Google My Business For Hotels: Functionality Updates During Coronavirus


Local SEO and accurate listings, especially Google My Business, are always critical to ensure your hotel’s business is best positioned within search engine results pages. The impacts of coronavirus on different industries are constantly changing and this extends to Google’s services including it’s Google My Business product. Over the past week, and it seems daily, the situation has been ever-evolving and strategy on this channel is having to pivot just as quickly. Some advice we gave last week is now irrelevant as Google continues to adjust functionality. Here’s what we know as of March 24, 2020 as it comes to Google My Business’ current product limitations for your hotel and how you can react.

1. Your hotel's business listing information edits/updates are delayed

Business listing information such as hours, photos, services, and attributes are not being approved as quickly as usual. All requested updates to Google My Business listings are reviewing and approved by Google before they go live. Priority is being given to businesses related to healthcare and other essential businesses. This doesn’t mean you should stop submitting updates and information to your listings. Continue to submit accurate updates as well as information around hotel attributes, services, photos and more. They will be posted, just delayed in going live.

2. Google My Business Q&A feature is no longer visible (as of March 23, 2020)

In what appears to be in response to businesses being inundated with questions around coronavirus, Google has completely removed this section from the Google My Business knowledge panel. Google officially announced the removal of this section in its support website. Just last week Local SEO industry experts, including GCommerce, were recommending to post and answer business FAQ to this section. It appears the ability to display these to searchers and customers are now gone. Hotels should continue to use their own websites, email and social channels to keep customers up to date around updates to services and hours available during this time. View old knowledge panel with Q&A vs current knowledge panel examples below:

3. Google is pausing the ability to post new customer reviews & respond to reviews during this time

Although customers are still able to submit new reviews, Google has paused posting any new reviews during this time. It is unknown if Google will eventually make reviews posted during this time live in the future so it may be a good time to direct your loyal fans and past guests to post reviews on other channels such as Facebook or TripAdvisor.

4. Google Posts functionality is still present but industries like Hotels don’t get access to this functionality

Many industries’ businesses still have the functionality available to create new Google posts to keep customers up to date during this time, although there have also been some reports of issues with creating posts by some businesses. Unfortunately, Google Posts functionality has never been present for hotels. GCommerce recommends that hotels use their websites, email and social channels to continue to keep customers informed and connected during this time.

5. Restaurants Can Temporarily Include “Delivery Available” or “Takeout Available” to Business Names

Google has confirmed they are okay with restaurants temporarily adding the words “Delivery Available” or “Takeout Available” during this time to communicate updated business status. Normally this goes against Google’s policy guidelines but they are making special exceptions during this time. If your restaurant is still offering either of these during this time, GCommerce can assist in updating your business name to communicate to guests.

We Want To Help

Given the current, unprecedented times we are in, GCommerce expects the functionality and capabilities of Google My Business to be an ever-evolving situation. We will continue to stay on the pulse of what is happening and what the best approach is for hotel businesses during this time. Please reach out if we can be of assistance to your local business during this time.

If you’d like help identifying ways to help your hotel or property, we’re offering a free phone consultation, no strings attached.  We’ll interview you about your specific situation, your historical business mix and talk about actionable things you can do to drive bookings.

Contact Us

How to Answer Customer Questions on Your Hotel’s Google My Business Listing


We get a lot of questions about how to answer questions through Google My Business and if it is something that is really all that important. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to answer any questions you get!

1. Sign in to the Google account that is linked to your hotel’s Google My Business listing.

2. Search for your business on Google Search and navigate to your listing where you will find the “questions and answers” section.

3. Once you find the question you wish to answer, select “answer” to reply.

It is important to check that you are responding from the correct account. Otherwise, it will show up from the wrong profile. If you are signed in to the correct account, you will notice your business name and (owner) right after, as seen below.

4. Once you have answered the question to your liking, click “post”. Note that it may take a
few minutes for your answer to show up. Again, it is important to double-check which
account you are posting from to ensure it is the owner's account prior to posting.

5. It is important to note that keyword stuffing is against Google SEO best practices. While it is
okay to use a keyword in your answer, make sure it is relevant and your answer remains easy
to and natural to read.

Why is my answer not showing up in the Q&A section?

After posting your response and refreshing your answer, if it never shows up on the question, it is likely because your response included content that was not allowed by Google.

Restricted content includes:

• Links to a web page
• Email addresses
• Phone numbers

Can I edit an answer that I provided?

The simple answer is yes. You can edit your answers, however, if your answer is edited it will show “edited” to all users afterward. While it is more important to have accurate information than to worry about an “edited” tag, it is recommended to ensure your answer is 100% accurate the first time.

The same goes for users editing their questions. You want to ensure your answer is clear and thorough enough that if the question is edited, your answer cannot be misconstrued or used differently. For example, using a simple yes or no could easily change context if the question was ever changed. GCommerce recommends repeating words from the question within your answer, for example:

Question: Does Your Hotel Offer Parking?

Answer: Yes, The Durham Hotel in Durham, NC offers free parking with every stay.

What if there is an inappropriate question or an incorrect answer?

If there is a question or answer that is inappropriate, off-topic, fake or violates any other of Google’s terms, you can report it and request to have it removed. The process is the same whether you are trying to report a question or an answer.

1. Find the question/answer you wish to report and select the three dots to open the menu.
2. Click “report.”
3. Select the reason for reporting.

If you have any further questions, please feel free to reach out to your dedicated Account Manager or contact GCommerce for more information.

What is Google My Business Q&As and Why It Matters


Google My Business released a “Questions and Answers” feature in August of 2017 which allows users to ask and answer questions about a business directly on their Knowledge Panel. Yes, you read that right, any user can also answer any questions that have been asked about your business.

While Google continues to expand its preset business information and attributes for a business to provide directly through their Google My Business profile, it is still limited and does not provide all the answers a consumer is looking for about a business. If your business is not answering these direct-from-consumer questions, you are missing out on a great opportunity. The problem with allowing other users to answer the questions means you are allowing people to speak for your brand. The answers may be inaccurate, unprofessional, unhelpful or the questions could simply go unanswered and you have now lost a potential customer.

It is important that your business is present and responds to your customers wherever the conversation is happening. This includes responding to reviews across platforms but also answering questions on your Google My Business listing directly; even if someone else has already answered. Then moving forward, you want to be sure that you monitor and answer any questions before another user or local guide does so first.

Users are constantly searching the internet for information and Google is constantly evolving to serve up the most relevant and user-friendly content. This is your chance as a business to protect your brand, incorporate some keywords where relevant and ensure that the information that is being shared to your audience is accurate and helpful. While there is no direct correlation between these Q&A’s and ranking, there is some speculation. Even if it doesn’t directly impact your business’ rankings, you want to ensure you are providing accurate information about your business.

Most questions and answers are hidden behind the “see all questions” link, but this is not always the case. If a user “likes” a question, it can appear directly on the knowledge panel with an associated answer as seen below.

Another reason for monitoring your Google My Business profile’s questions is that a customer may use it to file a complaint or write a review versus its intended use for asking questions. By monitoring this on a regular basis you can get ahead of the situation. If you do notice this to be the case, Google does have an avenue to allow for reporting of any misuse and/or abuse in the Q&A section. You can review Google’s guidelines here prior to reporting to ensure the offender is truly misusing the section.

You can even take this Google My Business feature one step further by creating your own FAQs to get ahead of your users and anticipated questions. Aside from providing valuable information to your users, it also makes your business listing look useful to those who are seeking answers to their questions.