How to Keep Your Google My Business (GMB) Listing Accurate During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Every industry is now impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Most businesses are experiencing the confusion of whether they should remain open, change their hours or close temporarily. Some areas are issuing orders that only allow essential businesses such as grocery stores and gas stations to remain open, but what qualifies as an “essential business” varies from state to state. This is causing people to check online more than ever to see whether businesses are open, and the first place they turn to is Google. So, how do you keep your GMB listing accurate?
Updating Your GMB Listing Information
During this unprecedented pandemic, GMB is operating with a limited support staff. Because of the need to prioritize health-related businesses, there have been reports of some delays in getting edits approved. If you are posting a new listing, claim or verification, you should expect a delay, since each listing, claim and verification needs to be manually approved. Since critical health-related businesses take precedence, there is no guarantee on how long the delay may be.
Changing Your Operating Hours
You can use the Special Hours option under the Info tab on your Google My Business Dashboard to update your hours, whether they are limited or your business is temporarily closed. While it may seem easiest to simply delete your operating hours altogether if you need to temporarily close, this will not actually mark your listing as closed, and people may still think you are open with unlisted hours.
Google may also automatically list your business as temporarily closed based on data they receive from the government and other reliable sources.
Adding to Your Description
As always, your business description is incredibly important. The first 250 characters of the description of your business will be previewed in your Business Profile, so it’s a good idea to add something about what your business is doing in response to COVID-19 at the beginning of your business description, rather than at the end. You can include information about your hours or temporary closure, tips on staying safe and hygienic, or even how you are taking care of your employees.
Make Sure Your Customers Have a Point of Contact
Even if your business has closed, your customers may still have questions. You can easily update your contact information on GMB so that calls will be forwarded to your home. In addition, you should change the message on your company’s voicemail service to answer your customers’ most common questions and concerns. This should include your updated hours or closure and other pertinent information.
Create Posts to Keep Your Customers Up to Date
While the Question and Answer feature is currently unavailable, you can still create posts in order to keep your customers up to date on your business and how you are responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. In order to create a post, your business must be verified and eligible. If you are unsure if you are able to create posts, search your email to see if you were sent a link to the authoring tool.
Posts are live on searches for at least seven days up to two weeks, so it’s important to keep your posts professional and relevant to your audience. To create a post, go to the authoring tool and choose the Publish on Google text box to start the process. Follow the on-screen instructions and make sure to preview your post before publishing in order to catch any grammatical errors or other mistakes.
If your business has a landing page specifically for COVID-19, you can create a post directing your customers there to answer their frequently asked questions and address their concerns.
Postponing or Cancelling Events
Double check to make sure any events that you may have had to postpone or cancel are updated across all of your social media platforms as well as your website. Your business profile automatically pulls information on events your business is hosting through multiple sources, including your website, as well as a variety of social media outlets. Even though it is unlikely people would show up, it is also important for your company’s reputation to ensure you don’t appear as if you are not taking the COVID-19 pandemic seriously.
You may need to contact other businesses if your company is involved in an event that is being hosted by another business or group. To double check if your event listings are all delayed or cancelled on your business profile, view your listing on Google Search.
Review Functionality is Temporarily Disabled
For the time being there will be no new review nor will you be able to reply to a review. You can write a review and submit, but it will not be posted so our advice is to postpone soliciting reviews or responding until Google restores the review functionality.