With the rampant and steady spread of COVID-19 throughout the world, businesses struggle to grapple with the ever-changing situation. Evolving SOPs and the need to meet pre-determined KPIs are driving businesses toward the adoption of digitalization.
As governors across the country call for stay-at-home orders, how can you maintain competitive conversion rates, retain customers, and engage with your audience?
It’s no surprise that the global pandemic is taking a toll on businesses of all sizes. Some companies offer limited services; some may be temporarily closed for business, while others may maintain business as usual. Whatever the case is, keeping your customers in the loop is essential.
A weak or non-existent online presence can be detrimental for a business of any size. However, a survey revealed that less than two-thirds—the only 64%—of small businesses establish their online presence through a website.
Maintaining a steady flow of information and communicating with your customers—both current and potential ones—is imperative to business success at all times. Given today’s uncertain conditions, the need for digitalization is vital to customer outreach, reputation management, brand visibility, and effective business communication.
It’s the efficacy of dynamic and ever-changing technology trends that make it crucial for businesses in today’s landscape. For almost 61% of business owners and marketers, growing an organic online presence is a vital marketing priority—and for a good reason!
Without these tools at your disposal, you may stand to lose in terms of sales revenue, brand visibility, and customer outreach during this time of uncertainty.
What Is Google My Business – And Why Does It Matter?
Business owners expanding into the realm of digitalization are often confused about the most effective strategies to adopt. The digital ecosystem has a lot to offer, especially to small businesses looking to establish themselves in the local market. Traditional marketing can only go so far in increasing your outreach—not to mention the high advertising cost you’ll incur for a low ROI.
An SEO strategy bound to target your intended audience and optimize your marketing strategies is Google My Business listings. A quick Google search will prove the importance of a localized strategy—especially in times of global crisis when you want to make the most of your local customer outreach.
Unlike other marketing efforts, Google My Business listings allow you to engage with customers, communicate your brand’s personality, develop customer loyalty, and work on brand recognition. By hearing about your brand’s details from the source itself, customers receive a more personalized service.
Informing your area’s existing and potential customers about your services is a surefire way to attract their business to you. Attracting traffic to your website is only useful to your business when it’s physically located in your service area.
With 64% of customers claiming to use Google My Business posts to find local service providers in their area, it’s clear that this is one tool you don’t want to relegate to the sidelines. Since achieving successful sales and fostering customer relations is imperative during the COVID-19 crisis, Google My Business Posts can be crucial for your business.
Many business owners are aware of the importance of Google’s SERP rankings and optimize their SEO strategies to leverage them. With the first five organic search results getting up to 67.6% of the clicks, investing in taking advantage of this tool is almost a no-brainer at this point.
However, many businesses still don’t reap the benefits of Google My Business listings and are costing their business vital profits and customers. This free listing allows you to give your business page a featured location in the search results. When someone searches your business, it’ll appear at the top of a smartphone screen and the right side of a desktop screen.
Here’s an example of the feature:
Utilizing Google My Business Listings During COVID-19
This feature lets you provide vital information regarding your business to your customers, including services offered, operational hours, and contact information. Owing to the uncertainty and rapidly changing circumstances, companies are continually being affected by COVID-19. You can edit your business information via your Google My Business profile to reflect the altered business hours, contact numbers, or other vital information.
With the changing needs of businesses in a post-COVID-19 world, a new type of post is designed to help you make announcements to your audience. By giving you access to this feature, the search engine is attempting to keep customers the loop regarding business activities during this time.
If you can’t manage your GMB listing efficiently, you can hire SEO services to help you maximize the benefits from it.
Keeping your audience updated is key to ensuring you retain your customers and increase your net profits, even when your business may not be operating as usual. Among the announcement options available to you on your Google My Business listing is:
- The safety precautions being taken by the business
- Any alterations to regular services—as in the case of certain restaurants only offering delivery or takeout.
- New—or limited—operating hours
- Temporary closures
- Information about in-demand products being in stock, out of stock, or low stock
While you can still add other posts to your Google My Business listings, these important announcements will appear at the top of your business profile so you can effectively alert local customers.
By adding this unique feature to your Google My Business profile, your customers can stay updated about your business activities. This can help drive up your conversion rates if competitors in the area aren’t investing their time and effort into this feature.
If, for instance, a local business in the area isn’t operating during this crisis, its customers may discover your nearby business and find the latest updates on your operations. Thus, you’ll be able to boost sales revenue, organic search traffic, and website conversion rates efficiently.
How You Can Create A Google My Business Announcement For COVID-19
Once you sign in to your Google My Business profile and click the Posts tab in the menu, you’ll see a COVID-19 update tab at the top.
