Pagoda Blog

Google My Business Features You Should Be Using in 2021

January 21, 2021

Google My Business (GMB) offers an effective way for small businesses to market themselves online for free or at very low cost. GMB is not available to online-only stores, so it is a great way for local product or service-based businesses to improve their online visibility, especially during the pandemic. 


According to multiple Google surveys and search data, searches for “available near me” have grown globally by more than 100% in 2020 compared to 2019. This means that contrary to what you might assume, many consumers are trying to support local businesses rather than shop exclusively with large online retailers. GMB offers a wide variety of features for small businesses to help these consumers discover your offerings, direct them to your website or physical location, and keep their dollars local. Below are a few features that your small business should be using to stay successful during the pandemic and beyond.  


Related reading: 6 Steps to Create a Google My Business Listing


Get your inventory online

Help potential customers buy your products and ensure you have updated inventory online. As a small business owner you may find it challenging to keep online inventory reflective of your actual in-store inventory -- that’s where GMB comes in. In January, 2020 Google acquired Pointy allowing small retailers to add products directly to their GMB listing and have them show up in organic search results or paid search ads. The system uses a simple device that connects to a point-of-sale barcode scanner and is compatible with most POS systems.  


Invest in Local Campaigns

Local Campaigns allow you to promote a specific store location through paid ads that appear across Google’s properties. These include the Google Search Network, Google Display Network, Google Maps, and YouTube. These campaigns can highlight special promotions, curbside pick-up or free local delivery, health and safety updates, and more. 


Notify customers of your store’s status

The temporarily closed feature allows you to inform customers that your location is only temporarily closed to adhere to COVID-19 safety guidelines, or for other reasons, such as renovations. 


Use Google Posts to share updates

Google Posts allows businesses to share the latest news with their customers with a combination of text, visuals, and calls to action. Most small businesses don’t take advantage of posts, so this is a great way to stand out and drive more people to your listing. The Google Posts have four main categories: What’s New, Event, Offer, and Product. Keep in mind that these posts are truncated after the first 100 characters before visitors have to click a ‘read more’ link, so put the important details at the top. 


Use the COVID-19 Post Type

Make sure to highlight COVID-19-specific information with the COVID-19 Post Type. This feature automatically labels any pandemic updates as COVID-19 related and will feature it prominently on your page, above your other Google Posts. This is especially helpful to ensure customers follow all safety guidelines when visiting in-person store locations or to notify customers of the latest changes to your safety protocols. Once the information is no longer relevant, however, make sure to delete the post. 


Check out these attribute updates

For retailers, GMB has new attributes that allow you to indicate curbside pick-up and no-contact delivery options. For service providers, Local Service Ads has new attributes that highlight how you're ensuring the safety of your customers, including indicating “protective gear used” and “maintaining distance.” 


Allow appointment bookings

As drop-in appointments are exceedingly difficult to manage safely, adding the appointment booking feature to your GMB listing is a must. Choose from an extensive list of appointment apps and allow customers to book with you directly through GMB.  


Add support and donation links

Let people know how they can support your business during these tough times through the support and donation links. GMB has partnered with PayPal and GoFundMe so you can include direct links to these platforms, making it easy for people to support your business. You can also use the gift card link to direct people to a specific page on your website or to your preferred third-party platform like Square, Toast, Clover, and Vagaro.  


Add secondary hours for special groups

Google has added a secondary hours option for businesses who offer special shopping times to high-risk individuals, such as seniors. 


Update your visual content 

Don’t neglect to show people through photo and video how your business is handling the pandemic to ensure both the safety of your customers and team. This might include photos of team members wearing masks or of customers waiting in line on social distancing markers. Video is a great way to give people a virtual tour of your business and share how you’ve redesigned the space and operating procedures to meet safety requirements. 


Feature photo by Daria Shevtsova from Pexels


Related reading: 

How to Create an Online Revenue Stream for Your Business

How to Monitor (and Manage) What People Are Saying About Your Business Online

Why You Need to Move Your Business Online (And How to To It) 


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