Google describes its new offering as “up-to-date posts from verified people, places or things, directly in search results.” Sound good? Maria Bain, our digital senior account manager, explains that it could be available to roll out in just a few clicks.
If you’re a small business, Google Posts is your latest option for sharing fresh, relevant content with the people who are searching for you. This content will appear within the search results of people using Google to search for your brand. You can use images, videos and even animated GIFs to engage your audience, and add inline links to drive traffic to specific URLs.
Sounds interesting, right? Google says, “This enhanced format allows searchers to hear directly from the primary source — you — and complements existing results from across the web… people are searching for you. Keep them in the know.”
Right now, I’m thinking of Google Posts a little like a Facebook Timeline that displays within Google search results. Sort of like an organic search and social–brand hybrid that serves content to users who, according to their search behaviour, are nearing the end of the conversion funnel. So is this Google’s second attempt at socially-relevant and reactive content, after Google+ turned out to be the unwanted child?
Let’s take a look at how Google Posts work. If you’re trying to access Google Posts from the Google Posts home page you’ll be searching for a while – they only appear within search results, when triggered by searching for the name of people and businesses approved to use the system. There’s also no way to see all the posts that a particular person or business has posted and posts might also disappear over time.
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 – much like the options available on many other social platforms.
Google says their model gives businesses the ability to:
- Share daily specials or current promotions that encourage new and existing customers to take advantage of your offers
- Promote events and tell customers about upcoming happenings at your location
- Showcase your top products and highlight new arrivals
- Choose one of the available options to connect with your customers directly from your Google listing: give them a one-click path to make a reservation, sign up for a newsletter, learn more about latest offers, or even buy a specific product from your website
So what does Google Posts really bring to marketers over other social platforms?
As it stands, Tweets are the only earned social media content currently indexed in search results, via Google itself. Conversely, content generated by marketers on Facebook pages is continuously being blocked from organic visibility with Facebook’s algorithm updates, making paid activity necessary for push through, while Instagram – the largest earned social platform – takes huge amounts of engagement and effort to succeed.
With this in mind, Google Posts offers businesses, brands and organisations the opportunity for immediate visibility for their fresh content, rather than forcing them to try to rank in Google.
So with the future of Google Posts yet unknown, and with Google’s otherwise-untarnished reputation for dominating the search market, it raises the question: will social marketers have to play with Google’s new toy to keep up with the game?
Currently, Google Posts is only available to museums, sports teams, sports leagues and movies in the US, and to all of the above plus musicians in Brazil. But Google is continuing to trial the feature with other categories and regions, and its reach is growing fast. So watch this space to stay ahead of the curve!
If you’re interested in using Google’s beta feature to see how Google Posts could increase your visibility in search, get in touch with the Pegasus Digital team on firstname.lastname@example.org.