Google My Business Tips for COVID-19 and Beyond

13 min read

To help support Portland businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic, Travel Portland has partnered with our friends at Locl to develop some quick tips for conveying accurate information to your customers via Google My Business (GMB). Use the links below to check out the recommendations.


Mark a Location as Temporarily Closed | Reopen Your “Temporarily Closed” Business | Update Your Regular Business Hours |Add “More Hours” | Add “Black-Owned Business” Attribute | Use Attributes to Highlight Dining and Shopping Options | Create a COVID-19 Post | Get Support From Customers During COVID-19 | Edit Your Business Description |Upload Photos | Upload Videos | Add Menu Data | Update Categories | Find and Share Your Custom Review Link | Find Your Google Insights | Upload Google Posts to Your Maps Listing | Update Health & Safety Features | Separate Maps Traffic

Optimize Your Google My Business Listing with Locl

Travel Portland has partnered with Locl to help Portland businesses improve their presence in mobile web searches and access a dashboard of historical search data.


Mark a Location as Temporarily Closed

To make your business profile appear as temporarily closed on Google Maps and Google Search:

  1. On your computer, sign in to Google My Business .
  2. In the menu on the left, click Info.
  3. To the right, point to the section “Close this business on Google.” You might need to click the arrow to expand this section.
  4. Click “Mark as temporarily closed.”

If you have multiple profiles, select the profile you want to change then follow steps 2 and 3 to mark your business(es) as temporarily closed. Tip: If your business has temporarily adjusted hours and non-persistent closures, use the “special hours” feature to keep your customers up to date.

Why this is important: Local data accuracy, including store/business hours and communication, become critical at a time like this. Updating or adding hours to reflect a temporary closure is one of the most important things you can do on your listing.


Reopen Your “Temporarily Closed” Business on Google

  1. On your computer, sign in to Google My Business.
  2. In the menu on the left, click Info.
  3. To the right, point to the section “Reopen this business on Google.”
  4. Click “Mark as open.”

If you have multiple profiles, select the profile you want to change then follow steps 2 and 3 to mark your business(es) as open again. Tip: If your business has temporarily adjusted hours and non-persistent closures, use the “special hours” feature to keep your customers up to date.

Why this is important: Local data accuracy, including store/business hours and communication, become critical at a time like this and updating or adding hours to reflect that your business is open again is one of the most important things you can do to ensure your listing gets increased visibility on Search and Maps.


Update Your Regular Business Hours

  1. On your computer, sign in to Google My Business.
  2. In the menu on the left, click Info.
  3. Scroll down and find the first area that lists the days of the week and times Click the pencil next to “Add hours.” You’ll then see a list of options pop up, including Brunch, Pickup, Delivery, Takeout and more.
  4. Click the pencil to the right of this section to make edits.
  5. Choose which days/times your business is open and click “Apply”.

Why this is important: If the hours aren’t correct on your Maps listing, it may be misleading for customers looking to visit. Keeping your regular business hours up to date is important so both new and returning customers know when you’re open and closed.


Add “More Hours”

Google My Business has added a “More Hours” section to reflect COVID-19 measures and give businesses more flexibility in expressing their open business hours and calling attention to their specific services or specials (such as takeout, pickup, brunch, etc.).

  1. On your computer, sign in to Google My Business.
  2. In the menu on the left, click Info.
  3. Under the Hours section, find “More Hours”.
  4. Click the pencil next to “Add hours.” You’ll then see a list of options pop up, including Brunch, Pickup, Delivery, Takeout and more.
  5. Select which option(s) you would like to add hours for by clicking the plus icon in the left hand corner of each category. A drop down menu featuring days of the week and hours will pop up. You can add multiple time windows if you’re open multiple times a day and/or closed for breaks. 
  6. Click “Continue” then “Apply” to save. 

Why this is important: This is especially important as the city starts to open back up, but for businesses who are still keeping social distancing practices in place or adjusted business hours/new business models. 


