Updated 18th May: How to update your Google My Business Profile(s) for COVID-19

Professor M
Professor M

Professor & Expert in Local Marketing, Local Google Search, Google My Business, Word of Mouth Marketing

Table of Contents

In the last few weeks, Google has been working on tools and features and giving advice on how to best manage the current pandemic affecting business all over the world.

This guide has the most current advice for businesses on how to deal with their Google My Business’ profiles.

Updates summary:
Specific features for Healthcare providers, with 2 new links
Review replies are now available.
New user reviews, new user photos, new short names, and Q&A will gradually return by country and business category.
Business posts were temporarily disabled for some businesses and have since resumed.
Google is working to reprocess previously rejected posts and asks to check within a few days to see whether your post is live, or create a new one.
New website Schema for COVID-19
.
New feature released, You can add Donation and Gift cards links to your Google My Business’ profile

For Businesses affected by COVID-19

You will be able to change the business description, make a special Covid19 post, apply “temporary closed” or apply special hours. With special features for retail, food businesses and healthcare providers.

“Grab a seat” as I will show you how to do it, rules, examples and a FAQ section.

Does your business need to be or is it already temporarily closed?

Google launched a “Temporarily Closed” feature during the last week of March and is auto applying it to some businesses based on official National and local government sources regarding business closures for some categories.

Businesses can manage this feature in the Info section of the GMB dashboard.

To make your profile appear as temporarily closed on Google Maps and Search:

  1. On your computer, sign in to Google My Business.
  2. In the menu on the left, click Info.
  3. To the right, point to the section “Close this business on Google.”
  4. To expand this section, you might need to click the arrow.
  5. Click Mark as temporarily closed.

If you have multiple profiles, select the profile you want to change then follow steps 2 and 3 to mark your businesses as temporarily closed.

Is your business still open but changed operating hours?

If your business has temporarily adjusted hours and/or is closed some of the days, you should use the “special hours” feature to keep your customers up to date. 

How to use the “special hours” feature

  1. On your computer, sign in to Google My Business.
  2. If you have multiple locations, open the location you’d like to manage.
  3. Click Info » Special hours. (You’ll only find this section if you’ve already provided regular hours.)
  4. Next to an upcoming holiday, click Confirm hours. Or to choose a different date, click Add new date.
  5. To mark the location as closed all day, slide the circle to “Closed.” If you want to change the opening hours, slide the circle to “Open”
  6. Enter the opening and closing times for that day. 
  7. If you’re open 24 hours, click Opens at, and from the drop-down menu select 24 hours.
  8. If you enter closing hours past midnight, make sure to set them properly. For example, if your business is open from 7:00PM on one day until 5:00PM the next day, enter your hours as follows: 2020-04-03: 19:00-00:00, 2020-04-04: 00:00-17:00
  9. When you’ve finished entering all of your special hours and days, click Apply. Your special hours will appear to customers on Google only for the designated days.

Tip: For 2 sets of special hours on the same day, enter them in separate rows. For instance, if your business is open for a period in the morning, closes for lunch, and reopens in the afternoon, enter these special hours in two rows. To add another row of hours, click Add hours.

Verified businesses can remove the COVID-19 disclaimer when they update recent special hours. The disclaimer won’t appear if a business hasn’t set hours of operation or if you mark your business “Temporarily closed.” If you mark your business “Temporarily closed,” attributes such as takeout or delivery won’t display on your profile.

Step 3:

Step 4:

Step 5,6,7,8 and 9:

Change your business description

Explain whether your business operations are affected by COVID-19. You can share information about any extra precautions that your business is taking, such as moving to takeaway or delivery only. You can also share if you’re providing any extra services to the community, or whether you’re experiencing delays. 

  1. On your computer, sign in to Google My Business.
  2. If you have multiple locations, open the location you’d like to manage.
  3. In the menu on the left, click Info.
  4. Go to the business description section at the end of the page
  5. Change the text and click Apply.

Do not include URLs or HTML code, or exceed 750 characters in the description field.

How to Create a COVID-19 Post

To make sure that COVID-19 content is more noticeable to your customers, use the new COVID-19 post type on Google My Business. The COVID-19 post type lasts for 14 days, so it will have to be renewed every fortnight until your situation changes.

