For years, Google Business Profile, formerly known as Google My Business, has been one of Google’s many tools available free of cost. This tool in particular was designed to help businesses and organizations manage their online presence on Google sites. Keeping your details up to date on places like Google Search or Google Maps allows customers to find reliable information on your business and stay up to date on any important changes you make. In an era of increased digital traffic, such a tool is crucial to success.
Google Business Profile (GBP) offers three key benefits. First is the aforementioned ability to manage your business’ information. You can update your hours of operation as well as your address and can add a link to your online website if you have one. This makes it far easier for customers to locate your business and discover what sorts of products and services you offer. Updated details and a concise description are an essential first step to establishing a professional online presence. However, the information doesn’t have to strictly be textual. Google allows you to share images of your business as well. This can range from pictures showing off the space to highlights of your friendly staff and even photos of the actual products you offer. Such content is an extremely effective way of communicating what kind of locale you run.
Beyond simply providing information, GBP allows you to interact with your customer base via online reviews. Not only are you able to see what kind of feedback customers provide after their transactions are complete- you can also write a response to said feedback. This allows you to answer any questions they might have, as well as address any concerns or unsatisfactory experiences they might have had. Finally, GBP allows you to gain critical insights that can help you make necessary improvements and expand your reach. The tool can tell you how customers located your business, whether it was via a link or a search, and determine the number of people that called your business directly from the search results, in addition to other helpful data.
Like any good online tool, GBP is constantly going through updates to ensure it is as effective as possible, and the year 2020 is no exception.
As the pandemic continues to affect businesses and organizations across the country, Google has made a series of updates to help users adjust to these new, uncertain times. Here are the most recent changes Google has rolled out:
- Allowing For Additional Hours of Operation. Some businesses have instituted additional hours of operation specific to seniors or customers with compromised immune systems. This helps protect those most vulnerable to COVID-19 by decreasing the chances of infection from an asymptomatic carrier. Now, GBP allows you to list those additional hours online so that clients can plan their shopping trips accordingly and remain healthy. You can also use the additional hours to indicate when other business operations, such as delivery or takeout, are available.
- Automatic Disclaimers. In an effort to manage customer expectations, Google has added an automatic disclaimer stating that business hours may not be up to date. These disclaimers can be removed once the hours are manually updated but helps bridge periods of transition and uncertainty.
- Show Off New Services. With GBP, you can promote new services offered, such as online alternatives to in-person services, including classes and consultations. You can also share information on ways your organization is helping the community.
- Announce Temporary Closures and Delays. In some cases, businesses and organizations have been forced to close all together due to state orders. Rather than simply declare the location closed, GBP allows you to specify the temporary nature of the closure, so your customers can rest easy knowing that you will be reopening your doors as soon as possible. Unlike fully shuttered businesses, those with the “temporarily closed” status will continue to show up in search results as usual. In addition, you can indicate delays to specific business services if your business is open in a limited capacity.
- Communicate COVID-19 Related Updates. You are now able to select a new category of posts specifically meant for COVID-19 related information. These posts will appear in a separate section, and allow your customers to quickly access any news involving changes to services available, updated hygiene practices, etc.
- COVID-19 Marketing Kit. To assist businesses and organizations to communicate changes on their own websites or in person, GBP has released a kit of printable posters and digital templates available online.
- Chain Restrictions Removed. Previously, Google enforced limits on the kind of content large chain businesses could post. Those restrictions have now been removed, allowing them to publish posts automatically across multiple locations.
- Local Service Ad Changes. A new section for local service ads allows users to check off applicable information, such as warnings of high call volumes or reassurances that protective gear will be used by service employees.
- Options to Get Community Support. GBP has added the option to list links to receive donations from the community. This way, loyal customers obeying strict quarantine can still find ways to support their favorite businesses without leaving their homes.
Not only are the standard benefits of GBP extremely useful in our digital world, but with the variety of new features specifically released to address life with COVID-19, it is easier than ever to keep your customers up to speed on the various ways you’re remaining dedicated to your business and your community. This kind of communication and interaction will prove crucial in the upcoming months as we all find new ways to navigate the ever-changing economic landscape. Ultimately, the fact that this tool is offered and supported for free means there is no excuse for not taking advantage of all the benefits it provides.
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