Add “Black-Owned Business” Attribute to Your Google Maps Listing

  1. On your computer, sign in to Google My Business.
  2. In the menu on the left, click on the Home page .
  3. Scroll to the right and find the “Celebrating Black-owned businesses” section.
  4. Click “Add attributes”.
  5. Select “Black-owned” and/or any other attributes that may apply (e.g. “Women-led”, “Veteran-led”) and click “Apply” to save.

Why this is important: Google has recently added a “Black owned business” attribute for Maps listings. This brand new feature was released by Google as the platform has seen a recent increase in online searches for Black-owned businesses. These labels are now visible in desktop searches as well as on mobile.


Use Attributes to Highlight Dining and Shopping Options

Dining and shopping businesses have attributes at the top of Business Profiles to inform customers about service availability. This new info will prominently appear on your Business Profile when customers search for your business on Google Maps and Google Search. Supported attributes will have a “✓” and non-supported attributes will have an “X.” Learn more about editing attributes.

Food Businesses:

Retail Businesses:

Tip: If a business is marked “Temporarily closed,” these attributes for both dining and retail establishments won’t surface on Google Search and Maps. Businesses that are offering takeout or delivery options should not be marked “Temporarily closed.”

Why this is important: This will help both new and returning customers stay informed on any new services you’re offering, which is especially important right now. It will also help optimize your listing to appear in more searches surrounding these attributes. These labels are now visible in desktop searches as well as on mobile.


Create a COVID-19 Post

  1. On your computer, sign in to Google My Business . If you have multiple locations, open the location you’d like to manage.
  2. From the menu, click “Posts.”
  3. At the top of the page, choose the “COVID-19 update” tab. You can include the following information:
    1. Hours of operation and temporary closures.
    2. Changes to how the business operates, such as takeout or delivery only, call for details, etc.
    3. Updates to how the location is being managed in terms of safety and hygiene.
    4. Requests for support.
  4. To get a preview of your post, click “Preview.”
    1. If you’re happy with your preview, in the top right, click “Publish.”
    2. If you’d like to change your post, in the top left, click “Back.”
    3. Edit your draft until it’s ready to publish, then click “Publish.”

Why this is important: A Google Post is free advertising on your listing. Whether your business is still open or temporarily closed, using posts to communicate with your customers is just one more way to stay connected and keep the momentum up on your listing. At this time, this feature is not available for hotels.


Get Support From Customers During COVID-19

  1. On your computer, sign in to Google My Business . If you have multiple locations, open the location you’d like to manage.
  2. When inside of your Google My Business page, click on “Posts” on the left hand side of the screen.
  3. You’ll see a menu bar at the top of the screen. Click on the first “COVID-19 support” button with the heart icon all the way to the left of the menu bar. 
  4. Fill out all of the information inside of the box that appears after clicking on the support button. Be sure to include all pertinent information, such as a message to your customers, your gift card link, and/or donation link. 
  5. Click “Publish” in the bottom right corner.

Why this is important: Use this new way of communicating to your customers to tell them how to purchase a gift card or make a donation so they can help your business during this time of need. 


Edit Your Business Description

Use your business description to share information about your business such as:

  • If your business is only available for takeout or delivery.
  • If your business is providing extra services to the community.
  • If your business services are delayed.

Why this is important: Using keywords in your description can help optimize your listing and help your business appear in more searches


Upload Photos

  1. On your computer, sign in to Google My Business.
  2. In the menu on the left, click Photos.
  3. Click the plus sign in the right hand corner of the screen.
  4. Select and upload photos from your computer.
  5. Note: Photos should show up inside of Google My Business immediately, but may take up to 48 hours or longer to show live on Google.

Why this is important: Having owner-submitted compelling photos of your products, services and environment can immensely affect your listing’s visibility and conversions into actions. The more captivating photos, the better! 


