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In light of a limited workforce and the unique needs of people during the COVID-19 pandemic, Google says it will be temporarily removing some features from Google My Business to better prioritize important updates for the time being.

“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 prioritize critical services.”

For the foreseeable future, these Google My Business features may be limited or removed.

Reviews and Q&A

Perhaps the most noticeable change for businesses and customers alike is that GMB will no longer be publishing new reviews, review replies, or new Q&A responses until further notice. However, existing reviews and Q&A’s will remain visible on your listing.

Although the company hasn’t clarified, most take this to mean that any reviews, replies, or questions submitted during this period will be held until Google has the resources and available workforce to properly review these updates.

New Listings or Verification

Google My Business has instructed its team to prioritize critical health-related businesses when reviewing new listings, claims, and verification for GMB listings.

This means that while new listings for non-health-related businesses will still be processed, they may be delayed in favor of more critical updates or listings.

Business Listing Updates

Similarly, Google will be prioritizing healthcare-related listings when reviewing edits to existing business listings.

This includes edits relating to:

  • Changes to open and closed states
  • Special hours
  • Temporary closures
  • Business descriptions
  • Business attributes

GMB says it is working to keep customers updated about all business changes during this time, though it must focus on those to health-related businesses.

Google Posts

Although Google has not made any official comments about Google Post functionality during the coronavirus epidemic, many have noticed extreme delays when publishing new Posts. This may lead to issues with updating customers about new hours, product shipments, or new services like delivery or curbside service. Instead, Google appears to be allowing businesses to temporarily add these details to their business name.

As Joy Hawkins explained in a recent Local Search Forum post, “Google said that they are fine with restaurants adding ‘Delivery Available’ or ‘Takeout Available’ to their business names during these crazy times.”

After a few weeks of testing, Google My Business has officially announced that all business owners can now upload videos to their Google My Business listings.

Business owners can “view videos added by customers and upload videos about their business for customers to view,” said Google’s Allyson Wright.

Videos can be up to 30 seconds in length and may take up to 24 hours to become visible on the business listing in Google Maps and local search results.

Because others like Google’s “Local Guides” can also upload videos to business listings, GMB will also soon give businesses the ability to mark offensive or inappropriate videos on their listings.

To get started adding videos to your own listings, open your Google My Business Dashboard and click “photos,” followed by the “video” tab at the top of the page. From there, select the option to “Post Videos.”

Just drag and drop your video to the box.

Let it upload.

And wait for it to appear. Within about a day, the video should become visible for you and anyone who sees your listing.

Wright also provided these notes about the new feature:

  • Videos will appear in the overview tab of the Google My Business Dashboard.
  • Customer uploaded videos can be found in the “customer” tab.
  • Merchant uploaded videos can be found in the “by owner” tab.
  • All videos can be viewed together in the “videos” tab.
  • After upload, it could take up to 24 hours for the videos to appear. Once live, they will display where local photos do.

Your Google My Business listing is one of the best ways to make sure potential customers in your area find your business. The listings provide the information about where your business is, your hours, and what types of products or services you offer, and the listings often appear above any other regular search results.

Now, Google is making it easier than ever to maintain and edit your GMB listings by letting you manage them straight from the search results pages.

When you search for your business while logged into the Google account associated with your GMB listing, you will now be shown a new dashboard where you can edit your business information, add new stylish photos, share posts about your business, and even see how many views your listing is receiving.

If you are like the many businesses who have incomplete listings or haven’t updated your business info in years, now is the time to take action. Google highlights a number of reasons that having a thorough and informational listing is important for local businesses in their announcement, including:

  • More than 80% of online searchers use the web to find local information.
  • Businesses with complete listings on Google are twice as likely to gain customer trust, and
    • 38% more likely to attract in-store visits
    • 29% more likely to see a purchase

Last year, Google gave businesses the ability to list their busiest hours on Google Maps listings so that customers can better plan their shopping during the holiday season. Now, they are taking it a step further.

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Instead of relying on businesses to update their Popular Times listings, Google Maps will use real-time data to predict just how busy a location is right now.

”Whether you’re rushing to pick up a last minute gift or seeking a lively bar for some festive spirit, check Popular Times for a sneak preview of what to expect when you arrive.”

In addition to this new feature, Google is giving more flexibility to stores that operate separate departments with differing business hours. Businesses can now list separate departments and service hours in their Search and Maps listings.

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This new feature could be particularly useful for department stores or retail stores with pharmacy, supermarket, or automotive departments.

Google is also providing shoppers with shopping behavior data like how long people tend to spend in a store so they can make the most of their time during the holiday shopping season. Along with listing your business’s busiest hours, the search engine is also rolling out a feature that lets you tell shoppers how long the average person spends in your store.

All three new features rolled out this morning and should be live on Google Maps and Search for all users.

Have your checked your business’s Knowledge Graph information lately? If you haven’t, you may be hearing from Google the next time you perform a search.

Recently, Dan Leveille discovered that Google is proactively reaching out to searchers and urging them to keep their business listing up-to-date. If you haven’t checked on your listings recently, you may see a similar alert to the one below next time you sign in with a Google account associated with a Google My Business page.

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Leveille notes:

“Other than asking developers to include social profile data, this seems like the first time Google is proactively asking business owners to directly suggest edits to their Knowledge Graph info.”

Leveille also uncovered a newly updated help document from Google detailing the criteria for being considered an “official representative of an entity in the Knowledge Graph.”

This is a significant move by Google to try to clean up out-of-date Knowledge Graph information and provide accurate listings. Both local businesses and major corporations can take advantage of the Knowledge Graph, so it is always a good idea to regularly check your listings and make sure they are current.