News & Analysis

Google Allows Companies to Mark Locations as Closed

Enterprises across the world are finding ways to become productive in a completely locked-down environment. Even as they find ways to collaborate and create sitting at home, the tech giants are seeking ways to become more useful to this quarantined workforce – some are creating hackathons, others offering freebies and still others working to ensure that the user experience on digital platforms remains top notch.

Google seems to have taken the last of these pretty seriously. Many would recall that Sundar Pichai had promised to provide business owners a quick and dirty way to mark themselves as temporarily closed when he revealed the company’s early responses to the coronavirus pandemic that’s engulfed the world as we know it.

The logic was pretty simple. If businesses announce upfront that they’re shut, users seeking to fulfil their requirements would not have to wander outside longer than they should as local establishments would show up as closed or provide details of when they’re likely to open and for how long.

And the process is quite simple, as Google’s published instructions show. Here’s all that one has to do:

  • To make your profile appear as temporarily closed on Google Maps and Search:
    • On your computer, sign in to Google My Business.
    • In the menu on the left, click Info.
    • To the right, point to the section “Close this business on Google”.
    • To expand this section you might need to click the arrow.
    • Click Mark as temporarily closed.

These changes would show up both on Maps and Search till such time as the business owner goes back and reverses the changes in pretty much the same manner.

Those with Google My Business accounts should visit “Close this business on Google” in the menu to locate the above feature. This section shows three options for users, viz., “Mark as temporarily closed,” “Mark as permanently closed” and “Remove Listing.”

It may be recalled that early on its journey, Google only relied on data provided by official sources such as governments. However, this had let to confusion, especially in countries like India where national and regional holidays itself have a way of surprising users of the service that Google wanted users to rely on for their daily activities.

Of course, the feature would work only as effectively as business owners utilize it. Which puts the onus on individual business owners, even if they are franchises of bigger brands, to take up the task of providing details of opening and closing times as well as holidays. In recent times, Google had started quizzing business owners through AI technology to confirm their business hours or suggest an update.

While the large enterprises may not add too much value to Google users, the small and medium business establishments including local provision stores, medical stores, gas stations and medical facilities could use this feature to update their status so that customers can get an update online without having to waste time outside.

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