Google Extends Availability Of Donations, Gift Cards In Search & Maps

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Google is now set to provide businesses in more regions with the ability to add donations and gift cards in Search and Google Maps. More specifically, the change-up will allow businesses in the new regions to add support links for both to their profiles, giving users a new way to provide donations or buy gift cards.

The feature will appear in both of the above-mentioned services and on Business Profile cards in no fewer than 18 new countries, following the change. That's following an initial launch in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand earlier this month. Now, businesses in regions such as Italy, Spain, Japan, and more will be able to display the card as well.

As with the prior launch, Google has partnered with both PayPal and GoFundMe on the donation side of things. Gift card links, conversely, will need to redirect to a relevant purchase page or via partners such as Square, Toast, Clover, and Vagaro.

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Businesses are gaining more than donations and gift card UI in Search and Maps too

Now, this change falls in line with other features on the way for businesses starting today. But the overall goal is to give business owners and consumers more ways to interact. In this case, the feature expansion is driven by a recent uptick in terms of key search terms. Namely, the company says that the number of users searching for ways to "help small businesses" peaked in March. In fact, the use of related search queries jumped by as much as 700-percent from February.

According to Google, citing a recent report from the Connected Commerce Council, as many as one-third of small business owners have effectively said these types of digital tools are required to stay afloat. Otherwise, those businesses would need to partially or completely shut down. Particularly as businesses shift to online-first services.

The goal here is to surface details related to that and provide businesses with a way to sell gift cards in a single new card. The cards themselves appear just below a business's branding in Business Profiles. Those can be found via a Google Search and prominently in results on Google Maps.

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The other changes Google is pushing out will make it easier for users to find online-specific services, to begin with. Especially where businesses need to clarify exactly what's available outside of the standard retail environment.

For instance, Maps and Search will now highlight services on offer via the standard "attributes" UI shown in correlation with businesses. It will also be quick and easy for users in the new regions to set up reservations and book appointments. Finally, Google is making changes that allow take-out- or delivery-only businesses to sign up for a Business Profile. That way they'll have a presence on Maps and in Search.

How does this impact end-users

On the user side of the equation, this change means that communities will be better equipped to support local businesses. So, if users have a favorite restaurant, service, or retailer that they want to help out, they'll be able to. And that'll be possible by either donating directly or by buying a gift card for somebody else to use.

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