Google Announces No New Reviews or Q&A During COVID-19 Emergency

On the Google My Business Covid alert page, Google has just stated that: “New reviews, review replies, and new Q&A will be unavailable during this time”.

They have noted that they have taken steps to reduce the number of staffers that come into their offices and as a result are focusing their few remaining staff on Google Maps and Local search information “quality and reliability”.

So existing Google reviews, replies and Q&A are all still displaying, but for the time being no new ones will post.

Google is noting that:

We will prioritize reviewing all edits for critical health-related businesses. At this time, we will also prioritize reviewing open and closed states, special hours, temporary closures, business descriptions, and business attributes edits for other verified businesses. 

We will update this post if or as more information becomes available on this.

Update 3/21

The approach that Google seems to have implemented is that a user can post and see the review themselves but the review is not visible to the public. 

Our api based responses for both reviews and Q&A are received by Google but not showing publicly. 

We do not know if Google will show these reviews in the future but given the many other demands on them I wouldn’t count on it. And it is prudent to stop asking for google reviews. 

Update 3/22

Google has apparently removed visibility of all existing Google Q and A from business profiles. Initially they had just limited the ability to leave new ones and respond. I am awaiting confirmation.

Update 3/31

On Friday, Google changed the messaging upon leaving a review and now Google has now indicated that they will in fact attempt to republish reviews and review responses that have been filtered during the Covid crisis. Their aim is to moderate and publish that content as they resume normal operations.

 

About The Author

Mike Blumenthal is a co-founder of GatherUp and helps oversee our research, industry insight and agency offering. Mike has long been regarded as the foremost expert on local search and Google Maps, earning the nickname “Professor Maps”. Mike also co-founded Local University, which provides small business and agency training in sustainable local search marketing. His motto: All Local All the Time.  He writes at his blog and does a twice a week LocalU podcast about Local marketing. 

8 Replies to “Google Announces No New Reviews or Q&A During COVID-19 Emergency”

  1. Thanks for the update Mike!

    Passing this message along to all our clients and contacts is one of the few things we can do.

    I to suppose that getting reviews direct to business will likely be one of the better options for the moment too?

    You’re one of the reasons this industry has some sanity. Thank you!

    1. Thanks Marc.

      It is important in times of change to sit back, remain calm and take a long look at what is the best path forward.

      It is important to remember that getting Google reviews is just a tactic and businesses need to stay focused on the big picture of customer relations and experience.

      Most importantly businesses need to be respectful of their customers, their needs and have to be particularly careful about how they communicate with their clients.

      But for those businesses that have the ability and space to do so I do think that into this space temporarily created by Google, businesses need to give thought to rounding out their review profiles with their own reviews, reviews on FB and on what ever vertical site they have been ignoring for so long.

      I am not sure at moment many businesses have that luxury. So it is, as noted, a good time for sitting back and reflection

  2. Yes, thanks for the update Mike. I agree that rounding out your review profile is a good thing.

    I understand the need to limit new listings, etc. However, it doesn’t make sense to me that they would block reviews.

    The announcement says that the reduced staff needs to focus on quality and reliability, and critical services. This seems to imply that they normally have lots of staff focused working on reviews. Hah, they’re obviously not doing spam patrol, so what else would require so much manpower?

  3. Hi Tony

    Anything I say would be pure speculation. But I will speculate anyways.

    1- at Google’s incredible volume programs do much of the curation

    2- their rules are designed to minimize the need for reviews to be taken down but they still need some human curation and support staff to deal with the volume and special cases which is probably still large despite the lack of visible impact

    3- Google has a lot riding on getting their health care listings up-to snuff and their temporary closings under control AND accurate. A huge undertaking.

    4- For much of their “human review and let’s not take this review down” process they use contractors. In both the US and overseas.

    5- thank goodness but those workers have been sent home

    6- the full-time employees that they have that they trust to access core systems are probably working from home

    7- if we are to believe google and in this case I absolutely do, those few employees are heads down on the covid notifications and the world wide temporary closings of business listings they are trying to affect.

    8- those that arn’t working on the notifications & closings are servicing businesses who are critical to the world and are staying open. Like hospitals. In fact they helped me get a hospital listing squared away on Friday.

    9- some are also probably working on preventing nefarious actors from exploiting the local listings.

    I think we need to think of Google local at the moment as one huge public utility that is trying to keep the “digital grid” going despite having furloughed 90% (?) of their employers.

    And in that they are cutting non-essential services.

  4. Thanks for the find, Mike.

    As a test, I just left a rating-only review of my own business, and it went up right away and was visible in all the places I expected to see it. So my guess is that either ratings (without text) are an exception, or Google is in the process of rolling this out.

  5. Thanks for your insights, Mike. Before this pause most of our clients were primarily focused on acquiring Google reviews. Now we’ve configured a different request mode to point to internal & Facebook reviews to round out their review profile. Since people who are being serviced by small businesses right now are largely grateful the business is operating, we’re hoping this translates into stars. When things return to normal, then we’ll likely revert to a Google-centric bend by shifting back to the original request mode. Meantime, thanks for your leadership now & always.

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