It’s nearly impossible for businesses to avoid impact from the pandemic.The number of COVID-19 cases surpassed a million. The shelter-in-place orders remain in many states. At this point, it’s just important to begin to identify all of the ways businesses are impacted negatively and work to mitigate damage.
One particular and often underestimated area is, Google My Business (GMB). GMB experienced a sharp performance drop in impressions. In an article by the Search Engine Journal it was reported that in light of COVID-19 the following have experienced a performance drop:
- Google My Business views
- Clicks-to-driving directions
- Click-through to websites
In early April, the non-profit organization Main Street America conducted an online survey to assess the impact of COVID-19 on the approximately 300,000 small businesses across the network. The survey concluded that:
- Due to the loss of millions of dollars in revenues, unemployment has increased exponentially.
- If the crisis continues through the end of 2020, more than 7 million small businesses may be at risk.
- We don’t know exactly how long this could go on for, therefore, businesses will have to adjust to a “new normal” way of doing business.
The good news? There is still hope!
Local Pack SEO
Implementing online strategies, such as local search engine optimization (SEO), is more powerful than ever. Local SEO can help nearby customers find your business on Google and other search engines.
In addition to SEO, businesses can utilize Google My Business (GMB) to display their information on both Google search and maps. It shows your business address, contact details, descriptions, attributes and more— so it is necessary that it is consistent and updated. GMB also allows your business to showcase what your business can provide, stand out qualities, and your services compared to that of similar providers.
Using both local SEO and GMB, businesses can position themselves in the coveted local SEO 3-pack. The 3-pack is the collection of the first three businesses you see in the search results when using keywords like “near me” or “near [Location].”
How to Get in the Local 3-Pack
How can your business land in that coveted top 3 positions? Here are some ways you can optimize your ranking:
- Make sure that your Google My Business (GMB) page is entirely filled in and up-to-date.
- Get your customers to leave a review on your GMB profile.
- Create relevant links and backlinks.
- Build your social media presence and post consistently.
Above all, to achieve a higher ranking, it is essential that your GMB page is accurate and complete.
The silver lining is that experts are seeing gradual improvement happening, as the curve flattened out towards the end of March. This suggests customers are engaging with businesses with a sense of normalcy.
On the more technical side, GMB is going through a lot of helpful changes, so it is important to remain aware and updated. They have added features to assist businesses that are only partially open by allowing you to add new attributes to your account such as “curbside pickup” or “no contact delivery.”
So what is next? Below are some of our top tips to have your listing up to date and prepared for the reopening of America:
- Continue to keep your listing updated
- Optimize your listing based on GMB Insights, which gives you an idea on how customers find your listing
- Post photos and other relevant content that your target audience will want (you may try using Google Post)
- Encourage customers to leave reviews on your Google page but be aware that the reviews are taking time to be published due to Google reallocating its resources. For example, we had a review posted 2 weeks ago that was just visible to us yesterday.
- Respond to comments and questions immediately
- Add offers to your listing