In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic sweeping across the world, many businesses have found themselves in dire straits. Part of that is due to the lockdown that forced everyone to stay inside, meaning that many businesses no longer had any regular customers; another factor is due to many people being suddenly unemployed and having less disposable income than they did before. Now Google is doing their part to try and help small businesses recover with a set of new features.
They have already done a lot, such as temporarily suspending features like reviews and Q&As on Google My Business. They also added notices if businesses had options for curbside pickup. However, this latest set of features may be their biggest attempt at helping businesses recover yet. On June 17, Google released resources that aim to help businesses and nonprofits recover. Keep reading if you want to know more about them, but you can also contact us at On The Map if you want to know how they can help you.
There Are New Tools and Features
Many of the new features Google rolled out are meant to provide more convenience to users that makes it much easier to patronize local businesses. Here are the features that you can look forward to using.
An Updated Shopping Tab
The shopping tab will now offer much more detailed information such as the availability of products, where the business is located, and whether it offers curbside pickup or delivery. In the case of eateries, it will also show whether dine-in, takeout, or delivery options are available.
New Capabilities For Local Service Ads
Since May, Google has added the ability to book appointments straight from clicking on a local service ad. This is an expansion of a prior function that allowed businesses to send messages to possible customers. However, there are two conditions businesses must meet before they can use this new function. They must be approved by Google’s guarantee consumer protection program and they must use one of Google’s booking partners.
Expansion of the Smart Campaign Feature
Another big change for businesses is that Google is now expanding its Smart Campaign feature to 150 countries. Smart Campaign is a way for businesses without the resources or technical know-how to set up ad campaigns with a specific goal in mind, such as increasing their phone calls, bookings, or website traffic. It is easily accessible through the Ads app and now more people than ever can get to use it.
Free Promoted Pins
Promoted pins show up on Google Maps and used to be similar to PPC (Pay per Click) campaigns in that advertisers would be charged for each click on the pin. Now they are free to anyone who is running a Smart Campaign so there is no cost per click. Promoted pins give businesses more visibility because they look different from the standard pins on the map screen.
Promoted pins are square in shape instead of the usual teardrop shape of other pins. Some feel that the new square shape detracts from the intended function of promotion because it looks different from the other pins, so users may not realize that it also represents a business. Additionally, the word ad appears before the name of the business when you click on it, which might make people think that the business is running a PPC campaign when it is not. So the jury is still out on whether this is a good feature or whether some changes need to be made.
More Functionality From Grow my Store
This is a pretty big deal, which is why it needs its own section. Google’s Grow my Store website helps businesses increase their success rates in-store and online, depending on the nature of said business. This is done by first signing up for a profile and then entering information about your business. The website will then generate a report showing various industry benchmarks and whether your business meets them or not. This report can take from half an hour to a few hours to generate depending on the size of your business. So what’s in that report? Let’s take a closer look.
Your Website Score
The first things you will see are percentages showing your website score and the industry average score so that you can see how they compare to each other. Naturally, you want your score to be around the average or better. The average score is based on certain categories, which are broken down in the report.
However, the report does not give a percentage score to each of those categories. Instead, you simply get a check or a cross indicating whether your site has a certain feature or not. This can help to simplify things for most people but more detailed information would have been useful as well.
The product information page shows you the following information, as stated previously, it only shows you whether you have these features or not, the report does not show you how well they are implemented:
Product Details – This shows whether or not you have detailed descriptions and clear listings of the products on your site.
Product Ratings/Reviews – These are self-explanatory and they are necessary because they help give users more insight into the products that you carry.
Product Search – This shows you if your products are easy to find and is also an indicator of how easy it is to navigate around your site.
Product Price – This is a basic feature of any e-commerce website and indicates whether your prices are clearly labeled or not.
This page of the report shows the following information:
Opening Hours – This shows your store’s hours of operation. It’s a basic feature but a vital one for potential customers.
Store Directions – Any brick and mortar store needs to have an address listed, as well as directions and maps to help potential customers find it.
Geolocation – This shows you where your customers are located so that you can direct them to the store that is closest to them or offer them more detailed travel instructions.
This page shows whether your site allows customers to personalize their account, set up wishlists, or tag products as their favorite.
This is highly important to the functioning of a good business and this page of the report shows whether your website has the following features:
- Your business’s phone number.
- A live chat feature that allows customers to ask more detailed questions if the relevant information is not on your website.
- Easy to find information about your store’s return policy.
- At least two social media accounts linked to your website so that you increase your reach to more potential customers.
This section simply shows whether your site has HTTPS security or not. That is because it is something that any site that conducts financial transactions needs to have.
Every website needs to be optimized for smartphones and this page of the report shows if your site has that functionality. It also shows if your mobile load speeds are fast enough, but it does not show you how fast those load speeds are.
How Do These Features Affect Local Businesses?
Most businesses will find many of these features to be useful, especially since they are all free. Promoted pins might need a little work, but otherwise, they should be helpful. The Grow my Store report is useful for a basic insight into the overall functionality of your website but it could use some more details to help with optimization. Fortunately, On The Map Marketing can help you with that. If you run the Grow my Store report and find that you are lacking in certain features and do not know how to fix them, then we can help you.
That is because the report only shows you what is broken and not how to fix those problems. We can address any concerns you have, or if we build your website for you, then you will avoid those problems in the first place. So these new Google features are overall quite solid, but you will still need a helping hand to make your website the best that it can be. On The Map Marketing will always offer that hand so that your website stands out from the rest.