The Coronavirus has kept the entire world on our collective toes, and the world’s most popular search engine is not slowing down in making new features and functionality readily available. In December, Google revealed that it had launched over 200 new products, features, and initiatives in response to COVID-19. One of these new features is ensuring vaccine availability information is visible to searchers.
New Google My Business listings features of particular importance for enterprise brands include COVID-19 Posts, Secondary Hours, Insurance Links, COVID-19 Attributes, and more. Now, Google plans to display state and regional vaccination distribution information on Search to help people quickly and easily locate where they can get vaccinated.
How GMB Highlights Local Vaccination Sites in Search & Maps
As of late January, Google had already expanded its information panels on Search to more than 40 countries and dozens of languages.
Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google and Alphabet, announced on The Keyword Blog that searches for [vaccines near me] had increased 5X since the beginning of 2021. Google plans to highlight COVID-19 vaccination sites in Maps and Search alongside information such as whether patients need an appointment or referral, whether access is limited to certain groups of people, and where drive-through vaccination services are available.
Image source: Google
“We’ll begin showing state and regional distribution information on Search so people can easily find when they are eligible to receive a vaccine. Soon we’ll launch a ‘Get The Facts’ initiative across Google and YouTube to get authoritative information out to the public about vaccines,” Pichai wrote.
How Healthcare & Pharmacy Brands Can Optimize GMB Listings for Vaccines
As with all public-facing healthcare information, accuracy and completeness are key.
Google is proving brands with the tools needed to answer consumer questions about how, where, and when they can receive a COVID-19 vaccination. To make the best use of these tools, make sure that you:
- Add structured data to COVID-19 Announcements such as your public notification of vaccine availability or notice of a change in office/location hours.
- Use a COVID-19 Google Post to display your vaccine availability on your GMB listing and to link searchers to more in-depth information on your website.
- List accepted insurance providers by location.
- Use Special Hours to let searchers know if COVID-19 vaccinations are being offered at times outside of your normal hours of operation (if, for example, they are offered only at certain times of the day or only on certain days of the week).
- Add interior and exterior photos for each location to their respective GMB listings. Help searchers understand what to expect during their visit.
- Use other Health & Safety attributes in GMB to proactively let searchers know whether staff and visitors get regular temperature checks, are required to wear masks, etc.
Overall, it is crucial that your GMB listings are accurate and up-to-date for every location. Work through one location’s listing from the perspective of a local searcher. Consider each of the available fields and features—are you proactively and fully answering questions a person might have about visiting one of your locations?
Next, map out how you will manage all local listings at scale. When hours of operation are impacted by a weather event in a small segment of locations, how quickly can you get your listings updated to reflect that?
If locations run out of vaccines, are you equipped to update those listings in real-time to avoid confusion and upset among customers?
Having the ability to quickly disseminate key information across the brand or specific locations is critical for multi-location brands. Learn more about maintaining local listings during a crisis here.