Google shut down the publication of new reviews and Q&A a few weeks ago as part of its coronavirus response and reduced support. However, the company appears to have just re-started publication of reviews and review replies.
Google announces review return. On this page Google says: “Review replies are now available. New user reviews, new user photos, new short names, and Q&A will gradually return by country and business category.”
Mike Blumenthal first noticed this earlier this afternoon. I was able to confirm it and publish a new review for a local restaurant in my area.
Between the creation of the review and its submission, I was still presented with this screen warning me that my review might be delayed. But upon clicking “see your reviews” I was able to see the new review.
Warning but no delay. Even though it says, “New user reviews . . . will gradually return by country and business category,” there was no delay in publication for me. Adam Dorfman of Reputation.com confirmed that he’s seeing the return of new reviews as well. He said that he was not seeing all the “quarantined” reviews yet but that some were definitely being published.
Previously, there was disagreement among local SEOs about whether to continue soliciting reviews on Google during this time. Some counseled to keep going while others said to focus on other things or other platforms for the time being.
Why we care. Google is now arguably the most important local review platform, although it’s far from the only one that matters. Restarting reviews and replies signals that Google My Business functionality may be returning to more normal operation. It will also mean that marketers once again need to pay attention to reviews on Google. The hiatus appears to be over.