UPDATE: Google My Business functionality restored (June 3, 2020)
- Google has confirmed that user reviews, user photos, review replies, and Q&A are now available in all countries.
- The following services are currently unavailable:
- Reviews, photos, and Q&A for businesses in a narrow set of medical categories, such as hospitals and doctors’ offices
- Video uploads
- Q&A via API
- The ability to claim new short names
- BirdEye Customers: If you had been responding to Google Reviews directly from BirdEye, your replies have been pushed to Google and are now live.
Original post as it first appeared on March 21st, 2020:
Due to COVID-19, Google has temporarily limited some features from Google My Business (GMB). Review publishing, review replies, and Google Q&A will be unavailable during this period.
Right now local businesses are vulnerable to misinformation and bad reviews. In order to protect local businesses from reputational harm arising out of COVID-19, Google wants to ensure reviews and review responses are adequately moderated. But due to a staff shortage, Google has temporarily paused certain GMB features.
As partners in your success, BirdEye has put in place some solutions to help lessen the impact of some of these changes.
Reviews – Your customers can still write new reviews on Google. Their reviews are being saved by Google but are not being published temporarily. Though the reviewers can see their review they are not yet visible to others.
During the COVID-19 period, you should continue the process of normal review solicitation. For most businesses, that means no new action is needed.
- First, you can continue to generate reviews on Google. Remember, Google is still accepting reviews, just not publishing them immediately due to temporary short staffing in their moderation team.
- Second, you can continue to get customer feedback on vertical-specific sites. For example – healthcare businesses can get reviews on Healthgrades and Vitals; real estate agents can get reviews on Realtor.com and Zillow; law firms can get reviews on Avvo and Lawyers.com etc.
- Lastly, we encourage you to solicit direct private feedback through BirdEye. This will allow you to connect directly with your customers and quickly take care of any issues that your customers are facing in this uncertain period, or answer questions about business hours, emergencies, service availability etc.
Review response – Given its staff shortage, Google is not accepting review responses from businesses temporarily.
We have launched a new solution where you can continue to respond to Google reviews during the COVID-19 period, through the BirdEye dashboard. We will store your responses in BirdEye and will post it automatically to Google as soon as they restore normal service.
Other changes that Google has rolled out
Google Q&A – Google is not accepting any new Q&As due to its inability to moderate them at this time. The older Q&As will continue to show on your Google knowledge panel.
Newly created listing – Google is manually reviewing new listings, claims, and verifications for health-related businesses as these are critical services. Google has advised that because of this, other businesses may expect a delay in the publication of their new listings, claims, and verifications to Google Search and Maps.
BirdEye is committed to help and support businesses through COVID-19. We have launched new messaging tools that 50,000+ businesses like you are now using to stay connected with customers — business listings, Webchat, Inbox, landline texting, announcements — all these tools will help you take care of your customers in this uncertain period.
If you want to enable any of these for your business (for free) or have questions on how to use them effectively, feel free to reach out to our support team at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 1-800-561-3357.
Stay healthy and stay safe.