Posted by ColanNielsen
2020 has been a busy year for Google My Business (GMB). Since January, Google has launched new features, fixed bugs, and had to adapt to the global pandemic.
At Sterling Sky, we think it’s important to keep track of all the changes that happen in the local search space in general, and that impact GMB specifically. So far in 2020 we are up to 54 changes.
As you can tell, changes that impact Google My Business came at a fast pace — and at high volume — in 2020. In this post, I highlight the changes I think were most important in each month of this year, so far. For an exhaustive list of all the updates that have been made, check out this timeline.
January: Google posts borked — hello, 2020!
Foreshadowing things to come, GMB started off the year with a major issue in their Google Posts feature. Google Posts were getting rejected left, right, and center.
At first, it appeared to be a bug in the system. We were further confused when Google stated that everything was “working as intended”, but the Google My Business Forum was still flooded with users complaining that their Google Posts were being rejected, and not just for a single reason:
And then Google announced that they resolved the issue. Was it truly “Working as intended”? Likely not, but the issues have, indeed, been resolved.
This hiccup made it tough for SEOs who offer Google Posts as part of their service offerings to do their work, and it would have been even more difficult for software companies that connect to Google’s API and offer multi-location Google Posts.
When one of GMB’s products fail, it’s on us as SEOs to clearly explain what’s happening to our clients. Staying on top of GMB bugs, and being able to articulate them, is a critical component of the modern local SEO tool belt.
February: Google adds “suggested categories” for GMB Products
February saw the first of many visible changes to the GMB dashboard when Google added “suggested categories” to the Products section. As of today, we still don’t know if this specific addition impacts ranking, but they still appear in the business profile on mobile, so they can impact conversions. In addition, we do know that adding actual GMB Products does not impact ranking.
March: Google launches several COVID-related features
March saw the beginning of GMB allocating a large percentage of their support resources to the healthcare verticals that were impacted most by COVID-19. To complicate things further, Google disabled the GMB Twitter and Facebook support options.
In addition to allocating resources to healthcare verticals, they began launching specific GMB features to help businesses adjust and communicate their current state of operations to their customers. Some of these initial features included:
Shutting off the ability for businesses to receive new reviews and Q&AAdding the option to report a location as “Temporarily Closed”Disabling new photos uploaded by customersAdding a COVID-19 Google Post type
These features have done a great job helping businesses through the pandemic, and give SEOs another venue to offer value by implementing them for our clients in a proactive manner.
For instance, the COVID-19 Google Post type appears higher up in the business profile, compared to regular Google Post types, which gives us the opportunity to offer businesses an effective way to give their message an increased level of visibility.
April: GMB adds telehealth appointment and COVID links
April concluded with GMB adding several new website link options to the dashboard. The two main link options that were added are the “COVID-19 info link” and the “Telehealth info link”:
Here’s how they look live on mobile:
We dug into Google Analytics for the example above. The COVID links, in addition to being a useful way to communicate new protocols, also drove traffic and conversions.
May: Google confirms April/May local ranking fluctuations were bugs
In November 2019, we described the local ranking algorithm as the “most volatile” we had seen it to date. The ranking fluctuation was so great that we named the algorithm update that was happening “Bedlam”.
When we started to see strikingly similar volatility in the local search results in April 2020, we jumped to the conclusion that this was another local algorithm update. However, Danny Sullivan confirmed that it was a bug this time around:
<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>Just wanted to update. Thanks for the examples. They helped us find a bug that we got resolved about about two weeks ago, and that seems to have stabilized things since.</p>— Danny Sullivan (@dannysullivan) <a href=”https://moz.com/blog
Read more: feedpress.me