Google has introduced several new functions and attributes in Google My Business (GMB) since the beginning of the coronavirus.

If you run a local business, you need to know about these updates in order to get the most out of the platform.

This article describes 10 recent changes to Google My Business that you need to review.

1. Health and Safety Features

In late 2020, GMB introduced new attributes to enable searchers to make informed decisions about health standards in companies they may visit.

These new GMB attributes are:

  • Appointment required.
  • Mask required.
  • Employees wear masks.
  • The employees receive temperature tests.
  • Temperature test required.

Remember, if you follow stricter health-related guidelines than your competitors and advertise those guidelines on GMB, you might very well be doing additional business from health conscious individuals.

Health and Safety Attributes

2. Pandemic-related attributes for restaurants

Google started early to roll out COVID-related attributes for restaurants and other businesses in the food service industry.

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Here is a list of these attributes:

  • Pick up at the roadside.
  • Contactless delivery.
  • Food in.

These attributes were shown in GMB shortly after the companies reopened.

3. Attributes for online services

During the height of the pandemic, many people chose to “go virtual”.

At this point, online meetings were becoming routine and Zoom was becoming a household name.

As early as June, Google saw the possibility of addressing the pure online masses and offered several additional attributes in GMB.

Companies can use the following attributes to indicate that they have virtual offerings:

  • Online maintenance.
  • Online appointment.
  • Online estimates.
  • Online lessons.

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Think about how you can use these attributes to get your company known to people who literally want to go the extra mile so they don’t get exposed to COVID.

4. Call logging

This one is in test mode, but worth keeping an eye on.

GMB is currently developing a new feature that will allow you to view the most recent customer calls that came in via search.

This is what Google has to say about the new feature:

You can use call history to keep track of your customers’ calls in Google Search and Google Maps. Your calls are all in one place so you can respond to missed calls and stay in touch with your customers.

These calls may make it easier for you to find and do business with customers who found your business through Google. All calls you receive from your company profile start with a short message letting you know that it is from Google.

This is how it works: When a user clicks the “Call” button in a GMB profile, Google logs the call.

GMB logs both missed and answered calls.

You can then view the logged calls on the Calls tab.

However, it is only available in the app, not in the browser version.

When you use the call logging feature, the application masks your real phone number as it uses a forwarding number.

5. Additional GMB Insights data

Google also recently improved GMB performance reports.

For starters, GMB will now tell you how many people you reached after visiting your profile page.

The platform also offers additional reports on searches.

After completing the process, you will find out how often your company profile has appeared in search results.

You will also see data in Google Maps searches.

This type of insight will be available for up to six months.

6. Messaging

Google recently introduced GMB messaging on its desktop user interface.

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It had previously been available through the mobile app.

Now when you log into GMB you may see a Messages button in the left sidebar. Clicking on it will take you to the message interface.

It follows the standard “chat screen” pattern. You see the back and forth between you and your individual correspondents.

However, you need to sign up for the service.

Just click the same Messages button and select Settings.

Then select the option to enable messaging.

A warning: Make sure you reply to messages within a 24-hour window. Otherwise, Google can revoke your messaging rights.

Why so strict? Same old story: it’s all about the customer experience.

If you lose access, you will not be permanently banned and will have to go through this login process again.

You can set up automatic reply messages, but they are not considered a “real” reply within this one-day window.

If you receive false messages, mark them as spam so that Google can take corrective action.

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You also have the option to block abusive messengers.

7. Black-owned business

Google updated search results for purchases to make it easier for users to find black-owned businesses.

This GMB attribute was launched again in response to user interest.

Searches for terms such as “black-owned bookstores”, “black-owned restaurants” and “black-owned beauty shops” have increased as racial inequality was highlighted during 2020.

Google searchGoogle search “Black Owned Bookstores”

Google says the following about this attribute:

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Historically, black-owned businesses have served as a meeting place for black communities across the country, giving those denied equality a strong sense of ownership and belonging. And today, as more and more black companies go online, they are creating new avenues for economic opportunity and generational wealth in the black community.

As the first day of Black History Month begins, we would like to shed light on black-owned businesses large and small, and recognize their resilience and ingenuity.

Note that if you set the Black attribute, it may take some time for the change to take effect.

As of now, the feature is only available to Google Merchant Center merchants in the United States.

8. Maximum size of the video upload

GMB also recently reduced the maximum size of the video upload.

The old limit was 100 MB. The new limit is 75 MB.

So if you want to show off your video business, you may need to show a little less per video.

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GMB is table stakes for local search

Google My Business could be a lot more important than your website when it comes to promoting your local business online.

That’s why you need to optimize your profile for searches.

You should also stay up to date on the latest changes to GMB and think about how you can use them to better promote your brand online.

More resources:

Photo credit

All screenshots by the author, February 2021