This led many business owners to duck for cover. Business owners have already been feeling the effects of the shelter in place, and quarantines. This seemed like it was just piling on. Not only is the local SEO and maps being affected, but reviews and the ability to edit business details seemed like a crushing blow to businesses everywhere.
Matt Southern from Search Engine Journal first reported this on March 20, 2020. Bill Hartzer made the following statement:
“Most likely, Google is doing this because they want to make sure that the information provided is valid and from trusted sources. I can only imagine how quickly the Q&A could potentially get out of hand if they allowed anyone to answer questions.”
Although this helps explain things, it does little to help business owners. Better communication from Google would have been appreciated. In the meantime, all we can do as business owners is keep checking in on the GMB console and see if the features have been restored.