In the past seven days, Google has continued to expand its response to COVID-19, including the release of a help document for healthcare providers on how to get started on Google My Business. Google Ads also published a statement this past week saying $340 million in ad credits will be given in the coming months to small and medium-sized businesses worldwide, and Google has provided recommendations on how companies can pause their business activities online.
In unrelated Google COVID-19 update news, Google Posts are back in GMB, the Google Podcasts app has been redesigned and is now available for iOS devices, and as always, Google us updating features in the SERPs. Also, there has been a lot of SERP volatility, and with fluctuations come theories, but we have no exact information on why yet.
Google Posts Are Back in Google My Business
Google My Business tweeted on March 30th that business posts have now resumed, but you may not see the option for a few days.
They linked to a support article which states, “Attention: Business posts were temporarily disabled for some businesses and have since resumed. We’re working to reprocess previously rejected posts – please check within a few days to see whether your post is live, or create a new one. In addition, if you are creating a post about business updates related to COVID-19, you can now create a “COVID-19 update”, which will be featured more prominently within your Business Profile.”
Business posts were temporarily disabled and have now resumed. For more information, check out our Help Center→ https://t.co/cbEOr72wSR
— Google My Business (@GoogleMyBiz) March 30, 2020
For more information, visit the Google My Business Help Center article Limited Google My Business functionality due to COVID-19.
Google Recommends Addressing COVID-19 Business Operations Issues
Google recommends creating specific posts regarding COVID-19 that address:
- Hours of operation and temporary closures.
- Changes to how your business operates (e.g., pick up or delivery only, curbside pick up, call for details, etc.).
- Updates to how the location is being managed as it relates to safety and hygiene.
- Requests for support.
Google says these updates will be a standalone carousel just below the business info. Here is how you create a post for including business changes:
Google Search Showing Delivery and Takeout Discover More Places Cards
It has been discovered and posted on Twitter by Mordy Oberstein that the ‘Discover More Places’ carousel of images for certain food-related keywords now begins with ‘delivery’ and takeout’ cards, which could be really helpful for users today.
Google Releases Recommendations on How to Pause Your Business Online
In light of the spread of COVID-19 affecting many companies’ online activities, Google has released recommendations for business owners on how they can pause their business online, and reduce the impact with Google Search. This includes limiting site functionality. Google recommends keeping your site online if you intend to reopen your online business, but reduce its functionality to limit the impact on your site’s online presence in Search.
Google also advises businesses to:
Reduce or disable the cart functionality: This does not change your company visibility in Search.
Inform Google of updates: For a limited number of pages, ask Google via Search Console to do a recrawl. For a larger number of pages, use sitemaps.
Structured data update: Adjust to properly reflect dates, product availability, etc. If your company has a physical storefront and your hours have been adjusted, make sure to update Local Business structured data.
Keep customers informed: To avoid potential issues with customers regarding delivery dates, delays, or lack of stock, make sure your business informs users as soon as possible. Banner or pop-ups can keep your customers informed and reduce customer service issues.
Google does not advise businesses online to disable their entire websites, even if it is just for a few weeks, as it can have significant effects for the site in Search, even when implemented properly.
Google listed some of the possible side effects explaining why they do not recommend disabling entire websites; this includes:
Knowledge Panels lose business information: such as your company logo and contact numbers.
Search Console verification failure, meaning you lose all access to your business details in Search.
Customer confusion, they will not be able to find first-hand information about your company, products, or services elsewhere.
For more tips, visit How To Pause Your Business Online In Google Search.
Featured Snippets Showing Timestamp Links From YouTube
Twitter user Raman spotted Google showing featured snippets with timestamps in search results for a YouTube video. It looks like different points in the video was broken down, like a table of contents. You can see what this looks like in the tweet below:
Two Waves of Indexing or Crawling Doesn’t Exist
“First things first, there’s no such thing as the second wave of crawling-ish.” (16:31)
For more on this topic, visit Google: No Such Thing As Two Waves Of Indexing Or Crawling
Google Pledges $340 Million In Ad Credits for Small and Medium-sized Businesses
Google has announced it will be giving small and medium-sized businesses worldwide ad credits totaling $340 million. Google stated, “SMBs who have been active advertisers since the beginning of 2019 will see a credit notification appear in their Google Ads account in the coming months.”
This pledge is part of Google’s larger commitment to provide support to SMBs, governments, health workers, and health organizations during the pandemic.
