COVID-19 Updates to Listings, Reviews on Google, Yelp | Binary Fountain

March 30, 2020

COVID-19: Updates to Local Listings and Reviews on Google, Yelp

By: Kieran McQuilkin

covid-19-listingsAs COVID-19 continues to cause disruptions in business, it’s more essential than ever to keep your community informed with local listings that reflect current service suspensions, closures and updates to day-to-day operations.

Search engines and online directories are struggling alongside brick-and-mortar businesses to manage the influx of changes to facility locations, hours, appointment availability and more. To help you stay up-to-date in local search, we compiled recent updates to local listings and third-party directories that you should monitor.

In this article, we’ll cover recent coronavirus-related updates to local listings, including:

  • Google My Business suspensions of local reviews and Q&A
  • Yelp updating review guidelines for COVID-19 mentions
  • A new COVID-19 Google Post type
  • A new GMB “temporarily closed” feature
  • Delays in listings updates for non-healthcare businesses

Can businesses still receive and reply to reviews? Is Google Q&A Down?

Google temporarily suspended accepting and posting new reviews, along with posting responses, due to limitations in staff. However, that suspension has been lifted – new reviews and responses are displaying on Google My Business profiles, and Google Q&A has started coming back online.

Does Yelp still allow reviews and review responses?

Yelp is still allowing for reviews and responses, for now, and took the extra step of protecting local businesses by only allowing trusted content. Yelp recently announced, “We have zero tolerance for any claims in reviews of contracting COVID-19 from a business or its employees, or negative reviews about a business being closed during what would be their regular open hours in normal circumstances.” It’s taking steps to identify and remove those types of reviews, according to the company.

Yelp also added a COVID-19 Advisory Alert banner to the top of all Yelp Business Pages, where you can share a custom message with specific updates during this pandemic. This can be used to offer services by phone or text, provide takeout and delivery updates, disclose changed hours and other updates.


What are COVID-19 Google Posts?

Businesses can now publish COVID-19 Google Posts for any important information regarding their services or other updates. COVID-19 Posts will appear more prominently on your business page, allowing customers to easily understand the current status of your business and your operations during this time.

Example of a COVID-19 Google Post.

Is a COVID-19 Google Post different from a regular Google Post?

COVID-19 Google Posts allow for only a description and a URL to be shared – no images – which make it a quick purely informational method for your business to keep consumers informed. These post types will be available for 14 days starting March 25, but Google says it may extend that timeline.

Can you explain the recent update for chains related to COVID-19 Posts?

Google recently announced, “Posts related to COVID-19 are now temporarily permitted for chains.” This lifts the previous 10-location limit, so enterprise businesses and multi-location brands now can more easily push coronavirus-related updates across all their locations.

Should we mark our business as temporarily closed on GMB?

Google introduced a new option in GMB to mark a location temporarily closed; however, enterprise brands generally should not use this functionality unless the location will be closed longer than two-four weeks. Marking a business as temporarily closed is a manual, time-intensive process, so you can alternatively consider leveraging special hours on GMB. Using special hours, you can submit your updated hours via bulk API for faster, easier publishing.

Can we update our business name in GMB to add special services?

Google has slightly relaxed their guidelines for COVID-19-related listings, temporarily allowing for small edits to your business name where it’s applicable. Many businesses are adding unique services after their business names and descriptions, such as virtual visits, appointments only, drive-thru or curbside pickup. According to the search engine, businesses will need to revert back to their standard names after the COVID-19 crisis.

Why are we experiencing publishing delays?

Google is operating with reduced support staff, which has led to delays in posting new listings, special hours, open/close status, descriptions and attributes. However, the company says it is prioritizing listing updates deemed critical for health-related businesses. For now, you can add special service availabilities or operational changes by adding them to your business name, description and services/amenities.

Read more on managing your online presence during the COVID-19 crisis:

For a full list of Binary Fountain resources related to the coronavirus, click here.

About the Author

Kieran McQuilkin
Content Marketing Specialist

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