Managing Your Google My Business Listings During COVID-19
The information in this article was originally presented as a webinar:
One of the best ways for local businesses to communicate with consumers is the Google My Business Posts feature. Website messaging is also a good idea but it’s not as immediately visible, not to mention that creating a new page on a site, or adding a new message banner quickly may not be an option for many businesses as that requires more resources.
Email is great to communicate with existing clients, but it doesn’t work to reach potential new clients. Google My Business Posts, on the other hand, are extremely easy to use and get your message in front of anyone looking for a service you provide.
Because it doesn't require much effort to create a Google Post, messaging can be anything from quick updates about disruption to your business hours to special efforts that you have put in place to protect employees and clients. The ability to add images to the Posts calls attention to the information and really helps people visualize what you are doing as a business.
New Google Posts are usually not published more than once a week. However, since things may be changing quickly for your business, Posts give business owners the ability to put out quick and efficient messaging.
Using Your Google My Business Listing Effectively
What makes Google Posts more valuable at this time is the fact that Google has turned off the Question & Answer (Q & A) feature. This prevents business owners from writing their own questions (and then answering themselves) to provide more information for people viewing their Google My Business profile.
Google has done this to prevent any user-generated content. The ability to leave reviews and to upload images onto a listing has also been removed. Presumably, the reasoning is that users of Google Map platform have been leaving reviews that are not indicative of business during ordinary times. This is a way to protect business owners from poor reviews that will not be relevant in the future.
This warning displays in the Knowledge Panel of all listings now. However, it will disappear if you set special hours for the day.
Google My Business Edits Are Stuck In Pending Status
Employees at Google have also been affected by this pandemic and due to the reduced work capacity, Google is prioritizing health-related categories. That means that almost all edits made to Google My Business listings from other categories will go into pending status.
This has prevented many listings owners from editing their Google My Business Descriptions with updated information.
Many business owners have been able to update their listing name to include extra information. Google is allowing this normal departure from naming convention temporarily, however it seems that these edits may have been halted as well.
Google Posts Get Information in Front of People
Given that the Q&A section has been removed and the Description area is locked, the best way for listing owners to provide up to date information about their business is to use the Google My Business posting feature.
There are many different ways to communicate with your audience and here are some examples below to help guide you.
Using Google My Business Posts for Critical Messages
The most obvious method of using Google Posts would be to inform customers about what is going on with your business. A general ‘alert’ type post like the one below would serve to link to the website or even a blog where more information can be found.
Using Google My Business Posts for General Information
With Google Posts you can give out information not specifically pertaining to the business but more comprehensive information that may be of interest to your clientele. Posts like this will increase engagement on your listing (which is a positive ranking factor) and shows the viewer that you care.
Using Google My Business Posts to Relate Information Concerning Discounts/Specials
During this time of crisis, your business may have special pricing for its services or products, free delivery, or other special accommodation. Using Google Posts is the best way to get this information in front of prospective buyers while they are searching as it does not require them to visit your website.
Using Google My Business Posts for Services Interruptions
Maybe your business cannot operate as normal and some of your services are not available. The business is still open and you do not want to mark your business as completely closed, but you want to get a message across to manage expectations.
Other Google My Business Post Ideas
- Do you have a limited/full menu?
- Are you out of stock of certain items/receiving more stock soon?
- Special efforts being made to protect employees/clientele?
- Unusual store procedures
Any message sent over social media for your business can also be a Google My Business Post!
Posts for Chains and Franchises
Unfortunately, Google does not make it easy to use the Google My Business Post feature when you have many listings to manage. The only native way to do this through your Google My Business dashboard would be to copy and paste the information into each listing and publish them individually. This is a huge deterrent for large brands.
Fortunately, dbaPlatform has the perfect solution to this issue with its multi-location posting tool which allows for bulk posting across many Google My Business listings at once.
In order to help communication flow freely during this unprecedented epidemic, dbaPlatform is offering our post tool for FREE for new accounts. Read more about the details here and then create your account so you can start scheduling Google My Business posts for multi-location businesses today.