Coping with the coronavirus pandemic is difficult for businesses from all around the world. This includes both large corporations and small businesses that rely on local sales. Google My Business is a service that is very important for local businesses. Online listings now have to be modified because brick and mortar locations close or have special working hours. This raises the debate on how to change the business schedule during this pandemic.
“Special Hours” Versus “Temporarily Closed”
The choice is very simple when there is just one physical location involved. When the business was temporarily closed for a shorter period of time (like under 2 weeks) or when hours were just adjusted, you need to use “Special Hours”. When the closure is extended, like over 2 weeks, “Temporarily Closed” is the best status you could use.
Keep in mind that you can only mark the business as being temporarily closed with a manual input you set in the Google My Business user interface. Only utilize this option in the event that you manage a smaller set of locations or franchises exist that are self-managed. When you manage a business that has many locations or an agency that supports a chain of stores, every single location needs to be individually managed.
The debate is simple for most businesses, but there are some special considerations that have to be addressed:
- Disappearing From Rankings
If the business is set as “Temporarily Closed”, we know that it disappears from Google My Business. However, because of the current corona virus crisis, the GMB team made a modification. Until the pandemic is over, businesses that are temporarily closed are treated just like those that are open. You will not see decreased results when you check Google Search Console as you use the Temporarily Closed setting. There won’t be long term implications for ranking that you have to worry about.
- Dealing With What The Competition Chooses To Do
Many business owners fear that marking the company as being temporarily closed will create a clear disadvantage in the event that competitors do not do the exact same thing. This is not actually the case right now, as long as you keep your consumers informed. It is much more important to be transparent and truthful with the customers. Thinking about the competition is not the most important thing right now.
- Is There Something Different With Hotels?
Hotel listings in Google My Business are different and unique. There are limited ways to communicate business updates in the GMB profile. Posts cannot be shared and there is no way to choose special hours. The only option that exists is to enable messaging. This offers the only available extra communication channel the hotel can use. Hopefully, Google will change this practice in the future or will at least offer guidance.
- What Should Be Done With Posts?
When you make adjustments to the hours of the business in GMB, you need to use posts. They are perfect because they offer a context that the consumer can see. As an example, whenever you temporarily close the business but pick up services or delivery services are to be offered in the near future, these changes can be communicated with the use of GMB posts. When the business is still open, Google Posts will explain what is done in order to keep customers and employees safe.
During these difficult times, we need to adapt and use every single resource we have, from SEO tools to Google My Business. Just make sure that you take advantage of the communication channels you have so that you can let customers know what is happening.