27 Oct 2020

Stay on top of Search Marketing

Ian Lockwood

Ian Lockwood, Digital Growth Programme consultant shares some useful updates that have happened on Google My Business to allow businesses to include any Covid-related changes and information. And some even bigger news for ecommerce retailers who can now opt to have free listings alongside its Shopping ads.

As businesses continue to adapt and develop during the pandemic, digital marketing platforms like Google, Facebook and others have to mirror this in the features they provide, alongside the regular updates they usually make. One of the most visible areas of this is Google My Business, the platform for local business information (

Google My business

Many reading this will have a Google My Business profile (and if you don’t, you should!), but may not be aware of the Covid-related features available. The latest of these, added in September, allows the addition of “Health and safety” attributes to a business listing such as “Appointment required”, “Mask required”, “Staff get temperature checks” and other such notices. Clearly for any business visited by customers, these are helpful indicators of the requirements and precautions being taken against coronavirus.

There are also “Service option” attributes for kerbside pickup, no-contact delivery, in-store pickup and for restaurants, dine-in, so customers know what their options are. For businesses that are able to offer online delivery of services, attributes such as “online estimates” and “online classes” are available. These attributes are displayed in the business details when viewed on Google Maps, highlighting them to searchers.

All of these attributes can be set by logging in to your Google My Business account and editing the Info section. Scroll down the Info page to locate them, just under the Services section. Note that the attributes available differ depending on the categories your business is listed under (shown and editable at the top of the Info page).


Logged in to Google My Business, you will also see the COVID-19 section of the homepage. This allows you to alter your business hours (including different hours for when your premises are open or you offer delivery), post a specific COVID-19 update, or even request support from customers by offering gift cards or a donation page (as long as your business was verified with Google before 1st March). These are displayed prominently within your business information in Google search results.

shopping ads

Outside of local search, there is big news for ecommerce retailers as Google has rolled out free listings alongside its Shopping ads. If you want to be included in these free listings, you’ll need a Google Merchant Centre account and a compliant product feed, then opt-in to “Surfaces across Google” (note that you still need to do this even if already running Google Shopping Ads). Full instructions: It’s worth noting that Bing will be rolling out free shopping listings in the near future too, requiring a Bing Merchant Centre account.

Meanwhile, Google Ads advertisers may have noted that Google is hiding more search term data, reducing the visibility of what users actually search for to trigger ads and making it harder to optimise campaigns, whilst also increasing costs by passing on the new 2% Digital Services tax directly to advertisers. Keep an eye out for image extensions in search ads too, now in beta testing, allowing advertisers to add images to what were previously text-only ads in search results.

If you want to hear more digital marketing updates like these, join Ian at our next Digital Growth Programme webinar. To see the latest dates visit our events page

The Digital Growth Programme is managed by East Midlands Chamber (Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire). It is a programme part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund, the Chamber and Leicestershire County Council designed to help SMEs located in Leicester and Leicestershire embrace new digital technology to improve productivity to aid growth.