- Posted by Tim Roberts
- On April 17, 2020
- digital marketing, Google Maps, Google My Business, Local SEO, Multi-location business, online marketing strategy
In an effort to mitigate negative consequences for business owners that have needed to shift their priorities due to COVID-19, Google has temporarily limited Google My Business functionality. Though these changes were implemented to help, they may cause some confusion and difficulty in managing Google listings for already over-encumbered business owners. Currently, customers cannot leave new reviews and business owners cannot respond, limiting their ability to communicate through one the listing’s primary channels for customer interaction; however, keeping the community informed regarding your business is crucial, and there are a few recommended best practices for keeping your Google My Business listings up to date during the COVID-19 crisis.
Update Your Business Hours and Description
COVID-19 has upended daily life for most people around the world, and just about every organization from small businesses to international franchises has shifted its business operations as a result. If you have needed to change your hours of operation or temporarily close due to the coronavirus pandemic make sure that you update your hours accordingly. Also, make sure to edit your business description with any relevant information. For example, update your description to include information such as if your business is offering takeout or delivery only, any significant delays in service, extra products or services you are offering at this time, or anything else significant to the COVID-19 crisis that your customers may need to know. Your GMB listing is often the first thing someone will see when searching for your business online, so it is important that the information they find is accurate and up-to-date. If you have a verified listing with the COVID-19 disclaimer regarding inaccurate business hours, the disclaimer will be removed once your hours are updated.
Use Google My Business Posting and COVID-19 Posts
Google My Business posts are a great way to keep your community informed of any events, specials, news, or other information regarding your business. Posts are still available and Google has also implemented COVID-19 update posting in addition to the typical event or informational post options. These posts last for the same 14-day period as a typical GMB post; however, they are text-only and will be prominently displayed at the top of your Google listing. Information to include here would be any changes to your hours of operation, operational changes such as offering delivery or to-go orders only, temporary closures, health and safety precautions your business is taking, inventory updates for high-demand products, or information regarding gift card options or future reservations to support your business if you have been forced to suspend services.
Use the Google My Business Messaging App
Most business owners are familiar with Google Reviews and know that communicating with their customers by responding to reviews is a great way to show that they care about delivering positive customer experiences. However, with review functionality temporarily disabled, many business owners are left in the dark on how to use the platform to communicate with their customers during the coronavirus pandemic. Currently, the best way to respond to direct customer inquiries via Google My Business is to download the Google My Business app and enable messaging. This will allow your customers to send you direct messages through your listing, to which you can then respond. If you have not been taking advantage of this feature, now is the time to start as it is a great way to engage with your customers and to keep them updated about your business.
Consult the Local SEO Experts at V Digital Services
Google is notorious for its constant updates and ever-evolving platforms, and the COVID-19 pandemic has prompted them to make many changes to Google My Business in a very short time. Navigating these changes in order to make updates to your local listings while managing your business during a crisis can seem insurmountable; however, we are here to help! Our team of Local SEO experts has the tools and experience to put your business on the map.
At V Digital Services, we work closely in partnership with Google to manage our client’s accounts, keeping them up to date with the critical information their customers need right now. While world events have created significant obstacles for businesses, we can work together to overcome these challenges and retain the progress you have made with your local listings, setting your business up for success in the future by putting it in a strong position for growth when things return to normal. Contact us today to learn more about our Local SEO services, or to schedule a consultation.