Local SEO During a Pandemic: What You Need to Know

Nothing has upended business in recent history as much as the COVID-19 pandemic. Even as state economies reopen, businesses are struggling with new protocols, reduced hours, or operations, and may even stagger openings in different locations. Customers are adapting to changes, but are also relying on directories like Google My Business (GMB) to provide the most up-to-date information about business operations. Although constant communication through social media channels is important, so is making sure the information in your local directories is up to date and consistent. Through Google My Business, you can make significant changes such as announcing temporary closures, changing business hours, and more. Here is how you can use Google My Business to help keep your customers informed during COVID-19.

Disable Business Hours

There is nothing more frustrating to a customer than to look up a business on Google, which displays regular hours of operation, only to find that a business is closed upon arrival. As business owners ourselves, we understand that your business hours may frequently fluctuate to accommodate changing needs and governmental policies. As such, it can be nearly impossible to change your hours through GMB, so they are always consistent.

If your business hours are continuously fluctuating, we recommend shutting off the business hours feature on GMB; it will help minimize customer confusion by keeping your phone number, prompting customers to call for the latest updates.

Changing or Updating Your Business Description

Your Google My Business description allows you a 750-character summary of the business and all its offerings. This description, despite popular wisdom, is not static. The description section allows you an additional platform that will enable you to speak directly to customers about any changes to your business operations. You can change your description as many times as necessary to communicate information. For example, “Due to the continuing COVID-19 pandemic, our business hours vary by location. Please call the individual location for hours and details.”

Remove Business Hours and Change Business Description

To maximize convenience to the customer, we recommend implementing the preceding two tips together, which will give your organization a good way of communicating changing business operations during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Use Google Posts to Communicate Information

Many people neglect to use Google Posts to its full potential. Think of it as another form of social media posting: It allows you to connect your customers to the most recent information about business operations, policies, and more. Google posts are a free form of visibility and can be a boon for both your business and your consumer, providing a platform for communicating important updates as they develop. To use Google Posts to its maximum potential, we recommend:

  • Create a Google post as an event. A Google post typically disappears after seven days, but you can create an event to make it more visible, much like a “pinned” post on Facebook. Since no one knows how long business operations will be in flux as the pandemic continues, selecting an “event” option for the Google post statement allows you to choose and unspecified end date. Alternatively, you can update Google posts as needed, much like a Facebook post, but keep in mind it will only last a week.
  • Make Google posts unique to each location. Unlike other social media postings, you can’t bulk create or schedule Google posts. As such, if you are a business with multiple locations, you will have to create a different Google post for each site or listing. 

Use Google Attributes to Update Offerings 

Finally, services industries such as food and retail entities have the option of including attributes at the top of the Business Profiles, which inform customers about the availability of services. This information will appear at the top of your business profile when customers search for it. A supported attribute will be marked with a “” and unsupported attributes will appear with an “X.” We recommend changing your attributes to reflect your offerings as they stand. If you recently started offering curbside pickup or delivery, make sure these options are marked, so your customers are aware.

COVID-19 will continue to have a rippling effect on consumers and businesses alike. If you are looking for ways to communicate important announcements and service updates to your customers, don’t neglect the power of Google My Business. Update your GMB profile to reflect reductions in hours or services, create a new description encouraging customers to call for individual location hours, turn off your normal hours of operation attribute, and communicate updates through Google posts. When using GMB to its full potential, you can boost your local search engine optimization and get customers the information they need quickly—something they are sure to appreciate as the uncertainty of COVID-19 continues.

For more information about changing or editing information under Google My Business, check out Google’s support articles for businesses during COVID-19.

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