In late March, Google temporarily blocked new reviews from appearing on most local business listings. Now, in early May, Google is slowly releasing local business reviews that were submitted in the last six weeks. As the COVID-19 shutdowns begin to taper off, other Google My Business features are gradually becoming available as well.
The reviews are returning by business category and country. According to a post from BrightLocal, less than one percent of “new” reviews are for business listings in the set of Medical categories. Right now, new reviews submitted to orthodontic listings on Google are still being met with this notification: “Your contribution may be delayed at this time.”
BrightLocal checked over 5,000 Google My Business profiles, and only 4.5% of them were showing new reviews posting in April and May. Many of the new reviews being released are for automotive businesses, with restaurants also seeing some activity.
Are New Reviews Backdated?
Early signs point to yes. While Google hasn’t given much indication of the plan for reviews posted during the COVID-19 shutdown, the reviews starting to appear now have been backdated according to when they were originally written.
This is a very good sign for orthodontic and dental practices, and local businesses in general. It means that any Google reviews posted in the last six weeks are probably not lost, rejected, or deleted. Google appears to be storing them, waiting for what it deems to be an appropriate time to publish the reviews publicly.
Why Did Google Stop Posting Reviews?
This is likely for a few reasons. First, Google understands that many businesses closed, at least temporarily. There were furloughs and layoffs. Business staff typically responsible for monitoring and responding to reviews may not have been working. Google didn’t want to burden business owners with one more thing to manage during the COVID-19 crisis.
Also, Google sought to protect business owners from malicious reviews during a global emergency. Local businesses are already very vulnerable from the shutdowns; ill-informed or blatantly negative reviews about a business being closed during “regular” business hours would only add to the challenges facing business owners.
Where Can I Find More Updates?
Keep checking here on the Orthopreneur blog to find the latest updates. You can also monitor the Google My Business Help thread regarding COVID-19 here.