How To Optimize Your Google My Business Listing and Website Amid the Coronavirus | Coronavirus Series
Editor’s Note: This article is part of a series that explores the impact the coronavirus crisis is having on the world of ecommerce. Explore daily insights surrounding the coronavirus crisis or check out these additional resources to help you navigate your marketing strategy during this time.
The coronavirus is having a tremendous impact on our businesses and day to day lives. Whether you’re an ecommerce store owner or a brick-and mortar-business owner, you’re likely feeling some impact on traffic and sales. But there are several steps you can take to ensure your website and online listings (such as Google My Business) are optimized to keep your customers and prospects informed during this challenging time.
What is Google My Business?
Google My Business (formerly known as Google Local and Google Places) is a free service provided by Google that allows business owners to control the information that appears in their Google listings, such as store hours, contact phone numbers, location, and more (see screenshot below for what these listings look like).
Whether you only have brick-and-mortar locations or operate solely through direct-to-consumer (DTC) ecommerce, you need a Google My Business listing.
Google My Business has built-in functionality that allows businesses with multiple locations to manage their listings all in one place. These listings appear in Google Search on the right sidebar and in Google Maps when somebody clicks on your location. You can also manage and respond to reviews, add images, create posts about business updates, manage your hours and contact information, and much more.
Even if you’ve never managed your Google My Business listing, you likely already have a listing that Google has created for you based around the information they’ve gathered from your website and other mentions of your business from around the internet.
If you don’t currently manage your Google My Business listing, the first step is to verify that you’re the owner or manager of the business. Follow these simple steps to claim your Google My business listing.
How to Optimize Your Google My Business listing amid the Coronavirus Pandemic
Google has provided new tools inside of Google My Business that allow you to publish updates relating to the coronavirus. It’s important to note that even if you have other updates going out regularly, the Covid-19 posts will stay pinned to the top. Some ideas for updates you may want to post include:
- Shipping delay notifications
- Temporary closures of physical locations
- Out of stock items
- Updates to store hours
- Availability of gift cards to help support your business during this downturn
- Changes to service (such as if you’re only offering delivery or take-out instead of full-service)
- High demand products
- What your business is doing to keep employees safe
- Charity or relief programs your business is participating in
Marking your business as temporarily closed lets your customers know that you’re not currently open so that they’re not surprised if they show up at your store expecting to receive service. Keep in mind that this won’t have any impact on your SEO and will be treated similarly by Google as other open businesses.
In addition, any Covid-19 posts automatically have an expiration of 14 days. With the situation changing rapidly, it’s possible this timeframe could change, but you should assume that your post will be valid for only 14 days and you’ll need to republish it if the information is still relevant after that time period. Of course, if anything changes, you can always modify or delete a post at any time.
There are other ways you can leverage Google My Business beyond using the posts feature. One great way is to enable messaging in the Google My Business app. Since so many people are online these days, this is a great way to stay connected to your customers, especially if you’re not reachable by phone.
Removing Covid-19 Disclaimer on Google
You may notice a disclaimer saying. “Verify info with this place – Hours or service may differ due to COVID-19” on your Google listing. This disclaimer will appear unless a business updates their special hours, marks themselves as temporarily closed, or if they don’t have regular hours set. Learn how to set your special hours here.
Adding attributes to Google My Business
Attributes are a feature that lets your customers know what your business offers. This can include anything from whether your business is women-led to whether your restaurant or cafe offers Wi-Fi, outdoor seating, happy hours, takeout, delivery, etc.
Shopping and dining businesses will have access to different attributes than other businesses, so if you only see a few options, it may be due to your business category.
How to Optimize Your Website Amid the Coronavirus Pandemic
Your website is your most valuable sales asset. It works 24/7, 365 days a year. Meanwhile, internet traffic has spiked in recent weeks as more people shift to working remotely and spending more of their time online while staying home.
During these uncertain times, everyone will be checking your website for information to determine if you’re still open and able to fulfill orders. Any information that may have changed due to this pandemic should be highlighted front and center on your homepage, including temporary closures, hour changes, support changes, etc.
You should also use this as an opportunity to connect with your audience, show them how you’re giving back, and demonstrate how they can get involved.
Steps to optimize your site:
- Conduct a full SEO audit. This is a great time to analyze and evaluate your SEO efforts to date. SEO can take a while to begin showing results, so any updates and optimizations you make to your site today should begin to bear fruit once the pandemic begins to wind down.
- Make it as easy as possible to buy from you. This goes without saying during normal times, but you especially want to reduce all friction from your buying process right now. Map out your users’ journey from the moment they land on your site through checkout. Ensure they can find what they’re looking for and buy it in as few clicks as possible. Don’t make your users think too hard; make it as easy as possible for them to complete what you want them to.
- Launch A/B Tests: A/B testing is a great way to test different variations of your website to determine which types of content, calls to action (CTAs), and layouts lead to more conversions. There are several free and low-cost tools to get started with, such as Google Optimize, where you can get your first test setup in minutes. A/B testing works by showing the original version of your website to one segment of users (such as half of your users) and a variation version of your website with the element you’re testing to a different segment of users. You can then analyze each segment’s behavior to determine whether one segment converts at a higher rate than another. A/B testing can inform various areas of customer engagement whether it’s signing up for a newsletter, completing a purchase, or any other action you determine is valuable.
- Update your homepage with any relevant Covid-19 information. Whether your hours have changed, a location is temporarily closed, or you’re experiencing shipping or fulfillment delays, it’s important to add this front and center to your homepage. Don’t make your customers have to look around for coronavirus-related information. It creates a very poor experience if a customer orders something and then is told that there may be delays after the order is placed.
- Create a coronavirus impact page. This page should clearly explain changes you’ve made to your business (if any) and what the impact is on the end customer. Be honest. If your locations are closed and you’re struggling to keep the lights on, let your customers know how they can help. Offer gift cards for sale or make note of any special promotions or discounts you have going on to encourage them to buy. Also, let your customer know what relief efforts or charitable efforts you’re participating in and how they can get involved. It’s also important to note how your business is handling things with their employees, if they’re working remotely, and what you’re doing to keep them and your community safe.
- Add a dropdown banner with a link to your coronavirus impact page. This banner should appear on every page of your site and should open your coronavirus impact page in a new tab.
- Ask for reviews. Now’s a great time to ask for reviews, whether it’s to add source social proof on your website or to encourage reviews on Google, Yelp, or any other review platform.
- Don’t panic and make too many sudden changes. If you panic and shut off all of your advertising, stop creating content for SEO, or make any drastic changes to your website, for example, it could have a negative impact. Digital marketing is all about making small, incremental changes, measuring what works and what doesn’t, and iterating based on performance. If you make too many changes at once, not only does it make it hard to know which changes were successful and which weren’t, but it also can make the recovery much longer when it comes time to ramp things back up.
The coronavirus is temporary, but there are certain strategies you can implement for the time being to help your business weather the storm. Regardless of the optimizations you make to your website or Google listings, it’s important to remember to communicate with empathy during this crisis.
Many people losing their jobs, businesses are closing, and loved ones are sick. We’re enduring unprecedented times right now, and nobody has a single magic answer on how to best get through it. But if we remember that we’re all in this together and we all do our part, we’ll bounce back stronger than ever.
Looking for more information to help you adjust your marketing strategies as you navigate the coronavirus crisis? These resources may be helpful.Back to Blog Home