Ooma Business Blog

How to use Google listings to update your customers during Covid-19.

By |Wednesday March 25, 2020

The coronavirus has caused an unprecedented number of changes to businesses. The result is a communication challenge as both businesses and consumers scramble to know what’s going on. 

For the businesses that are affected by COVID-19, it’s difficult to keep customers informed about whether you’re open, what your hours are, and what new restrictions are in place. Google has encouraged businesses to use their service to let customers know your business’s status during the outbreak. 

By editing your Google My Business profile, Google search and maps will both display your updated business information. This can help you to inform and attract customers who are searching to find businesses that are open and available services.

Google My Business is not a new tool. It’s an existing tool that’s become an effective way to share information during this crisis. Learn how you can use your Google My Business (GMB) profile to share information about your coronavirus business changes. 

How can you use Google My Business for coronavirus updates?

Google My Business profiles are the business listings that appear within a Google search screen or Google Maps. It includes the basics like business name, address, phone number, and hours. There’s also helpful consumer information like customer reviews, uploaded photos, and busy times. 

It’s possible for this business information to auto-populate using information from your website as Google crawls the internet. However, in an environment where information is changing quickly, and it’s more important than ever to have clear and fast communication. 

To quickly let people know about changes, you can update your Google My Business profile to share more detailed information about how your businesses are responding to COVID-19. 

Rather than limiting your communications to your Facebook wall or in your customers’ email inboxes, this approach gets your business information in front of customers while they’re still in the Google Search screen or Google Maps. 

How do you change business hours on Google?

Customers want to know if your doors are open. For businesses affected by COVID-19, updating your GMB profile is an easy way to share your new hours across the web. 

If you haven’t used the platform before, check out Google’s support page on how to get started and how to update your business description. For all other business owners, here are the steps to updating your account. 

Updating Google during Coronavirus

  • Log in to your account at google.com/business
  • Click Info in the left-hand menu.
  • Click the pencil icon next to your business hours.
  • Update your hours to be accurate.
  • Click Apply. 

How can Google Posts help you share important coronavirus updates?

Within your GMB profile, Google Posts are a great tool for issuing detailed and timely updates about your business’s coronavirus response. You can announce any extra services you’re offering, accurate information about your offerings, and the precautions your business is taking during this outbreak. 

These posts are similar to a Facebook post. However, the difference is that the information is not limited to a single platform and will be shared with your business details across the Google ecosystem. 

Make sure your Google Post is clear and high-quality before publishing. The ideal length is between 150-300 characters, and the maximum is 1,500 characters. Use it as a call to action, letting customers know how to buy, schedule online services, order take-out or learn more. 

Ways to use Google Posts

  • Updates about inventory 
  • Photos of today’s takeout specials
  • Resources that your business is offering
  • Information about how in-person services are now available online
  • Customer protocols about interacting with your business during the outbreak

What are the advantages of using Google My Business for coronavirus updates?

During this difficult time, there are a few reasons why it’s worth it to add Google My Business to your communications toolbox.

First, it can give you a wider reach. Most people turn to Google when they want to know information, and updating your GMB profile can help you to spread the word. 

When Google is accurate, it’s easy for the consumer. They don’t need to click through or scroll to find the information they need. It’s easily accessible and readily available. 

By updating your GMB information, you’re also able to leverage the Google algorithm. Business availability is changing and people are more likely to search for terms like “where can I get coffee now” or “where can I get groceries on Saturday.” If Google understands when you’re open, it will be able to maximize your brand visibility by matching your information with a searcher’s query. 

What additional Google tools are coming to help businesses during coronavirus?

Updating GMB is just the first step businesses can take during the coronavirus, and Google is moving quickly to broaden the ways business owners can communicate with customers. 

In a March 15 post from Google’s CEO, the company announced they will be deploying more ways to help businesses communicate closures and updates.

First, Google will be using data from governments and other sources to automatically display business information if a location is temporarily closed. For example, if all of the schools are closed in a certain state, Google can update those local listings. This has already started to roll out in some locations. For example, in Florence Italy, many museums and businesses have been marked by Google as temporarily closed. 

Next, businesses will soon be able to use GMB to mark themselves as temporarily closed. Rather than using the traditional method of updating each day’s hours, this new tool is likely to be a checkbox that indicates a temporary change. Currently, changing your status to temporarily closed is only available by contacting Google’s support team. Because their team is currently short-staffed, and it’s faster and easier to manually update your hours until the option is available on your dashboard. 

Google is also deploying a way to contact businesses to confirm updated hours during the coronavirus outbreak. Using its AI technology called Duplex, we expect this to be done via automated phone calls using natural language processing so you can speak your changes.

In the coming weeks, Google has also committed philanthropic support to the COVID-19 response. Included will be resources for small businesses and access to capital.

Keeping your customers updated about what’s happening during the coronavirus outbreak is important for your business continuity and your customer safety. Learn more about how you can stay connected and stay safe with the full list of Google Small Business tools for the Coronavirus.

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