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Optimizing Your Google My Business For COVID-19

May 14, 2020

Optimizing Your Google My Business For COVID-19

Everyone looks to the internet for answers. They’re also shifting their searches to be more localized (e.g., “Grocery store near me.” or “Grocery store in my city.”). To adjust to this reality, businesses need to modify their digital marketing strategies.

With the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) causing major problems in the economy and daily life, it’s more important now than ever to have up-to-date messaging and profiles. Here are a few quick tips for communicating with your customers:

  • Add a banner or update on your website with a message (This could be a link to a page with a longer message from the company owner).
  • Share messages and regular communications and updates on every appropriate social media channel.
  • Update your Google My Listing through the COVID-19 section and “special” hours section.

Our primary focus for this blog will be Google My Business. If you’re completely new to Google My Business, please read this blog post first. If you’re familiar with Google My Business and are ready to learn more, let’s dive in!

Using Google My Business During COVID-19

Businesses around the world are feeling the impact of COVID-19. They’re implementing changes to their cleaning processes and hours of operation, along with shifting to remote work and delivering products and services through online channels. Customers are increasingly looking online for the status of local businesses, and their first stop is often Google My Business and Google Maps. Here are some tips:

1) New Google Post type for the COVID-19 update section. Add a message and update every 14 days.

Here’s an example of the copy we write for these posts:

“Just a friendly reminder: As of 5/11/2020, Creative Graphics remains open during our regular business hours (M-F, 7:30 AM – 4 PM). We’re taking necessary precautions to keep our staff and customers safe, but we’re here for your business during this difficult time.”

Businesses are also allowed to update their name with “delivery only” or “curbside pick-up only”.

2) The Temporarily Closed feature is available in the info section of the dashboard. Using this feature does not affect visibility or rankings. This is especially helpful for gyms, eye clinics, and other businesses that can’t currently operate under COVID-19 restrictions. Here’s an example of a temporarily closed listing:

Google My Business COVID-19 Changes & Updates

If you’ve been fairly active with your Google My Business profile, that’s great! However, there have been some changes since the pandemic started. Here are some temporary updates and changes Google has made so far:

  • April 7th Update: Google restored the ability of business owners to respond to reviews.  Review functionality is partially back (While business owners can respond, there is a lag time in publishing them). Reviews left should be published in the coming weeks.
  • April 8 Update: Google started temporarily limiting GMB functionality due to COVID-19.  The Google team took precautionary measures to protect their team members, which means they’re operating with a limited team. In other words, things might be slow-moving for a while, so patience will be necessary.
  • May 11 Update: This update gives retailers the ability to add a donation link, gift card link, or both to their profile. They can also make personalized posts to inform customers how funds will be used.
  • The Questions & Answers section was “removed” but should be back live in the coming weeks.
  • The Suggest An Edit option for listings is paused and any suggested updates will be delayed until further notice.
  • A new alert banner now appears in the info section of your GMB dashboard that says “Based on recent updates, this business has been marked as closed (Yes/No).” When you select “Yes”, there will be a new option in the info section under the header “Reopen This Business On Google”. You can then select “Mark As Open”.
  • Essential businesses are getting the most attention right now. Non-Essential cannot claim a new listing or update their listings other than the COVID update at this time.
  • If you manage multiple locations, you can update Special Hours via bulk upload or API, but with the Temporarily Closed feature, you will need to manually enable this function.

Don’t Forget Bing

Bing Local also now has a specific COVID update option as well. The Bing Places portal has launched some new features to help your business respond to the COVID-19 pandemic with updates for your customers on your Bing search listing.

Communicate, Communicate, Communicate!

There has been a lot of disruption to regular business operations and there will likely be more to come. That’s why it’s crucial for your business to communicate effectively with your current and potential customers through all social media channels, Google My Business, and Bing. 

About Creative Graphics

We’re a print and digital marketing agency located in Burnsville, Minnesota and we’re passionate about helping small businesses. Our team of strategists, designers, writers, and developers can help you define your brand and grow your audience.

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