In mid-March Google temporarily disabled publication of new reviews, business owner review replies and new Q&A posts. There were other delays in posting new listings or hours and address updates as well. Then, in early April, Google began to slowly publish some of the “backlogged” reviews.
Speed picking up: all countries and most categories. The GMB support site notice was changed to read, “Review replies are now available. New user reviews, new user photos, new short names, and Q&A will gradually return by country and business category.” True to the use of the adverb “gradually,” many local SEOs were complaining that they still weren’t seeing the bulk of their customers’ reviews appear online — until now.
There’s been anecdotal feedback that publication velocity of the sequestered reviews has increased. We reached out to Google to confirm and were told by a spokesperson, “We’re now publishing user reviews and photos in all countries and the vast majority of business categories to help people get helpful up to date information about the places around them. We expect to publish a growing number of user contributions as time progresses.”
Why we care. Google had been working with reduced support staff, but the issues that were impacting review moderation and publication appear to have been resolved. Sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor never paused review publication. Local SEOs and agencies should resume or continue with their review generating/management strategies.
As more states and business locations open up, reviews will take on additional importance as a source of information about the in-store/restaurant or service experience. No longer just about product or service quality, consumers will be looking to reviews and Q&A to determine how well customers are being protected and whether it’s safe (or desirable) to come back to the store.