Google has just announced some major changes to their Maps, Search and My Business functionality due to the impact on their workforce as a result of COVID-19.
This comes in partially due to the company’s dependency on a manual workflow for some functionality including verifying business publishing and changes as well as curation of reviews and Q&A’s
What this means
- Changes to business updates
Any changes for healthcare related businesses will take priority over other categories. Reading from their announcements, it appears like this will only impact crowdsourced updates and will not reflect changes made by business owners on claimed listings.
- Changes to new business verifications & claims
It appears like any non-healthcare related business verification will take much longer than usual.
If you are trying to verify via postcard
It may take longer to receive the postcard if you’re not a healthcare or essential business. We are still unsure about how this impacts the typical time to receive the postcard which is two weeks.
If you are a chain or brand
Google has defaulted to a manual workflow for validating bulk claim requests. Due to reduced workforce, the ability for brands to bulk verify listings may be severely limited until Google contractors and employees start getting back to work once the Coronavirus situation eases.
If you are trying to verify via phone or sms
This is one part of Google’s verification system that may still work without any delays due to it being automated and not dependent on their human verification.
- Changes to new reviews and Q&A’s being published
New reviews may not populate instantly
This might be one aspect of Google’s service that will create a serious impact for businesses. From our early research and according to Google they have stopped populating new reviews for many verticals in the past three days and we expect this to continue.
If you wish to continue review marketing during this period – jump to the bottom of this post for ideas.
Questions may not be allowed; limited support for answers
This is another major update – Google has completely suspended the ability for users to post questions or write answers.
The Q&A section no longer appears on Google Search or Google Maps Desktop at the time of writing this blog post.
What you can do to market your business around these limitations
Google’s understaffing doesn’t have to put the brakes on all of your marketing efforts. Coronavirus is still a major disruption to businesses and has locked down many parts of the world, but if you are still open and want to continue running marketing activities, here are some tips.
Use this time to optimize & claim other profiles
Google may be the biggest show in town, but they may not be the only one. This might be a good time (if you haven’t already) to claim and optimize your listings on Yelp, Foursquare, TripAdvisor, Bing & Apple Maps.
It may be time to pivot to other review sites
More than ever, people are relying on sites such as Yelp, Bing and Apple Maps to give them accurate information for online food ordering, locating grocery stores & pharmacies that are staying open through the citywide shutdowns, and finding hospitals that are closest to them.
If you are not focusing on getting your business listed there, you are missing out.
Continue generating first-party reviews that push to Google later
Use Synup’s platform to set up custom drip campaigns to generate more reviews from your customers. While Google holds off on posting these live immediately, Synup will store your reviews on our portal and give you the control on when to post them live.
Impacted by Corona? We’re letting you update your info for free!
We understand that now more than ever, you need to be able to connect with your customers and push the most relevant content to keep them informed. We can help you do that. Fill out your business information here and one of our support representatives will be with you shortly.