How Google My Business has become a lifeline for local businesses during the COVID-19 crisis

COVID-19 has forced many businesses to focus on their online presence. Customers are increasingly looking online for up-to-date information about the status of local businesses, and their first stop is often the Google My Business -profile of the business. Thus, Google My Business has become a lifeline for many local businesses to connect with their customers. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Google has added new tools to help merchants keep customers informed about how and when they’re operating.

COVID-19 posts were introduced by Google so that companies can share more detailed and timely updates about what’s going on at their business. Google has provided COVID-19 posts a central position in the Google -profile – right in the middle of it. Local businesses can inform customers searching for them on Google about any changes. According to Search Engine Land, Google has seen over a million of such posts since March. Isn’t that just awesome? 

Unlike regular Google Posts that stay live on your Google -profile for 7 days, COVID-19 posts stay live on your business -profile for 28 days. 

Temporary closures and special hours has been introduced by Google long before COVID-19, but it has become a critical feature during COVID-19. The ability for businesses to mark their Google Maps -profiles as “temporarily closed” and highlight other special hours due to this disruption has been welcomed with open arms from both business owners and third parties. Before COVID-19, businesses had to contact Google’s customer support and ask for them to mark the business as temporarily closed. Now, businesses can keep customers updated on a very short notice and they sure have been utilizing this feature. According to Search Engine Land, there have been “more than 200 million edits to business profiles” since February,” many of these addressing special hours and temporary closures.

Gift cards and support links has been the latest feature that Google has introduced to help local businesses connect with their customers. They allow business owners to add donation and gift card links to business profiles – these gift card and support links get a central position in Google -profiles (screenshot below) so that customers can support your business easily without going to your website. This feature was initially available to English speaking markets but now it is also available in many European countries including Finland, Sweden and Norway. 

But why should we care about adding these features and updating our business information on Google? Because it creates trust with the customers searching for information about your business or something related to your business. Google My Business is the most important channel for keeping customers informed and driving customer engagement. Let’s face it – only in Finland 12,3 million local searches are done with mobile phone each and every day. When we both speak and listen to the customers on Google, we create a client relationship with them so that they will keep coming back. And as your Google My Business -profile gets more views than your website and social media channels combined, it is the most important channel for informing customers about anything you want to tell them – may it be gift cards, sudden changes, new products, events, you name it. So manage your GMB -listings now. And keep on going. 

Sources:

https://www.blog.google/outreach-initiatives/small-business/new-tools-help-businesses-during-covid-19/

https://gs.statcounter.com/platform-market-share/desktop-mobile-tablet/finland

https://searchengineland.com/new-google-my-business-features-aim-to-help-smbs-pivot-and-survive-covid-19-335183

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