July 16 Update:
- Google Posts: COVID-19 Post types are now live for 28 days. While the COVID-19 post type is positioned higher in the GMB Profile than the regular Posts carousel, having this post type now removes the regular Post carousel from your Profile. To get the regular carousel back in its usual place, just remove your COVID-19 posts.
- Questions & Answers: This was removed from GMB profiles on March 20 and has been re-added to all categories that previously had the feature. Prior to March 20, questions that contained the words “COVID” or “coronavirus” were being filtered from public view but are now publishing.
- More Hours: You can add hours for specific services to your agency’s business profile.
- Attributes: Several new COVID-triggered attributes are available for some categories.
- URLs: Additional links to COVID landing pages are now available for some business categories including a COVID-19 info link and a Virtual care link.
- Edits: The “Suggest an Edit” function in Google Maps is no longer frozen and edits are publishing, but expect some delays.
- New Guide: Google released a new COVID-19 guide on June 23 that walks business owners through updating their business profile to reflect updates due to COVID-19.
Original Post – March 24, 2020
There’s no denying that these are hard times for businesses including insurance agencies, with many being forced to close their office, work remotely, and adapt quickly as measures are put in place to stop the spread of COVID-19.
During this time, we’re committed to keeping our customers informed of any developments affecting their digital marketing and communication with policyholders or prospects. Last week, we saw the first significant change by Google.
In a post published on Friday, March 20th, Google announced that it was temporarily disabling and limiting a number of Google My Business features, saying:
“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 time being, the following Google My Business features will be temporarily limited or unavailable, which will affect BrightFire’s Local Listings Management and Reviews & Reputation Management services.
Reviews can still be submitted on Google; however, they will not be posted publicly at this time. For agency owners, the ability to respond to reviews is also unavailable at this time. Presumably, any newly submitted reviews, replies, and questions will eventually be published when Google has the resources to do so.
New Google Listings, Claims, and Verifications
During this time, the Google My Business support team is prioritizing critical health-related businesses. As a result, insurance agencies, like other non-health-related businesses, can expect a delay for publication of new listings, claims, and verifications.
Changes to Business Information
Google’s prioritization of critical services will also extend to reviewing changes to business information, including:
- Changes to open and closed status
- Special hours
- Temporary closures
- Business descriptions
- Business attributes
Since insurance agencies do not provide a critical, health-related service, it may be some time before you see any edits go live on your Google My Business listing.
Google Posts Not Affected
As of today, Google does not appear to be restricting Google Posts functionality. Therefore, if you are using BrightFire’s Social Media Marketing service, your Google My Business page will still receive weekly content.
Google Posts are a great way to provide updates to your customers as the situation evolves. Google Posts remain active for one week, but are date-stamped and superseded by the latest post, making it very easy to share your latest message.
Keeping You Updated
Since these are unpredictable times, BrightFire will continue to provide updates on any important changes to Google My Business as time goes on. If you have any questions about Google My Business or communicating with your customers during this time, simply contact us or call us at (888) 778-4393.