Share more detailed and timely updates about what’s going on with your business through Posts. For example,

  • Business statement
  • The impact on customers
  • Add information about closures or reduced hours
  • If remains open, how employees are being protected through social distancing
  • How customer service will be affected
  • The location of changes to service
  • A minimum time the action will be taken for
  • Suggest the purchase of gift cards to support your business

Step by step how to create a COVID-19 post:

  1. On your computer, sign in to Google My Business.
  2. If you have multiple locations, open the location you’d like to manage.
  3. From the menu, click Posts.
  4. At the top of the page, choose the “COVID-19 update” tab.
  5. On the “Update your Status” box area, add the information you want to add
  6. You can add a button to your website, but it’s optional
  7. To get a preview of your post, click Preview.
  8. If you’re happy with your preview, click Publish.

These updates will be a standalone carousel just below the business info, it will look like this on your profile:

Machine generated alternative text:
From the owner
COVID-19
During COVID-19 pandemic, we Will be doing online
sessions only, please click on the appointment link or
send us a message to book your online sesslon.
6 mins ago

Specific features for Retail and Food businesses affected by COVID-19

First add attributes to your profile, to let your customers know whether your food business offers takeaways/takeout, delivery or kerbside pickup and/or stopped providing dine-in service. Add or edit the “Dine-in,” “Takeout” “Delivery,” and “Kerbside pickup” attributes on Google My Business.  For Retail, tell your customers whether you offer pickup, delivery, or kerbside pickup or isn’t open for in-store shopping.

If a business is marked “Temporarily closed,” these attributes for both dining and retail establishments won’t surface on Google Search and Maps

  1. On your computer, sign in to Google My Business.
  2. If you have multiple locations, open the location you’d like to manage.
  3. From the menu, click Info.
  4. Find “Add Attributes” Attributes and click on the pencil to edit.
  5. You can search for the attribute you want to add or scroll through all the available options for your business.
  6. When you’re finished updating your attributes, click Apply.

When customers search for your food business, your Business Profile will prominently show which of these dining options you currently support: “Dine-in,” “Takeout,” “Delivery,” or “Curbside pickup.” Supported options will have a “✓” and non-supported options will have an “x.”

Another thing you can do is update your menu if you have reduced your selection or have meal deals and specials to attract customers.

Add or edit your menu items

  1. On your computer, sign in to Google My Business.
  2. Choose the location you’d like to manage.
  3. In the menu on the left, click Menu 
  4. Add or edit your menu items.
  5. Click Add.

Specific features for Healthcare providers

In an update specifically for health and medical professionals, the company has introduced two new links in the Google My Business dashboard. You will need to add telemedicine or telehealth as services, if the type of service isn’t listed, you can add them as custom services.This feature is available in the US and displays on mobile only.

Google released a best practice guide to help health organizations make COVID-19 information more accessible: https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/9781983

In addition to the best practices guide, Health agencies that publish COVID-19 information can take part in the Google’s technical support group. This group helps answer Google Search questions that you may have about your website. Complete this form to request access to this technical support group.

You can include COVID-19 testing information, restricted visitor hours, a COVID-19 hotline, and/or whether visits and appointments are still occurring in person.

How to Set Up a Gift Card or Donation Campaign

Google released a new feature to help small local businesses: Google My Business Support Campaign Links

Enables you to link to campaigns asking for donations and/or gift card purchases. You can also “share a personal message” post to inform customers how funds will be used.

This will allow for special links in the listing that customers can click on to purchase gift cards or make donations.

Google accepts those links to be from these platforms:

Donations: PayPal and GoFundMe 

Gift Cards:  Website, Square, Toast, Clover and Vagaro. 

Google is not charging any additional fees for this service, though there may be fees charged by Google’s third-party partners.

These links and messages will not be public until later this month. The final design that end users will see has not been shared.

This feature will be released first on the following countries: United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand.

Google is putting measures in place to prevent it from being abused. Present Business eligibility criteria:

  • Businesses must be verified before March 1, 2020.
  • Businesses must have a physical storefront.
  • Owners and site managers of the Business Profile can use the posts feature to add gift card and donation links.

Setup:

  1. Create your gift card or donation page
  2. Gift card links can be one of the approved 3rd party providers or a page on your website. Donation links can only go to the approved 3rd party provider.
  3. Eligible businesses can create both gift card and donation pages and link to both of them at the same time.
  4. On your computer, sign in to Google My Business.
  5. From the menu, click Posts and choose “COVID-19 support.” Alternatively, click “Get support from customers” directly on Google My Business home page.
  6. Enter a message to customers and at least one link.
  7. To save your changes, click Post.

