For local businesses, leveraging the features of different citation tools is key to outperforming the competition - especially on the citations giant, Google My Business. Google Posts are one grossly underutilized component of Google My Business.
What Are Google Posts?
Google Posts are easily accessible to update within the Google My Business dashboard. They are social media-like posts meant to highlight upcoming events, sales, and offers as well as recent news and events directly on a Google My Business listing. (Yes, this also means those 100-300 word posts are present in the search results as promotional options, and they are one more way to set your business apart.)
Before you get ambitious with posting your next full year of events, there is something you should know. Google has noted and confirmed that nearly all posts are removed within seven days of being published - with the exception of upcoming events, which are removed after the event date has passed. This helps keep content fresh and relevant for end users.
The posts section within the Google My Business dashboard is user friendly. It walks you though the process step by step to understand the purpose of each post, making it an easy add-on to your list of local citation management tasks.
SEO Benefits of Google Posts
Google Posts have been proven to increase map pack rankings, and they offer a way for businesses to display messages to search users for free. Google has experimented with the placement of these calls to action but has seen steady improvements in utilization by businesses across multiple industries.
What to Post
So, what are some good examples of what to post? The following examples show how two local businesses in very different industries are taking advantage of Google Posts.
Example # 1: Local Restaurant Google Post
The local restaurant in the mobile example above is highlighting one of its menu items with a direct “buy” button right on a recent post as a strong call to action (CTA) for users searching for food. Other Google Post buttons or CTAs available to use include "learn more", "reserve", "sign up", and "get offer".
This post will only last seven days, but it is highlighting a customer favorite menu item at a potentially discounted price. Once again, this can be used for all industries to promote new products, sales, and upcoming offers. Most importantly, this promotion is occurring without actual ad buying or management.
Example # 2: city attractions Google Post
The above example from a museum located in Michigan is promoting an upcoming event called “Throwback Thursday: Dirty Dancing”. This event will stay active on the museum's Google My Business profile until the date that the event has been held.
You will also notice that there are easily accessible share buttons on these events for users to spread the word to their friends and family, offering more organic viewership without much promotion. If you have limited space in events, our suggestion would be to use a CTA for "reserve", which also places urgency on the end users to get their tickets.
Is Google My Business Becoming a Social Network?
Users do have the ability to follow local businesses directly in Google Maps. This is likely a direct compensation for the shutdown of Google +, which had this feature. This shows the intent of Google to provide personalization for its users.
Once a user follows a business location, they are able to navigate to a “for you” tab in their Google Maps account. The tab holds information from the businesses they follow and primarily consists of Google Posts from those followed businesses. This is in essence creating a social feed without the updates from friends and family. Some theories regarding the follow button have suggested that the number of followers could be a ranking factor. It also would not be surprising if these posts got woven into daily updates from voice assistants or into push notifications from Google apps.
Although one of the older additions, questions and answers are available for Google My Business listings. This feature gives users the ability to interact on the listings with questions and answers that may be frequently asked by customers. Google My Business listing managers can answer these questions directly on the listings to help improve users' experience with the listings and the business. Much like reviews, Google My Business listing managers receive notifications for new questions, so they can be answered in a timely manner.
The "follow" and "Q&A" aspects of Google My Business seem to support the theory that the platform is moving toward a more personalized, social network approach. As always, the Google team is pretty closed-lipped about the future of Google My Business but, as marketers and business owners, we are along for the ride and should continue to maximize our efforts on this platform.
Why Google My Business Is Important
Because Google is the main search engine to help you find exactly what you are looking for, it has become necessary for local businesses to present and showcase their products and services there. Google My Business was developed as a way for businesses to stand out and share their information with larger audiences. The benefits of posting on Google My Business are pretty apparent, but let's dive in a bit deeper.
6 Benefits of Google My Business
Google My Business (GMB) is free for businesses to set up their listings. Your GMB listing gives potential clients easy access to your hours of operation, website, phone number, and directions all with just a click of a button at no cost to you. Customers can also see review ratings and busiest hours.
Local pack Rankings signals
According to industry research, GMB “signals” are one of the most important factors for local pack rankings. GMB signals had an increase in ranking importance between 2017 and 2018 — rising from 19% to 25%. Other ways to increase rankings include claiming your GMB profile, optimizing your GMB profile, and frequently reviewing your GMB dashboard to make sure that no unwanted updates have been made to your profile.
Google Search and Maps Visibility
One of biggest benefits of your profile on GMB is appearing in the local search area and in Google Maps results. You’ll typically see a map with three local results highlighted with details such as the business website, directions, and contact information.
Through this GMB feature, businesses can quickly answer questions and assist current and potential customers. You’ll need to turn on this feature within your GMB dashboard to begin receiving messages.
Mobile Menus (for Restaurants)
This allows restaurant owners who are managing their GMB profiles to have access to a menu editor for creating and updating menus displayed on mobile.
Product and offer posts are designed to help you highlight and promote your products and services to your potential customers. These posts are great opportunities for business owners to gain additional (and free) real estate in the search engine results.
Google My Business is a critical tool nearly every business should utilize. If your list of local citation management tasks has grown too cumbersome for you to handle on your own, inquire about THAT Agency's search engine marketing services today at 561-832-6262.