Over the past few weeks, we’ve all seen a big change in our grocery shopping habits, our dining out habits, or go-to-work habits, and our overall-connection-to-others habits due to COVID-19. So, it should come as no surprise that our online, digital marketing habits are now changing, too.
We’d like to take a quick minute to tell you how Google My Business (GMB) and Yelp have been affected by COVID-19, how those things will affect your business, and what measures you should take to ensure your business appears properly in the search engine results pages.
Google My Business
GMB has decided to limit some of its more popular functions for the time being and given advice and what you can do as a business owner to ensure the correct information is being shown to the public.
Google My Business Temporary Limitations and Advice
Because of COVID-19, GMB has announced that they will implement some temporary user limitations and some may experience delays in support, so that Google can concentrate on businesses considered “critical” during this time.
Reviews and Q&A disabling
Reviews, replies to reviews, and Q&A sections of GMB have been disabled due to the influx of bad or one-star reviews since the Coronavirus outbreak. Many businesses have been shut down or experienced heavy delays, etc. and customer complaints have soared because of it.
Because businesses are not shut down due to fault of their own, Google has decided to stop reviews that could tarnish reputations in the long-run.
Be sure to update your local business’s new hours, closures, descriptions, and any other changes your business is undergoing at the moment. Detail if your business is being affected by COVID-19, share the precautions you’ve taken, state if you’re operating under new circumstances, etc. Be sure to tell visitors if you’re offering new, extra services that will help them during this time.
However, please note that Google will be prioritizing the edits made by those businesses that are essential to the welfare of the people first.
There have been several GMB edits underway and Google has decided that implementing those edits by priority will be of benefit to all. Google is also relying on authoritative sources when they can, to mark particular businesses as “Temporarily Closed” on Google Search and Maps.
Creation of New Listings
If you’re creating a brand new GMB listing now and you’re not a critical, health-related business, Google may not be reviewing your listing immediately. All critical business will take precedence, so you may experience a delay in publishing.
Creation of Posts
Google suggests sharing updates about your business through Posts. Offer your visitors new details on everything from hours, to offers, to products and services, you can also link to other sources for a greater user experience.
Like, Google, Yelp has had to make some updates to its usual policies, promising zero-tolerance for claims of contracting COVID-19 from any business or for generating negative reviews regarding businesses that cannot be open during their usual business hours.
All flagged reviews will be reviewed manually by staff and if any do not comply with these new guidelines, they will be immediately removed and will not affect the business’s star rating.
Yelp Supporting Local Businesses
Because Yelp understands that many independent, local businesses are being harshly affected by COVID-19 due to social distancing, they have decided to lend support through this challenging time.
Yelp has dedicated $25 million in relief to businesses harmed by the Coronavirus. Primarily implemented to support local restaurants and nightlife businesses, relief comes in the form of waived fees, free advertising, free products, and free services.
Restaurants and nightlife businesses that stay open during this time will have access to free Yelp upgrades, including Connect, which allows for easy, timely communication with customers. Restaurants will also have free access to three-months worth Yelp Reservations and Waitlist.
If you’re a restaurant offering delivery and/or takeout, Yelp will provide $100 in free search advertising to your business.
Yelp is doing what they can for other independent local businesses hit hard during this period, as well, offering support for those struggling financially.
Connecting with the Locals
In efforts to keep local businesses up and running long term, Yelp is expected to put out new features that will allow businesses to stay connected with their customers.
They will be adding a new “contact-free” option to their deliveries in the Yelp app on all devices, as well as an easy way to indicate whether businesses are open for delivery and/or takeout.
Yelp will be supporting all types of businesses with a banner alert that can be added to web pages for quick, convenient communication with visitors. They will allow for easy change of hours notices and will also offer a new selection for businesses to indicate whether they will remain open virtually-only at this time.
From Propel Marketing & Design
We’d like to take this opportunity to tell our clients and friends around the world to stay safe. We understand the hardships coming with this virus and we’re dedicated to keeping your business’s reputation intact. We are here to communicate with you and support you in any way we can.
If you have any questions at all about your GMB listing or would like information on taking advantage of Yelp’s relief, please give us a call or send an email and we’ll get you some answers.