Now is a particularly challenging time for businesses who have been required to limit capacity or even forced into a full shut down due to Covid-19 restrictions. City Centre businesses like cafes and takeaways have been particularly hard hit recently due to many office workers once again being asked to work from home where possible, leaving city centres emptier than usual. There is comfort for businesses who serve a local community though, with some reports showing that they are benefitting from higher numbers of people staying more local to where they live to eat, socialise and shop.
Through the course of the pandemic, there has been a marked increase in the number of people preferring to shop with smaller, independent, local businesses. Data for the three months prior to June from business advisory firm Deloitte showed an increase of 69% in sales in smaller, independent, local stores. Whilst there was a growing trend towards more local shopping emerging before the pandemic hit - subsequent movement restrictions combined with more people working from home and a preference to avoid larger retail outlets like supermarkets has helped to reinforce this trend.
For businesses who welcome customers on to their premises, prominence in local search results is probably more important than ever. In our last blog - ‘How to claim your listing on Google My Business – and why you should’ we looked at the important benefits of Google My Business and the ‘three-pack’ results in relation to local SEO and specifically how to set up your Google My Business listing.
As part of their ongoing commitment to helping searchers find the information they need online during the period where many businesses were shut to the public, Google added new service attributes to Google My Business listings which enabled businesses to show what services were available. The first new attributes to appear were related to what services businesses were able to offer whilst restrictions were in place in many places.
- Kerbside pickup
- No-contact delivery
Depending on the business type, the following four service attributes were also made available to appear in the Google My Business knowledge panel:
- Online Care
- Online Appointment
- Online Estimates
- Online Classes
Google have now introduced some more attributes to their Google My Business listings which enable businesses to let customers know what health and safety measures they have implemented to keep their customers safe during the pandemic. They also help to let customers know what to expect when they visit. The new Health and Safety attributes are:
- Appointment required
- Mask required
- Staff wear masks
- Staff get temperature checks
- Temperature check required
It is simple to add any of these attributes to a Google My Business listing, simply sign into your Google My Business account and click on the ‘info’ section on the left hand side of the page. From there you will be able to add health and safety and service attributes from in the highlights section.
Keeping your Google My Business listing up to date with relevant information is an important part of a local SEO strategy for businesses who rely on footfall. For further reading on local SEO see ‘SEO and local search – why it matters for small businesses’. If you would like a free SEO audit of your website, visit our resources page.