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Google My Business tips as we head out of lockdown

by Michelle Hill

July 8, 2020

With the majority of UK businesses now opening again after lockdown, the recovery period begins for companies that had to close their doors or suffer significant falls in foot traffic. However, consumer habits have changed and businesses need to react in these changing times.

The lockdown prompted a surge in local buying and 64% of consumers who bought more from local businesses in recent months say they plan to continue doing so. At the same time, 77% of people in the country bought more online and 60% expect to continue buying at higher levels after the lockdown, according to research from PFS.

In this article, we look at how you can use Google My Business (GMB) to capitalise on both of these consumer trends.

Generate more foot traffic through GMB

Google recently reached out to us with a number of search insights for COVID-19 recovery. One of the key findings is that “when will” searches dominated during lockdown but, now, “near me” searches are back, highlighting the importance of local shopping and a need for relevant, local information as business gradually returns to normal.

According to data from Springboard, footfall jumped 38.8% as non-essential shops reopened on June 15 and there was a further increase of 7.7% in the second week of reopening, based on insights from the BRC ShopperTrack Footfall Monitor.

Here are the steps you need to take on Google My Business (GMB) to turn “near me” searches into foot traffic.

Clarify your opening hours: Make sure your opening hours are up-to-date and accurate so people know when they can visit your business - find out how to do this here.

Popular times: Does Google show the popular times for your business in Google Maps? If not, you can provide this information on your social accounts, website and Google My Business accounts to help people concerned about social distancing visit during quieter times.

Safety measures: Show people the COVID-19 safety measures you’re taking with images on your GMB listing, GMB posts and social media - images for social distancing markers, sanitiser, etc.

Reviews: Ask customers to leave reviews about the COVID-19 steps you’ve taken and explain it will help others choose which businesses are safe to visit - a kind of service to the community.

Q&As: Keep on top of your Q&As and be ready to answer questions people have about your business.

Website link: Make sure there’s a link icon to your website showing in your Google Maps listing so people can visit you online if they prefer (online shopping has increased drastically, too).

Online services: Promote any online services on your GMB listing, such as online ordering, online appointments and deliveries, for people still unsure about visiting your business.

We know UK consumers are keen to get back into stores and the lockdown has increased incentive to buy locally. However, uncertainty leaves people asking a lot of questions and this results in a hike of search activity - namely “near me” searches.

Make sure your Google My Business account and local presence are optimised to capitalise on this.

Local surfaces across Google

In a move to battle Amazon’s product search dominance, Google has been working on a new system to show free, organic product listings across search - in addition to paid Google Shopping listings.

The system is called surfaces across Google in reference to having your unpaid product listings show across Google Shopping, Google Search, Google Images, Google Maps and Google Lens. And, due to the coronavirus outbreak, Google is opening this tool earlier than expected as a way to help smaller retailers increase online sales during this tentative recovery period.

Now, this tool is primarily designed for eCommerce brands but local businesses can also make use of a local subset of the system by integrating it with Google My Business.

Here are the steps you’ll need to follow:

1. Sign up for local surfaces across Google via Merchant Center

2. Add your business information

3. Link your Google My Business account and select your location groups

4. Upload your logo

5. Create your primary and local feeds

6. Register and submit your feeds

7. Request inventory verification

You can find out more information about local surfaces across Google and how to sign up here. The tool is a great way to get your organic product listings showing across Google platforms for free - either to supplement your paid advertising strategy or to test out free listings and see whether paid product ads might be the next step for your business.

Combine this with the steps we looked at in the first section of this article, and you can turn Google My Business into an effective recovery tool for generating more foot traffic and maximising online sales.

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Digital Marketing
Google My Business