Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, many people were forced to stay at home, disrupting their lives and their livelihood. Many businesses either entirely shut down, make their staff work at home, or send them on extended furloughs (paid or otherwise), disrupting productivity and causing a slowdown in economic growth. It has affected companies at all level of the economy, and even a massive international brand like Google was affected.
Google was still able to provide key services to its clients thanks to work-from-home staff, but many of its key features were either scaled down or entirely disabled to match the number of available hands. One of these services is Google My Business; only key features were retained, limiting its current value for local SEO. Let’s look into Google My Business’s current situation and how it affects you as a business.
Only the Essentials
Google My Business features a multitude of options to allow businesses to better promote themselves online. Business owners can provide comprehensive addresses and contact information, give previews of their services and amenities, share news via the updates feature, and accurately gauge client feedback through the star rating, FAQs, and reviews functions. All these bits of information also appear on Search and Maps results, further increasing exposure.
With the work slowdowns, however, most of these features have been scaled down. New listing requests and verifications, as well as critical information edits are delayed, while other edits that are considered non-priority will have to wait for an extended period or even until the pandemic is over before they can be applied. On the other hand, business pictures, reviews and questions are slowly coming back to full functionality, but are nonetheless still experiencing delays as they work through their understandably large backlog.
How This Affects You
Many businesses these days rely on Google My Business to help improve their online presence and market their brands to a wider market. With the limited functionality, business owners and digital marketers cannot fully take advantage of all its features, thus reducing promotion potential.
With reduced features, business owners will not be able to quickly update any additional information they can use to improve their listing quality. Some reviews and questions that could help gauge how people feel about the business during the pandemic may not be published in time. Most importantly, new or moving businesses will not be able to verify their information or business claims until after the pandemic is over, making them miss the chance to market to the people stuck at home.
How to Work Around It
Google My Business may be a key asset in your online marketing campaigns, but its limited functionality doesn’t mean that you’ve lost your entire target market. You will just have to use other methods to keep you relevant in search results. This applies whether or not your site is currently limited due to the pandemic.
Emphasize your social media channels on your website to provide customers with alternative means to contact or search for you. Utilize other local SEO sites that offer related if not entirely similar features to GMB. Above all else, try not to entirely disable your website if your staff are directly affected by the pandemic; your data is still crawled by Google’s search crawler, so keeping your site at least partially active can help you stay up on search views.
Don’t let the currently limited functionality of Google My Business adversely affect your brand. Take advantage of this situation to look for more ways to promote yourself online, and gain a wider audience for your products or services.