Google has deprecated the “site manager” role in Google My Business (GMB).
Users started to notice that they could no longer add new site managers as far back as Aug. 18.
Google My Business Platinum Product Expert Ben Fisher acknowledged the change, stating that Google would be releasing official communications on the matter.
While it may not count as “official comms”, Google recently updated the support document Transfer primary ownership of a Business Profile confirming the change. New wording includes the warning “Important: You can no longer add new “site managers”.”
History of the Site Manager Role
The GMB site manager evolved from the “communications manager” role. Originally, communication managers had permissions to do one thing: communicate on behalf of the business. These users could, for example, respond to reviews but could not change any information about the business.
In December 2018, the communications manager role was changed to “site manager”.
This change was more than just a renaming. The new role was granted additional permissions, giving site managers access to change a number of business details.
Some of the edits given to site managers were less consequential fields, such as attributes. But they could also change important information, such as business hours. Most surprisingly, site managers could change the business address, a critical field on which edits can force reverification or worse, lead to a Google My Business suspension.
What made this change so notable was that users in the communications manager role were automatically granted more access to business profiles. An automatic escalation of permissions is certainly strange from a security perspective.
(Oddly, with their increased level of access, site managers could respond to reviews but not to Q&A. It’s hard to imagine that this was anything other than an oversight.)
Why Did Google My Business Deprecate Site Managers?
Google started removing mentions of site manager from the support documentation around Aug. 16.
As an additional indicator of the upcoming change, the support document “Sign Up As Site Manager” was completely removed around the same time. (The URL now forwards to another document.)
While the feature has been gone for nearly two weeks, there have been few mentions of it in the Google My Business Help Community.
Without communications from Google we don’t have an official explanation for the deprecation. However, the fact that there isn’t much user complaint points to a common justification for changes from Google: lack of user adoption. Lack of adoption eliminates small features all the time and is even responsible for the death of flagship products such as Google Wave and Google+.
Google is promoting site managers to a manager role.
Administrators of GMB business profiles simply have fewer user types to choose from and will need to rethink how they grant access to their listings.