Marketing   |   March 27, 2020

Closed for COVID? Stay Visible Online

A 3 minute read by Doug Cooper, Sr. SEO Manager, and Amanda Russo, Engagement Manager

The Coronavirus crisis has a major impact on businesses of all sizes. Some have been forced to close temporarily, while others may be operating on a limited basis. When hours are changing and people are constantly checking who is open and who isn't, now it is more important than ever to provide accurate hours of operation to your potential customers so they have the best possible experience with your locations. Stay visible online using these four tips: 

1. Update your Google My Business Listing

Businesses still operating should verify that the open and close hours are accurate. If the business is temporarily closed, use the special hours option and mark the days as closed. This can be done on a daily basis or you can mark all of the days you believe you will be closed. Remember to check back and update as things change! Google has introduced some temporary changes to business profiles as well: 

Google My Business Changes
As of March 20th, Google has temporarily disabled and limited some features in their Google My Business platform, stating: 

During the unprecedented COVID-19 situation, we are taking steps to protect the health of our team members and reduce the need for people to come into our offices. As a result, there may be some temporary limitations and delays in support as we prioritize critical services.

Editing business information like special hours could be delayed, so it’s important to update this information as soon as you’re aware of a change. Features that have been completely removed are new reviews, review replies, and Q&A. Google Posts and user-generated content are seeing limitations as well. 

During this time, Google is allowing restaurants to include “takeout” or “delivery available” in their business names. This was previously against their guidelines and is most likely temporary. 

Google is implementing these measures to ensure health-related businesses are given top priority and trying to limit businesses from being swarmed with coronavirus related questions (or reviews) from their customers. 

2. Update and Review Other Local Listings

Businesses should also review and update their listings on major platforms outside of Google. This includes Bing Places, Yelp, and Facebook. 

Bing Places
Covid-19 (Coronavirus) Update: Bing Places launched a new Temporarily Closed link on the bottom left of the business dashboard. Businesses with temporarily changed hours should update their Hours of Operation in the dashboard.

Yelp
Free for all businesses: Page updates, such as adding special hours, takeout and delivery options, or marking your business as temporarily closed. Free for eligible businesses with the Yelp Relief Plan: Call to Action, Business Highlights, and Connect.

Facebook
Screen time and usage of social networking apps such as Facebook (and its family of brands - Instagram, WhatsApp) are seeing a surge during the Coronavirus. 

Businesses are well suited to update their hours and post as necessary to keep customers informed and engaged throughout the crisis. Staying visible and keeping your audience engaged during a time where ad spending is down could increase your organic reach in the long run. 

Be careful about sharing news or updates regarding the virus that don’t pertain to your business, as a recent bug has resulted in posts being removed

3. Create a COVID Landing Page

If your business is closed, reduced capacity, or otherwise affected in delivering products or services to your customers, including information on your business’ website, either through a FAQ page or dedicated COVID-19 page, is helpful. 

We’ve seen some amazing examples of collaboration across sister brands, where one is brick and mortar and one is online, cross-communicating to serve their general customer base while navigating closures and changing regulations. 

4. Get Creative with Special Offers

Even with curbside and drive-through service at many businesses, traffic is down. Ensure your business and your employees for the future by offering gift cards, “bonds” (see Gusto for a clever idea), or another way your customers can support you during this time. 

While most of the country is quarantined, users will naturally rely more on information found through the internet. These steps will help to keep them informed about your business while we work together to overcome this crisis! 

Have you seen any creative, collaborative, or otherwise clever solutions to this crisis? Let us know!