If you’re extremely pushed for time we’ve condensed this month’s post into the short video below.
Your to-do list this month!
- Just the one this month. Read through the options for how to update Google about what’s happening with your business during the COVID-19 outbreak
COVID-19 – how to communicate changes to your business on Google
Filed under: SEO resources > Advice from Google
You don’t need me to tell you these are extremely difficult times.
I do want to say that I hope you, your family and loved ones are well and that you’re managing to function and keep your business afloat, whilst staying at home.
There has been a swift response from Google, as you’d expect from a company who’s mission is to organise the world’s information.
Business owners have a host of options to communicate any changes and manage their business during this COVID-19 outbreak, which I’ve summarised below for the most common scenarios.
1. Your premises has closed, but you’re still open for business
You need to update your Google my Business (GMB) profile.
Whilst Google have reported there is limited functionality in GMB right now – more on that shortly – they have suggested what business owners can do to communicate any changes.
- Change your business hours
- Change your business name (for example to include ‘delivery available’)
- Edit your business description
- Create a Post
Yesterday (26/03/20) Google added the option to create a COVID-19 update themed post – which features both in the organic listings for my brand search and in the Knowledge Panel.
These Posts do stay live for longer than a week, unlike other regular Google Posts and now feature prominently just below the opening hours on the Overview tab of the Knowledge Panel on mobile (as above).
As it stands there’s no option to add an image.
It’s also not possible to add these via the GMB app – at the moment.
As we said earlier, Google have announced there is limited functionality on GMB at the moment. Most noticeable changes are that new reviews are no longer being published, business owners cannot reply to review, questions & answers can’t be added and finally, users cannot upload photos to a GMB profile.
2. You’ve decided to temporarily close your business
If you’ve decided to take this step, then you can now mark your location as temporarily closed on Google Maps and Search.
I would not recommend this course of action if you are looking solely to communicate that your shop or offices are closed to the public for the foreseeable future. It would do a good job of that, but it will also reduce your presence on Google Search, which is most likely not what you want if you’re looking to still function as a business.
For your information, the screenshots below show what the temporarily closed flag looks like on mobile and desktop. Notice on the before and after mobile screenshots, how the links to call the business and to visit the website are missing after a business is marked as temporarily closed.
This business is still operating by the way!
3. You run an eCommerce website, but you can’t deliver the same service as before
Google has published a blog post advising business owners that sell their products or services online, to keep their sites running but limit the functionality, rather than turning their websites off.
Taking a website down, even for a short time, can lead to a huge negative impact on your rankings even after it’s brought back to life.
They suggest business owners change products that can’t be fulfilled to out of stock, or restrict the cart and/or checkout process, instead of closing the store completely.
This way the content is still visible, and people can purchase at a later time, and rankings are maintained.
4. You run events
Finally, Google published guidelines for how to update the structured data on your published events, to communicate whether they are now virtual events, have been postponed, or indeed, cancelled.
Decide which option is right for your business and follow the guidelines provided.
Limited Google My Business functionality due to COVID-19
Google Allowing Restaurants Add Delivery Available Or Takeout Available To Business Name
Communicate COVID-19 changes to your business operations
Post on Google as a local business
Mark a location temporarily closed
How to pause your business online in Google Search
New properties for virtual, postponed, and canceled events
Mobile first indexing for all by September 2020
Filed under: The SERPs > Mobile-first
Early in March, Google advised us that all websites would be moved to mobile-first indexing by September 2020. I’m not sure if this has changed since the COVID-19 outbreak, we shall see.
They started the process in 2016 and 70% of websites have already been moved. You can see if this includes your website by visiting Settings in your Google Search Console profile. If your ‘Indexing crawler’ is displayed within the page as ‘Googlebot Smartphone’ then your site has already been moved.
You need to ensure your content is as accessible to Google on mobile as it is on desktop. If it’s not, then you need to make that your priority. If you use WordPress, then having a mobile-responsive theme largely takes care of the issue.
Two more videos conclude the Google’s Search for Beginners series
Filed under: SEO resources > Video
Two more videos were released last month which conclude this series.
The first – How to change my Google Search result snippet? | Search for Beginners Ep 10 – explains how to use page titles and meta descriptions in your content snippets. They advise that the former should describe what you offer and the latter should be a summary of the content on the page.
A couple of days ago, the last one in the series dropped – How to change my business address & information on Google? | Search for Beginners Ep 11. It’s all about GMB.
Go take a look!