Add Videos to Your Listing

  1. On your computer, sign in to Google My Business.
  2. In the menu on the left, click on “Photos”.
  3. Scroll to the menu bar at the top and click “Video”.
  4. Click “+” button in the top right corner.
  5. Select video files from your computer and upload. Note: Google supports videos up to 30 seconds long and 100 MB in size and with resolutions of 720 progressive scan (p) or higher.

Why this is important: Videos will show in local listings and search results and help to tell the story of your business and what makes it unique.


Add Menu Data

Add your menu data on Google My Business.

  1. On your computer, sign in to Google My Business.
  2. Choose the location you’d like to manage.
  3. In the menu on the left, click Info > Menu.
  4. Add or edit your menu items.
  5. Click “Add.”

Why this is important: If your restaurant is offering a new or limited menu, updating this in GMB will let visitors know exactly what’s being offered, in addition to helping your business appear in more searches.


Update Categories on Your Listing

  1. On your computer, sign in to Google My Business.
  2. In the menu on the left, click Info.
  3. You’ll find a list of categories in the top center of the page.
  4. Click the pencil next to the first, or primary, category.
  5. Type in keywords to find categories that apply to your business, then hit Apply to save. 

    Note: Google allows you to set both a primary category and secondary categories (up to 10 total) to help optimize your listing and cast a wider net in search. 

Why this is important: Categories help inform both people and search engines about the type of business you are managing. The primary category you select on a Google My Business listing is important, as this is what searchers will see on your listing. 


Find and Share Your Custom Review Link

  1. On your computer, sign in to Google My Business.
  2. In the menu on the left, click Home.
  3. Scroll down and find the box that says “Get More Reviews”.
  4. Click “Share review form.” This will open a separate box with the custom review link.
  5. Copy and paste the review link and send to as many customers, friends, and family as you can (note – you can use this link in newsletters, eblasts, texts, etc. to send directly to your customer base).

Why this is important: The more positive reviews you can gather, the higher Google will place your listing in their search ranking. 


Find Your Google Insights

  1. On your computer, sign in to Google My Business.
  2. In the menu on the left, click Insights.
  3. Select to view Insights from One Week, One Month, or One Quarter.

Why this is important: Google My Business Insights focuses on what keywords people are using to find your listing on search and maps. We recommend using these keywords when creating content on your maps listing, such as in posts, products and your business description. Google lets you see up to one quarter of Insights. 


Upload Google Posts to Your Maps Listing

  1. On your computer, sign in to Google My Business.
  2. In the menu on the left, click Posts.
  3. Select which type of post you want to add (i.e., Add Offer, Add Update, Add Event).
  4. Fill out all fields, upload a photo/video and click Publish.

Why this is important: Think of posts like free advertising on a listing. These can tell searchers what’s new at your location, help promote events, highlight offers and more.


Update Health & Safety Features

  1. On your computer, sign in to Google My Business.
  2. In the menu on the left, click Info.
  3. Scroll down to the “Highlights” section and click the small pencil to edit.
  4. Find the section below that says “Health & Safety” and add those that apply to your business. Then click “Apply”. 

Why this is important: This update should help business owners provide reassurance to potential customers that safety protocols are in place.

Note: This new update may not show up for everyone right away, as Google has slowly started rolling this new feature out. 


Separate Maps Traffic

  1. Visit this Campaign URL Builder.
  2. Paste your website URL into the first line that says “Website URL”. Scroll down to the “Highlights” section and click the small pencil icon to edit.
  3. Enter this text “Google Maps-Locl.io” into “Campaign Source”.
  4. Enter this text “Website” into “Campaign Medium”.
  5. Enter your business name into “Campaign Name”.
  6. You’ll see the generated campaign URL at the bottom of the page. Copy this link. 
  7. Sign in to Google My Business.
  8. In the menu on the left, click on Info.
  9. Scroll down to the “Website” section and click the small pencil to edit.
  10. Paste the new URL into the box and click “Apply”. 

Why this is important: 93% of all searches are happening on Google — but your Maps traffic is lumped into organic traffic in Google Analytics. By separating your maps traffic, you can see exactly how much traffic is coming to your listing.