Check this page for more information and guidelines.

Google advised limited Google My Business functionality due to COVID-19

In summary, Google advised the following:

  • Priority on the review of business edits for critical health-related businesses, and then open and closed states, special hours, temporary closures, business descriptions and attributes
  • Business posts were temporarily disabled for some businesses and have since resumed. Google is working to reprocess previously rejected posts and asks to check within a few days to see whether your post is live, or create a new one.
  • Review replies are now available. New user reviews, new user photos, new short names, and Q&A will gradually return by country and business category.
  • Delays for publication of new profiles, claims, and verifications for non-priority types of businesses

Google full statement here: https://support.google.com/business/answer/9792336?hl=en&ref_topic=4596687

FAQ

Will the ranking of my profile be impacted by marking “Temporarily Closed”?

Google confirmed that the temporarily closed button does not impact ranking. 

My business is marked “Temporarily closed”, but I didn’t do it. What is happening?

It was done automatically by Google, as Google uses authoritative data sources, where available, to mark certain types of places as ‘Temporarily Closed’ on Google Search and Google Maps. The sources of the information include national, state/provincial and local governments, non-profit organisations, educational institutions and businesses.

Temporary closures placed by Google will end as announced by authoritative sources. Otherwise, temporary closures can be directly removed through Google My Business’ account.

Some businesses that had used the Special Hours feature to add closures received an automated email from GMB with the subject line, “Important: [Business Name] is marked as closed on Google”.

A new alert banner now appears in the Info section of their GMB dashboard, that says “Based on recent updates, this business has been marked as closed”. When you click on Review update, it prompts you with a message to confirm if your business is closed (Yes/No). When you select yes, there will be a new option in the Info section under the header Reopen this business on Google where you can select “Mark as open”.

What categories of places are covered here?
Any categories of places that authoritative sources say are temporarily closed. For example, schools are a common example of a type of place that may be listed as ‘Temporarily Closed’. Other possible types of places an authoritative data source can mark as ‘Temporarily Closed’ may include museums, gyms and shops.

How can someone request an update on “Temporarily closed” status and how quickly will the update be made?

A business owner with a Google My Business account can directly update their ‘Temporarily Closed’ status to reopen and that change will be effective immediately.
If it doesn’t publish right away, contact GMB support.

I have events on my Google My Business profile, what do I need to do?

If you postpone or cancel events, you need to update those events details across all the channels you use to promote the events (Facebook events, Eventbrite and Meetup…)

For businesses that have Events in their GMB’s profile, there is a new alert message that says “Event information may be out of date due to the coronavirus (COVID-19). Confirm details with event organisers.” above the events lists. Helping businesses that were not able to change/remove the events information across the promotion channels that are feeding Google My Business.

Bonus

Ideas for your website:

  • Add a banner on all pages of the website with key information such as “temporarily closed”, “drive-up service available 9-5 Monday – Friday” or “storefront closed but we can still ship to you.”
  • Information about how your business has been affected by COVID-19, and detail any services that remain available to customers.
  • Hours of operation are correct everywhere they are mentioned on the website plus your main contact phone number if it has changed due to the situation
  • create new content about local resources in your community for all kinds of basic needs, services you discover are being provided by other businesses in your city, you will be strengthening your community.
  • Add a banner on all pages of the website with key information such as “temporarily closed”, “drive-up service available 9-5 Monday – Friday” or “storefront closed but we can still ship to you.”
  • Information about how your business has been affected by COVID-19, and detail any services that remain available to customers.
  • Hours of operation are correct everywhere they are mentioned on the website plus your main contact phone number if it has changed due to the situation
  • create new content about local resources in your community for all kinds of basic needs, services you discover are being provided by other businesses in your city, you will be strengthening your community.
  • Add the Special Announcement schema type.
  • Also, Google has added some new tools to its Google Optimize website experimentation platform in order to help businesses communicate operational changes as a result of COVID-19.  Per example you can get a new banner option which enables businesses to add a simple notification along the top of their website to highlight key business changes due to the COVID-19 lockdowns.

