Google Limiting Feature in Google My Business During COVID-19 Reference

google covid responseWith the COVID-19 crisis, businesses are facing unusual challenges. Some struggle to stay afloat and retain relevance while others are overwhelmed with brainstorming strategies to help them recover when it’s over.

It’s at a time like this that most businesses can commend Google for some of their actions geared towards helping users and businesses.

On March 20th, 2020 Google released the first update to inform users and businesses of the new limiting features in GMB.

Let’s look at what they are and what they mean for your business.

New Reviews, and Review Replies

Following this period of the pandemic, users will be able to leave new reviews for businesses. However, while the users can see the review, it will not be publicly visible and will not impact the business star ratings or be added to their review count.

As for replying to these new reviews, Google disabled that feature as stated in the March 20th report. The reason being that the new reviews do not show publicly or count, anyway. Businesses were still able to reply to old reviews and even edit them.

But, as of April 7th, 2020 Google provided a new update now restoring review replies. They also say that “New user reviews, new user photos, new short names, and Q&A will gradually return by country and business category.”

Q&A

For some businesses, their Q&A’s appear to have vanished. We believe Google aimed to limit users’ ability to post new questions, and that led to removing the feature completely.

Adding, Claiming, and Verifying Listings

Thankfully, it’s still possible to add, claim, and verify listings. There is only one small change which is that Google now prioritizes healthcare or health-related businesses for these processes. So those who are not under this niche will experience delays when performing any of these actions on GMB.

Takeout/Delivery Available Option

Now more than ever, customers need to know what options are available for food vendors across countries. To assist both users and businesses, Google has loosened its guidelines to allow restaurants to add ‘delivery available’ or ‘takeout available’ to their business names.

Temporarily Closed Option

Yes, many businesses have shut their doors during this pandemic, but how do customers know who’s open and who’s closed? To help both parties involved, Google now includes a temporarily closed feature. While this might influence business rankings because Google prioritizes open businesses, we can’t say for certain that the effects will be permanent.

What do the changes mean for you?

Depending on the nature of businesses, the implications differ. But there are ways to make the most of the situation. Google’s recent updates are helpful for the crisis and users. You can take this opportunity to boost your reviews and ranking on other sites like Facebook and Yelp. If your business can’t perform optimally due to the crisis, switch strategies to becoming a source of information, helpful tips, or encouraging messages. Stay relevant and preserve your business reputation through this time.

Google Changes Review Button Text for Business Owners

google changes review button textAccording to Search Engine Roundtable, it looks like Google is shaking things up in the Google My Business realm.

A new finding indicates that Google has changed the wording on the button that businesses could use to gather reviews for their company. Instead of saying “Write a Review”, the button now reads: “Get More Reviews”.

It appears the change is slowly rolling out. When it’s available to all users, business owners will be presented with a button that, when clicked, will prompt the business owner to share the Google My Business listing on Facebook, Twitter, via email, and provide a link to copy.

This is seen as a great improvement as business owners shouldn’t be prompted to leave a review for their own business. More proof that Google wants to see those hard earned customer reviews!

Local Listings and Reviews

local listings and reviewsIt’s not strange to wonder what local listings have to do with reviews. It turns out they have more to do with each other than you thought.

Local listings describe your business online profile carrying details like business name, address, phone number, and more. You can create your business local listing on any online directory or platform that suits your needs.

The major platforms most business prefer to list on include Google My Business, Yelp, Facebook, and YP.

So, back to how local listings link up with reviews.

A lot of business owners don’t take their local listings and citations seriously. This is mostly because there is a general belief that it makes no difference in conversion and sales.

This thinking might just be what is causing you a major conversion leakage and giving your competitors an edge.

If you take a moment to view negative reviews on a business (look out for the ones that have the word ‘wrong’ in them), you will notice that a substantial number of clients relate a bad experience caused by inaccurate address, business hours, or some other part of the local listings and citation.

The influence of citations and local listings on your business might not be measurable with enough accuracy at the moment, but there is enough evidence to support their influence on customer experience and conversion.

Consider the following scenarios commonly experienced by customers.

Situation 1: Your business hours are not accurate but of course, there’s no way for a new prospect to know this. The customer goes to your local address at the time provided on your local listing only to discover that this time was incorrect. In this situation, the customer is already building up on a bad experience. They might or might not be converted but one thing you can be almost certain of is a review telling others that your citations and listings are inaccurate.

Situation 2: An incorrect or confusing office address can lead your customers to the wrong places not to mention wasting their time trying to find the correct address. Like the first situation above, conversion becomes a probability and a review stating their problem and experience is likely to show up.

Reviews and experiences like this are what create a conversion leakage that influences overall conversion or cash flow. Here is a clearer view of the consequences of neglecting citations.

  • Negative reviews from dissatisfied or unhappy clients
  • A decrease in future conversions from the negative reviews and customers losing interest.
  • Increase in negative sentiment about your business and service
  • Decrease in offline foot traffic because of inaccurate data or influences citations.

The solution to close this significant leak and move ahead of your competitors is to clean up your local listings and citations. Focus on accuracy. Think of how to use your profile to contribute to conversions and goodwill from customers. Track business improvements following this and use a local listing monitoring tool to ensure consistency across all your online profiles.

google business photos

Google My Business Photos

google business photos“A picture tells a thousand words” they say but we sometimes think this refers to a drawing of Mona Lisa or some other interesting piece. The thing is, any picture can speak and the loudest of them all are the pictures that represent your business–in this case your Google My Business photos!

Before the questions flood your mind, we will get right to answering them.

Why is your GMB photo important?

Studies have shown that 60% of customers are drawn in by local search results with good images and this usually influences their decision.
Another study discovered that businesses with more images get up to 520% more calls than competitors.

When a customer looks at your business page, believe it or not, they are searching for reasons NOT to buy from you and poor quality or stiff photos may just be that reason. Photos are more than a requirement you include to fill that spot on your GMB listing. They are another chance to convince your customer of your expertise. Let’s breakdown what customers look for in a business photo.

Are you like them?

Of course, you want to do business with someone that has the tendency to think like you and ultimately offer customer satisfaction. They use photos to vet your values and ethos. If a customer can find the tiniest conviction of kindred spirit, they will stay.

Can they trust you?

This sounds awfully like a lover seeking assurance but it is very similar. At first, every customer is looking to avoid the likelihood of a bad experience. We can’t speak for what happens after that.

Social class

Customers want to get a sense of your social class. They want to know just how much trust and respect to accord your business. And we don’t have to tell you how impactful a photo of Bill Gates having lunch in your restaurant will be.

So what now?

Now that you have discovered the importance of your Google My Business photos, what can you do?

Do you spend all your time finding the perfect photo? Absolutely not. Here are some tips to guide you.

  • Think about the ideal customer you want to attract. For example, if you are a luxury hotel after elite clients, then you want to show off your pristine environment, luxurious rooms, and other elite clients who come to the hotel.
  • Don’t get confused about your target audience, because if you attract the wrong people they will repel the right ones.
  • Take or find real photos that tell a story. You can take the pictures yourself to show people what your business really stands for. If you have to choose online images be very picky too. Let the images represent your business and tell a story. Avoid stock photos because they are mostly staged and unreal. Customers can see that.
  • Go for quality photos. They should be clear, bright, and beautiful. If you are taking the pictures yourself, capture your business at its best.

Sometimes your customers’ photos can be the best selling point. If you know you did a great job with your customer, ask them to provide you with photos of the work in their public review. Your potential customer will love seeing other customer photos!