Google My Business helped to revolutionize the world of local search—and the appeal of search engine optimization for small businesses otherwise unfamiliar with SEO. In case you aren’t familiar, Google My Business allows small businesses to create a free account with Google and actively manage how their business appears in Google searches; you can update things like your business name and address, your open hours, and even engage with customers who leave you reviews.
Now, Google My Business has rolled out a new feature that can help businesses attract even more attention to their brands (and earn more search visibility at the same time). But is it worth the extra effort?
How Google Posts Work
Creating a Post on Google My Business is pretty simple, both in concept and in execution. On a desktop computer or mobile device, you can log into your usual My Business dashboard, then head to the left side of the screen to access the “Posts” area. From there, you’ll have the option to add a new Post, which can take a variety of forms.
Google introduces a handful of ways businesses can use posts, but there’s plenty of room for more creativity:
- Announce new promotions or daily specials.
- Promote visibility of new and upcoming events.
- Highlight some of your newest products or best-sellers.
- Take reservations, attract signups for a newsletter, or sell a product directly.
Not bad, right? When you create your Post, you’ll have several options, and you can use any or all of them to complete your post. You can add an image, a title, and up to 300 words of text describing the post. You can also add a call-to-action button from a range of different options, including “learn more,” “reserve,” “buy,” “sign up,” or “get offer.”
Your Posts will then have a chance to show up for Google search as well as Google Maps, depending on the nature of the query and the nature of the Post.
If this sounds a bit familiar, you might have heard of this feature under a different name. It was first introduced in January 2016 under as “candidate cards,” released exclusively for political candidates looking to gain visibility. Shortly thereafter, the feature was quietly rolled out to a handful of small businesses—but as of now, the feature is available to everybody.
Since it’s still in its early stages, it’s tough to tell exactly how much benefit you could get from Google Posts; search visibility isn’t precisely calculable, and the limitations haven’t been fully tested. Still, the potential here seems very high considering it takes almost zero effort to create a Post (and it’s free for small businesses).
If you have something new to announce, or an event you want to promote, I’d say it’s worth the extra few minutes it takes to create a Google Post on the subject.
Best Practices for Google Posts
Of course, there are some best practices you’ll want to follow when creating and managing Google Posts:
- Don’t use sales-y or overly promotional language. Google explicitly forbids using gimmicky language like “BOGO 50% off!!!” This isn’t a place to spam advertisements, and if you’re caught doing it, your Post will likely be removed. Instead, use this as an opportunity to organically inform your customers about the latest happenings in your business, the same way you would in a blog or press post.
- Include as much information as possible for each Post. Google gives you multiple fields to fill out, so try to fill out all of them. Include a visible, catchy, concise headline to attract users’ attentions, and a bright, well-focused image that will help you stand out. You’ll also want to include ample descriptive content for the Post; Google doesn’t say this specifically, but it’s likely that this is the information it crawls to determine the relevance of the Post for various keyword queries.
- Be timely and personal. Google encourages businesses to use Posts as ways to advertise time-sensitive information, such as temporary offers, upcoming events, or seasonal specials. You can edit or delete your Posts at any time if they cease to become relevant for your audience. It’s also a good idea to be as personal as possible, appealing to local audiences with small business charm.
- Don’t neglect your local SEO plan. Again, this isn’t explicitly stated, but my assumption is that your Post rankings will be correlated with your other local business rankings. Accordingly, if you want your Posts to be visible, you should continue taking measures to improve your local SEO; that means attracting more links, producing high-quality local-specific content, and of course, collecting positive reviews from your customers.
It’s unclear exactly how much visibility you can stand to gain from Posts, or how much their prominence in search results will leech traffic from other organic rankings. However, it’s clear that Posts could be a substantial benefit for local businesses willing to use them to promote events, offers, and news for their brands.
I think what’s most important to note here isn’t the potential benefit, but rather the minimal investment; these posts are a maximum of 300 words, don’t require much in the way of special optimization, and cost nothing to create. For that alone, they have decent potential to yield a positive ROI, and are worth pursuing if you’re a local business owner.