Google My Business (GMB) is a huge help to local businesses that want customers to see their location, hours and reviews easily in search results.
Whenever you need to make an update—for example, because you’re only open for curbside pickup and delivery now due to social distancing regulations—Google My Business is one the first places you should post those changes.
After you submit your GMB changes, Google staffers usually review them before they’re published, to ensure no one’s defacing your listing. But like every other business, Google has had to adjust the way it operates because of the coronavirus pandemic.
To maintain safe social distancing for its employees and to make sure health care business changes are approved fast, GMB teams are taking longer to review and approve information changes for other types of businesses—unless they’re specifically related to COVID-19.
What do the current changes with Google My Business mean for your business?
It depends on the kind of local business you own.
If your business ISN’T health care related: To update your customers on changes related to the pandemic—and to keep your GMB updates from getting stuck in Google’s review queue—create a COVID-19 post in Google My Business. We’ll walk you through how to do this in the next section. This is a new feature that helps get your changes reviewed and approved faster.
If your business IS health care related: Your GMB updates will go to the top of the review queue automatically. And GMB has added the ability for health care providers to list their services. For example, if you offer telemedicine or drive-thru coronavirus testing, you can now include that in your GMB listing.
OK, so you’ve got changes to make. How exactly do you get them done?
How to Create a COVID-19 Post in Google My Business
A COVID-19 update will get approved faster than a regular update. Your COVID-19 post will also be easy to see, because Google will pin it to the top of your GMB listing.
1. Start by logging into your Google My Business account from a computer (not your mobile device).
2. Choose “Posts” from the menu on your GMB account page.
3. Select the tab labeled “COVID-19 update.”
4. Add or edit your temporary information. You can
- Set special hours if you’re not operating on your normal schedule.
- Remove the “information may not be up to date” disclaimer that Google has automatically added to many listings.
- Mark your business temporarily closed without affecting your local search ranking.
- Add new services you’re offering during the pandemic.
- Let customers know you have gift cards for sale.
- Note if your business is only open for carryout, curbside pickup and/or delivery.
Note: This will update your Google Maps location display, too.
- List local services (like Favor and Door Dash) that will deliver from your business.
- Explain any delays in order fulfillment or delivery.
- Explain how your business is protecting customer and employee safety.
- Request that customers call your business for more information.
5. Preview your COVID-19 post to make sure your updates are correct.
6. Adjust the visibility time of your COVID-19 post.
- Click “menu” on your post.
- Select “schedule” and then click “change” by “visibility time.”
- Pick the end date and time you want for your post—up to 14 days from the publish date.
- Save your visibility changes.
7. Click “publish.”
8. Make a note to publish another update in 14 days if your changes are still in effect, because the COVID-19 post may expire.
Note: If your business has more than one location, you’ll need to repeat steps 2 – 8 for each location that has changes to share.
Other Google My Business updates for food businesses
In addition to changing your hours and showing your takeout and delivery options, you may need to update your menu.
For example, if you’re offering a pared-down version of your dine-in menu for delivery, or if you’re offering new items like pantry supplies and groceries along with prepared meals, you can show those changes in your GMB listing. To do this:
- Click “info” on the left-side menu on your GMB page.
- Select “menu URL.”
- Make your menu updates.
- Click “apply” to save them.
If you have more than one location, you’ll need to repeat this process for each one.
More Best Practices Google My Business Recommends Right Now
You can activate Google My Business messaging so customers can reach you quickly. You can also create automatic responses, so you’re not overwhelmed by sharing the same information over and over.
If your business runs Google ads, be sure to update the information in those messages.
If you mark your business temporarily closed, be sure to mark it open in GMB when you reopen your business.
You can find more ideas to keep your business running safely in HostGator’s COVID-19 Business Tips library, or check out these popular posts: