Google posts, or to give them their full name, Google My Business posts, are an often-overlooked online marketing opportunity.
In this article we look at what Google posts are, how to use them and whether they should be part of your business’ marketing strategy.
What are Google posts?
About Google My Business
Well, let’s start at the beginning, with an explanation of what Google My Business (GMB) is.
GMB is a free business listing (known as your Business Profile) which appears when someone searches for your business on Google. Here’s part of ours as an example:
Your Business Profile contains all the key information about your business; contact details, opening hours, map, photos…and the all-important Google reviews.
If you don’t think you have a Business Profile then try searching for your company name – there’s a good chance that Google has automatically set one up for you. You can take ownership of it by clicking on the Claim this business link. If you don’t have one, then you can set up a listing here: http://business.google.com
We’ll come back another day to look at all the other ways you should optimise your GMB listing, but for now we’re focusing on posts.
One of the facilities within GMB is the ability to add posts to your profile. These are a bit like posting social media updates; an opportunity to share your latest news or offers.
Previously posts would expire after seven days, however they now are visible for six months before being archived.
Please note that some business types, including hotels and B&Bs don’t have access to use Google posts.
How to use Google posts
Create a GMB post
Firstly, go to http://business.google.com to access your GMB account. Near the top of the home screen you’ll see these options:
Click on Create post.
This opens a new window:
Select the type of information you want to post from the options at the top:
- COVID-19 update – business changes as a result of the pandemic.
- Offer – sales and other promotional offers.
- What’s new – general news about your business.
- Event – about events you’re running.
- Product – information about your products (these posts will also appear in the ‘Products’ section of your listing).
Note that the options may appear in a different order for different types of business.
Depending on which option you select, the fields you can complete will alter.
Add in all the information you want to include. Think carefully about the photo/video you use – make sure it’s eye catching and engaging – and ensure you add a call to action button, ideally with a link back to your website.
When you’ve entered all the details, click on the Preview button at the bottom to see how your post will look. Here’s an example:
Once you’re happy with it, click on the Publish button to make it live. Currently there’s no facility to save draft posts.
When you’ve published your post, make sure you check it looks OK on your GMB listing. The best way to do this is to either log out of your Google account or, more simply, use the private browsing/incognito option in your browser, so you see the listing as your customers will see it.
Note that once you have more than one GMB post set up, visitors will be able to scroll through them:
Edit or delete a GMB post
Once your post is live, you can edit or delete it. To do this, log into Google My Business
Select Posts from the menubar on the left:
This will display a list of your posts. Under each post you’ll see this panel:
Clicking on the three dots to the right (the “kebab” menu) gives you options to Edit or Delete the post.
The Share post option enables you to share the post content via Facebook, Twitter or email, and also gives you a link you can copy.
The figures to the left tell you how each post has performed:
- Views – how many times people have seen the post.
- Clicks – how often people have clicked on your call to action button.
Why GMB posts might not appear
Google may review your post to ensure it meets their content policy. If your post shows as Pending this means that either it’s in the upload process or you haven’t verified your GMB listing.
Posts shown as Not approved have been removed by Google. You’ll see a question mark next to the status which will show which of Google’s content policies you have violated.
We have seen Business Profiles mysteriously disappear over the years, sometimes for no obvious reason, so we strongly encourage you to ensure that all posts meet Google’s requirements. You don’t want to upset the mighty Google!
What to include in your GMB post
Your posts need to be engaging and compelling.
Choose simple and eye-catching photos/videos for your posts that will be easily spotted and spark curiosity. This is particularly important with Google posts where the text is so small in comparison to the image.
The visuals you add must be a minimum of 400 pixels by 300 pixels with a 10kb file size. The maximum is 10,000 pixels by 10,000 pixels and 25mb.
There are no options to format the text content of your post – no headings, bold or italics, bulleted or numbered lists…nothing. So, when writing the text, break it up into small paragraphs so it’s easy to read. You can also consider the use of things like emojis (if appropriate for your brand), dashes (instead of bullets) and capital letters (DON’T BE SHOUTY THOUGH) to add some variety to the text.
Keep in mind that only around the first 100 characters will be visible in the GMB listing (until the user clicks on the post) so make sure the first sentence gives the reader a good reason to read on.
You can’t embed links in posts and hashtags are meaningless (#cry).
Call to action
Most types of post (except offers) will give you a choice of call to action (CTA) link. The options available will depend on the type of post you’re creating, and may include:
- Order online
- Learn more
- Sign up
- Call now
Select carefully and make sure that the link takes the user through to a landing page on your website which is optimised for conversion.
Of course, don’t just rely on the call to action link to do the work for you. The impact of the visual and text content of the post should all be driving the reader towards taking the next step.
What to post about
These are just some of the things you might want to post about:
- Sales and other promotional offers.
- Examples of your work/case studies.
- New product launches.
- Answers to customers’ frequently asked questions.
- Changes to your opening hours.
- Welcoming a new member of your team.
- Reflect the content of your Google reviews to reinforce the positive messages.
- Events such as webinars, open days or meetings. And don’t forget to post an update afterwards to talk about how it went.
GMB posts content policy
You must ensure that you adhere to Google’s content policy, by ensuring that your posts:
- Are relevant to the business and helpful to customers.
- Do not mislead your readers.
- Do not contain spelling errors, gimmicky characters or gibberish.
- Do not include anything Google might consider to be bullying, hateful, obscene, disparaging, violent or sexually suggestive.
- Respect the privacy of others.
- Do not include photos or videos of identifiable people without their permission.
- Do not use photos or videos which infringe copyright.
- If you’re in a regulated industry (alcohol, tobacco, medical, financial services, etc) you can use Google posts but you cannot post content related to your regulated products.
- Do not include a phone number (but you can use a “Call now” button as the call to action on your post).
The benefits of Google posts
Optimising your Google My Business listing is important for any business and essential for those operating in the B2B sector. But why bother writing posts?
Give your readership something to read
Once you’ve sorted out the rest of your Google My Business listing, if you find it’s getting good exposure then the obvious next step is to start posting to it.
You’ve got all these people looking at the listing, so you might as well take advantage of that to ensure you’re posting your most important messages for them to see.
Unfortunately, Google used to have the posts near the top of the listing, but has now moved them lower down, so they’re not quite as visible as they used to be. But with the right visuals and compelling text, they’ll still catch the eye of people looking at your listing.
Drive traffic to your website
Because most Google posts include a call to action link, which appears in the listing (not just when the reader opens the post) they’re a great way to drive traffic to your website.
Even if you only receive one or two clicks for your post, those people landing on your website have already engaged with your company, they know a little about you and are keen to know more. So this isn’t just a random click through, this is a considered step towards becoming a customer.
This makes it very important that the page the user lands on contains messages relevant to the post and is optimised for conversion.
Do GMB posts improve your Google ranking?
Adding posts to your Google My Business listing won’t improve the Google ranking for your website.
However, they do support your SEO objectives by helping to make your GMB listing more visible and giving it richer content.
Google My Business provides a reasonable level of information about how your posts are performing, so you can try them out for a few months and see if you’re getting enough visibility to make it worth continuing.
As well as the individual post views and clicks, Google also presents you with a weekly summary of how many times your posts have been viewed:
If your posts are getting a reasonable number of views then that’s a good first step. If they’re being seen a lot but not being clicked on, then perhaps you need to review the content of the post and how compelling your call to action is.
Once you’re posting frequently, you’ll start to see patterns in the types of posts which attract more or fewer clicks, which can help you to hone your strategy.
Get someone to do it for you!
The problem with Google posts, as with most digital marketing, is finding the time to develop a clear and coherent strategy and then implement it. All business owners know it’s something they should do, it’s just difficult to prioritise it above other work. That’s where we can help.
We help businesses to create a clear, focused brand marketing strategy, and action it through our range of digital marketing solutions, including Google My Business optimisation and post management.
Contact us for a chat about how we can take the weight of digital marketing off your shoulders.