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Google My Business’ New COVID-19 Features

Google Expands Scope Of GMB, With New Booking & Ecommerce Features

Google has released a series of updates to help organisations better communicate timely service disruptions and changes via Google Search and Maps.

The new features have launched via Google My Business and further cement its status as a must-use communications tool.

Unsurprisingly, since the global health crisis began, Google has become a lifeline for both consumers and businesses alike.

Sundar Pitchai, Alphabet CEO, April 2020

“People are relying on Google services more than ever.

As a few examples, we have seen a significant rise in search activity. To put it into perspective, in the U.S. coronavirus related search activity at its peak was 4 times greater than during the peak of the Super Bowl.”

Google My Business has historically been quite a niche communications tool favoured primarily by local marketers and search engine optimisation professionals.

However, since the onset of COVID-19, it has become an even more effective means of delivering timely and accurate information to those searching online. With Google expanding the feature set monthly since the start of March.

Jen Fitzpatrick, Senior Vice President, Google Maps

“Across all business verticals, we launched the ability to mark their business as temporarily closed, as well as reopen when they’re ready to open their doors.

We also added secondary hours and COVID-19 posts so merchants can communicate important information about their operations directly in Google Search and Maps.

Since March, we’ve seen more than 1 million businesses share COVID-19 posts, with millions of clicks to merchants’ websites every week as consumers look for more information.”

The most recent update sees a new set of features that will allow businesses to support themselves, including those focused on gift card sales, fundraising or by marketing their virtual services.

COVID-19 Digital Marketing Features

Google’s latest update shares much in common with some of Facebooks recent COVID-19 updates. For example, restaurants via Google can now point to their preferred delivery partners, so customers can choose to order through the third-party the business recommends.

Given the more considerable role that search and maps play in the user journey, Google’s latest updates will have a far more material impact than Facebook's equivalent.

According to Google, searchers can now order delivery and takeout from an additional 25,000 restaurants directly on Google. While, since March, more than 3 million restaurants have added or edited their dining attributes.

Available in most English speaking markets, new Support Links, allow business owners to add a donation or gift card link to their business profiles.

Google has partnered with PayPal and GoFundMe for donations. For gift cards, businesses can link directly to the relevant page on their website or to their gift card offerings with one of its eligible partners, which includes Square, Toast, Clover and Vagaro.

Google Driving Digital Transformation

In addition, as businesses pivot and accelerate their digital transformation, Google is introducing new functionality via Google My Business, empowering organisations to deliver services digitally.  

Jen Fitzpatrick, Senior Vice President, Google Maps

“Merchants who normally provided in-person services are now pivoting to connect with their customers virtually, from yoga studios offering online classes to salons hosting virtual hair styling classes.

We’re making it easier for customers to discover online classes and book virtual appointments with new features”

Organisations who are verified on Google My Business will soon be able to add attributes like “online classes,” “online appointments,” or “online estimates” to their Business Profiles to let people know how they’re operating.

Today marketers can add one of these attributes using Google My Business, and in the coming weeks, it’ll be visible on Business Profiles in Search and Maps. 

Google is also expanding Reserve with Google. Helping organisations offer easy appointment bookings for online services so customers can quickly find available times, book a slot, and add it to their Google Calendar, all directly from a merchant’s Business Profile.

Jen Fitzpatrick, Senior Vice President, Google Maps

“Millions of people have already booked in-person appointments with salons, restaurants and other businesses thanks to integrations from over 100 Reserve with Google partners.

We’re now expanding this to include bookings for online services, starting with partners like Booksy, Regis, WellnessLiving, and Zooty.”

Organistions working with one of these partners can offer online bookings directly on Google and share details with customers about how to pay and join the meeting using their preferred video platform.

Google My Business has been growing in importance for some time, even before the global health crisis began. A recent study from Bright Local found 68% of local marketing experts said GMB was more important now than it was a year ago.

However, when the COVID-19 tide finally begins to recede, whenever that may be, Google My Business will have moved from the niche to the mainstream.

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