In a few short weeks, the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has created significant concern as it continues to spread throughout the U.S. The health crisis is causing disruptions for people in their personal lives and in their companies, with illnesses, remote work policies, closures and changes in day-to-day operations.
How can your enterprise business effectively navigate this emergency and tailor your local marketing efforts in an unpredictable environment? To stay ahead in local search and inform consumers, your business must properly manage its local listings.
Proper listings management starts with ensuring your Google My Business (GMB) profile provides accurate, updated information to your customers. The updates you make to your GMB profile will display on your business profile on Google Search and Maps.
To help you manage the arrival of this health crisis, we’ve compiled a list of five tips to ensure you’re providing consumers with accurate information – which grows more valuable by the minute.
1. Update Your Facility Hours
When a health emergency occurs in a community, such as COVID-19, it’s not uncommon for office hours or service areas to be affected in the impacted region. Your business may be closed down completely or you may have to adjust hours of operation. If you don’t communicate these updates to potential consumers, you risk not only losing their business, but potentially adding to the spread of misinformation and confusion that already poses a threat. In fact, 93% of consumers say they are frustrated by incorrect information they find in online directories. Provide the most relevant, up-to-date information and avoid tarnishing your business’ credibility by keeping your facility’s hours updated in your GMB listings, especially during times of crisis.
2. Revise Your Phone Number
As COVID-19 continues to sweep across the globe, many businesses have temporarily shut down some of their operations. For these businesses, like healthcare organizations and property managers, simply revising their office hours on GMB is not sufficient. If the business hasn’t updated their phone number to redirect to a home or mobile number when part of the business has suspended services, consumers who try to contact the number listed on Google will be surprised to find they aren’t able to reach anyone. Update your phone numbers if they’ve changed to ensure customers are able to get in touch with your business and to further crisis-proof your local listings.
3. Update Your Business Description
In situations where a natural disaster or health crisis is potentially impacting businesses across the globe, Google recommends explaining whether your business operations are affected by the emergency or not. Additionally, Google recommends “sharing information about any extra precautions” your business is taking, such as providing any extra services to the community or if you’re experiencing delays. More information on how to edit your business description can be found here.
4. Create a Google Post
Google Posts allow you to share detailed and timely updates about what’s going on with your business, which may be beneficial when patients, tenants or other consumers need current information. You may want to add more information about the services you have available, and link to other resources. Google Posts should be updated on a regular basis as your business changes. To get the most out of your Google Posts, we recommend reading our guide to useful Google My Business features.
5. Monitor Your Google Q&A
Customers use the questions and answers section on your Google Maps listings to communicate with you. During times of crisis, they turn to Google Q&A more than ever to ask if your business will be open, if hours are affected, or if certain services are available. Be sure to proactively monitor and quickly respond to these questions. However, Google Q&A (along with Google Reviews) has been temporarily suspended due to staff shortages, according to the company.
It’s important to keep your customers up-to-date with accurate, timely information to ensure they’re aware of any changes in your business operations, whether you’re impacted by a health crisis, like COVID-19, or simply updating your holiday hours. This is especially important if your hours of operation or wait times are affected, you have an update to available services, or change your phone number. If any of the aforementioned are affected, Google wants you to make your customers aware of these changes. By doing so, you build trust with your customers, become the voice of authority, and strengthen your relationship with your customers, all of which encourage loyalty.
Additionally, due to a large number of businesses affected by COVID-19, Google recently released a new help document that describes how businesses can update their local listings.
Customers expect updated information on your business at all times and want to know they can trust the information they receive. With the average consumer conducting between 3-4 Google searches a day, it is now more important than ever to crisis-proof your local listings to be the source of truth for your business.
For more on what consumers are saying online about the coronavirus outbreak and how Binary Fountain can help, check out this blog post.
About the Author
Content Marketing Specialist