Aussies are known for our mateship both at the best of times and at the worst of times. In light of the recent bushfires and the disruptions caused by COVID-19, it’s been wonderful to see Australians band together to help each other. It’s therefore unsurprising yet very humbling to see that search results on Google for “help small business” tripled in late March as many businesses were forced to alter operations and general uncertainty was mounting in response to COVID-19 (1).
While we have seen this rise in Aussies’ eagerness to back their local businesses through this period - for business owners, it’s no doubt been a challenging time as they’ve dealt with this evolving and uncertain situation.
For Barney Martin, it’s been incredibly disruptive for his hair salon business. He’s had to deal with closure, time limits on appointments, and strict distancing protocols. To help keep his business running and customers informed, Barney implemented strict new health and safety measures in his salon and uploaded videos of these to his Google My Business profile to give his customers peace of mind they were in good hands.
Barney’s hair salon is just one of thousands of Aussie businesses who have turned to online tools — some for the first time — to help them keep their business ticking over, and to continue to keep their customers informed. We want to make it as easy as possible for businesses to adopt new ways of working and manage through the uncertainty - whether that be from COVID-19 or from the recent Aussie bushfires.
To help them in this, Google Australia has been working to provide businesses not only with direct funding assistance but with access to timely information, tools and resources. I’m pleased to share an update on some of these resources and information on how we’re continuing to help.
Delivering digital skills training to SMBs in bushfire-impacted communities
While our planned Grow with Google bushfire recovery roadshow had to be postponed, the team wasn’t going to let physical distance laws stop them. Our Google small business experts conducted numerous one-on-one small business consultations with a number of business owners from fire impacted communities throughout NSW and Victoria from Bega to Bermagui and other towns in between. The calls enabled our Google small business experts to answer questions relating to the business owner’s Google Business Profiles and questions about how to help them improve their online presence.
Supporting small businesses with free resources
Thanks to partnerships with authorities like Bega Valley Innovation Hub, Northern Beaches Council, Business Australia and ACCI, Grow with Google team have been able to scale free small business resources like our Small Business Pack widely. The team further partnered with community groups such as Bega Valley Innovation Hub to host group training webinars led by one of our Grow with Google trainers, Yash Godbole.
New support links for Google My Business profiles
Establishing a free Business Profile with Google My Business is one of the quickest and easiest ways a small business owner can help their business show up in Search results. I’m really pleased to share the rollout of new support links that let business owners add a donation link, gift card link or both to their profile, giving customers options to support them at this challenging time. They can also share a personal message in a post to inform customers how funds will be put to use.
$20 million to support small businesses and government crisis response
Our CEO Sundar Pichai announced additional support for small businesses, and community and government organisations, in March - so it’s great to see this support being rolled out locally.
We’re providing A$20 million of free Google Ads to our Australian ads customers, government agencies, and to support community organisations. Already we’ve begun passing on ad credits to our Australian customers, with notifications appearing in Google Ads accounts and which can be used at any point until the end of 2020 across our advertising platforms. We hope this will help alleviate some of the costs for Aussie businesses of staying in touch with their customers.
We’re also providing support to Many Rivers through a global response and recovery program being coordinated by Youth Business International and funded by Google’s philanthropic arm, Google.org, to support under-served small and medium businesses to respond to the COVID-19 crisis. Many Rivers will use the funds to increase the accessibility of its online business support tools. We’ll continue to partner with businesses, government, industry groups and the wider community to help all Australians get through COVID-19 and back on to the road to recovery.
Keep your eyes peeled for more updates to be announced shortly.
1) Source: Google Trends, May 2019 - May 2020