Google has expanded its options to enable businesses to call on clients for donations, while it's also launching a new way to promote alternate, online offerings in order to help SMBs stay afloat during the COVID-19 lockdowns.
First off, Google's giving more businesses access to its support links on Google My Business profiles, which enable businesses to call for donations, and promote gift card purchases, within their Google listings.
Google first launched support links earlier in the month, but it's now making the option available in an additional 18 countries
"We’ve partnered with PayPal and GoFundMe for donations. For gift cards, merchants can link directly to the relevant page on their website or to their gift card offerings with one of our eligible partners, which includes Square, Toast, Clover and Vagaro."
Expanding on this, Google's also adding a new search option to make it easier for customers to find support options for local businesses.
"To help connect them with nearby businesses in need, we’ve made it possible for people to look up their favorite local businesses by name to see if they’ve added donation or gift card links to their Business Profile. And in the coming weeks, people will also be able to use Search and Maps to find all of the nearby businesses that are asking for support."
Google says that global search interest in "how to help small businesses" has increased more than 700% since February, and this new option will make it easier for consumers to contribute to SMBs, in particular, in their time of need.
In addition to this, Google's also providing more options for businesses to list digital alternative services in the time of COVID-19.
"Merchants who are verified on Google My Business will soon be able to add attributes like “online classes,” “online appointments,” or “online estimates” to their Business Profiles to let people know how they’re operating."
Google's also expanding it's on-platform appointment booking options to enable more merchants to offer easy appointment bookings for online services.
"Customers can quickly find available times, book a slot, and add it to their Google Calendar- all directly from a merchant’s Business Profile."
That will reduce in-person interactions, while also making it easier for customers to organize their calendars, and better plan any required trips.
The new options come in addition to Google's various business listing options and tools that it's added specifically for COVID-19. Google has also provided a range of information display alternatives for Google My Business profiles, as well as website banners to communicate operational shifts as a result of the lockdowns.
And given that Google still drives the majority of discovery online, it's worth businesses paying attention, and updating the relevant info to ensure they're communicating any necessary changes.
You can read more about Google's latest COVID-19 updates here.