Why Your GMB Listing Is Your Lifeline Right Now
Here are some lessons learned.
The recent days and weeks have been a blur as we’ve helped clients manage their online reputations amid a global pandemic that continues to inflict a heavy toll. Google My Business has been frequently in the eye of the storm, with businesses turning to their GMB listings to notify people of sudden changes ranging from scaled back hours to temporary closures.
Here are the 3 key insights for your business:
1. Your GMB listing is simply your lifeline right now.
Usually, people rely on your GMB listing to get essential information such as customer reviews, store or office hours, and to learn more about a business’s location or services. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the nature of those searches changed rapidly as consumers’ behavior changed. “What are your hours?” became “Are you still open during the shelter in place?”.“Do you offer curbside delivery?”. If so, “What does your menu look like?”.
Businesses needed to react rapidly, particularly in the early stages when Google had not yet established special features to support the posting of COVID-19 related information.
As states imposed shelter-in-place mandates, all the essential businesses had to reassure consumers that they were still open. Many depended on the features of Google Posts or Q&A, but doing so was not always a secure avenue with Google at one stage removing Q&A functionality. For them, keeping a GMB listing up-to-date could make a difference to a company still remaining alive – and this is still the case as the pandemic is spreading further.
2. How Google is responding to this situation
While Google warned changes will be slower as usual, or even completely stopped, the company also took several measures through its GMB listings to help businesses keep their reputations in mind. Google, for example, removed consumer review and Q&A features to prevent companies from spreading disinformation and from people defaming them unfairly because of circumstances outside their control.
Over time, Google has started releasing apps that make it easier for businesses that communicate critical details, such as the COVID-19 Post type to help small businesses easily update their Google My Business (GMB) pages over coronavirus-related information that affects their operations or a “temporarily closed” choice for businesses that COVID-19 shuts down. As companies found bugs in those apps, Google replied promptly to repair them. Usually, as published, Google actually deals with mistakes, embracing the fact that even an incomplete initial launch is better than anything and benefits its customers. But this time around, Google knows that small businesses are struggling to survive, and they don’t have a margin for error.
Amidst the agony, there is a silver lining. I expect Google to make many of the temporary new features that the company has created since the pandemic started to become permanent, such as curbside pick-up and no-contact restaurant delivery attributes. In the future, the knowledge panel should reflect these features, as we are nowhere close to the end of this pandemic.
3. Have your Google My Business listing is no longer “Good enough”
Before the COVID-19 there were many businesses that were neglecting their GMB listings (at the expense of losing customers). This is still the case, but the importance of managing professionally your listing now means remaining in business or going out of business.
There are three categories of businesses: Google Master (the ones who update their GMBs daily), Google Weekly (the ones who update their GMBs weekly) and Google Slacks (the ones who update their GMBs monthly).
It’s time to reconsider our thinking: either you’re a Google Master or you may be out of business. We are now seeing how a GMB is the lifeline of a business during a time of disruption. And there’ll be more: both natural and human-inflicted disasters that perturb a company without warning. When such disturbances occur, the first line of response is given in your Google My Business listing. Not your website. First your GMB, then your website. That’s how customers find your information these days.
The lesson to remember is this: don’t be reactive to update your GMB listing. You need to be proactive. Companies that manage their GMB listing as part of doing business react faster and stay afloat. Businesses who have taken the time to learn how to handle apps like Google Posts have been able to push faster in the early days of the pandemic and keep their consumers updated than those caught flat-footed. Master the listings on GMB now. If you need help getting visibility on Google and keeping up with all the Google changes, we can help. 100% of our clients end up becoming a reference in their local markets after working with us. Schedule a demo here to learn more.
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