Right now, it’s imperative to have the latest information for your business findable in online search. This includes hours of operation, special procedures for visiting and whether the location is temporarily or, in some cases, permanently closed.
Google has posted extensive official guidance on how to update information for businesses affected by COVID-19 in the Google My Business tool. Read on to find out how to make the adjustments for locations within Google My Business to convey your up-to-date information.
1.Mark a location as temporarily closed. If the location is currently not operational, there is now a new option to mark a location temporarily closed. It’s available under the “Close this business on Google” section on the Info page; you’ll need to toggle the drop-down arrow to view this option.
Enabling this option will display a highly visible “Temporarily closed” label on web search results, as well as within the Google Maps app. This is an effective way to communicate the information to your customers if the location is temporarily inaccessible. Don’t forget to disable this option when the location re-opens.
Below is an example of how the “Temporarily closed” information is displayed:
2. Adjust your business hours. If the hours of operation have changed for your location since the pandemic, enter the most up-to-date hours information under Hours in the Info section. This will let customers know when or if they can visit your locations.
3. Update additional relevant information. Within the Info section, there are several items that can be updated as well.
- Make sure the phone number is up to date, especially if there is a specific hotline number that someone can call. When the location is temporarily closed and not able to take calls, have a fallback number if available.
- Enter brief information about the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic for your location in the business description field. For instance, this can be any special procedures or precautions that customers should take when visiting your location. This field accommodates up to 750 characters.
If you have already added a custom alert on your website that outlines restrictions and special procedures, you can include that information here.
4. Create a specific COVID-19 post with more detailed information. There is now an option to create a detailed post on how the operations of your business have changed. You can upload an image and add the help text below the image. Google has added detailed instructions on how to make these posts and the technical requirements as well.
This feature can be used if you have information that is longer than the 750 characters you entered in the business description field. For example, if you have particularly detailed information in your website’s COVID-19 alert, this information may be conveyed better in a post than the description field. You can also add an image to help bring attention to the information.
Note: Posts only display for 7 days, so be sure to regularly update or re-post existing posts when needed.
5. Get in Google’s change queue as quickly as you can. Google recently posted that updates will take time to be reviewed and rolled out as there is currently limited Google My Business functionality due to COVID-19.
However, Google states that they will temporarily prioritize reviews for edits critical to health-related businesses. This should help healthcare organizations with timely updates of the information.
Now more than ever customers need to be able to find relevant information before they visit your locations. The above guidelines will make sure your customers have the most up-to-date information at their fingertips.
If you have any questions about the Google My Business tool or how to optimize your local search presence, please contact Glen Doss, VP, Strategy and Business Development, at firstname.lastname@example.org.