Google Posts: Branded SERP Domination for Community Living Marketers
What if there was a way to enhance your senior living community’s branded content on the first page of Google and claim more above-the-fold real estate? Additionally, what if you could ensure this content would be more engaging, visually interesting and easily shareable?
For years, attempting this could only be achieved through a combination of SEO, PPC, keyword-optimized content, local listings and reputation management tactics – and even then, there were no guarantees. Marketing professionals have had to adapt to the constant evolution of Google algorithms, best practices and user expectations to see positive branded results on a consistent basis, and while I don’t expect that to change any time soon, Google’s new rollout to small businesses could drastically affect how much time we spend managing certain tactics.
I’m talking about Google Posts.
A Little History on Google Posts
I should probably start with the fact that Google Posts isn’t the official product name; it was a term coined by Search Engine Land for lack of a better one.
Google Posts is a content publishing feature that allows a user to post shareable, rich branded content and media directly to a Google search engine results page (SERP). Some unique points about its introduction and subsequent expansion:
- It was offered exclusively to the 2016 presidential candidate hopefuls in January.
- The program was experimentally extended to a very select few small businesses in March.
- There is no official how-to documentation, as it’s still in beta mode.
- It’s not Google+, nor does it appear to have any direct integration with Google+ posts.
How it Works and Differs from Other SERP Content
Google Posts appear as carded carousel content directly beneath other high-ranking owned results (your website) and controlled listings (social profiles). On both mobile and desktop, a user has the ability to swipe through images (218 x 163.5px) above text (no more than 120 characters before truncating). The content block also features a direct Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and email sharing function (along with a shortened goo.gl URL), and if a user clicks on a headline, he or she is redirected to the brand’s Google Posts page. The page itself displays much like a blog or content feed, also featuring social sharing buttons.
Google Posts differs from other content results in that it always appears in the same place on the first page; plus, brands have the ability to post their own content to it rather than waiting for content to be crawled and indexed. It will also be interesting to see how this may impact other social platforms, as it appears to effectively reduce the number of clicks required to go from brand query to desired content:
Via Social App:
Twitter –> Search “Business Name” –> Find @Business –> Find Content –> Click URL –> Redirect to [anywhere]
Search “Business Name” –> Find Content –> Click Card –> Redirect to Google Posts Brand Feed
Potential Opportunities for Community Marketers
As local businesses, senior living communities are constantly vying for top branded results within the first SERP. The game-changer here is the ability to directly engage with the residents and care providers who often begin their research journeys with a search engine.
Additionally, Google Posts presents another way for communities to boost their online reputation efforts; owning (and controlling) more branded real estate in the SERP will come in handy in situations where competing reviews sites or potentially unfavorable news articles are ranking for branded terms. With Google Posts, brands can have a better footprint at the top of the page, with the potential to push down less favorable listings.
Considering Google is the undisputed leader in all things search, it would only make sense for community marketers to start establishing a Google Posts game plan. Instead of having to rely on bots crawling metadata and seeing it display as Google sees fit, you can now start to tell your brand’s story in a more meaningful way. There’s only one slight caveat:
Google only recently expanded Google Posts opportunities to tens of thousands of small businesses (a relatively very small number). While that indicates that the outlet is gaining traction, it’s not something any one business can sign up and get started with.