Don’t forget to update your business information on directories and social media channels, for example:

Bing- Bing has added a “temporarily closed” status in the Bing Places dashboard and through API so businesses can mark themselves closed due to COVID-19. Businesses with temporarily changed hours should update their ‘Hours of Operation’ in the dashboard or set up ‘Special Opening Hours’. Bing has announced it has partnered with GoFundMe to integrate it into Bing Places

Yelp– Yelp has introduced a new field called “temporarily closed”. This is meant to be used by businesses which are or will be closed (but not on a permanent basis) due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Businesses need to indicate the “end date” for when this business status will end. Given the uncertainty surrounding timelines, Yelp is allowing users to provide an “estimate” for the end date which they can always update later. Special opening hours can be added on Yelp itself, too. Neither field is available in the API. Update your hours of operation, add temporary closure information, indicate the availability of take-out or delivery services, add virtual service offerings, edit your Covid-19 Advisory Alert, update your ‘About the Business’ section. Yelp launch a relief program for restaurants and bars impacted by the Coronavirus

Facebook– Proactively share important information with customers. Pin important posts to the top of your Facebook Page for quick viewing. You might include information about the measures you’re taking to make your premises or products safe, or how you will handle customer inquiries if there are expected shipping delays. Update your Page hours to show your customers how and when you’re available for business. Notify customers of any changes or modifications to your availability or services by updating your Page Info and selecting ‘Open with Service Changes’ or ‘Temporarily Closed’, depending on your situation. Facebook is partnering with payment services to offer businesses ways to provide gift cards to their customers for future use while their doors are closed. Facebook and Instagram is launching new features designed to help users find, discover and support small businesses, including an option for users to ‘Find Businesses Nearby’ as well as show their support through stickers and hashtags.

TripAdvisor– Encourage people to purchase gift cards from stores by adding a URL for gift card purchases. For qualifying categories – indicate ‘Takeout available’ and/or ‘Delivery available’ options

Nextdoor – there is new ways for neighbours to help Local Businesses on Nextdoor, here the full statement

Statement to customers for business description and COVID19

 As a minimum, Statement to customers tend to cover:

  • The impact on customers
  • Add information about closures or reduced hours
  • If remains open, how employees are being protected through social distancing
  • How customer service will be affected
  • The location of changes to service
  • A minimum time the action will be taken for
  • Suggest the purchase of gift cards to support your business

Examples

Ex1

We continue to monitor the latest updates about the global COVID-19 outbreak and are taking actions to safeguard the health of our employees and preserve our ability to operate. We have identified areas which we consider critical to operate and have implemented operational continuity plans within our teams to ensure we have sufficient resources to keep running safely and provide “our products”/”services” to our customers.

Please take care of yourselves and your families and follow all government and health service advice.

Stay safe,

Ex2

Due to recent events surrounding COVID-19 and for the safety and well-being of our teammates and customers our store(s) is/are now temporarily closed.

 For more information on Covid19 see https://www.oursite.com

We wanted to reassure you that all your usual needs can still be catered for through our Website.

Please take care of yourselves and your families and follow all government and health service advice.

Stay safe,

What are we finding on Google when we search?

When we search for food near us, Google is showing places offering takeaway and delivery.

Takeout / delivery cards in Google search

Google is advising everywhere on its properties: Google Search and Google Maps that hours may differ due to COVID-19

View image on Twitter

Those establishments that have different hours for Seniors citizens:

Do not press on the “null” as it can mess up your hours:

Machine generated alternative text:
Stay connected during COVID-19
Let customers know about any changes to your business due to
COVID-19
null
a nuli
Learn more

 Krystal Taing shared how the “buttons” in the business listing are associated with the “Order Food with Google” feature, which means non-participating restaurants that get these buttons show users a “sorry this restaurant doesn’t participate” label.

Barry Schwartz shared a new temporary look for Google Maps that labels businesses as temporarily closed, offering takeout and delivery, etc. 

New online scheduling attribute and no-contact delivery:

It appears that old Q & A are returning AND new ones are being accepted. They show in the Business Profile as well.

Google shows if a specific location, pharmacy, etc, is a COVID-19 testing centre in the US.

I hope the article is enlightening and helpful. If you have any questions about Google My Business, do not hesitate visit Google My Business Training website.

I wish you and your family and friends all the best, and please take care and stay safe.

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