings, claims, and verifications for Google Search and Maps, but they do warn to expect delays.
- Reviews and Q&A
According to Google, “New reviews, review replies, and all Q&A will be unavailable during this time.” Users will be able to post reviews, but they will not be published at this time. Google did not advise whether they will be published once they are back to full operations. We can assume that they will be, but there is no clear direction.
For now, those are the GMB features that are suspended for most businesses during this state of emergency, but there are still things that you can do to bolster your business. Here are a few.
What You Can Be Doing to Help Your Business
Naturally, GMB being suspended isn’t a good thing for your business, but there are other things that you can be doing to make sure that your business remains buoyant during the health and economic crises. Here are a few tips that you can use to stay connected with your customers and maintain valuable business relationships at a critical time.
Take a Cue from Google – Let Them Know What Measures You’re Taking
Has your business been affected by the Coronavirus pandemic? Of course, it has. All of us have. With the new developments that are coming out nearly every day with COVID-19 and the pursuant shutdowns, you’ve made changes to your operations. You need to let your customers know. We recommend the following:
- Notify your clients of any changes in hours of operation.
- Inform your customers of any services that you’ve suspended or discontinued.
- If you are making offers that can benefit your customers, let them know.
Update Your Business Description
You may not be able to update your Google My Business information right now, but you still control your website. Your site should reflect any changes that you’ve made for the safety of your customers, employees, and other parties.
Make Sure the Contact Information on Your Site is Up to Date
Your customers may want to speak to someone in person. This is not a good time for them to have difficulty getting ahold of a live person. Make sure that your contact information is up to date and that your work-from-home employees are able to take calls, answer emails, et cetera.
Create a Post
Most websites have a blog post option. Share information about the goings-on of your business through blog posts. This is a great place to share information about what you’re doing for your employees, their families, and the community.
Will GMB be Back?
We can only assume that once the crisis is over, Google will restore all functionalities of Google My Business, but their message was didn’t give clear direction as to when. We will continue to monitor Google and other major players in the industry to bring updated information to our clients and readers.