Google Maps senior vice president of geo Jen Fitzpatrick said in a blog post, “We’ve seen firsthand in Google Search and Maps the impact that Covid-19 has had on small businesses and how they connect with their customers. People across the world are looking for ways to continue supporting corner bookstores, local watering holes, beloved dance studios and other businesses that give their neighborhoods character—even if it’s from a distance.”
Support links are being extended to 18 additional countries, including Italy, Japan and Spain. The feature enables merchants to add a donation link, gift card link or both to their Business Profiles, along with a message explaining how the funds that are raised will be used.
Fitzpatrick said global search interest in “how to help small businesses” reached an all-time high in March, up more than 700% from February, so Google made it possible for people to search their favorite local businesses by name to see if those businesses added donation or gift card links to their profiles.
She added that in the coming weeks, people will be able to use Search and Maps to find all nearby businesses asking for support.
With most in-person services on hiatus due to the pandemic, Google added features to help merchants promote their virtual services.
Merchants who are verified on Google My Business will soon be able to add attributes including online appointments, online classes and online estimates to their Business Profiles.
Fitzpatrick said those attributes can be added now via Google My Business, and they will be visible on Business Profiles in Search and Maps in the coming weeks.
Reserve With Google is also being expanded to enable businesses to include bookings for online services via partners including Booksy, Regis, WellnessLiving and Zooty.
Google added the ability for businesses to mark themselves as temporarily closed across all of its business verticals, as well as to indicate when they are ready to reopen, and to add secondary hours and posts related to Covid-19.
Fitzpatrick said over 1 million businesses have shared Covid-19 posts sine March, driving millions of clicks to those businesses’ websites every week.
More third-party ordering providers were added to enable an additional 25,000 restaurants to provide delivery and takeout directly via Google, and food merchants can now indicate their preferred online ordering partners on their Business Profiles.
Fitzpatrick said that since giving restaurants the ability to add attributes such as curbside pickup, dine-in and no-contact delivery to their Business Profiles, more than 3 million have added or edited those attributes.
She concluded, “We know that every day during this pandemic can be drastically different—and for small business owners, there can be a lot of uncertainty. While we can’t control what each day looks like, our goal is to continue helping businesses communicate the latest with consumers across the world.”