Google has rolled out a new promotional tool for small businesses: Google Posts.
The feature, released June 22, lets businesses publish details about events, products and services directly to Google Search and Maps as an extension of the Knowledge Panel. This makes for increased visibility for valuable (and profitable) messaging about time-sensitive sales, specials and events.
Obviously, Page 1 real estate is in high demand, considering that 82 percent of people turn to search engines to find local information. Traditionally, such prominent placement was only available through paid advertising or through months of painstaking content optimization and link-building SEO work.
While Google conceivably may one day monetize the feature, you can currently take advantage of Google Posts for free. It’s widespread rollout (having already released it to political candidates, sport teams and more over the past year and a half) is likely an attempt to get small businesses using the Google My Business portal more consistently.
What’s the difference between Google Posts and Google Plus?
Let’s be honest: Keeping track of Google’s business tools
can sometimes be is confusing. Over the past five years, we’ve seen numerous iterations of Google Places, Google Local, Google Maps, Google Plus and GMB – and, now, they’ve added Google Posts to the mix. To make the most of this new feature, it’s essential to distinguish it from other Google tools.
Think of GMB as an umbrella portal for everything Google offers to business owners. Among other features, it houses the data for your verified business listing, which shows up in Search and on Maps. The Google Posts tool is simply an extension of this. Google Plus, on the other hand, is the social network of the behemoth’s repertoire.
In short, Google Posts is for one-to-many promotional messages; Google Plus posts are for two-way conversations.
Learn the nuts and bolts of Google Posts.
Google Posts have four major components:
- Photo: Choose a JPG or PNG that’s at least 720 square pixels. Standard composition best practices (e.g., following the rule of thirds) will serve you well here, as they do elsewhere.
- Text: Share the details of your update or promotion with compelling, snappy text. You have a maximum of 1,500 characters, but Google suggests sticking to 150 to 300 characters. Make that first sentence or two count!
- Event details: If you’re promoting a sale or event, you can give the promotion a name and set a start and end date and time. Event names cannot have more than 50 characters.
- CTA: Depending on your business category, you may choose “Learn More,” “Reserve,” “Buy,” “Sign Up” or “Get Offer” as CTA buttons. Choose a relevant landing page to set as the destination (and consider using custom tracking to distinguish these visits from your other traffic).
For additional best practices, check out Google’s guide to great Posts.
Basic analytics are available, specifically the number of views and the number of CTA button clicks.
Posts disappear after seven days, except for event posts. A spokesperson from Google told Search Engine Land, “Posts enable merchants to share timely, relevant updates on Google Search and Maps. To ensure that posts are timely, they’re removed from the default view after seven days (or when the event date the post referenced has passed). However, a historical view of posts is shown under the Posts tab on mobile.”
How can I use Google Posts to promote my business?
Considering the promotional slant of Google Posts, it’s the perfect opportunity to highlight your business. Here are several themes to get those wheels turning:
Share special offers or promotions to drive sales with promo codes.
Spread the word about your next event and drive RSVPs.
Highlight a new product, since users are just one frictionless click away from owning the next big thing.
Ask users to subscribe to your email list for the latest deals and news about your business.
Link to your latest blog post, newsletter or e-book to increase views and solidify your role as a thought leader in your industry.
Tell users when you’re hiring or if you decide to shut down during inclement weather.
Let’s take Google Posts from theory to application.
Most businesses with a verified GMB listing are now able to post. However, there is at least one exception: hotels. Marissa Nordahl, Community Manager for GMB, confirmed Posts has not been launched to all business categories in a comment within the GMB Communities forum. Should Posts also not be available to you, you can fill out Google’s request form.
Assuming you do have access, though, you simply visit your GMB portal on desktop or open your GMB app for iOS or Android to begin posting. On desktop, you’ll see Posts listed at the top of the left-hand menu. On mobile, you’ll see a full-screen CTA in your app’s home feed. (You can also access it by clicking the hamburger menu button in the top-left corner.)
From there, follow the suggestions outlined earlier in this post to craft your first winning post (of many)!
After you test it out, we want to hear from you. Which of the strategies above — or perhaps an out-of-the-box application — have you tried? Share with us below in the comments.
Director, Strategic Communications, Moving Targets