Google Posts are a new feature introduced by Google which allow businesses to share messages directly with their customers which show up in the local panel on Google search and on Google Maps.
Google Posts enables owners of Google My Business profiles to post content directly into the search engine results pages. Here I will discuss the background to Posts, what they actually are, how they can be utilised and the potential benefits of doing so.
Background on Google Posts
So first then, a little bit of background on Google Posts so that you have an idea of how they have developed over time. Google Posts first appeared in January 2016 and were initially only for use by US presidential candidates. In March of the same year, their use was expanded for businesses (but only a small number of local companies).
Shortly thereafter, the featured was opened up to various other public figures and things such as movies, museums, sports teams in the US and Brazil, as well as musicians from the latter.
What are Google Posts?
Essentially Google Posts allow businesses to share messages which show up in the local panel on Google search and on Google Maps. They are created within the Google My Business dashboard, and appear instantaneously in the search results for branded keyword searches. Each Post can be up to 300 words in length and include a photo – they can also include a clickable call to action button and a date range (for events).
Google Posts appear when triggered by searching for brand terms associated with the business, and up to 10 Posts can appear in a scroll-through carousel within the Knowledge panel for that business (see the two cards below right below the contact information for Hallam – they’re the Posts!):
We found that having only one Post for Hallam looked even more effective as less of the image is cropped by Google:
Posts can also be viewed within the local business map finder when searching for other keywords, such as “digital marketing agency nottingham” (see result for Hallam below):
As you can see, the Posts are pretty prominently displayed in the search results and are even more so on mobile.
How long do Google Posts last for?
Note that Posts do expire after a week so you’ll need to keep updating them. See more info from Search Engine Land here.
Google has confirmed that most Google Posts are removed seven days after they are first published.
The exception to this rule is Google Posts that are based on upcoming events. Event-based Google Posts are removed after the event date.
How do I set up Google Posts?
Simply access your Google My Business account and click on “Posts” on the left-hand side menu:
When writing a post, you are given several options: upload an image, write text (up to 300 words) or add an event title (with start and end dates and times). Users can also add call-to-action buttons including “Learn more,” “Reserve,” “Sign up,” “Buy” or “Get offer.” It’s really easy to use – this is what it looks like:
When creating the post you can add a photo (animated gifs and video are not supported). A pixel size of 750 x 750 is recommended with a minimum of 344 x 344 required. Google auto-crops the image to a square and you are able to move and drag/select on the image so you can easily choose what you want to show. You’ll also want to consider how Google further crops the photos to appear in the search results – as you can see from the Hallam-specific screenshots above, the cropped image shown in the results is not a square but rather a landscape – it is only when the user clicks on the Post that the image shows as a square:
What can Google Posts be used for?
Google posted the following about their roll out of this feature:
With 82% of people turning to search engines to find local information, your Google listing is the ideal place to showcase what is unique about your business. Even when customers know exactly what they’re looking for, they still want to get to know the business and see what it has to offer. That’s why Google My Business is bringing Posts to local businesses — an easy way to help attract new customers and build relationships with the customers you already have.
So for example at Hallam, we might promote our latest event, or a photo of a recent award win. We can also use them the draw attention to testimonials and case studies.
There are various possibilities, depending on your business type:
- company announcements like new products, or award wins
- forthcoming events
- an ecommerce site could create Posts for new products or showcase their top selling products
- a local theatre could display their current and upcoming shows as Posts
- a restaurant or bar could share daily specials or even promote a special offer via a Post, which also give customers an easy, direct way to book reservations
How can you track engagement with your posts?
- Google reports on the number of views and clicks on your Post within Google My Business (you can see on the Post below that it was viewed 239 times, and the CTA button was clicked 7 times)
- You can use URL tagging/UTM codes so you can work out how users engage with your website after they click on a CTA on a Post
- Voucher codes can also be used to track engagement, specifically if a code was added to a post and people come into the business or make an online purchase with that code.
What are the potential benefits of using Google Posts?
By using Google Posts, you can make it easier for potential customers to complete actions on your site by providing a one click path to a specific page on your site. You can use Posts to drive traffic to a chosen piece of content on your website.
Google are essentially helping you to stand out, and allowing businesses more freedom in how they connect with their customers. This is especially true seeing as the Posts appear pretty much instantaneously, providing almost a real-time feed into the search results for your brand.
Other benefits of using Google Posts could be because other companies are bidding on your branded terms on the Search Network, for instance. Even if someone searches your brand they could easily be pulled away by an Google ad or another listing in the SERPS. So having Posts to further expand your presence for your branded terms could help to keep the attention of the searcher focused on your website and your business, allowing you to dominate the first page of results for your brand.
Google Posts are a potentially very useful promotional tool. They’re way to get offers, timely content, marketing messages and seasonal information in front of consumers, beyond the basic profile, images, and reviews information that appears.
Have you had a go at setting up Posts for your business yet? Let us know below!