Target the right people in your Google My Business listing with Google’s new Google Posts.
Google Posts – What is it and how does it work?
The much anticipated Google Posts feature has recently been made available to businesses using the GMB (Google My Business) platform. Google Posts allows local businesses to share content that features directly in the search results when users search for a business. Posts also have the chance to show up in Maps results depending on the nature of the query and the post.
Google first launched this feature in January 2016 during the US election primarily for the purpose of allowing presidential candidates to post content in the search results in a card-like horizontal carousel, which at the time Search Engine Land dubbed as “Candidate Cards”.
A few months later in March 2016 Google then started to slowly expand Google Posts to a limited number of small businesses in the US by invitation only.
In late June 2017 this feature was finally rolled out via the GMB platform and now is also accessible to small businesses in Australia.
How Can Local Businesses Use Google Posts?
Wondering if your business should be using Google Posts? For any local business that already has a well-established brand and recognition, Google Posts are the perfect opportunity to publish fresh content that helps you improve your presence in search results particularly in the Knowledge Graph panel when customers search for your brand.
Google has provided the following suggestions for using Google Posts:
Announcing new promotions or daily specials
Promoting visibility of new and upcoming events
Highlighting some of your newest products or best-sellers
Taking reservations, attracting signups for a newsletter, or selling a product directly.
It is important to note that the businesses to benefit most from this feature at this stage are the ones who already have significant recognition and volume around their branded searches. Unfortunately, if your local business does not already generate significant branded searches that trigger a Knowledge Graph result, it is less likely that searches will see any content you publish via Google Posts.
At Rocket, we’ve used Google Posts (Events) to help clients gain increased visibility during promotional sale periods, assist with driving foot traffic in-store and also highlight key updates relevant to a business’s specific location.
How To Create A Google Post (Event)
Creating a Google Post is super simple. When you log into your Google My Business dashboard, just beneath the home link in the left-hand navigation menu you will find “posts”. Below is a screenshot of the interface.
When you’re ready to publish, these are the key details you will need to enter:
Event Title:Think of this as your headline. Make it compelling to entice users to click! I would recommend having your key message as concise and close as possible to the beginning to avoid having it cut off (especially on mobile devices). Describe your event in 4-5 words. You have 58 characters for your title.
Post: The main body of the post has a 100-300 character limit. However the Knowledge Graph will display the first 100 characters of the post, so make it count and make sure the most important parts of your message don’t get cut off.
Image: The image is not compulsory, however, your post will stand out more and generate more engagement if it has a visually impactful image. Make sure your image is centre weighted and fits well within the dimensions to avoid important parts being cut off. The minimum dimensions for the image are 400×300 px (when first launched the minimum size for Google Posts used to be a 344 x 344 square format, however, Google seems to have since updated this and now your image needs to fit within rectangular dimensions).Also, if you’re promoting a particular offer with an event-type post it may be worthwhile to include the promotion of the actual image itself, as the headline and main description tend to get cut off particularly in the mobile view:
Event Start and End Time: If you have selected an event-type Google Post then you will need to enter a start and end date, including the specific time of day. To be honest, I think the fields for the exact start and end time are unnecessary but it’s a required field if you’re creating a Google Post Event. Events will stay live for the entire period selected, however, if you are publishing a standard Google Post, then it expires after 7 days.
Call To Action: You have the option of adding a button and there are a few different CTA’s to choose from which include Reserve, Buy, Learn More and Get Offer.
URL: Consider where you’d like to send your customer once they click on the CTA. If you’re promoting a sale, link directly to the relevant sale landing page. The URL is currently not shown anywhere within the post. We also highly recommend using UTM tags within the URL link to allow you to track clicks through to your website.There are plenty of UTM generators out there that you can use, but here is one below that you can edit:
Implementing the UTM tag above will allow you to track the number of clicks from your individual Google Posts.
Additionally, Google My Business provides some basic insights to show you how many views and clicks each post has received. To access this data log into Google My Business and select the relevant GMB account Click the post that you want to view insights for. You’ll see the number of views and button clicks for this post. (It can take up to 2-3 days for insights data to be updated.)
Current limitations of the platform
As this is a relatively new feature it is a little challenging to determine the full impact of Google Posts. From an initial review here’s what I believe are the current limitations of the platform:
Google Posts expire after a period of 7 days, except for Events which are live for the entire duration. On this basis, if your business is limited in resources I would suggest that Google Posts would be more worthwhile if you’re using it to highlight promotional periods and sales, as opposed to using it to just publish blog content.
As mentioned earlier, to benefit from this feature right now your brand should already be recognised as posts are only triggered in the Knowledge Graph result when users search for a business. That’s not to say that Google won’t update this later on so that posts also show for non-branded search results. But that is pure speculation at the moment!
There is no functionality to do a bulk upload. So for example, if you are promoting a sale across multiple store locations this may get tedious as you have to upload each post individually to each GMB account.
Accurate numbers on search visibility can be difficult to ascertain. Google My Business provides insights, but note that it can take 2-3 days for data to populate.
Clicks and website traffic are also a little tricky to measure at the moment. One of the biggest downfalls that I see with Google Posts is that you have to click twice on the CTA before you’re taken to the website.
Google Quality Control – no doubt a lot of businesses will be jumping on the opportunity to post, as it’s a great way to get immediate and increased visibility in the search results. This could potentially lead to abuse and spammy messaging. Google will likely be placing more restrictions on what you can post or taking some control away.
However, despite these limitations, and considering the ease of implementation there is a lot of potential for local businesses to capitalise on this new feature to improve the appearance of their listing, and also use it to support other marketing initiatives and of course (for now) it’s free!