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Google Posts Now Live for All Small Businesses

Before you read any further, search for your business on Google. Do you see a box of information on the right side of the search results? That box is known as the Knowledge Panel, and it contains valuable information about your business, such as a map with your location, photos, reviews, hours, and contact information. Last month, Google decided to extend another Knowledge Panel opportunity to businesses worldwide: Google Posts.

Although Google Posts has been around for a while, it only moved to Google My Business in June, and it is expanding to include more and more businesses. With this service, businesses can post micro-blogs directly on their Knowledge Panels. The brief, temporary content might announce an event, include a call-to-action link, or advertise a specific product with a photo. To learn more about this feature and its recent changes, please scroll down.

letters of google pinned on bulletin board

What is Google Posts?

As we mentioned briefly above, Google Posts is a feature that allows businesses to micro-blog directly on their Knowledge Panel. It first launched in January 2016 under the name “candidate cards,” and it was restricted to political candidates. Since then, Google has slowly expanded the reach of the feature. And now, of course, Google Posts is available to most all small businesses.

You might use Google Posts, which are like social media status updates or mini blog posts, for the following purposes:

  • To share current promotions or daily specials
  • To announce or promote events
  • To showcase top products and new arrivals
  • To encourage customers to make a reservation, sign up for a newsletter, buy a product, etc.

The program is available on both desktops and mobile apps. Posts must be 300 words or less and can include a photo. The company can designate that the post is an event and include a date range and/or URL. If the post is an event, it will last as long as the event’s timeframe. If not, it will last just one week. Please note that only the first 100 words will show initially.

Viewers can share posts via e-mail and social media websites/apps like Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and WhatsApp. Buttons and a link are provided for this purpose.

Finally, it is important to note that Google Posts is not the official name of the feature. Since Google has not given it a name, some websites are choosing to call it Google Posts.

How many posts are displayed simultaneously?

The Knowledge Panel can display up to ten posts at once. It will utilize a carousel display, however, so the viewer must scroll through the carousel to see the posts that don’t appear when the results page initially loads. If a 3-Pack appears on a results page, the viewer must select a business to view its Google Posts.

What do posts look like on mobile?

On the mobile version of Google, you will notice a third tab within the Knowledge Panel: Posts. It joins Overview, Reviews, and (sometimes) Menu. Using the Posts tab, you can view both current and older posts. In addition, mobile devices display Google Posts in a different way; the first 100 characters appear prominently above the address.

How does a business get a Knowledge Panel?

You might notice that your business (and other businesses) aren’t always honored with a Knowledge Panel. Feel free to blame Google’s algorithm for this. To determine whether or not a business deserves to be featured in a Knowledge Panel for a particular search result, Google takes into account many features, such as the searcher’s distance from the business, the relevance of the business to the query, and the business’s prominence. According to Google, “Like search results, whether or not a business’s information will appear in the Knowledge Panel is determined by a variety of factors . . . Details of the search algorithm are kept confidential to make the ranking system as fair as possible for everyone.”

How is Google Posts changing?

A few weeks ago, Google moved Google Posts to Google My Business. Then, the company formally announced on June 22, 2017, that Google Posts would be rolling out to small businesses world-wide.

Some people are speculating that this change is an attempt to engage businesses that use Google My Business. In tempting business owners to use the dashboard more often, Google may be seeking to sell them on monetized products like AdWords Express. In addition, Google may be responding to Facebook, which many business owners appreciate for its ease of use regarding posts and direct communication with customers.

Can all businesses take part?

Not yet. The availability of Google Posts will roll out in phases. Although most categories of businesses can now use the feature, some cannot. For example, businesses in the “lodging” category (hotels and B&Bs) were excluded from participating when the program launched. In the future, Google plans to expand the categories available. In addition, the feature is specifically available to companies using Google My Business; it is not offered via Google+.

If you’re unable to use the program, use this form to contact Google so that they can pinpoint the problem and get you access.

How do I create a post?

To create a post, visit your Google My Business (GMB) dashboard and complete the following steps:

  • Write your post. Your post must be in the range of 100 to 300 words in length. Remember that only the first 100 words will show in the Knowledge Panel initially, so they’re the ones that truly count. Spend some time composing strong content that will draw in readers.
  • Add an event title. If you’re writing about an event, add a title as well as the starting date/time and ending date/time. Remember that if you don’t include an event timeframe, your post will last one week before disappearing.
  • Include a call to action. You can select from five options provided by Google: Learn More, Reserve, Sign Up, Get Offer, and Buy. Google plans to add more calls to action in the future.
  • Add a picture, video, or GIF. Your photo must be at least 250 x 250 pixels, but 750 x 750 pixels is recommended. Google will automatically crop the image into a square, and you can identify which part of the photo you want to display. You can also add videos or GIFs to your post. Try to select an eye-catching image or video to grab the viewer’s attention.

Can I review my posts’ analytics?

Once you’ve created a post, you can use the GMB dashboard to track it. On the homepage, you will see your latest post and its number of views. By clicking the post, you can see the number of actions taken. You cannot, however, view the success of your posts over time. In addition, you cannot view all of the posts a particular company has created; they’re not archived (though you can view some older posts on mobile in the Posts tab). We expect and hope that this will change in the future and that Google will enhance the analytics of Google Posts.

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If you have the opportunity to control what potential customers see when they search for your business, why wouldn’t you take advantage of it? In essence, Google Posts is a free advertising opportunity for your business. So if your business is not currently on Google My Business (which is free and very easy to use, by the way), now is the time to use GMB to manage your business’s online presence. In addition, be sure to verify and update your business’s information regularly to ensure that it is accurate.

If you need help getting started, check out 417 Marketing, an online marketing company based in Springfield, Missouri. We specialize in SEO and web design, and we would love to help you increase and improve your company’s online presence. Click here to contact us and learn more about what we can do for your company.

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