Google has released many new features to help businesses during Covid-19. We’ve included a summary of some of these changes, with some advice on how you can use these new features to tackle some of the problems your business may be currently facing.
Keep your events listings updated
This was covered in one of our recent posts, Google Introduced Structured Data for Covid-19 Announcements.
Event organisers can now indicate when an event has moved from having a physical location to being conducted online, and whether an event has been postponed or rescheduled.
This new structured data should be a key consideration for those transitioning their events to online services, as well as ensuring you maintain your appearance within Google’s Events SERP feature, which will enable you to keep searchers informed for any events you choose postpone or reschedule.
If you’re using a third-party to post events (E.g. ticketing websites or social platforms), check to see if they are already participating in this new feature, otherwise your listing may still be listed as available.
More information on this schema can be found on the Google Event Schema page.
Update your business hours
If your business is affected by COVID-19, update your Google My Business profile to provide the most accurate information to your customers.
Under government guidelines, customers are now restricted to the amount of travel they can make. Ensuring your customers are aware of your new hours or temporary closure saves them making any unnecessary journeys during these restrictions, which will also save your business from any negative reviews.
Pausing your online business?
If you’re facing temporary closure, simply disabling your entire website will be detrimental to your organic performance. Google have classed this as an ‘extreme measure’, so have instead provided recommendations on how to limit your site functionality, including;
- Disabling your site checkout
- Inform customers of your closure with a banner or pop up
- Enable ‘whitelisting’ so customers can browser products and come back later to purchase
More advice from Google on how to pause your business can be found here.
Display Special Announcements in Search Results
Google released a new rich result enabling you to display special announcements in search. This is limited to only certain organisations which can post urgent announcements that affect schedules and other aspects of everyday life, such as governments, health organizations, schools.
Similar to the updates for the new Events features, this can be triggered via new structured data for this feature, or via your Google Search Console account (Note: This Search Console feature is currently in Beta, so your results may not appear as fast as they would when using structured data).
Google have also included further resources and guidelines for healthcare and government websites which can be found below:
As of 07/04, Danny Sullivan, Search Liaison at Google, confirmed that any site may use Special Announcement schema. It’s too early to determine whether Google will allow all sites to display information with this feature, we’ll be sure to update this post once we know more.
Reduce pressure on your customer service team
If your business doesn’t qualify for the Special Announcements feature above, you can still use FAQ schema to include a list of frequently asked questions within search results.
Work with your customer service team to identify the frequently asked questions you’re currently receiving. Including these Q&As in this feature may help reduce the amount of enquires your customer service team has to handle, as well as reducing the amount of traffic your website has to handle.
Learn more about FAQ Schema in Google Search.
Deploy an Automated Customer Service Solution
You may also be interested in our new Virtual Customer Service Tool from our sister agency, Rabbit and Pork, designed to alleviate pressure on call centre staff and streamline customer query processes.
This is a conversational engine which can be deployed in various locations to triage questions posed by customers. Customers can interact with the service in multiple ways, via a smart speaker, such as Alexa or the Google Assistant, by phone or visiting a website chat bot, with all platforms running 24/7.
How to fix an overloaded server
Many sites are facing a surge in traffic, which as a result can impact the performance of your server. To tackle this, Google have included a guide on how to fix an overloaded server, including tips on how to:
- Determine a server’s bottleneck
- Quickly fix the bottleneck
- Improve server performance
- Prevent regressions.
Read Googles advice on how to fix an overloaded server.
Staying up to date with new features
We’ll be posting further updates about Google Search updates for Covid-19. However, we recommend following these Google Twitter accounts for further updates in the meantime.
Google Webmasters – https://twitter.com/googlewmc
Google MyBusiness – https://twitter.com/GoogleMyBiz
Danny Sullivan – Google’s public liaison of search – https://twitter.com/searchliaison
For more SEO and Coronavirus related content, download our latest whitepaper – The Effect of COVID-19 on Search Behaviour