Hurricane season is in full force, and we’re keeping a close eye on Hurricane Ian as it churns towards the west coast of Florida. Small businesses can take proactive measures to ensure they aren’t caught off guard by hurricanes. There are some simple steps businesses can take to update their Yelp, Google My Business, and other online profiles before a tropical system hits. Both Yelp and GMB have recently updated their pages to accommodate for natural disasters, allowing users to input their business information directly from those sites.
Be sure to identify and confirm any critical information about your business currently posted online before the storm hits. Online profiles typically contain information about your business, including menus, prices, addresses, and hours. It could be disastrous for your business if any of this information is incorrect or not posted. Make sure you have access to your business’s social media accounts after the storm so you can update this information right away. This includes your Facebook page and any other online communities where you and your business are present. You can make any changes to your website’s content if you can access your CMS. Keep in mind that you may not be able to access your accounts for several days after the storm passes. If you need to evacuate, back up your business’s information on a computer that you can take with you.
This is the most important step you can take to ensure your business information is up-to-date. If you use Google My Business to manage your business’s online presence, you can update your information directly within the system. If you use Yelp to manage your business, you can edit your business profile via the desktop website. Both systems also allow you to directly update your business’s address, phone number, and hours of operation.
Make sure to enter the information as accurately as possible, filling out as many fields as you can. Be sure to use your business name as it appears on your tax documents and in your official legal name. If you have a physical address, make sure to enter it, even if you don’t have a storefront. In the case of natural disasters, your customers are more likely to search for your address to find directions to your physical location.
A photo of your business is essential for first responders in the case of extreme flooding or damage. If you don’t have one, take one before the storm hits. If you do have a photo, make sure it is an accurate representation of your building and not just your employees or food.
Having accurate contact information is another critical step in managing your business’s online presence during a natural disaster. Having a valid physical address and phone number listed is a must for search engines, as it helps them confirm the information is accurate. If you don’t have a physical address, or if your address is missing, enter the phone number you would like to be associated with your business. This can be a landline, or it can be your cellular phone number. In addition, if your phone number is missing, enter the number where you can be reached during the storm. This can be any number, including your cellular phone number, a friend’s number, or a voice-over-IP line.
If your website URL has changed, you will need to update Google My Business and Bing with the new URL. You can notify Google of the change by reviewing the business, and you can notify Bing by updating the business. It could take between one and three months for the new information to become visible in search results.
Fortunately, you can prepare your business’s online presence ahead of time to avoid being negatively affected by the next natural disaster. Make sure your information is up-to-date and easily accessible, and your Yelp page is updated. Make sure your business is prepared for the next natural disaster by ensuring your information updated and easily accessible.