Google Maps: Ongoing List of COVID-19 Updates

June 23rd, 2020 by Cory Agular

Throughout the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, Google made updates to help businesses align with the needs of users affected by various local and national guideline enforcements. This piece will collect and explain updates related to managing listings and the ways Google helps businesses reach consumers.

Search Influence will update this blog as Google refines its features and how the company manages its listings, as well as when state and federal governments lift restrictions. Additionally, Search Influence will include a list of the new Google Maps-related options available as a result of COVID-19.

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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

Q+A Section and Reviews as seen on Google My Business listings

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Google added Takeout, Delivery, and Dine-In badges for restaurants and bars to show which options they currently offer.

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.
    • 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.

Stay tuned to this blog for more updates. If you’re interested in discussing how Search Influence can help you during these uncertain times, please reach out and schedule a free one-hour consultation about your digital marketing efforts.

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

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