New Google My Business Features For 2020 & Businesses Affected By Covid-19

Google has added several new features to Google My Business this year to help businesses keep customers updated through the challenges of Covid-19. The Covid-19 pandemic has impacted businesses in many ways from changes in business hours to providing new services such as pickup and delivery.

If your business is impacted by Covid-19, you should update your Google My Business profile with any changes to keep local customers informed on Google search and maps. An updated and optimized Google My Business listing is also essential to improve local SEO rankings and stand out in local search listings.

What is Google My Business?

Google My Business is a free online business listing provided by Google. It allows you to create a business profile and manage how your business information appears on Google Search and Google Maps. It helps customers find your business when they perform an online search on Google.

A complete Google My Business profile on Google lists your
• business name
• phone
• location
• hours
• services
• website URL
• business description
• photos
• reviews

How Can A Google My Business Listing Help My Business?

For a local business, performing well in online search rankings on Google is important so that customers can find your business when they search online for products or services in their local area.

According to a Google study on local search behavior,
• 4 out of 5 customers use search engines to search for local information including store address, hours, directions and product availability.
• 50% of people who did a local search on a smartphone, and 34% of those who searched on a computer, visited a store in one day.
• 18% of local searches led to a purchase within 1 day.
• 500% growth in “Near Me” mobile searches that include terms “can I buy” or “to buy” over the last 2 years.

An optimized and up-to-date Google My Business profile is essential for your business to:
• Reach customers searching online on Google Search and Google Maps.
• Improve local search or SEO (search engine optimization) rankings and stand out on Google search results so that your business listing is found when customers search for products and services like yours.
• Connect with customers with calls, messaging, special offers and reviews.
• Show what makes your business unique with photos, posts and special events.
• Direct customers to your website to get more information about your business or to make a purchase.

New Covid-19 Features in Google My Business To Use To Keep Customers Updated

The Covid-19 pandemic has impacted many businesses. Businesses affected by Covid-19 should update their Google My Business listings to keep customers informed of any changes in business hours or services.

1. Update Changes in Business Hours

If your business hours have changed due to Covid-19, update your Google My Business profile with the changed hours of operation. This will let customers know when your business is open so that they can visit.

After you update your business hours, the update will be shown on your Google My Business profile.

2. More Hours

Use the “More Hours” option to list any additional services you provide at different times.

Use “More Hours” to list:

• Senior Hours
• Delivery
• Takeout
• Drive-through
• Pickup
• Online service hours

How to set More Hours:
1. Sign into Google My Business, select your location.
2. Click on “Info” in the left menu.
3. You will see “More Hours” under your regular hours, click pencil to edit.
4. You will see a panel like the screenshot below. Add hours for specific services.
5. Click “Apply”.

google my business - more features

3. Special Hours

Use the “Special Hours” option to list adjusted hours or when your business is closed such as on
• Holidays
• Special events

How to set Special Hours:
1. Sign into Google My Business, select your location.
2. Click on “Info” in the left menu.
3. You will see “Special Hours” listed under the “More hours” section with a list of your holiday hours, click the pencil to edit.
4. Click “Apply”.

4. Temporarily Closed

Mark your business “temporarily closed” if your business has temporarily stopped providing all services due to Covid-19. When your business resumes operations, you can mark it as open.

If your business offers pickup and delivery services during Covid-19, do not mark it as temporarily closed, otherwise your business listing will not be shown on Google listings. Use the More Hours option to show special times for pickup and delivery services.

According to Google, marking your business temporarily closed will not affect its local search rankings.

How to set the Temporarily Closed feature :
1. Sign into Google My Business, select your location.
2. Click on “Info” in the left menu.
3. You will see the “Close this Business” section on the right.
4. Click on “Mark as Temporarily Closed”.
5. Click on “Close this Business”.

Google may send you a notification indicating that your business is “Reported as Temporarily Closed”. To confirm, complete steps 4 and 5 above to mark the business as temporarily closed. Google will mark the business as temporarily closed on Google Search and Maps.

google my business temporarily closed feature

5. New Service Attributes for Food and Retail Businesses

Food and retail businesses that are affected by Covid-19 have a new attribute on the top of their Google My Business profiles to highlight services offered. This will be prominently shown on their business listings on Google Search and Maps.

Food businesses can now indicate dining options on the top of their business listings including:
• Dine-in
• Takeout
• Delivery
• No-contact delivery
• Curbside pickup
• Stopped offering dine-in services

Restaurants in the U.S. can also accept online food orders for pickup through The Ordering App now owned by Google.

Retail businesses can indicate changes in delivery options offered to customers including:
• Pickup
• Delivery
• Curbside pickup
• In-store shopping
• Not open for in-store shopping

google my business food service features

6. New Attributes for Online Service Options

A new “Online services” attribute is available to businesses that will be shown on their Google My Business listings.

These attributes are available to businesses that have a physical operating presence that provide online services in real-time including:
• Virtual classes
• Appointments
• Estimates

Services that involve contactless delivery or require visits to client locations do not qualify for these attributes.

7. New Covid-19 Update Post for Businesses

Businesses can use the new “Covid-19 post” on their profiles to share information with customers about
• Temporary closures and reduced hours
• Covid-19 safety and hygiene practices
• Changes to services such as takeout and delivery
• Requests for business support such as Gift cards availability
• Online classes and visits

Covid-19 posts appear prominently on the business profile.

To create a Covid-19 post, follow these steps:

1. Sign into Google My Business, select your location.
2. Click on “Posts” in the left menu.
3. From the options on top, select “Covid-19 update”.
4. Add your information. You can also add an optional button.
5. Click “preview” to preview the post.
6. Click “publish”.

google my business covid-19 post

8. Covid-19 Info Link for Health Care Providers

Healthcare providers like doctors and therapists can list their practices on Google My Business to connect with patients. When patients search on Google for healthcare services, your business profile may be displayed on Google search and maps.

Several new features were added to Google My Business for health care providers in 2020.

Healthcare providers are now able to :

  • Manage your business profiles on Google Search and Maps.
  • List a business description along with hours, phone number, directions, website, photos, reviews, education and licenses.
  • Display on your profile that you offer “Online Care”. You can add links for booking online appointments and for telemedicine. These links will connect to your online booking site. They will show only on mobile devices.
  • Add services offered like medical diagnostics, procedures and house calls.
  • Post photos of your practice, as well as educational photos for patients.
  • List insurance providers accepted by your practice under a “check insurance link”.
  • Publish posts on educational materials for patients.
  • Use the Covid-19 information link on your profile to link to a Covid-19 info page on your website. The Covid-19 info link shows on mobile devices only. The Covid-19 info link can link to your website to provide information on
    • Covid-19 testing
    • In-person office hours
    • Restricted hours for visitors
    • Covid-19 hotline

9. Covid-19 Info for Hotel Owners

Hotel Owners can add attributes to their Google My Business profiles to indicate special services that they are offering such as free or discounted rooms for Covid-19 first responders.

Conclusion

As the Covid-19 pandemic continues to change our lives and impact businesses, updating your Google My Business profile is important to keep customers updated of changes to your business when they search online on Google search. Posting updates to business hours and changes in services will let customers know what to expect when they visit your business.

If your business has been impacted by Covid-19, you should use these new Google My Business Covid-19 features to update your profile and assist customers searching online on Google Search and Maps.

References

1. Google, Helping businesses capture their identity with Google My Business
2. Google, Guidance for businesses affected by Covid-19

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