COVID-19 has affected us all, forcing changes in the way we work and play; in the way businesses operate and market their products and services. At a time when the Internet is among the main sources of information for the majority of the population and outlets are kept to a minimum, it is crucial to provide true and accurate information to users.
In this article, we’ll look at how to manage your Google My Business account if your business is affected by the emergency situation we’re currently in. We’ve prepared a list of changes you can make if your profile needs updating:
Update your working hours
Be sure to reflect the hours your business is currently operating.
Mark your business as “Temporarily Closed”
To inform users that you have temporarily suspended your activity, simply log into your account and select the “Mark as temporarily closed” option from the “Information” menu. Full instructions can be found in the official Google My Business Help Center.
Note that your business may be automatically flagged as temporarily closed based on information from reliable sources, including national and local authorities, non-profit organisations, educational institutions and businesses, etc. schools, universities, etc.
Mark your business as “Final Closed”
Unfortunately, the current situation has already started to have a lasting impact on the activity of some businesses. If you have also made the decision to close your business, you also have the option to mark your business as “Final Closed”.
Google My Business has introduced a new category of posts related to COVID-19. The idea is to include information related to the changes imposed precisely as a result of the virus. Posts are displayed among your other posts, giving you a convenient and visible way to share important updates with your users.
Some of Google My Business’ examples of such content are:
- Changes in opening hours, as well as temporary closures
- Changes in the way your business operates – moving to offering your products only through deliveries
- Information on how to manage the location in relation to safety and hygiene
Creating them is only possible when using the desktop version of Google My Business, but the posts themselves are viewable on both desktop and mobile devices.
Note that unlike the others, this post type only allows the inclusion of text with the option to add a button. After publication, posts remain active for 14 days. If you want them to remain visible afterwards, you need to republish them.
Update your profile information
In addition to posting or updating relevant sections of your profile, you can also inform users of changes by updating general information on your profile – e.g. in the services/products section, highlights (attributes).
Check whether the phone numbers in your profile are up to date. Update the information if there are closed locations or you only support some of the contact methods (e.g., directing all calls to the switchboard).
If you have a contact form on your website, feel free to add a link to it in your Google My Business profile.
Why is making these changes important to you?
Because it’s important to your users. In an emergency, when going out is seen as a luxury or a necessity, it is crucial to provide up-to-date and correct information online. Help users plan their online and offline behaviour without exposing themselves to additional risk, but also without depriving themselves of using your products or services if they are still available. This is also a great opportunity to stand out among your competitors. A quick review of Google My Business profiles in various categories showed us that very few of them have yet been updated or are making the most of the opportunities the platform offers.
Note that certain Google My business features are currently being discontinued (or limited), including:
- The publication of new reviews and replies to those already published
- The publication of questions and answers
- Publishing videos
Those available on the account will still be available, but the inclusion of new ones is suspended until further notice.
There may also be delays in verifying and adding new profiles, reviewing and posting changes to profiles of businesses that do not offer key healthcare services. Focus will be on the most key changes, including updated hours of operation, temporary closures, business descriptions and business attributes.
Keep in mind that changes around Google My Business are dynamic and there is a chance that additional functionality may stop being supported (e.g. for a short period posts were not active). Take advantage while you can.
We encourage you to focus on your Google My Business profile for 5 minutes. Check that the information available is up to date. Are there any important details related to how you currently conduct your business missing? Is there anything else you want to tell your users?
Google My Business gives you an excellent opportunity to reach consumers who are actively searching for your solution in a free way. Don’t ignore it.
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