Google My Business (GMB) is a fantastic tool that, if used correctly, can give your small business an edge in the online world. One of the best aspects of Google My Business is the way it is continually adapting to reflect current circumstances. As the pandemic has continued to impact populations worldwide, a variety of COVID-19-related updates have been released, making it more convenient than ever.
Here are some of the most helpful features Google has implemented to help businesses adapt:
One of the most relevant updates to GMB for small business owners is the inclusion of new COVID-specific attributes, allowing you to share important information about the services you provide to your customers in an easily accessible manner. This means stores and restaurants can specify whether they’re open for in-person seating, among other things. For example, The Blue Fish Las Colinas has indicated on its GMB page that it is open for dine-in service, curbside pickup, and no-contact delivery.
Many other businesses that usually provide services in person have transitioned online during the pandemic. They, too, have the option to update their attributes accordingly. Echo Art Studio, an art school in Los Angeles, has indicated both online classes and onsite services are available. At the same time, search engine optimization consultant Sterling Sky Inc. opted to use the online appointments attribute to inform clients that it is still open for business.
2) New Hours and Temporary Closures
Another option GMB offers is the ability to add special hours to replace usual business hours from before the pandemic, as well as hours for specific services, such as delivery hours or pickup hours. Certain businesses have blocked off special hours of the day for at-risk customers. Walmart is one such business, and on its GMB page, you can see its regular hours in addition to separate senior hours. These senior hours allow Walmart to protect its more vulnerable customers from infection.
In some cases, businesses have had to close altogether. When small businesses are forced to close, it can be challenging to retain your customer base. That’s why GMB allows owners to label their businesses as Temporarily Closed, which lets your clients know that you’ll be back in the future. For example, New York Yoga is currently listed as Temporarily Closed. This practice reassures regular attendees of the studio that it will eventually reopen and that they should continue refreshing the page to verify whether the status has changed.
3) COVID-19-Specific Update Posts
A nifty feature of GMB allows you to post updates so you can keep your customers up to speed on any changes to your business. Generally, businesses use this feature to promote upcoming events and announce special offers. Since the pandemic hit, it has enabled a new type of update that is specific to COVID-19. This way, business owners can explain what changes they’ve made to keep their clients and employees safe from infection.
Several topics can be helpful to include in your posts. Even though certain information might be located elsewhere on your page, writing an update can allow you to give additional context and details. If you’ve had to indicate your business is temporarily closed, you could include an update explaining the reason for the closure and indicating when viewers can expect regular services to be restored. On the other hand, if you’re able to remain open in a modified capacity, you can also explain why you’re adding new operating hours and making changes to the types of services available, as well as confirming if any high-demand products are out of stock.
Updates are a great way to reassure your clients that you are taking the situation seriously. You can recap any new safety procedures you’re implementing, but overall, even just acknowledging the circumstances can be helpful. For instance, the Belmar shopping center posted a quick COVID-related update informing users that it was aware of the threat to public health and was closing temporarily to implement some changes to the hours of operation and service provided.
4) Other Features
In addition to these features, GMB has a few other tools you can use to your advantage. One section was recently enabled to include COVID-19 content is the Q&A section. You can use the section to respond to any questions you receive from clients regarding concerns they might have about your sanitation procedures and services.
You can also include links on your page that indicate other ways to help your business by making donations.
Keeping Your GMB Information Accurate
Since the pandemic, Google added a notice to all GMB pages alerting users that the information may no longer be up to date. This is very helpful as businesses transition to new schedules and services, but if the notice remains there indefinitely, it can lead to a loss of confidence among your clients. In any situation, detailed information is far superior to vague notices.
Take advantage of the resources provided by GMB to keep the information on your page accurate. By updating your hours and attributes, you give viewers peace of mind and reassure them that you care about their health and safety. You should also ensure that all your contact information is up to date, including phone numbers and emails.
If you’re experiencing a temporary closure, you should indicate the new status online. That way, you don’t end up with customers driving to your locations only to be disappointed that you’re closed. Additionally, you can also share links that indicate other ways to support your business, such as making direct donations or purchasing gift cards.
It would be best if you rewrote your business description while working on making changes to your page. While the updates can help you go into detail about any COVID-related news, the description section of your page is often the first thing people see when they pull up your business. Including information about modified hours and services and what you’re doing to reduce the spread of COVID makes a strong first impression.
Finally, don’t forget to write up a COVID-19 update for your business. Even if you haven’t made many adjustments to your services, COVID-related posts tend to have greater viewership than regular posts. Reassuring users that you are aware of the situation can go a long way toward earning their trust.
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