Organisations face operational and economic uncertainty as the disruptions caused by COVID-19 has affected the world. Google has implemented various features to assist people in handling the unfortunate event of 2020. 

What is Google doing?

Google has implemented new features in Google My Business (GMB) for organisations to utilise and new features in Google search for customers to use. 

Google my business:

A new set of “healthy and safety” business attributes to GMB dashboards, and for some organisations, this appeared as of the 9 September 2020. 

The primary category, in which a company falls under, will determine the attribute availability, therefore based on your primary category; your business may improve quality with some of these attributes. These attributes are to prove clarity and reassurance to customers that companies have health and safety protocols in place. 

There are several attributes which can be found on the new tab of the GMB dashboard titled “Health and safety”, and it includes the following attributes:

Image reference Search Engine Land, 2020

These new attributes are a way to better inform customers as many people are nervous and cautious about going into stores, and it will remain this way for as long as infections continue to increase. 

A business’s health and safety measures have increasingly shown up in reviews, and their lack of enforcement of health and safety measures have harmed the business’s overall scores, consequently impacting their rankings. In a survey conducted by GatherUp, the results found that consumers prefer stores that have enforced wearing a mask as compulsory. Therefore more customers are likely to engage with the business. 

Google Search:

Google will be updating their shopping search results, making it easier for customers to find local products. The aim of this is to allow consumers to shop online combined with the immediacy of buying in-store. 

In the last few months, “curbside pickup” and “safe shopping” has increased drastically, as noted by Google. As the pandemic continues, shopping in person these days have customers asking several questions which are not easy to find answers to, such as:

  • Which stores have reopened in my area?
  • Do they have the items I want to purchase in stock?
  • What services are available to minimise contact and time in store for customers?

As Google has not rolled out the “health and safety” attributes on GMB globally just yet, Google will be making several enhancements to its shopping search results. 

The following 3 changes are designed to allow customers to shop at their local businesses easily and safely:

  • Filter by local availability:

Customers can now filer on local products available to them. Once they have searched for a product, the customer can tap on the shopping tab and select the “nearby” filter, seen below:

Image reference Google, 2020

  • Comparison shopping

Customers can now compare local businesses without leaving the comfort of their home. Before committing to a purchase, a customer can compare local companies by: 

  • their opening and closing hours, 
  • the distance to the store 
  • previewing their in-stock items that match with what the customer is searching for with a carousel of images and prices of the available products. 
Image reference Google, 2020
  • Convenient Local Pickup 

Google aims to connect customers with pickup options as a way to emphasize safety. This is done by adding labels to indicate if the shop offers in-store or curbside pickup within the shopping tab in Google search. 

If there is a particular item that is needed urgently, a customer can click to call and speak with an employee to confirm their inventory. Additionally, if a customer is in a rush, there is a direct link to navigation in maps to help the customer speedily get to the store.

Shopping in person has become a new challenge due to the pandemic, but luckily stores are adjusting and making it easy for customers to shop. Local businesses interested in helping customers find their store hours, products, locations and pickup options can create a GMB profile. Additionally, they can see if they qualify for “health and safety” attributes. 

Why do we care?

These new features have the potential to benefit some companies within certain  business attributes. The attributes on GMB are category dependent, therefore some of these new “health and safety” features will not show up for all categories. 

The key takeaway is that Google is actively implementing new features to assist local businesses to see more engagement and improved response from customers who want to do business with them yet remain safe while shopping. 

Read all about how having a GMB profile can improve clickthrough rate by becoming Google verified.

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