We can confidently say that right now, nothing is business as usual. It can be hard to know what to focus your efforts on. Since your customers are still going to be online — maybe now more than ever — one of the first things you should do is update your online listings to be sure they get the most up-to-date information.
Our current situation has led to a shift in the way Google’s rankings work and has limited certain features for the benefit of local businesses. Google has prioritized services for health-related businesses to update critical information first. New reviews and Q&A sections on business profiles have also been limited. This was done in an attempt to limit the abundance of questions businesses may receive from the unforeseen circumstances of COVID-19, and to ensure the team at Google has the opportunity to validate that the information being published is from trusted sources.
So what does all that mean for your Google listings? We have answered some common questions on ways to handle a temporary business closing or any other changes in your normal operating hours.
Q: How should I update my Google listing if my business is closing temporarily or has any changes to normal business hours?
A: If your hours have changed, you will want to update them as special hours to be consistent with your current business operation. If your business is experiencing a temporary closure that is expected to last for two weeks or longer, Google has made it easy to manually mark your business as temporarily closed instead. Be sure to also update your listing on other search engine providers (such as Yahoo, Bing, AOL, and others as needed), to offer the most relevant information as possible.
You can communicate any changes by updating the following information of your listing:
- Temporarily Closed and Special Hours
- Contact Number
- Business Description
- Google Posts
- Event Updates
Q: Will my business be removed or changed in Google’s rankings if I set my business as temporarily closed?
A: No, it will not! Previously this was the case, but a recent update has changed this so your ranking will not change and your business will remain visible. Any temporarily closed business will continue to be treated the same as an open business. Your continued visibility will provide you with the chance to offer your customers updates on any changes that have to do with the coronavirus outbreak.
Q: Because my business hours have been affected by COVID-19, what is the best way to send out a notice or announcement about it?
A: Businesses are having to get more creative with the way we offer information to our customers, and Google has offered a good way to serve updates in the form of a Google Post. Google My Business has even included a separate section for you to add a specific COVID-19 related post that could be used to update your customers on how your business has been affected.
Q: How do COVID-19 Posts differ from a typical Google Post?
A: The COVID-19 post is a new post type that will appear more prominently and at the top of your business page, making it easier for customers to find information specifically about COVID-19.
Q: We have changed the way we offer products and services to our customers that is different from our typical service, can this be reflected on my listing?
A: Absolutely! You can add new services and products that you offer through your listing profile and by doing so, potential customers will have an easier time understanding what they can purchase from you during your current limitations.
Q: When I prepare for reopening my business, what is the best way to proceed with my listing?
A: Google has made it very simple to manually change your hours back to normal and offer any updates to your customers through your Google My Business profile.
To get more comprehensive help, the experts at UpSwell can help to manage and monitor your business listings across numerous search engines to get your customers the right information.