Google My Business: When should you use ‘special hours’ vs. ‘temporarily closed’?
A discussion with Google My Business Gold Product Expert Krystal Taing.
On Friday we hosted our second Live with Search Engine Land, with four leading local SEOs discussing how local and multi-location businesses are coping with the coronavirus crisis. Google My Business was a central topic and there were numerous questions about how to handle business hours updates and specifically when and how to use “temporarily closed.”
As a follow-up, I asked Rio SEO’s Krystal Taing, a GMB Gold Product Expert, to summarize and clarify some of the discussion around business hours for those who didn’t get a chance to attend.
SEL: When should you use “special hours” and when should you use “temporarily closed”?
KT: If your business has adjusted hours or is temporarily closed for a short period of time (less than two weeks), you should use special hours. For longer extended closures, two weeks or more, you should use the temporarily closed status if you’re able to.
SEL: Are there different rules or advice for chains/franchises vs. individual locations?
KT: Marking a business as temporarily closed can only be done manually in the GMB UI, so my suggestion is to only use this option if you’re managing a small set of locations or your franchisees are managing each location themselves. This is not ideal management for a multi-location business or agency that supports chains.
SEL: Is it true that when you use temporarily closed the business will disappear from the rankings?
KT: This was true previously but given the increased use of this feature, the GMB team worked to ensure temporarily closed businesses are treated the same as open businesses.
SEL: Are there any long term ranking implications to using temporarily closed vs. special hours?
KT: With the recent update, we can confirm there are not.
SEL: Will marking my business temporarily closed create a competitive disadvantage, if my competitors aren’t doing the same?
KT: Now that we can confirm there is no impact to ranking, I would advise to do what you need to keep consumers informed. If you’re temporarily closed and you need to ensure people stop showing up to your location, you should update your GMB listing to reflect this. Thankfully, you no longer have to consider how this could impact long term rank or visibility.
SEL: Hotels seem to be a unique case. Are there any special rules or advice here?
KT: Hotels are treated much differently on Google. They have limited options to communicate updates to customers within their GMB Profile. They are ineligible for posts, unable to edit their description, and hours do not display. Currently, hotel options are limited to marking the business as temporarily closed and enabling messaging as an additional communication channel. This is unfortunate as I know many hotels converting into medical centers and offering free lodging to healthcare workers. At this point, we can just continue to raise the issue with Google in hopes that they will provide some guidance or options.
SEL: What should I be doing with Posts to complement any hours changes? Is that strategy different if a business is using temporarily closed?
KT: Posts can and should be used in addition to any hours adjustments to provide context to consumers about what you’re adjusting about your business services. For example, if you’re temporarily closed but plan on offering delivery or pick up service soon, this can be communicated via a Post. For businesses that are still open, you can leverage Google Posts to explain how you are keeping employees and customers safe.
To see the full discussion featuring Krystal Taing, as well as Reputation.com’s Adam Dorfman, LocalU/SterlingSky’s Mary Bowling and Two Octobers’ Niki Mosier watch below.