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5 Important Ways to Update Your Business Listings in an Emergency

Pandemics, storms, and other emergencies can change your business operations. Here are five ways to update your online business info during an emergency.

When emergencies happen, it’s important to keep your business information up-to-date so customers know when and how to access your products and services. Here’s a checklist of action items to help ensure your online business information remains accurate and reliable when a health crisis, natural disaster, tragedy, or other emergency affects daily operations. These recommendations are based on the features available in Google My Business (GMB).

Please note: If you are a business that is affected by COVID-19, you can learn more from Google Support about handling your Google My Business listings.

Update Store Hours

If an emergency has disrupted your normal business hours, change your store hours to reflect your new open and close times.

Tips for Handling Unique Store Hours

  • GMB Special Hours: For short-term changes in business hours, you may use Google My Business “special hours” to show that this adjustment is temporary.
  • Appointment Only: If your business cannot remain open to the public but you’re still conducting business, share this information by adding it to your business description (more below). Google does not provide an “hours by appointment” option at this time.
  • Dedicated Hours for Certain Patrons: More businesses are adjusting their hours to give the elderly and other at-risk people exclusive access to their business at certain days and hours. The best way to communicate this message is through your business description (see below), email marketing, social media, and a post on GMB.

Use Alerts

Add an alert banner to your website and location pages communicating information about changes customers can expect during this time. Website visitors may want to know if you are still operating during the emergency, how your business is making adjustments, and if they can expect delays in receiving your products/services.

Use an alert banner to drive traffic to a page that addresses customers’ most common questions. For example, with the increase in to-go and takeout orders, people want to know: Is it safe to order from [Restaurant]? And what are the restaurant’s employees doing to ensure the safety of my food?

A dedicated FAQ page with answers to customer questions is a great way to maintain customer trust—and potentially business—during a risky time. Turn to your social media profiles or customer service team for insight into the most commonly asked questions.

Update Your Business Description

Your business description is a summary (up to 750 characters) that appears when a user searches for your local business or checks out your listing on Google. Use your description to share how your business is handling the emergency. Here are some ideas to help you craft your emergency business message:

  • Explain why you are adjusting your business hours.
  • Share extra precautions you’re taking to mitigate risk.
  • Communicate new or extra services during this time.
  • Highlight any delays customers may see.
  • Give readers a timeline on when they can expect your business to resume its normal operation.

Use Google Posts

Google Posts allow you to post content directly into the search engine results pages for your business listing. Think of it like a social media post for your business listing. You can write a quick note, add an image, and link to a more extensive webpage or blog post that shares a complete overview of how the emergency is impacting your business and what customers should know.

Manage Store Closures

On March 15, Google CEO Sundar Pichai announced that businesses now have the option to mark themselves as ‘temporarily closed.’

You may use this setting to let customers know that though your business is temporarily shut down, they can expect to see your business return after the resolution of the emergency.

Top Tips for Managing Business Information in Evolving Emergencies

Be on Standby for Evolving Changes

As emergency situations evolve, so will your business information. Be on standby to make online changes that’ll help customers stay up-to-date on how to access your products and services.

Prioritize Location Pages and GMB

Update your owned location pages and GMB listings. Anticipate that consumers may look in both areas for information.

Understand GMB Limits

Google My Business is an amazing tool for spreading information about your business, but it has limits. Depending on the nature of the emergency, Google may choose to prioritize updating one business’s information over another’s. For example, Google is prioritizing health-related businesses during the COVID-19 outbreak, so critical edits (like hours, business description, etc.) to health-related businesses will be reviewed by Google before edits to other businesses. Also, new reviews and Q&A posts are on pause in an effort to protect businesses from ill-informed reviews.

If you have questions or need guidance on how to update multi-location business information online, please contact GPO.

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