Google My Business Changes due to COVID-19
There is no doubt that the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic has thrown many dentists, and their patients, for a major loop. We want to keep you informed and updated on any changes in your marketing services offerings as they arise.
In an effort to keep business listing information flowing and uncluttered, Google announced on 3/20/20 that it was temporarily disabling and limiting many features in Google My Business. Additionally, Google also added a “temporarily closed’ option on 3/25/20 into Google My Business for businesses that are closed as a result of coronavirus (more info below).
So what is different? What do you need to know? Let’s break it down for you below.
The main features that have been removed:
- During this period, no new reviews will be published to Google My Business profiles. Potential reviewers will still be allowed to post and see their own reviews at this time, but they will not be visible to the public.
- It has not been disclosed as of yet whether these pending reviews will be visible once Google has lifted its restriction.
- Review replies have also been temporarily disabled. Without new reviews being posted, there is obviously less of a need for your business or marketing partner to respond right now. You will not be able to respond to any existing reviews currently on your profile, either.
- Noticed that your Q&A section looks different? Maybe it is gone altogether? Don’t worry as these are also part of Google’s temporary GMB changes. Q&As have been removed, and will not be visible to the public, and potential patients will not be able to post new questions.
The main features that have been limited:
Adding, Claiming, and Verifying Listings (with a catch)
- While this is not being completely removed, Google’s listing review process is now favoring and prioritizing health-related businesses, with dental care being included! Businesses that are not health-related can expect delays when adding and claiming listings, as well as receiving listing verifications.
Editing Business Information
- Limitations to updating business information such as open and closed status, special hours, temporary closures, your business description, and business attributes will NOT be imposed on health-related industries. This is a good thing for you and your practice as the previous prioritization also applies here.
Other changes we have seen:
Google Posts Are Now More Important Than Ever
As of today, Google has created a special COVID-19 Google Post type that we are already implementing for our SEO clients. On top of these special formats, we continue to recommend using Google Posts as a way to help stay in touch with your patients, and also to alert them of any hour changes or updates to your Emergency Dental services. If you have any special messaging you would like to share, we would be happy to create a post for you.
As always, Google Posts are an effective method to ensure important information and changes about your practice are visible to searchers in your local area.
Temporarily Closed Button
This will allow your business to be marked as temporarily closed. If you are planning on continuing to take emergency clients during this crisis, we recommend staying away from this as you will likely see a drop in rankings. However, if you are closing down for an extended period of time, this will help keep your current and future patients updated on your most recent status. We always recommend keeping your information as accurate as possible to help searchers at this time.
Why is Google doing this?
Google has publicly spoken about their reasoning for doing this. As you can expect, the pandemic has also affected their workforce, as well as their outlook on helping businesses like yours navigate the pandemic.
The reasons for the removals and limitations:
- To ensure health-related businesses are able to keep customers updated about critical information whenever possible.
- To limit the burden on businesses who are likely to be inundated with questions related to COVID-19, which heavily involves health-related and dental care providers.
There is no timeframe or limit on how long these changes will be in place, but we expect they won’t be the last changes we’ll see during the COVID-19 crisis.
We will continue to keep you posted in our CampGDW sessions, blogs, via email, and our social media groups on this and any other changes that may arise.
Rest assured we are working hard to keep our clients informed and updated to the best of our abilities!
As always, if you have questions or want to learn more, please contact your account manager or firstname.lastname@example.org