Google will start to show which businesses are temporarily closed due to the coronavirus outbreak in both search results and within Maps.
On Sunday, Google’s CEO Sundar Pichai released a statement on the company blog explaining the different measures Google was taking in response to the global pandemic. As part of this announcement, the search company will now assist users by showing whether a local business of interest has closed on a temporary basis, due to a government-imposed lockdown or voluntarily.
This move follows the company’s call for businesses to update their opening hours and other relevant details through Google My Business the week before.
Within his post, Pichai explained that in the next few days it would be making it easy for businesses to mark themselves as closed temporarily. Google will be using Duplex, its AI assistant, to contact companies so that Google can display accurate information to people using Maps and Search.
Around 90% of all businesses listed within Google My Businesses are believed to be small businesses with one location. Furthermore, there is a large number of companies that have not claimed their listings. A report from BrandMuscle estimates this to be 40% of businesses.
As well as allowing businesses to change their opening status, Pichai stated that Maps will be training its review systems on fake reviews and other harmful and misleading information concerning healthcare locations.
Google has already made information about the COVID-19 pandemic as accessible as possible. In early February, it launched an SOS Alert for all searches about the coronavirus outbreak, showing the latest news and health advice on the topic from reputable sources to ensure that visitors are given the correct information.
With the internet being the primary source of information, having up-to-date and accurate information about local businesses can be critical in extraordinary circumstances such as this. Businesses should endeavour to keep their clients and other potential customers informed about their intentions at this time.
If you need help keeping your website updated, get in touch with the team at Engage Web.