Google My Business just became a lot more helpful, again
Update November 2021: Google My Business will now be known as “Google Business Profile” to simplify things for business owners. The Google My Business app will also be retired in favour of using Google Maps.
- You can now easily display how your business is operating during the pandemic – whether you’re temporarily closed, by appointment only, and what your staff is doing to protect customers, such as wearing masks or performing daily temperature checks.
- Chains can now make use of Google Posts to communicate with their local customers about updates to locations near them.
- New attributes have been added in the US markets to help customers easily identify and support black-owned, women-led, and veteran-led businesses.
The Google My Business console, better known as the GMB console, is a great tool for putting businesses on the map – quite literally. It allows a business (be it an SME or a larger organisation) to list their company and all its details – including name, location, opening hours and more.
If you’re a company owner, you should update your business information regularly and every time there are any changes to procedures, make sure your page is always as accurate, and therefore as valuable, as it can be.
After nearly a year of COVID-19 lockdowns in the UK, many stores have faced ongoing closures, temporary reopenings, and new restrictions to business.
More than ever, customers are relying on the online visibility of stores to see how operations have been affected. In recent months, we’ve seen Google roll out numerous features to help businesses supply customers with the most relevant information when they’re looking for it.
Google My Business update 2021: COVID – 19 features
Google has introduced many COVID-19 related features to help you easily let your customers know if it’s business as usual, or if you’ve made changes to your operations.
Temporarily Closed Status
For many businesses going in and out of lockdown and regional tiered restrictions, the introduction of the “Temporarily Closed” feature will help your customers make the distinction between businesses that are permanently closed, or just temporarily shut due to COVID-19.
Seasonal businesses needed this feature way before COVID-19, but the pandemic has finally pushed Google to respond.
We’ll likely see this feature stay even after the pandemic for seasonal businesses and renovations.
Many businesses have seen their operations change due to the pandemic, with some offering specific shopping hours for customers with disabilities or those that are more vulnerable, for example, grocery stores opening early for senior citizens.
COVID-19 has pushed up another necessary feature – the addition of secondary hours – into Google My Business’s roster, and it’s one that we’re sure will be here to stay.
Health & Safety Features
One of the most prominent new features to Google My Business listings is the addition of health and safety features that have been essential for restaurants, retailers, and even more local businesses.
This addition allows you to easily let your customers know any restrictions or variations to your business. Google has even added service-specific attributes. For example, if a restaurant is operating kerbside pick up or no-contact delivery, it will display prominently in the knowledge panel.
Other health and safety attributes include:
- Appointment required
- Online appointments available
- Video appointments available
- Mask required
- Staff get temperature checks
- Staff wear masks
- Temperature check required
With social distancing and changes in society, this will likely be a permanent feature in GMB, so make the changes now!
Google Post Restrictions Lifted for Chains
Google’s Post feature allows businesses to share updates and content with their customers, including events, special offers, changes in hours, or business updates.
Previously, Google hasn’t allowed chains, or businesses with more than 10 locations, to use this feature. With the impact of the pandemic, Google recognised the need for specific locations to be able to communicate with their customers, so they’ve temporarily lifted these restrictions.
This will be a great tool for businesses with multiple locations while it lasts, but it’s unlikely to be a permanent feature.
GMB Attributes for Underrepresented Businesses
Businesses can opt in to add an identity attribute to their listing, making it easier for customers to find and support them on both Google Maps and Search.
So far, this rollout has been seen only in the US market, but we’re hopeful it will be seen across Google’s markets in the coming months.
Find out more about Google My Business listings, Local SEO and more.
Google is constantly innovating to make its services more beneficial for its users. With every update to the Google, My Business tool comes the increased likelihood that your business platform will convert visitors into leads.
Going into our second year of the pandemic, businesses need to capitalise on every tool in their toolkit. With the introduction of many new features to Google My Business, businesses can easily communicate with their customers, manage expectations, and demonstrate how they’re staying safe and keeping their customers safe.