Google Trims Back GMB Due To COVID-19 Struggles
Having staff working remotely presents challenges for all organisations, large and small. Including giants like Google and Facebook.
Naturally, as businesses calibrate, select services and offerings are likely to be impacted.
For Google, it has announced in recent days that Google My Business is running on limited scope, as it struggles to adjust to the current paradigm.
“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. As a result, there may be some temporary limitations and delays in support as we prioritise critical services.”
Our current focus is on the quality and reliability of information on Google Search and Maps.”
While Google will enable organisations to update their Google My Business listings, there are now significant delays on approvals for non-health related organisations.
Google My Business Data Feeds Search & Maps
For all organisations operating, and even those not functioning, during this unprecedented window of time, Google My Business plays a key role in feeding Google accurate details.
Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google and Alphabet, 15th March
“With so many disruptions to daily life, people are looking for more information about school or business closures…
In the coming days, we’ll make it possible for businesses to easily mark themselves as “temporarily closed” using Google My Business.
We’re also using our artificial intelligence (AI) technology Duplex where possible to contact businesses to confirm their updated business hours, so we can reflect them accurately when people are looking on Search and Maps.”
In addition, as gyms, restaurants, training companies, coffee shops, etc. pivot their offerings in line with the shifting environment and audiences needs, this information obviously needs to be communicated.
For example, my local coffee shop is now offering contactless take-away coffees, via the Skip app and meal deliveries (min order $20) to the local community where I live in Mount Martha (VIC).
All of which would be ideal to add to their GMB listing.
Feeding the Google My Business Beast
My local coffee lifeline are most likely trying to get their head around how they can stay in business at the moment, like many.
Once they hopefully adjust to the new normal, updating their GMB listing takes two minutes.
Although at the moment, it will come with delays.
“We will prioritise reviews for edits critical to health-related businesses. At this time, we will also prioritise reviews for open and closed states, special hours, temporary closures, business descriptions, and business attributes edits for other verified businesses.”
During this window, new reviews, review replies, and all Q&A will be unavailable.
Given how open to abuse this is, that's not maybe a bad thing.
For those organisations yet to claim this GMB listing, expect delays in the verification process, which is painfully slow at the best of times.
“Our support team will manually review new listings, claims, and verifications for critical health-related businesses.
While we prioritise these critical services, please expect a delay for publication of new listings, claims, and verifications for other types of businesses to Google Search and Maps.”
Given the unpredictable and erratic nature of organic social media activity, search offers much better opportunities for reaching people actively seeking information.
With media spend likely to drop precipitously through 2020 as a result of COVID-19, organic search and other unpaid marketing tactics will explode.
While search engine optimisation (SEO) can be a medium/longer-term play sometimes, at least GMB offers some quick practical wins. Even with delays.