Google Maps: Ongoing List of COVID-19 Updates (June 2021 Update)

June 9th, 2021 by Cory Agular

Note: this post was updated on June 9th, 2021.

Many of the changes that Google made to Google My Business for COVID-19 will likely stick around after the pandemic. Consumer behavior changed and Google adapted to help businesses meet those needs.

On the other hand, a lot of functionality was limited in the immediate aftermath of COVID-19. Currently, listings more or less have the same functionality as they did prior to the pandemic. A lot of these limitations, such as removing the reviews option, were to prevent overreactions on things like hospital listings in the immediate aftermath of the pandemic. As things settled down, these features returned.

COVID-19 Google Maps Updates

  • Google removed the option to leave reviews and ask questions in the Q&A section. They now have returned the ability to leave reviews for all business categories besides drug rehab and narrow sets of medical categories like hospitals.
    • UPDATE: Both reviews and questions and answers are back to the pre-pandemic functionality, regardless of category. The changes Google made resulted from uncertainty and potential harm done to certain listings, but as “normalcy” returns, so have these sections.

Screenshot of Google My Business reviews live on SERP

  • As of today, Google does not permit video uploads to the channel. Previously, businesses could include videos in the overall Photos section. Google has not said when they will update this feature.
    • UPDATE: Videos are now viable and usable on all listings.
  • The company has slowly rolled back out the Q&A section, with service industries seemingly being the first to get these back. There is no clear timetable for the full rollout.
  • Google removed the ability to use their previously supported Chat feature for help. This is likely due to staffing issues related to COVID-19, so the only method to reach Google is through this form.
    • UPDATE: This form remains functional, but the response times vary depending on numerous factors.
  • Google rolled out the ability for chains to use Google Posts.
  • Google is working on features that will help users in the post-COVID-19 world. According to Ramesh Nagarajan, Product Management Director of Google Maps,

“When you look up public transit directions for a trip that is likely to be affected by COVID-19 restrictions, we’ll show relevant alerts from local transit agencies. These alerts can help you prepare accordingly if government mandates impact transit services or require you to wear a mask on public transportation.

When navigating to medical facilities or COVID-19 testing centers, we’ll display an alert reminding you to verify eligibility and facility guidelines to avoid being turned away or causing additional strain on the local healthcare system.”

  • It is unclear how this impacts businesses, but it is a sign that businesses should communicate their status around these issues on their profile using the numerous features Google introduced.
  • The “Temporarily Closed” option for listings will remain for as long as needed. It is important to note that Google insists marking business locations as temporarily closed will not impact your ranking.

Ongoing COVID-19 Google Maps Updates

  • Temporarily Closed option added for listings.
    • UPDATE: This option remains available for businesses.
  • Google added Takeout, Delivery, and Dine-In badges for restaurants and bars to show which options they currently offer.
    • UPDATE: These options remain available and will likely stay for the near future. The relevance of having information about “no-contact“ options will depend on the length of the pandemic, but that may be a consumer behavior that remains.

Screenshot of dine-in, takeout, no contact delivery attributes on Google My Business listing

  • There are two COVID-specific post options right now. Both of these are great ways to update users about the status of your business.
    • UPDATE: These post features remain available to businesses.
      • Ways to support your business
      • General update about your status

Screenshot of get support from customers option offered by Google My Business

 

Screenshot of options related to COVID-19 in Google My Business Posts

  • Google added backend attributes that help inform both Google and potential customers about what type of online and on-site services you provide.

  • Google is now allowing businesses to display COVID-19 safety measures including mask requirements, staff requirements, and temperature checks.
    • UPDATE: Google has added more details around the safety measures taken by businesses.

Screenshot of Google My Business safety options

  • UPDATE: During the course of COVID-19, numerous businesses pivoted to offering online services. As a result, Google rolled out features to help businesses connect with users looking for virtual experiences. Some of these include online care, online classes, and online appointments.

Screenshot of main business information on google my business listing

Today, Google has essentially returned their listings to their pre-COVID functionality with the added benefits of having service and safety information more present on the listings. These are features that are likely to stay and help increase engagement with listings and provide more user-centric information beyond the business address and phone number.

If you’re interested in discussing how Search Influence can help you navigate the post-COVID business landscape and your ongoing marketing efforts, please reach out to schedule a free one-hour consultation about your digital marketing goals.

Here are some additional resources to help your business run as smoothly as possible during this period.

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