Update your status, inform your customers, and leverage your relaunch
Rather than focus on reduced hours, restricted in-person shopping or continued closures facing your business as COVID-19 presses on, how can you highlight the positive, and point prospects toward what you do have to offer?
We’re going to lean on some of our favourite Banff-based small businesses to highlight what’s what in Google My Business (a.k.a. GMB), and what you can do to ensure you’re feeding the Google beast what it needs in order to serve you up in search.
1. Status Updates
If we look to the famed Chuck’s Steakhouse on Banff Avenue, we see they’ve done a great job of updating the basic Info fields in their GMB page to denote that, at the time of writing this post, they’re now reopen for dine-in and curbside pickup.
GMB has served us all well by adding COVID-related fields to its dashboard, so that retailers, restaurants, and in-person service providers can simply tick a box to alert their customers as to the status of their operations.
Where there’s room for additional clarity, personality, and a quick image or branded graphic, however, is in the ‘Updates’ section of your GMB page.
Updates occur automatically when you adjust your hours or add some photos to your page (much like the Facebook post that’s generated when you change your profile picture), but creating purposeful updates through the ‘Posts‘ area of the GMB dashboard can be very effective for multiple reasons.
Most notably, posts receive a great deal of prominence in Google Maps and Google Search, rendering them a shame not to utilize. On mobile search they show up on the second tab, and on desktop they’re embedded right into the listing.
GMB status updates can add a lot of colour and personality to a GMB page (and thus, a google or google maps search result), and a post will be actively shown for 7 days, and then remain on your page. Meaning it’s an easy singular piece of content for most businesses to add to their social content calendar once a week.
Further, Google wants us to post updates, and its algorithm will reward businesses who do.
The available update types are pretty great, and include Offers, Events, Products, News, as well as one specifically designed for COVID-related news, which will be highlighted in the search result.
It can be difficult to find decent examples of businesses utilizing GMB updates and it’s a missed opportunity for most, particularly at this time when confusion among consumers remains high, as health regulations and restrictions continue to evolve. It is not your customer’s job to decipher whether you’re open – it’s your job to clearly inform them.
A great example of a company that’s created a dedicated page on their website summarizing current dining options for their various restaurants is Banff Hospitality Collective, at banffcollective.com/take-out.
The page offers a beautiful summary of online menus, takeout and delivery options, gift cards and more.
They made a smart decision to pull this together mid-pandemic and it may be something they choose to keep current and active going forward, as people have become quite familiar with ordering dinner online and grabbing it to go, COVID or not.
2. As-Needed Adjustments to Basic Business Info
The second integral place to focus your page edits – whether for short-term COVID adjustments or new permanent realities – is in your business’ Description section of GMB.
If we look to Banff’s Eddie Burger Bar, we can see that, back in December 2020 when they were not yet open for in-person dining, they did a great job of pointing people online for take-out orders from this very spot.
Eddie’s team is also nailing their weekly status updates, which are highly visual, compelling and varied, providing everything from essential info to offers and events.
Bottom line: It’s perfectly ok to play with your business description throughout the year. In fact, the more current it is for the season at hand (COVID or not), the better.
3. Consistency across third-party apps and directories
It’s also important to take 10 minutes each week to implement the same type of updates across all prominent listings and directories you know to be featured in, so that your customers aren’t left guessing or looking to other people’s online reviews for answers.
If a status update or business description edit on these platforms isn’t possible, a simple comment or response to a comment can go a long way, particularly when it’s made in the voice of the business owner or a team member.
I’ve experienced this a few times recently, when wanting to know if a particular restaurant or hotel amenity is available (someone please show me to an open swimming pool), and have resorted to Google and Trip Advisor reviews to see what others are reporting.
Case in point:
4. Weekly Post
Next, consider creating of a series of branded graphics with catchy headlines and COVID-status messaging to post to your GMB page in the coming weeks. As the world continues to navigate (for the love of all things holy) an end to the pandemic, consumers need clear and easy information from the businesses they want to support.
Rather than duplicate exactly what you’re posting on your social media feeds, consider gearing these posts to the kind of things your Google Maps and GMB page visitors want to know.
Are you open? Are you local? Are you operating at limited capacity? Curbside only? Reduced hours, but still awesome?
As a handy starting point, we’ve put together a punchy graphics pack that you can easily make your own! Simply follow this link to this killer tip sheet and editable Canva file, and adjust as needed with your own fonts, colours, messaging and logo. Then, upload a new post to your GMB page each week.
We recommend mixing this COVID-esque messaging with image-based posts from your business, and voila! Your GMB page is looking fresh, working fine, and immensely helpful to both Google’s indexing efforts, AND your soon-to-be customers.
Remember, anything that positions you as proactive as possible in your messaging and ahead of potential online annoyance or foot traffic frustration – whether from simple open/closed confusion, or more harmful misperceptions around perceived COVID or health regulation negligence – is a step in the right direction.
Want More? Our Google My Business Lab has it.
An integral course for today’s entrepreneurs, marketers, creatives and beyond, this Lab teaches you how to maximize the most timely opportunities and tactical tools within the Google My Business environment.
You’ll gain a comprehensive understanding of GMB’s key facets and features, and go beyond a foundational listing with location and operating hours into rich content that earns top placements on Google Search and Maps. Discover how to create consistent GMB posts, killer reviews, powerful third-party citations and more.
Here’s to the continued (slow) march toward our collective reopening, and entirely new levels of success to follow!