In the first week of November, Google reminded local businesses just how important it is to keep their location and other operation data updated for the holiday season by publishing a new My Business feature in the product forums.
With this feature, businesses can now pre-schedule specific hours for Christmas and other holidays and special events. This will be advantageous to many businesses looking to ensure that shoppers are aware of their longer or shorter operation hours based on the upcoming holiday or special event for the store. Additionally, this listing automatically reverts to the regular hours once the holiday/event is over.
If an enterprise does not include any special holiday hours, Google will display a disclaimer informing searchers that the business may have changed its operation hours for the holiday.
A little background
Google started experimenting with this idea back in September, when it started showing alerts in the local knowledge panel informing searchers that the business could have different operation hours due to particular holidays.
Previously, enterprises had to log into Google My Business on the material day to change their operation hours, and then revert it to regular hours at the end of day, manually. The launch of this feature is timely, just in time for the holiday shopping frenzy.
This new feature not only informs searchers that the upcoming holiday might affect operation hours, but also lets the business add special hours for holidays and special events, up to 365 days in advance that revert back to regular hours after the holiday. This would be particularly useful for traditional holidays and special clearance events that have an irregular schedule.
Impact of pre-setting holiday hours
While the announcement only reflects the automation and improvement of a service that was already available to businesses, it will make a huge difference for enterprises and their bottom line. According to Search Engine Watch, 73 percent of prospective consumers who opt to purchase from a different brand do so because of incorrect local listings, leading to poor customer experience resulting from driving to a location where the actual sale will not take place.
With users conducting their searches on multiple devices, and the consumer journey becoming more elaborate, the ability to pre-schedule operating hours for special events is a major step in enhancing communication between local businesses and their audience.
How it works
For businesses to take advantage of this opportunity, they must have already provided their regular operation hours. If you schedule special hours for a specific holiday or day, searchers will be informed that those hours are scheduled for only that day. Special hours can be scheduled in one of three ways:
• Set special hours online
• Set hours that extend past midnight into the next day
• Set special hours through a bulk upload spreadsheet
This is another of Google’s efforts to reinforce their commitment to local search and organic listings. The feature is perfect for small businesses; though it might pose a challenge for large retailers that sell merchandise in addition to offering multiple services. So, while a store may offer expanded holiday hours, other businesses under the brand, like a vision centre clinic or tyre and oil change may not. This may prove to be inconvenient for customers who prefer to perform multiple tasks at the same time. So, large retailers will have to make extra effort to ensure that their hours of operation are clear for all their services to meet all their consumer needs.