Google My Business (GMB) went through various changes in 2020 the global pandemic year. Google launched so far up to 54 adapting measures like new features, fixed bugs, etc. which impact GMB specifically. Google launched several COVID-related features like GMB allocated a large percentage of their support resources to the healthcare verticals COVID-19 affected mostly which and at the same time google disabled the GMB Twitter & Facebook support options. Along with healthcare verticals resource allocation GMB launched additional features to support businesses adjust & communicate their current state of operations to their customers:
- Shutting off the ability for businesses to receive new reviews and Q&A
- Adding the option to report a location as “Temporarily Closed”
- Disabling new photos uploaded by customers
- Adding a COVID-19 Google Post type
These features have done a great job helping businesses through the Global pandemic and give SEOs another venue to offer value by implementing them for our clients proactively.
GMB added several new website link options to the dashboard. The two main link options that were added were the “COVID-19 info link” and the “Telehealth info link”. The COVID links, besides being a useful way to communicate new protocols, also drove traffic and conversions.
Google confirms April/May local ranking fluctuations were bugs. And because of bugs many businesses’ rankings dropped and felt that it was from a revenue perspective, and when their rankings moved back up, revenue went backup as well. We can only guess that the amount of revenue lost and gained because of this bug, across all businesses, was astronomical.
GMB also included a new set of hours that a business can add to their locations to show when they are open for special circumstances. Some “more hours” options appeared to be a response to the pandemic, such as “senior hours”. It is suspected that this feature will be available long after the pandemic is over. SEOs can add value to their clients by proactively setting this up. Some bigger chains such as Wal-Mart are already doing a superb job using this feature.
The pandemic influenced several new GMB features such as the “temporarily closed” option and COVID-19 Google Post type, which we have already covered. I think the most significant feature related to COVID-19, however, was the launch of the coronavirus-related health and safety attributes, which were launched recently. These attributes are powerful because they are highly visible in multiple places. You can see them on both mobile and desktop, and in both Google Maps and Google search.
Recently a module inside the GMB dashboard called “Preview call history BETA”. It’s not entirely clear what the last feature will look like, but experts have been weighing in over at the Local Search Forum.
Regarding future predictions, where Google My Business is concerned, it can be seen guidelines opening up to include additional business models because of the pandemic, and because of the shift that businesses have had to make from an in-person, brick-and-mortar operation to online service.