How Google My Business Reviews and other tools can support your school during the pandemic
The pandemic continues to run its course in America; you and your staff surely feel overwhelmed as the upcoming school year begins or creeps nearer. An influx of parents are pulling their children from public K-12 schools and enrolling in private schools to avoid total virtual learning; you may find yourself drowning in work to keep things afloat while keeping the school running and responding to inquiries. Maybe you’ve lost the reins on your marketing efforts or your website presence has taken a back burner in the craziness. Looking for a life preserver to grab onto?
Look no further. Google for Small Business has created a COVID-19 toolkit for small businesses to use in their marketing and online presence efforts. This toolkit is great for small, independent schools and education nonprofits.
What is Google My Business?
We’ve written about Google My Business in the past. This free tool is a Google profile your organization can sign up for that allows you to connect with your audiences directly and track your online appearance and performance through specific Google metrics. You can control and track how your organization appears in Google searches and on Google Maps. With Google My Business, you are able to add your organization’s location and contact information, as well as interact with your customers and upload images that best represent your school. One of the most valuable elements of your Google My Business profile is Google My Business Reviews.
Creating a Google My Business Account
Creating a Google My Business account for your school or organization is fairly simple and completely free.
- Claim your business by creating a free account.
- Verify your business.
- There are several ways to verify your business. This can be done through email, phone, mail, and instant verification. Instant verification can be done if you have already verified your account through Google Search Console (another Google platform that allows you to check the online health of your organization).
- Download the Google My Business app.
- Optimize your Google My Business listing by adding more information.
- After your business is verified on Google, plug in any additional information that can be helpful to your audiences. This can be hours of operation, a phone number, a website url, etc. It’s important to make sure this information is thorough and plugged in correctly because Google will allow the public to “suggest an edit” on your listing, and it’s best to avoid having random users change your Google My Business listing.
Google My Business Reviews for Schools
Though Google My Business is a great tool for schools, there have been some recent issues regarding online reviews for schools and education organizations. The ability to leave online reviews for schools and education organizations has been revoked for some private schools. The reason behind the removal of public reviews is branding issues. Many schools were having problems with fraudulent reviews and comments that negatively impacted their school’s brand, so Google went ahead and removed the ability to leave a review entirely. The ability to leave a review was reinstated on April 9, 2020, but not for all private schools.
Google is the largest search engine in the world and the removal of reviews takes away the credibility that parents and families may be looking for when researching small or private schools. Online reviews are necessary for a school’s successful online presence. Despite this setback, Google My Business is still a great tool to utilize for your school. If you are not sure if your school’s reviews are showing, go to Google Maps and search for your school. Your listing will show reviews as part of it’s profile like this:
COVID-19 and Google My Business Resources
The Google My Business COVID-19 toolkit for small businesses contains multiple online guides, helpful tips, digital skills training, access to COVID-19 information, and more. Some of the most prominent features of the toolkit are highlighted below.
Online guides for each type of small business
Google offers online guides to small business owners who have a website, have no online presence, run a local store, or are just now starting their business. Each guide is customized to the business owner’s situation and offers information on reaching customers, building an online store, and creating a stronger online presence during the pandemic.
Digital skills training
Digital skills are becoming increasingly more important as schools shift their focus to remote instruction and virtual learning. Google offers a plethora of short videos on different digital skills like managing an online project, practicing effective online communication, drafting online schedules, creating promotional materials, and more. They also offer self-paced instructional courses and certifications for their products like Google marketing and Google ads.
Additionally, there are live workshops that Google OnAir hosts about digital skills like leading in an online setting and delivering strong online presentations.
Google Analytics and Google Meet certifications
Google encourages small businesses to become certified in Google Analytics, Google Meet, and other Google softwares to help keep businesses and their marketing efforts afloat during their online transitions.
Tips to avoid online scams
Google has released a series of COVID-19 security tips to help you avoid security scams with your school or organization. These tips cover email security, securing video conferences, keeping up with online security updates, and more.
Employee mental health during COVID-19 guide
The mental health of your school and organization employees is most likely one of your top priorities during the pandemic. Working from home and making large adjustments is mentally taxing and your faculty and staff may be at their wits end. Luckily, Google My Business has included an in-depth guide on how to effectively manage your school staff’s mental health.
All of the resources offered for small businesses during the pandemic are incredibly helpful to schools and education organizations as schools plan for more higher student enrollments and a new dependency on remote learning.
Want to learn more about how Google My Business can support your school’s marketing and online presence efforts? Contact us today.