Google Ads receive top placement in search results pages, and are the most effective way to get leads from Google for the products or services you sell. But not all businesses have the time or budget to run an effective ad campaign, especially in these tough times.
Google also displays free, organic listings on search results pages – these listings are where they focus on giving their searcher results that are relevant to the products or services they are looking for. To ensure your business is being shown to these free leads, you must be optimized and up-to-date to gain you favor in Google searches.
When it comes to providing the searcher with what they’re looking for, Google turns to reliable data to help them decide which businesses to show in their free results – including their local / maps experience.
The local search experience in Google is becoming more and more relevant considering the challenging times we find ourselves in. There is more local search occurring than ever before, and Google is adjusting and changing its policies daily to ensure their searchers can find what they need to know about a business quickly and easily. They’ve built their Google My Business listings to do just this – and these listings are becoming more important every day.
If you are a small business, it is a difficult time with lots of uncertainty, and things are changing every day. Now, more than ever, it is crucial to ensure that your Google My Business listing is maximized and delivering the right information to much-needed customers, both today – and as we emerge from this tomorrow.
The Google local search experience is driven by accurate data. Google rewards businesses that provide accurate and updated data, by ranking them higher in Google search results. A higher ranking results in more awareness for your business. And this is becoming especially important for small businesses hoping to survive.
So where should you start?
Your first choice is to decide whether you are going to try and manage your Google Business listing yourself, or use a service provider to do this for you. If you have the time, you can roll up your sleeves and do what’s required to provide accurate, properly formatted data to Google – and establish a routine to update your information to reflect Google ongoing changes, while ensuring you regularly post content to stay current. If you see this as an overwhelming or daunting task, or simply see your time being better spent elsewhere, you can choose to outsource your Google listing management to a provider that will manage your Google My Business profile for you. Either way, it’s important to let your current and future customers know what your current status is, and how to easily reach you.
Regardless of your choice to self-manage or outsource, the first step is to start ensuring customers know your current status at all times.
Google has recently made many changes to what’s displayed about a business in their local search results, and continues to make changes daily. Keep in mind, these changes will not last forever – and an ongoing focus on the future is an important part of coming out of these trying times.
If your business is temporarily closed, handling online or delivery orders only, or has reduced hours due to COVID-19 – or if even if it’s business as usual – you want to make sure your current status is clear to customers viewing your Google listing.
This can be achieved by ensuring you utilize the tools and status settings available for Google Business listings.
Utilizing Google’s new ‘Temporarily Closed’ status, or setting up special hours to show customers your current operating hours, are great ways to keep your regular business hours intact, while conveying your current situation clearly.
Google Posts are the most effective way to communicate your current situation. These posts are given prominence on Google Business listings, and serve as a great way to speak directly to your audience. You’ll want to ensure you update your status with a post on a weekly basis at the least, to ensure Google knows you’re relevant, and still an active, engaged business – and so that your customers can always see the current status of your business.
Google has made quite a few changes to their Google My Business experience, and continues to daily. Below are a few key changes to take note of, to ensure they aren’t negatively impacting your business.
During this time Google has stated that they rely on authoritative data sources to mark certain places as “Temporarily Closed” on Google Search and Google Maps. This includes any categories of places that authoritative sources say are temporarily closed. Such as schools, museums, gyms, and retail stores.
There are reports of businesses being marked temporarily closed that did not request it. This is why updating your Google listing regularly to reflect your individual business is so important.
Google relies on authorities to tell them when there are closures in their regions. Google uses data from many types of authoritative sources, which include national, state/provincial and local governments, non-profit organizations, educational institutions, and businesses.
Google is allowing businesses such as restaurants to add “delivery available” and “takeout available” during this time as this is normally not allowed per Google My Business guidelines.
Google has stated that new reviews, review replies and all Q&A will be unavailable during this time. It is strongly recommended that reviews wait until Google turns the visibility back on as these reviews will not be shown or acknowledged.
Google will be prioritizing and manually reviewing new listings, claims and verifications for critical health-related businesses. Businesses can expect a delay for publication of new listings, claims, and verifications for other types of businesses to Google Search and Maps.
We will be closely monitoring the situation and are here to help. We’re offering a free Google Starter Kit to businesses that need help setting up or maintaining their Google Business Listing. Simply signup here and use promotional code GSK1901 to receive your Free 2 Year Google Starter Kit ($480 value). No credit card is required and signup is fast and easy.
Learn how our Google Starter Kit helps small businesses effectively improve their rank in Google Local Search
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