Before you send out the update, you may be required to provide relevant information regarding changes in operation hours, contact details, or other operational factors. You can preview the announcement to ensure you’re communicating the necessary information before publishing it to your GMB profile.
Once updated, local customers searching for your business will be able to see the announcement pinned to the top of the search results. This takes the guessing game out of the audience’s process, giving them a clear insight into your business’s operational status and offering a Call to Action, directing them what to do.
Other Key Details About COVID-19 Announcements
Time-frame: If you’re familiar with the Google My Business posts format, you’ll know that they have a shelf life of 14 days. While the posts’ information may still be valid after the stipulated time ends, the post will no longer appear on your profile.
This remains true for COVID-19 updates as well, which will stay on your Google My Business profile for 14 days. If the information is still relevant after this time, you can publish the announcement again.
As the situation evolves, you may need to update your audience on the changing situation and, thus, this feature can be viable.
Types of visual content: Regular Google My Business posts allow for multiple visual media types; this means you can create engaging content using images and text. In terms of the COVID-19 announcement, you can only use textual information to convey your message.
By limiting your announcement’s visual content, you’ll be able to convey the necessary information to your audience more effectively.
Types of listing: The ongoing pandemic has affected business for companies of every size, operating in every industry. Regardless of your products or services, your office hours or provision of services may be affected by the ongoing situation.
Hence, every business can utilize the COVID-19 announcement feature to communicate the changes to their audience and people who come across their listing.
How Your Business Can Benefit From Utilizing This Feature
The key to maximizing your net profits and staying afloat is leveraging your online presence even in times of uncertainty. Conveying vital information and maintaining transparency when clarity is hard to come by will drive engagement rates and increase organic traffic to your business’s website.
Improve local visibility
With countrywide business closure and changes to regular services, you have the opportunity to hone a local marketing strategy. HubSpot reveals a 150% growth in local searches that use the phrase “near me” to locate businesses. Owing to the lockdown and need for social distancing all over the country, people will be looking for businesses near them to cater to their needs.
This presents an opportunity to increase your customer outreach and appeal to a more specific target market. Frequently updated Google My Business posts and announcements will inform the audience that there are viable options to explore—that is, your business!—in their area. Updated, relevant information can play a vital role in convincing potential customers to take the plunge and opt for your business.
Foster a relationship with customers
A brand committed to its customers’ health, safety, and well-being will gain traction from new and existing customers. When you’re constantly updating them about the safety measures you’re implementing and how you’re working toward fulfilling customer needs during this time, you’re fostering a relationship that’ll translate into sales revenue.
Potential customers who search online will come across a business that’s active, engaging, and trustworthy—they’re bound to be interested in availing their services. Failing to provide vital information during this time of uncertainty is the online equivalent of closing your business’s shutters.
To invite new and potential customers to your business, you have to build credibility. Businesses become industry authorities by consistently offering up-to-date information and recent proof—in the form of reviews—to prove their reputation.
Positive reviews can translate into trust for your local business for almost 74% of consumers surveyed by Forbes.
Boost search rankings
By now, business owners engaging in online marketing strategies know the importance of hiring link-building services to boost their SERP rankings. Link building and quality content are two metrics that determine how your website will rank on the search results page.
There are, however, over 200 factors that decide where your website will rank. When Google’s site crawlers gather information regarding your website, an up-to-date online presence will work in your favor.
Keep your Google My Business posts updated with the latest information that’s accurate and consistent with the ongoing situation. For example, by updating your location or service areas, you increase the likelihood of your website’s ranking for Google 3-Pack and “near me” search results.
Continually updating your business listing with the latest developments will prove beneficial for your business in the long run. A strong digital presence will work toward higher conversion rates, profitability, organic website traffic, and audience retention.
Remind past customers to return
As the business landscape changes in the aftermath of COVID-19, it’s essential to persuade your past customers to return to your business. You can’t afford to believe that your customers have loyalty to your brand in a highly competitive business world. Thus, you need to continue to maintain a conversation with your local audience, reminding them of your relationship with them and ensuring that you have their best interests at heart.
Staying on top of the local audience’s minds will help your business pick up where it left off before the countrywide lockdowns. Use your Google My Business profile to add recent customer reviews regularly, update your current status, and respond to customers to make them feel valued.
Moz reports that 57% of customers will only opt for a business if it has a four-star rating or more and that 89% of consumers’ buying decisions rely on the business’s responses to the reviews.
Hiring SEO services to cater to your business’s unique needs at the time of this global pandemic can help you leverage all that Google My Business and other online platforms have to offer.
About the Author
An SEO specialist for Search Berg, the author, deals with local SEO services for cities all across the U.S. and beyond. They’ve helped many local and national businesses with SEO optimization, social media management, and PPC marketing, among other services.