Google has more information at COVID-19: Ad Credits for Google Ads Small and Medium-sized Businesses.
Evaluating and Adapting Ad Campaigns to COVID-19
Google has provided advice for businesses to consider to help people as they evaluate their ads in response to COVID-19. Ad evaluation advice given by Google includes:
Review assets. Consider the tone of headlines, landing pages content, and descriptions. Also, consider the appropriateness of certain images and videos during this time.
Review your messaging and make sure you are informing visitors about important information, like letting them know if you provide in-store pick-up or delivery options.
What has changed in your business? Let users know about any changes in hours of operation or if you are closed; this can be done by editing your Business Profile.
Make sure your context and tone are appropriate for all audiences. Be more sensitive in phrasing around words related to the coronavirus. Google specified, “double meanings of words like “protection,” “checkup,” “prevention,” or “virus”. And they pointed out, “For international campaigns, be aware of local terms that have been used to reference COVID-19 and regional disruptions.”
Google also published guidance on adapting ads due to market conditions. They recommend:
Staying up to date on local conditions by keeping an eye on recent trends so you can better understand what is happening in local markets.
Being willing to pivot when you see changes in performance metrics like conversions. Adjustments might be necessary.
Pausing ad groups or ads, if necessary. Make sure to update services or products that are affected due to demand issues. If you are not sure when inventory will return, make items as out of stock across channels.
Using tools that will help you adapt to changes, like the Google mobile app that can help you stay connected to campaigns anytime.
For more information, visit Navigating Your Campaigns Through COVID-19.
Google Ads Experimenting with Carousel In Search?
It appears that Google may be testing a new Google Ads format. Matt Burgess posted on Twitter a Google Ads in Search screencast, featuring a new carousel format.
Google Provides Tips for Healthcare Provider on Google My Business
Google My Business posted a guide on how healthcare providers can use the platform to claim and manage their practice’s details. Tips include the ability to add information about services they offer (house calls, telemedicine, diagnostics, etc.), as well as personalize their business profiles on Google Search and Maps.
Other features for healthcare providers on Google My Business that may be helpful include:
Creating booking links: Offers a way for patients to visit a healthcare provider’s site for appointment booking. Patients can also request an appointment on Google Forms through G Suite.
Adding services: Provided by the practice, including descriptions and prices.
Creating posts: Update and engage with patients through posts.
Setting location details within a complex: This also includes providers in group offices or clinics. Providers can request this information to be displayed in their business profile, helping patients find the location of practices that do not have exterior signage on their building.
New Feature and Enhanced Options In Google Search Console
Google announced via Twitter that there are new options that will give you better control over user-level preferences in Google Search Console.
📢 Want better control over your Search Console user level preferences? Here you go!
✔️ NEW: Choose whether to show performance data for your property directly in Search results.
✔️ ENHANCED: Choose which types of emails you want to get.
Read more at https://t.co/JN5B9JIwox pic.twitter.com/BW6ARKgGDi
— Google Webmasters (@googlewmc) March 30, 2020
Email preferences — The new feature enables users to manage the kind of emails sent by Search Console. You can choose to enable or disable specific types of emails or choose to disable all of them. You can also re-subscribe to emails too.
Search Console in results — You may see a summary card of your website’s performance if you search on Google and receive results from one of your Search Console properties. This will only appear for the full user or owner of the website in Search Console. You will also need to make sure you have signed in with that specific Google account when searching for this to show as well.
Additionally, it is possible to control whether or not the summary card appears for any or all of your sites. For more information, visit Search Console Help.
Google Podcasts Is Resigned and Now Available On iOS
Google has revealed a redesign of the Google Podcasts app to make it easier for users to discover podcasts they like, create lists of go-to episodes, and customize their listening preferences. Google Podcasts is also now on iOS for the first time, and it will be rolled out to Android this week. It also now supports subscriptions on the web version of the app.
This is what the Google Podcasts redesign looks like:
The redesigned Google Podcasts app is organized around three tabs:
- Home tab: shows a feed of new episodes and provides quick and easy access to subscribed shows.
- Explore: displays personalized recommendations for shows or episodes. These can be controlled from the Google Podcasts app via settings on the Explore tab.
- Activity: shows listening history as well as downloaded and queued episodes.
For additional information, visit Discover podcasts you’ll love with Google Podcasts, now on iOS.
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Have the options Google has offered during the crisis helped your business? Tell us about it in the comments below.