Your Google My Business listing is probably one of the best ways to keep people informed, as the GMB listing appears any time someone searches for your brand name on Google. This can include information about your business hours, how the outbreak has affected your service times, and, if your business is closed, when it will eventually reopen.
Google has recently been prompting business owners to update their listing if their business has been affected by the COVID-19 outbreak and has released official documentation on the website on how to do so. https://support.google.com/business/answer/9773423?p=covid_19
If you would like to know how to get access to your business listing or you don’t have one and want to verify, you can refer to the GMB help centre: https://support.google.com/business#topic=4539639
In addition to this they have been releasing new features, but also limiting others, likely due to increased demand. Some of the limited features that we have noticed are:
- Inability to post and answer reviews
- The functionality for customers to ask questions has been removed
- Delay support requests
- Delays in updating listings.
New on Google My Business:
This is an option that was added to GMB as an easier solution to changing the business hours and should be used for instances where the closure is longer than 2 weeks. Google has also mentioned that “At this time, Google relies on authoritative data sources, where available, to mark certain types of places as ‘Temporarily Closed’ on Google Search and Google Maps.”
So, if your business is still open, you may want to check that it has not been closed down in error.
Under the Posts section, there is now a new type of post which is “COVID-19 update”. This has the same functionality as the “What’s New” section but with no ability to add an image. This is a great way to keep customers informed on any new developments with your business due to the outbreak.
How to post a COVID-19 update
- Login to Google my Business at https://www.google.com/business/
- Go to Posts in the left vertical menu
- Click COVID-19 update and enter your update and call to action
- Hit Publish
Relaxed guidelines and more support for restaurants
Restaurants can now use the GMB title to advertise service changes like home delivery services. Normally the GMB title should only contain the Business name, but under the recent circumstances, Google has relaxed the guidelines to help out restaurants that are looking for different options to service customers.
In addition to this, Google Maps has also added 2 more categories for “Delivery” and “Takeaway”.
But how does Google know if your business now offers delivery/takeaway option and how can you make sure that your business appears in one of those 2 categories?
- Google is known for using hints and the change to the title is probably the first hint they will use. So, we recommend that if your restaurant does have this option, that you advertise it via the GMB listing title, where instead of “Joey’s Restaurant” you should change to “Joey’s Restaurant – Delivery and Takeaway Available” (for example).
- Create a page on your website about delivery and takeaway. We know that Google will crawl and use information on the website to rank businesses in maps for different search terms, so it is best to have a page dedicated to the delivery aspect of your business.
- If you have a Chinese or pizza delivery service, these options are also available under the Services section in your GMB profile when you add another business category.