Google has apparently disabled local reviews functionality — both for consumers and business owners.
SterlingSky’s Jason Brown first flagged this issue on Friday. Joy Hawkins, also of SterlingSky, added, “Any review responses posted right now aren’t publishing live. Same thing with leaving new reviews. None of the reviews I left 5 min ago are publishing.”
Google has remove the ability to reply to reviews bc Covid-19. #localseo @rustybrick pic.twitter.com/Jv6DawOzDB
— Jason Brown (@keyserholiday) March 20, 2020
We’ve asked Google for clarification or an official comment and will update this post if one is provided or we learn more. (Update: Google pointed to this post in which it says, “New reviews, review replies, and new Q&A will be unavailable during this time.”)
Earlier today, Yelp announced a change in review guidelines. The company said it would not allow claims in reviews of contracting coronavirus from a business or its employees or “negative reviews about a business being closed during what would be their regular open hours in normal circumstances.”
Why we care. Local businesses are especially vulnerable right now, given the confusion and turmoil created by the pandemic and business closures. Yelp, and it would now appear, Google are trying to prevent a flood of reviews that may be ill-informed or malicious.