It is very likely that the spread of COVID-19 has affected your dental practice. It is also very likely that you have had to either close your office temporarily and/or adjust your hours significantly.
As a local business, it is imperative that you update your Google My Business (GMB) listing so your patients are up to date on what’s happening with the practice. If you are not sure what a GMB listing is or if you have one, read this post first… This text opens a new tab to a blog post about Google My Business….
There are a number of things you can do within your Google My Business… This text opens a new tab to Google My Business information… listing to help reach, educate, and inform your audience of what’s going on.
Here are three things we recommend you do right now in response to the current COVID-19 situation:
Update your business hours
Just over a week ago, Google announced that both Google Search… This text opens a new tab to more info about Google Search… and Google Maps… This text opens a new tab to more info about Google Maps … will start showing whether a business is temporarily closed as a result of the Coronavirus crisis.
There are two separate functions you can make use of to update your business hours.
One is to use the Special Hours section to list days you will be closed because of the pandemic. To do this, select Info from the left menu inside your Google My Business listing, and then right under your regular operating hours there will be a secondary section labeled Special Hours. Click the pencil icon to edit and add in custom closures one day at a time.
Another method that is new to GMB functionality is to mark your business as temporarily closed; this was added to Google’s dashboard recently, undoubtedly because of the need for it due to Coronavirus. You should see this option on the right side of your listing when inside the Info tab.
Use caution with this option, however, as historically, listings that are marked permanently closed do not rank well (if at all) for non-branded searches. Businesses using this Temporarily Closed feature will likely see a drop in local search rankings because businesses that are open will be prioritized by Google, and rightfully so.
There is not yet enough data to suggest that this will have any long-term impact on local search rankings once your business reopens.
Create meaningful Google posts
Although many functions of Google My Business have been limited in their response to the Coronavirus, so far posting updates has not been.
Creating a meaningful post to update and educate your viewers… This text opens a new tab to a video about connecting with your community through content … can have far-reaching effects. It can also help to increase your branding and your visibility.
To create a post, click on the Posts tab in the left menu. Here you will notice there is a new option that is not normally there, that being the COVID-19 update tab.
After you click on the COVID-19 update tab, simply add in your text, and if desired, add a call-to-action like “Call Us,” etc. Then preview your post and if everything looks good hit Publish.
Add custom services
Another brand new feature that has been enabled for healthcare listings and doctor/medical listings is the option to add in custom services.
For example, if you offer teledentistry and it is not a default service listed, you can now add that to your listing and prospective patients will be able to view it.
Google themselves released this statement on their support page:… This text opens a new tab to Google’s support page… “You can choose what to offer from suggested types of services. If the type of service isn’t listed, you can add your own custom services, like ‘telemedicine,’ ‘telehealth,’ ‘video visits,’ or ‘house calls.'”
Other Google platforms to help your brand
In addition to Google My Business, you can also make use of display campaigns within Google Ads… This text opens a new tab to more info about Google ads… to help solidify your business branding.
Simple display campaigns are very affordable and carry a massive ROI, even in times of economic distress. If you would like to learn more about how to use pay-per-click… This text opens a new tab to information about PPC… advertising to your advantage, ask us for a free marketing analysis… This text opens a new tab to a special offer for a marketing analysis….
Google My Business functions not currently working
As mentioned, because of Google’s response to Coronavirus, there are some functions that are not working and/or are limited. You can read more about the limitations in detail on Google’s Support… This text opens a new tab to a Google support page… page. Some of the functions limited at this time include:
Large business information updates
Approving edits for businesses not in the health-related industry will be delayed. To help in minimizing the load on Google’s support team, try to avoid making large business-related edits not pertaining to hours of operation, etc.
New Google My Business listings and verifications
At this time all new listings will not be approved unless they are deemed critical health-related industries. Even those will have to be manually reviewed. Google warns they will prioritize these critical services, and to expect a delay when it comes to all other new listings, claims, and verifications for non-critical businesses to Google Search and Maps.
Question and Answer sections and Customer Reviews
Google has announced that both of these functions will not be available for the foreseeable future. It is our recommendation to make use of other platforms such as HealthGrades… This text opens a new tab to Healthgrades…, CareDash… This text opens a new tab to CareDash…, or ZocDoc… This text opens a new tab to ZocDoc….