It doesn’t matter how well your business has been working, how open it currently is, or how your goals have evolved, either way, your local search visibility can easily become a sore spot once again. It doesn’t matter if this has happened already or if it’s still a long way coming; what matters is you don’t want your local SEO to be worse than it was before the COVID-19 lockdown.
You’ve likely remained operational one way or another, even in your lockdown. However, “reopening” refers to whenever you’re making the effort of either focusing more on in-person business or on your local SEO efforts to increase your in-person business.
My gut tells me you’re not going to emerge suddenly. That being said, I’m not familiar with your situation. I assume if you’re reading this it’s because it’s both legal and safe for you to reopen your business is some way or another. I hope you’re exercising your best judgment when it comes to this. The last thing you want is to make your clients or employees think you don’t care about their health and well-being.
A Reopening Guide: The Task Checklist You Needed
To help you out with your reopening, I’ve put together this guide which includes all the tasks that will help you pick up your local SEO efforts where you left off and even make a little progress as well. Without further ado, let’s get into the guide!
1. Check Your GMB Listing (“Google My Business”)
Your GMB listing shouldn’t be marked as “temporarily closed”, so make sure you go check. Likely, you didn’t do that yourself because marking your business this way would drop you from the 3-pack. Whatever the case may be, now it’s the time to mark your business as “open” because people will be checking in, looking for opening hours, and more, so you want to make sure your business is available.
2. Manage Auto-Updates on Your GMB
Google has surely made auto-updates on your GMB, so make sure you accept or reject them depending on their accuracy. You want your latest post on GMB to represent the accurate status of your business, especially if you have a COVID update post or a sticky post on your site.
3. Make Sure Your GMB Description Is Updated
Your GMB description must be updated, so make sure you do that! You must provide your visitors with an up-to-date description so they know where you stand and what to expect at this moment.
4. Edit Keyword-Stuffing in GMB’s Name Fields
You also want to make sure to submit edits on any keyword-stuffing in your competitor’s GMB name fields. During COVID, Google has allowed for descriptive phrases to be used on name fields, which many people have used for keyword-stuffing. As if they needed to stuff even more!
5. Edit Your Title Tags
You need to make sure your title tags are an accurate reflection of your status at the time of reopening. This is necessary if you changed any of your title tags to reflect your status during COVID, so you’ll need to change them back on your GMB. If you didn’t change your title tags, you still want your description tag to address the situation. After all, it will be on your visitor’s minds.
6. Inform Whether Your Offerings Are Available Long-Term
You need to make sure your GMB visitors know whether your online offers are available in the long-term now that you’re reopening to in-person clients. They will want to know if it’s a long-term offer or if it was only valid during the spring season, so make sure you provide that information.
7. Make Sure Your Contact Page Is Updated
If you want your local SEO to work, you need to make sure things are up to date on your GMB. That includes your contact page, as it must reflect your situation. It must answer questions such as: how open is your business? What are your hours? How’s your virtual service? And other important questions your visitors might be asking.
8. Find Out if New Google Maps Reviews Are Allowed
You may be aware Google paused new reviews on Google Maps for a whole month, but they’ve been allowing some reviews, to varying degrees, since mid-April. Find out if they’re allowing new Google Maps reviews at this moment by doing a test.
Ask someone you know to leave a review, it doesn’t matter if they’re a customer or not. Wait a couple of days, sign out of your account, and open an incognito tab on your browser to see if the review is up. While you’re at it, you also want to find out if it’s possible to respond to reviews because this was also put on hold by Google.
9. Encourage People to Mention Safety Protocols in Reviews
You want your recent reviews to mention safety protocols, so encourage customers and reviewers overall to do so. These reviews will let other people know you’re open to customers and it gives the readers a sense of security thanks to your business’ SOP.
10. Make Sure Ad Extensions Are Still Active
Last but not least, if you work with Google Ads, you want to be sure your ad extensions haven’t been removed because of any reference by name to the pandemic or telehealth.
You also want to send a low-key announcement to your customers, especially those who wanted to do business with you or simply visit you but were not able. So, you want to send these announcements to anyone you had to turn away because of safety concerns or any other reasons that didn’t make it possible for you to do what you had planned.
When you reopen your business, you’ll likely have to face many of the same challenges as before: gaining more visibility than your competitors and growing your business as well. You’ll find yourself dealing with the same questions, the same issues, but it’s good to go back to a scenario where those are your biggest issues to worry about!