As we navigate the unprecedented impact of COVID-19, it’s becoming normal to see that services we rely on for our businesses are facing strain and, in some cases, have become temporarily unavailable. One recent example: Google’s announcement that they will be temporarily removing certain features from Google My Business (GMB). This is being done to ensure Google employees are able to work remotely and maintain critical services for the business.
The specific Google My Business features that are impacted has been changing from day to day, making it difficult to track what you can and cannot do right now. Officially, the latest from Google is that:
- All reviews and responses are disabled
- Google is prioritizing critical updates to health-related businesses
- All verified accounts can still update critical business information including store locations, hours and phone numbers — however, there are reports of businesses seeing delays on these updates going live
As of this article’s publication date, Google has not yet provided guidance on when normal services will be resumed. Additionally, updates to what you can and cannot do in Google My Business right now are also changing.
With consumers looking for answers online now more than ever, this is a good opportunity to make sure you’re leveraging all the assets available to communicate up-to-date and accurate information about your business. That’s why I wanted to share strategies you can take right now to mitigate the impact of slow or disabled Google My Business Updates.
4 Strategies to Mitigate the Impact of Slow or Disabled Google My Business Updates
Over the next few weeks, we may see more fluctuations in what Google My Business information can be updated. Therefore, you should be thinking about all the communication streams — both within search and beyond — that you can use to prevent any user experience issues that could occur.
If you can’t make updates to your GMB listings right now, you can still work on the following strategies to ensure that no matter how your customer interacts with your digital content, they will see accurate and up-to-date information on your operational status.
1. Ensure your IVR is up to date: Before the COVID-19 outbreak, local searches often resulted in a phone call to a business. We know IVRs as an automated phone menu to help route callers, but they are also an excellent way to provide important information to all callers. You can use your IVR to quickly update the caller on new business hours, suggest alternate locations, or any other quick attribute changes about your business. That way, if you’re unable to update your GMB information right now, callers can still quickly get the information they need. For more tips on how to improve call experiences with IVR and routing during the COVID-19 crisis, read this.
2. Leverage Google Posts to update information: So far, Google hasn’t indicated that Google Posts will experience a service disruption. This means you can still relay critical information about your business here.
Posts occupy a significant portion of a Google My Business Profile and thus are pretty easy for the user to spot. Up to 10 posts will be visible on a desktop result and the posts are live for 7-10 business days. After sharing critical information in Google Posts, you can also set a reminder to check your posts after 7 days to update any details that may have changed or re-post to ensure critical information isn’t missed.
To create a Google Post, simply navigate to the Post Button on the left side of the navigation in your GMB account. Posting is similar to any other social platform. You are able to share links, publish an image, and add buttons/menu options.
3. Revise review incentives to direct reviews to alternate sources: Because GMB has suspended new reviews, review responses, and Q&A, you’ll need to do two things for your review strategy.
First, you’ll need to ensure that your current review programs aren’t encouraging your customers to review you on GMB, as those will not be published right now. Second, you’ll need to determine where new reviews should go for the time being.
Consider this as an opportunity to bolster your reviews on other platforms and enhance your business’s social footprint. Review and social activity in multiple areas can help your site’s authority. Alternative resources such as Facebook, G2 Crowd, and Yelp all have social graphs that leverage reviews to determine the value a business provides.
Alternatively, you could use this as an opportunity to drive more reviews to your own site. If you do, be sure to incorporate the correct schema to ensure review content is recognized by search engines for what it is. This can help search engines position reviews correctly in search results and ultimately provide a better user experience.
4. Leverage ad extensions to cover your bases: Ad extensions in your Google Ads campaigns can be used for a variety of things. Ensure they are working to connect you to your customers as possible. Any real estate on the SERP — including your paid search ads — should be leveraged to communicate critical business information right now. Try using your ad extensions to share your accurate hours and locations — like in the ad below.
Don’t Forget to Measure the Impact of Calls from Google My Business
For many businesses, inbound calls are especially critical during this crisis. Considering social distancing and shelter in place orders, the phone call is the next best proxy for an in-person interaction with your business.
If you’re looking to gain more visibility into how your GMB profile is driving calls to your business, as well as how your calls are being impacted during this crisis, DialogTech can integrate GMB data into our call attribution and analytics platform to help you see how your business listings are performing.
Sample report of how Google My Business information looks in DialogTech
These views can be sliced by location or viewed in aggregate to help measure where calls are originating. You can leverage this data to understand where you may need to take specific actions with either your call experiences or your digital marketing strategies. For example, you can use these insights to:
- Route calls to alternate locations when calls from certain locations are experiencing spikes in volume
- Enhance paid search visibility with call-enabled ad extensions for locations where views and clicks are decreasing to ensure your brand’s visibility during these uncertain times
- Prioritize calls to locations during peak times to alternate centers when necessary
We expect Google to resume the suspended GMB functionality, but the timetable is uncertain. Right now, it’s important to capitalize on other strategies to communicate critical business information, make the most of your IVR and call routing capabilities, and dig into analytics that measure the impact of calls from Google My Business.
At DialogTech, we are committed to helping our customers get through this challenging time. Our priority is to ensure you deliver the best experiences to callers — even with your employees working remotely — while providing your marketing teams with the data, insights, and answers from those calls they need to weather this storm.