During the 2016 election, a new search feature that has been nicknamed Google Posts started showing up for major presidential candidates. This search feature has been opened up to a limited number of small businesses in an experimental pilot until early January 2017. Some have referred to this feature as “Local Business Cards.”
This new feature is a carousel format, social-media type of post that can include text, an image, or a video. Brands have the ability to post messages through this platform that are visible on search results for 7 days. These posts seem to show up for branded searches, though there have been some reports of them showing for broader search terms. An advertiser can publish updates instantly or schedule them out up to 7 days in advance.
This new feature enables small business to expand their visibility and ultimately have control of more real estate on their search engine result page. The posts can be visual in nature by incorporating video, still images, or even animated gifs, things that traditional results cannot include. Users cannot comment on or like these posts, so a brand has complete control over the messaging in this feature.
Various businesses have started taking advantage of this new feature, using it to post status updates about new products, recent news, or upcoming specials.
This feature differs from a traditional social media post in that there is no risk in posting too often. If a brand posts too often in Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, a user might not interact with that post, which could cause that brand’s overall reach to decline or even cause a user to unfollow that brand. Since these “Google Posts” only show for branded searches, where marketers can be certain the searcher is interested in knowing about your brand, brands should feel free to post regularly and often.
Currently, this feature is available by invite only to a select number of businesses. Google has set up a page that explains the details of the “Google Posts” program, and that page includes a link to sign for a waitlist to participate in this program.
If your brand is fortunate enough to have access to this program, it would be wise to test out various types of posts to see which works best for you. Have at least one to two posts visible at all times. Look for unique selling points of your business or products, and include those on the posts. Incorporate images in the posts whenever possible to appeal to visual people. Depending on how Google grades this pilot, regular posting through this system could be another task to add to the role of an SEO or Social Media Marketer.