Since the last few months business owners like you are facing an unprecedented crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. But it’s important to keep calm during the period and use it to strategize your next step. Instead of getting nervous with low less web traffic and conversions, we suggest you take a pause and improve your company’s online presence, especially on the search engine.
In fact, Google is actively supporting this. Google My Business (GMB) has added a dedicated COVID-19 Update section that you may find listed at the top of the Posts section. Here you can update your current business status and keep your customers informed. You should leverage the powerful features and tools offered in the GMB account to obtain new leads and drive conversions.
Wondering how? Stick to the end to find the answer.
Optimize Google My Business Profile with the Latest Update
1. Change Business Hours
If your business hours have changed, update the opening and closing times. That way your customers will know when you are open.
If your business is not permanently closed but has stopped providing services temporarily, you can mark your business as temporarily closed.
And don’t worry. Marking your business as temporarily closed doesn’t affect your local search ranking and will be treated just like an open business. That’s why we recommend you to continue taking local SEO services to stay relevant in the search results.
2. Add a COVID-19 Update Post to Your Profile
Use this feature to share more details about your business with your customers. You may add information about:
- Safety and hygiene practices that your business has incorporated like sanitation procedure, tamper-proof packaging, non-contact delivery, and so on
- Any change in your business operations like delivery only, call for details, and others
- If you own a restaurant, you may want to showcase the reduced menu items or deals
This way the COVID-19 update posts would appear in prominent spaces on your profile and become more noticeable to the leads. And should you find this to be a bit tricky, then engage the services of an experienced digital marketing agency India.
3. Connect with the Customers
Download the Google My Business app and turn on the messaging option. This will allow your customers to easily reach you. Keeping up communication with your leads during this critical time shall evoke a positive brand image.
Here you can customize an automated welcome message that customers can receive once they contact you. And you will get notifications for incoming messages in the GMB app. This is a useful feature if you aren’t reachable by phone or someone contacts you after business hours.
4. Edit Your Business Description
The description section provides a brief overview of your business. What you offer, what is your main USP, your business history, etc. Now you can use this section to share the latest info about your business such as an extra service you are providing to the community if your business services are delayed, and others.
5. Highlight Dining and Shopping Options
Businesses like shopping and dining have several attributes at their Google My Business profiles. For example, some attributes for a restaurant may include outdoor seating, takeout, casual dining, delivery, Wi-Fi, etc.
Now you can edit this section to inform customers about your service availability during the pandemic. For instance, you may want to keep the delivery service active but the outdoor seating facility may be closed, and so on.
This information will prominently appear on your profile once customers search for your business on Google Search or Google Maps. The supported attributes will have a “✓” sign and the non-supported ones will have an “X” sign.
Bear in mind that if any business is marked as “temporarily closed,” these edited attributes won’t surface on Google Maps and Google Search. So, if you are providing a delivery service, don’t mark your business as “temporarily closed”.
But… What about the Start-ups?
Now, the earlier section was about optimizing your GMB profile with the latest information about your business during the pandemic. Here we assume that your profile already possesses all the necessary information and you only need to update the latest status of your business.
But what about the rest? What happens to those who have just started their business and faced such a crisis? You have our full sympathy and active assistance. We suggest you utilize this lockdown time and organize your business profile. That way, when everything gets settled, you won’t have to worry about a thing.
The GMB account offers some highly useful tools to create a distinct web presence for your business. If you are not yet introduced to GMB profile, here’s something to start with:
If your GMB account doesn’t have an image, it may pull a Google Maps image or display nothing at all. Images create a professional vibe so do not forget to add these.
Positive reviews produce a healthy brand impression and earn customers’ trust. In fact, according to a survey by Moz, reviews are one of the key local search ranking factors.
However, due to the pandemic, Google has reduced this functionality and no new reviews are being accepted by Google. But keep this in mind for future.
This is a great tool to add updates on your services, offers, events, and anything else you want your customers to know.
#URL for Online Orders
If your business allows customers to place orders or book appointments online, you may add links to these pages directly in your GMB profile. This is a simple and quick way to share your services and earn leads.
#Location, Hour, Attributes
We have already discussed in detail about the opening hours and attributes. These are a must-have in your profile. Additionally, add your business location to earn trust from the customers.
As you can see, it takes adequate expertise to set up a GMB profile. On the other hand, it is absolutely necessary to foster your business and improve local search ranking. So, to save your time and effort, we recommend you to hire local SEO service providers.
Take Control – A Word of Caution
Google Support maintains that it relies on various authoritative data sources (national, provincial/state, and local governments, non-profit organizations, etc.) to mark certain types of places as “temporarily closed” on Google Maps and Google Search. An authoritative data source may mark schools, gyms, museums, and stores as temporarily closed and Google tries to implement these across all listings that fall under these categories. The Support page further intimates that Google seeks to remove temporary closures at the end date as announced by the authoritative sources.
All these initiatives are commendable but there can be trouble for business owners like you. If your store is fully or partially active, a temporary closure mark can adversely affect your business. So, we recommend you to take control and edit your status on Google My Business profile manually. The changes will be effective immediately.
The COVID-19 pandemic has given rise to fear and uncertainty, not only in terms of health but from an economic perspective as well. But on the positive side, technology is coming forward to help people stay informed, productive, and connected during this time. So, leverage the benefits of technology, keep your customers informed, and let Google know that you are a reliable source of information.
If you have any more queries or require any assistance, we are only a step away!
Stay home, stay safe. Best wishes.