On March 15, Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google, posted the actions Google is taking in response to the coronavirus outbreak. Some of the things includes Google Search and Maps showing if a place or business is temporarily closed.
“In the coming days, we’ll make it possible for businesses to easily mark themselves as ‘temporarily closed’ using Google My Business,” Pichai wrote. He also said that the company is using its AI assistant Duplex to contact businesses “to confirm their updated business hours, so we can reflect them accurately when people are looking on Search and Maps.”
About 90% of Google My Business (GMB) accounts are small businesses.
There is a fairly large number of businesses that still haven’t claimed their GMB listings. BradMuscle found that in 2016, 56% of local businesses didn’t claim their GMB listings. In 2019, it was found that number was down to about 40%. Even then, almost 60% in the US has claimed them.
Duplex could help in the effort to update store hours information, although it is still going to be a challenge for Google to do this for most of businesses listed. Eve more important than hours is if places like restaurants off takeout and delivery.
As an example, in places like California, Ohio, Illinois, Massachusetts and Washington, restaurants and bars are being closed in order to prevent unnecessarily spreading the virus, although New York is allowing takeout and delivery. California has some similar rules, although there are restaurants that will still be open. Other cities are enacting similar restrictions.
On March 15, Pichai mentioned that Google Maps will train its “automated and manual review systems” on “false and harmful content such as fake reviews and misleading information about healthcare locations.”