Google launched their ‘Posts’ function in June this year and it sounded like it could be an awesome tool for small business. Posts allows you to publish events, sales, products and services directly into search and maps via your Google My Business page.
“By creating posts, you can place your timely content in front of customers when they find your business listing on Google.” Google My Business.
The intention for posts is to provide customers with a simple, one-click path to action via search, by-passing the need for users to find the right page on your website.
Posts expire after seven days, ensuring that the feed is always fresh and relevant.
The good things about Google Posts:
- It’s really quick and easy to post (you can do it directly from the My Business app)
- It’s free
- You can add images, GIFs, videos and events
- There’s also a function allowing customers to share your post with friends/followers
Who’s using posts?
From what I can see, very few businesses are currently using Posts. Well not in Australia, anyway.
Of the multitude of digital agencies who wrote enthusiastic blog articles about the launch, I couldn’t find any who were using it for their own benefit.
I used Google to search local businesses in my area that I know to be socially savvy and it didn’t appear that any of them were using it either.
Why aren’t more businesses using Google Posts?
It’s one more ‘update’ that small businesses have to add to their already hectic schedule.
On top of Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat and blog posts, does any small business owner have the time for another update? Until very recently there were no scheduling capabilities, so you couldn’t even plan ahead and automate for future sales/ events etc.
It’s a lot of effort for businesses with multiple locations. These types of businesses would have to manually update to every single location, even if they want to post the same update to all locations as there’s no bulk posting facility.
Lack of visibility:
It’s actually quite hard to find Google Posts. You have to be searching for a particular business name, find their Google Business page amongst the sea of other results for that particular business and find the Posts in amongst it.
Below is an example of a business currently using Google Posts. You have to type her exact business name directly into Google to bring up her My Business page.
Here’s your challenge – can you find the Posts as you scroll down?
Did you see them? Probably not.
If you were in mid search, you would most likely have clicked straight on her website and missed the posts.
Here they are if you missed them (circled in red):
These posts are a lot more visible on mobile (Facebook probably designed the function more for mobile), but they could still be missed amongst all of the other My Business info such as opening hours, location, reviews, FAQ etc.
Don’t give up on Google Posts just yet… it turns out they might have a bit of SEO juice
SEO expert Joy Hawkins recently teamed up with social media agency Steady Demand to conduct a test exploring whether Google Posts could improve search rankings for local business listings.
They picked two small businesses (a garage flooring company and a church) and tested to see whether regular updates to their Google Posts could improve rankings for certain keywords.
The team at Steady Demand made two posts every seven days in Google My Business from August 11, 2017, to October 1, 2017.
The results were quite impressive:
-For a core local search keyword, the garage flooring company moved up from position four to three less than a week after posting began
-The church saw a more gradual improvement in rankings for a location based keyword search term
Their overall conclusions were as follows:
- Google Posts do have a mild impact on ranking, but might only work for certain industries/categories
- Google Posts should be combined with other SEO tasks and not relied upon solely to improve rankings
- The positive impact on rankings were still in effect a few weeks after they stopped the regular posting, which is different to what they’ve observed when posting on other social platforms
Read the full study on the Search Engine Land blog in more detail.
For small businesses looking to improve rankings in local search, it really could be worth going to the effort of updating your Google Posts. You could even conduct your own tests over a couple of weeks to see if it pays back.
How to create your first Google Post
It’s really very simple – there are just four steps.
- Sign in to your Google My Business page. If you have two or more locations, choose which location you’d like to post to by clicking Manage location.
- Click Create post.
- The “Create post” screen will appear where you’ll be given the choice of adding text, photos, events and a call to action button.
- Once you’ve created your post, click Preview. If you’re happy with how it looks, click Publish in the top right corner of the screen.
- Open the Google My Business app.
- In the bottom right corner of the screen, select the create icon . Then select the posts icon that comes up.
- The “Create post” screen will come up and you’ll be given the choice of adding text, photos, events and a call to action button.
- Once you’ve filled out your information, you’ll see a preview of your post. If you’re happy with how it looks, select Publish in the top right corner of the screen.
How to create an effective Google Post
Google Posts are a bit like very simple Facebook ads – you need to be short, sweet and eye-catching in order to make the most of them.
The image must catch people’s attention and draw them in, the headline should inspire and the body copy should elaborate on the headline and make you take action.
Sample Post provided by Google:
This post works well because of four things:
- The photo is enticing
- The headline and body copy focus on the offer and inspire readers to take action
- The post is short and to the point
- There’s a clear call-to-action: “Book now”
Still unsure? Google offers more detailed tips in their help page.
Have you used Google Posts and if so, did you notice any change to your SEO?