Google has rolled out several new features and attributes in Google My Business (GMB) since the Coronavirus began.
If you’re running a local business, you need to know about those updates so you can get the most out of the platform.
In this article, we’ll check out 10 recent changes to Google My Business that you need to check out.
1. Health & Safety Attributes
Late in 2020, GMB rolled out new attributes so searchers can make informed decisions about the health standards at businesses they may visit.
These new GMB attributes are:
- Appointment required.
- Mask required.
- Staff wear masks.
- Staff get temperature checks.
- Temperature check required.
Keep in mind that f you follow stricter health-related guidelines than your competitors and you advertise those guidelines on GMB, you could very well capture some additional business from health-conscious individuals.
2. Pandemic-Related Attributes for Restaurants
Google got an early start on rolling out COVID-related attributes for restaurants and other businesses in the foodservice industry.
Here’s a list of those attributes:
- Curbside pickup.
- No-contact delivery.
Those attributes appeared in GMB shortly after businesses started reopening.
3. Attributes for Online Services
During the height of the pandemic, many folks opted to “go virtual.”
That’s when online meetings became routine and Zoom became a household brand name.
Back in June, Google saw an opportunity to cater to the online-only crowd and did so by offering several more attributes in GMB.
Here are the attributes businesses can use to indicate that they have virtual offerings:
- Online Care.
- Online Appointment.
- Online Estimates.
- Online Classes.
Think about how you can use those attributes to promote your business to people who’d like to literally go the extra mile so that they can avoid exposing themselves to COVID.
4. Call Logging
This one is in test mode, but it’s worth keeping your eye on.
GMB is currently developing a new feature that will allow you to see recent customer calls that arrived via search.
This is what Google has to say about the new feature:
You can use call history to keep track of phone calls from your customers on Google Search and Maps. Your calls are all in one place to help you respond to missed calls and stay engaged with your customers.
These calls may make it easier for you to find and do business with customers who found your business through Google. Any calls you get from your Business Profile will start with a short message that lets you know it’s from Google.
Here’s how it works: when a user clicks the Call button on a GMB profile, Google will log the call.
GMB will log both missed and answered calls.
Then, you can view the logged calls in the Calls tab.
It’s only available on the app, though, not the browser version.
If you opt to use the call logging feature, the application will mask your real phone number as it uses a forwarding number.
5. Additional GMB Insights Data
Google also recently enhanced GMB performance reports.
For starters, GMB will now let you know how many people have reached out to you after a visit to your profile page.
Additionally, the platform started offering additional reports about searches.
When fully completed, they’ll let you know how many times your business profile surfaced in search results.
You’ll also see data on Google Maps searches.
Those kinds of insights will be available for up to six months.
Google recently rolled out GMB messaging on its desktop UI.
It had been available via the mobile app before.
Now, when you log into GMB, you might see a Messages button on the left-hand sidebar. If you click on it, you’ll go to the Messages interface.
It follows the standard “chat screen” pattern. You’ll see the back-and-forth between you and your individual correspondents.
You will have to opt in to the service, though.
Just click on that same Messages button and select Settings.
Then, select the option to turn on messaging.
A warning: Make sure you respond to messages within a 24-hour window or Google may revoke your messaging rights.
Why so strict? Same old story: it’s all about customer experience.
If you do lose access, you are not permanently banned but do need to go through that opt-in process again.
You can set up autoresponse messages, but they don’t count as a “real” response within that one-day window.
If you receive bogus messages, mark them as spam so Google can take corrective action.
You also have the ability to block abusive messengers.
7. Black-Owned Business
Google updated shopping search results to make it easier for people to find Black-owned businesses.
Again, this GMB attribute was launched in response to user interest.
Searches with terms like “black-owned bookstores,” “black-owned restaurants,” and “black-owned beauty supply” have soared due to racial inequality being highlighted throughout 2020.
Here’s what Google has to say about this attribute:
Historically, Black-owned businesses have served as gathering spots for Black communities throughout the country and provided a strong sense of ownership and belonging for those who were denied equal rights. And today, as more Black businesses come online, they’re creating new pathways for economic opportunity and generational wealth in the Black community.
As we kick off the first day of Black History Month, we want to shine a light on Black-owned businesses, big and small, and honor their resilience and ingenuity.
Keep in mind that when you set the Black-owned attribute, it may take some time for the change to go into effect.
As of right now, the feature is only available to U.S.-based Google Merchant Center retailers.
8. Max Video Upload Size
GMB also recently reduced its maximum video upload size.
The old limit was 100MB. The new limit is 75MB.
So if you like to brag about your business in video, you might have to brag a little bit less on a per-video basis.
GMB is Table Stakes for Local Search
Google My Business could very well be more important than your website when it comes to promoting your local business online.
That’s why you need to optimize your profile for search.
You should also keep up with the latest changes to GMB and think about how you can use them to better promote your brand online.
- How to Completely Optimize Your Google My Business Listing
- How to Get More from Your Google My Business Listing
- Local SEO: The Definitive Guide to Improve Your Local Search Rankings
All screenshots taken by author, February 2021