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Google now lets businesses clarify what online services they offer during the pandemic

Google is adding new features to help businesses communicate with customers

Illustration: Alex Castro / The Verge

Google will soon let businesses add additional descriptors to their listings that appear in Google Search and Maps results to better help potential customers understand what online services they offer. The company is adding these new descriptors and announcing a number of other features today to help businesses better surface important information for customers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The descriptors, which Google calls “attributes,” are short notes that show up under other business information on a listing. You might have seen these before; a restaurant might have an attribute noting that it offers takeout, for example.

The new attributes will let a business say what online services they have. That means a yoga studio offering virtual lessons could add an “online classes” attribute, for instance. Business owners will be able to add one online attribute, though their businesses will have to be verified by Google to use the feature. Here’s a screenshot from Google to give you an idea of what the online attributes may look like:

Image: Google

Google is also expanding a tool called Reserve with Google that lets people book appointments directly from a listing. Google previously offered integrations with more than 100 service-booking partners for in-person services, but now businesses can offer appointments for online services via those partners. Businesses will also be able to specify how to attend the online appointment or class right from the listing.

Image: Google

There are a few new features for restaurants, too. Restaurants will soon be able to specify their preferred delivery or takeout partner company in their business listing, and Google is now letting restaurants that are takeout- or delivery-only (sometimes called virtual or cloud kitchens) apply to become verified businesses.

Google is also letting more businesses across the globe add links to direct donations or buy a gift card right in their business listings. Google first said these links were available to businesses in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand on May 11th, but Google is rolling out the feature for businesses in 18 more countries, including Italy, Spain and Japan, starting today.

Correction: Businesses could already add some attributes to their listings in Search and Maps results. What’s new is that they will be able to add an attribute about online services they offer to their listings. We have made changes to this article to reflect this distinction. We regret the errors.