On 30 March 2020, Google announced that firms can now update their Google My Business listings to reflect any impact that the coronavirus pandemic is having on them. This includes if you are:
- Changing your opening hours
- Moving to takeaway or delivery only
- Temporarily closing
But that’s not all – Google has also released a new type of post that will be pinned to the top of your listing. You can use this to communicate any changes in your operation, highlight safety precautions that you are taking, make announcements about stock or anything else.
What happens when I mark my business as temporarily closed?
Google has promised that activating this new feature will not affect your company’s search ranking and it will be treated similarly to open businesses with regards to SEO. To take advantage of the update and mark your location as temporarily closed, sign in to Google My Business and click on ‘Info’ in the menu on the left. Expand the ‘Close this business on Google’ section and click ‘Mark as temporarily closed’.
Sign in to Google My Business and click on posts. Then choose the ‘COVID-19 update’ tab and put in your information about changing hours, temporary closures, hygiene measures and so on. All uploaded media must be between 10 KB and 25 MB.
Your COVID-19 post will appear at the top of your profile but, like regular posts, it will disappear after 14 days. If the information continues to be relevant, just create it again.
How long does it take for changes to be made public?
Google reserves the right to review all changes for quality before publishing them, so they may not appear in search results immediately.
It’s also worth bearing in mind that Google itself has also been affected by the pandemic, and so they have said that there may occasionally be some temporary limitations in support.
Since posting, Google has announced more COVID-19 attributes for Google My Business listings. These are tied to health and safety, following similar features being introduced by Yelp and TripAdvisor. They are:
- Appointment required
- Mask required
- Staff get temperature checks
- Staff wear masks
- Temperature check required
While many are still nervous about going into stores, these new attributes aim to inform customers about businesses’ policies.
The attributes you see for your listing will be dependent on your business category. Don’t expect ‘Appointment required’ if you’re a convenience store.
For more information on what Tillison Consulting can do to help optimise your Google My Business listing during the pandemic and beyond, get in touch with a specialist or arrange a free SEO audit today.