In the past few weeks, the advance of the coronavirus (COVID-19) has left a noticeable impact on local businesses across the world. With populations in several states being mandated to stay indoors and practice social distancing to prevent the spread of the virus, businesses have in turn shifted their local marketing efforts to better convey information to their customers about special hours of operation, temporary closures, available services, and more. As we continue to navigate through the uncertainty and change our strategies to adapt, Yelp remains an important platform that can be leveraged to better inform your customers about changes to your business and your Yelp presence should remain a critical component in your local marketing strategy.

In this post, you’ll learn powerful tips for managing your Yelp presence during COVID-19and what actions you need to take to keep your customers safe and educated amid times of crisis.

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COVID-19 Local Business Best Practices – Follow Public Health Recommendations

Although you’re likely aware, it’s important to state that we recommend first and foremost you follow the guidelines established by municipal, provincial or state, and federal governments in your region. Regulations change on a weekly, or sometimes even daily basis regarding COVID-19. The CDC updates its website on a regular basis with the latest alerts regarding COVID-19. The World Health Organization (WHO) has a global perspective on COVID-19, as well as workplace readiness tips. The National Restaurant Association has a full list of resources for restaurant businesses.

4 Tips for Managing Your Help Presence During COVID-19

1. Update your hours of operation

As states continue to mandate the closure of “non-essential businesses”, it’s now more important than ever to update your hours of operation or mark your business as temporarily closed, if applicable, on Yelp. Yelp allows you to update this information as frequently as necessary and allows you to select an “Opens again on” date. For detailed steps on how to mark your business as temporarily closed or for guidance on updating store hours, click here.

Yelp Special Hours

2. Indicate the availability of take-out or delivery services

Restaurants across the globe have shifted from in-person dining to offering take-out and/or delivery options. Consumers are now actively looking to see if their favorite local restaurants are able to deliver food or allow for curbside pick up. If your restaurant is providing take-out and/or delivery services, be sure this information is up to date in Yelp. Yelp will be proactively directing users to those businesses in the coming weeks.

Yelp Delivery Options

3. Update your “About the Business” section

Your “About the Busines” section on your Yelp profile allows you to use an open-text section to communicate any special services or pertinent updates you’d like customers to know about your business. Here, you may want to share:

  • Special hours of operation for high-risk customers
  • Limited-time offers
  • Important announcements
  • Virtual meet-ups
  • Online retail sales
  • Special services
  • Updates on your projected reopening date
  • How customers can stay in touch with your business

Yelp Business Profile

4. Respond to Reviews

While Google has temporarily disabled new review submission, responding to reviews and Google Q&A, Yelp reviews remain active, as of the time of this post, with some modifications to review guidelines. Google stated, “During the unprecedented COVID-19 situation, we are taking steps to protect the health of our team members and reduce the need for people to come into our offices. As a result, there may be some temporary limitations and delays in support as we prioritize critical services.”

As of right now, customers are still able to leave reviews on your Yelp page and you are still able to respond to Yelp reviews. Yelp recently announced they will not allow claims in reviews of contracting coronavirus from a business or its employees or “negative reviews about a business being closed during what would be their regular open hours in normal circumstances”.

Your team should be actively responding to reviews to ensure no question, concern, or praise goes unnoticed during this sensitive time.

Yelp Review

Yelp Relief Services For Local Businesses To Be Aware Of

Yelp recently announced they will provide $25 million in relief efforts to assist local businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The relief efforts will be focused primarily on supporting independent restaurant and nightlife businesses by waiving advertising fees and offering free products and services during this period. If your business has been affected, you can now benefit from:

  • Free access to Yelp page upgrades (including Business Highlights and Call To Action)
  • Free access to Connect (assists with communicating timely information to your customers)
  • Free access to Yelp Reservations for three months
  • $100 in free search advertising (for restaurant clients that offer delivery and/or takeout)

We encourage you to check Yelp’s blog frequently for the latest regarding their COVID-19 efforts and updates. We’ve also compiled a list of COVID-19 Local Marketing Resources that we will be updating on a regular basis.