It’s not too often that you can get something for nothing, and it’s rare when that something has value. But this seems to be the case with Google My Business’s (GMB) relatively new posts feature.
Google Posts let you promote your local business, announce events and sales and introduce new content or products directly on Google’s search and maps pages. You can create as many as you’d like, and they’re completely free.
While these posts only last for 7 days, there’s an interesting opportunity here to promote any relevant high-quality content you’ve recently published. Content promotion is a huge part of content marketing success, and another channel is worth testing.
Of course, you can’t use Posts unless you have a Google My Business profile, which requires you to have a physical location too.
What is Google My Business?
Google My Business is a tool that that lets business owners create a profile that may be visible on the first page of the search results and on Google Maps (in the “local pack”) when users search for your business directly or for more general searches where your business is relevant.
Each GMB profile contains images and information about your business including hours of operation and location, and you can even use it to set up a free website.
Google My Business also lets you respond directly to customer reviews, which helps to build brand loyalty and encourages direct interaction with the public. With a Google My Business profile, you have full use of Google Posts.
It’s important to note that each GMB profile must be tied to a real, physical address. A P.O. Box or Aunt Susie’s home in a different location aren’t physical locations in Google’s eyes.
Google Posts: Communicate With Your Audience For Free
Google Posts are quick and easy. They appear within your Google My Business profile, which means they’ll be displayed above the fold on the first SERP when a search triggers your profile. They’re a perfect way to announce a sale or new product or to share the brand new blog post you recently posted on your site.
Google Posts can include images, videos, text and even a button to take viewers to your site. There are several different types of posts. They are:
- Event Posts: Hosting a special event? Event posts include a title, date, start and end times and may also have an image or video and a button.
- What’s New Posts: These posts are perfect for sharing that shiny, new blog post or landing page. They can help to drive traffic to new content or make general announcements regarding your business. You can include an image or video and use the CTA button.
- Offer Posts: Use this type of post to announce a sale or promotion. Offer posts require a title, start and end dates and times and a View Offer button. They can also include a photo or video, coupon code, link and terms and conditions.
- Product Posts: If you want to single out a specific product that you sell, product posts are the way to go. These require a title and photo or video, and you can also include a button.
Cardinal Digital Marketing CEO Alex Membrillo says, “We use Google Posts to showcase blog posts, location or landing pages, special offers, events, sales and even products. We also tie in the post content with Google AdWords strategy to keep messaging consistent.”
So Simple, Even a Caveman Can Do It (Sorry, GEICO)
Google Posts can be written and launched in minutes. To create one, follow these simple steps:
- Sign in to your Google My Business account
- If you have multiple locations, select one
- Click on Create Post
- Select post type
- Choose options (What’s New, Event, Offer or Product)
- Enter relevant information
- Click Preview
- Click Publish
If you’re using the Google My Business app, the process is pretty much the same. Posts can also be edited or deleted from the Posts menu. Free and easy? There must be a catch.
For a more detailed look at creating posts on both Desktop and Mobile, check out Google’s help page.
What good is a new toy without at least some analytics? With Google Posts Insights, you can evaluate an individual post’s performance or the performance of all posts over a 7- or 28-day span. The summary shows the important metrics: views, clicks and percentage of change over a rolling 7- or 28-day period.
Because the product is fairly recent, there aren’t a lot of statistics concerning its effectiveness, but some have found success. “We’ve found that mobile-only ads with coordinating Google Post content perform, on average, 44 percent better than stand-alone ads,” says Membrillo. “We’ve also measured up to 70 percent more map views for clients that have active Google Posts related to their location and geo-area.”
There’s Always a Catch
Yes, Google Posts are free and easy, but there’s a little more to it (Relax, it’s just some rules and guidelines, and most are common sense):
- Google Posts content must be relevant to your business
- Low-quality images aren’t permitted
- You cannot link posts to irrelevant sites
- Inappropriate or offensive content is prohibited
- Scams, malware, viruses, phishing: not allowed
- Avoid misrepresenting information and misleading claims
- Stay away from regulated products and services
Best Practices Deliver Best Results
Should you decide to give Google Posts a go, keep these tips in mind to maximize your results.
- Make sure that your photos are bright and in focus. They should be relevant to your message and can be submitted in JPG or PNG format. The minimum resolution for images is 720 pixels wide and 540 pixels tall.
- Keep your video files to 100MB or less and, again, make sure they’re relevant. Acceptable video formats include FLV, AVI, MP4, MOV, WMV, MPG, M4V, MKV, M2TS and MTS.
- Use titles and writing that lead a viewer to action while keeping your message short and sweet. Titles can have up to 58 characters, and details can include as many as 1,500, although Google recommends 150 to 300 characters for best results.
- Include a CTA button; some post types require it. You can choose from buttons that say Call, Visit, Learn More, Buy and Book Online.
- Share. Businesses spend a lot of money creating new content and trying to drive inbound traffic. Use Google Posts to share that content and engage new customers for free. You only risk the couple of minutes it takes to create a new post.
- Use it often. “My experience has been that the more you post, the more traffic and overall visibility your Google My Business listing will get,” advises Bill Hartzer, president of Hartzer Consulting; a boutique SEO agency. “I recommend maxing out the number of posts and posting as much as possible.”
If you’re looking for new ways to use inbound marketing and leverage Google’s reach in the local and global market, you could do a lot worse than Google Posts. Sometimes you can get something for nothing.