Complete reference for Google My Business Posts
Google continues to evolve the Google My Business suite of features, this time with an addition called Google Posts.
Google Posts are best seen as a variation on a micro blogging concept. They’re displayed in the Knowledge Panel and in the Local Finder, and Google keeps the history of them available with a click.
Benefits of Google Posts on Google My Business listings
Google Posts improves Google’s understanding of your services and products. By posting content about events, products, services, and other points about your business you want to communicate to your customers, you’re helping Google get a better understanding too.
The initial intention with Posts was to provide a straight-forward, one-click direct path to action. Instead of people having to click to your website and then your online store, a reservation site, subscribe to a course, etc., one click on posts can take them straight where you want people to go.
Adds Content to your GMB Website
If you have taken advantage of the free Google My Business Website, Google Posts are automatically added as content to that site. This helps improve the quality and effectiveness of this website. It also gives you further opportunities to encourage people to other websites you might have.
Helps with Ranking
Posts can have a beneficial impact on ranking in the local pack. The best type of content is key words you want your business to be found by, and other relevant wording to give context around the phrases you use that describe your business.
This will have a positive impact on the effectiveness of your knowledge panel and may give you a broader range of searches where your listing is featured.
Seeing Google Posts in the Knowledge Panel
Posts on Desktop
On desktop, a posts section shows if there is an active post (7 or less days old or an upcoming event).
If there is an “active” post, you can navigate via the posts carousel to see the active posts. You’ll also see button to view all.
If there are no active Posts, you can usually see a link “View previous updates on Google” in a section “Updates from Business Name“
Posts on Mobile
On mobile, you can see all posts in the “Updates” tab.
Event posts show as active posts for as long as the event is active.
Uses for Google Posts
- Daily specials or current promotions – encourage new and existing customers to do business with you.
- Promote events.
- Showcase top products.
- Announce new products or services.
- Make it easy for customers – one-click path to make a reservation, sign up for a newsletter, learn more about latest offers, or even buy a specific product through your website.
- Encourage people to your blog.
- Encourage people to an article on another site which shows your expertise.
Introduced in May 2017, posts show as a new menu option in your dashboard menu (desktop below), and can be posted from both desktop and mobile versions. The mobile app is not easy to work with, and not recommended.
If your business has a large number of listings, you will only want to use desktop version.
Google Posts Guidelines
“Published content should be relevant to the business that the author is posting on behalf of and help users better understand the business.”
Google has a fairly long list of things that can and cannot be in Posts. Most can be summed up as:
keep it clean, family friendly, and no spamming.
Create a Google Post
Go to the Google My Business dashboard
If you are on the old dashboard and have several listings, you’ll need to switch to card view
How to add a Google Post
There are a few ways to create a Google Post, but all start with the same first step: Log into the account that manages your Google My Business listing.
Select the location, click Manage Location and then select Posts.
From the left hand menu:
- Select Posts on the left hand menu
- From Photos (left-hand menu), then click on an image. In the upper right hand corner is the create post icon.
- On the main dashboard home panel is a button to create a Post
Unlike the Google website builder, if the listing is not verified you cannot create a post and you will not see the menu option.
Posts are not currently displaying for businesses with accommodation categories. If you’re not seeing posts and your business is not a hotel or similar, use this form to report it so Google can investigate.
Posts have 3 main areas – the image, the text and then an optional call to action.
Select the type of Post
Google offers 4 basic types of posts
- What’s New (news)
- From March 2020, Google also introduced a Covid-19 Post. These posts have a longer lifespan than regular posts, but don’t feature an image. They are far less effective IMHO because of that. A workaround is to post an “event” with your covid-19 update info.
What’s New Posts
- Informational in nature, useful for quick messages (self contained content), or click-through (to promote a blogpost).
- These posts last 7 days before they automatically expire and stop displaying as an active post.
- Optional action button.
- Designed for events.
- Requires start and end dates (optional time) allowing you to display this post type up to the point the event is finished.
- Optional action button.
- Designed for special offers, daily specials, introductory offers, and so on.
- Require start and end date as well as time, allowing you to display this post type up to the point the special is finished.
- Optional coupon code display, link to redeem offer display, and terms & conditions link to display.
- Designed to showcase your products or services.
- Optional price, or price range.
- Optional action button.
- Product posts are displayed as a separate tab on a mobile display.
Add a Photo or Video
When you want to put media in the post, you have two ways to do it – loading from your GMB image library, or loading from your device.
If your image is already in your GMB image library, the best way is to first go to “photos,” click on the image, and then click on select “create a post” from the upper right hand corner.
To load from your device, do not click and drag it into the grey area (yeah, I learned that the hard way). Your browser may load the image into the window and you lose your post!
Instead, click on the blue camera and then a popup window appears, giving you the option of uploading an image or video, or selecting an image from one of your Albums.
The image is now in a 4:3 ratio (think a slideshow slide). Google recommends a minimum image size of 720(wide) x 540(tall) pixels. As previously, make sure the image is large enough to show nicely on a mobile – the screen sizes seem to be getting bigger with every new model. 720×720, with a minimum requirement of 250 x 250. If you use an image as small as 720, be sure it’s high resolution. Some mobile phones have displays larger than that and the image loses quality. I recommend 750px.
Leave some space around the main focus of your photo so something important doesn’t get cut off when it shows in various shapes & sizes.
You can load any aspect ratio; the process will guide you through cropping the image to the 4:3 ratio. If the image is
Google also now accepts videos in the following formats: AVI, MP4, MOV, FLV, WMV, MPG, M4V, MKV, M2TS, and MTS. The maximum file size for videos is 100 MB. When you upload the video, you may receive a message indicating Google is processing the video in the background and you can continue to work on your post and publish it. The video will play and be live in the post once it’s completed processing.
To save the image, select Upload a Post Photo.
Images are stored – somewhere. For a while you could access them via an album called “Scrapbook”, then you could access them via Picasa. At this point in time it is a mystery where they go.
Images at this stage should be JPG or PNG format. Despite some of Google’s own documentation stating GIFs are OK, they’re not accepted (at time of writing).
Posts allows you to stack multiple images on one post, but I don’t recommend it yet. Google doesn’t yet have the usability right for searchers. It also doesn’t work right when sharing to other platforms.
- Image size A quirky thing with this new sizing, is that it’s not precisely 4:3. For instance, if you wanted to have a sharp-looking image that you know will work well on any screen, you might use one 1200×900. You most likely would have the main feature of the image centred. However when it displays on some screens, the right side gets chopped slightly, mucking up the “centre”. For now, my tip is to centre the subject of your image, then move the crop slightly to the right.
- Product images – if you’re featuring a product in your image, don’t make the product fill the image to capacity. Leave a moderate margin around the outside of the product, to allow for various screens to chop top/bottom/side a wee bit to display the Google Post.
Write Your Post
Google recommends 100-300 words. A colleague who provides this service as a cornerstone of his business says 80-100 words plus a good image are the go.
If you have an action button, you’ll likely see only around the first 70 characters on the knowledge panel display on desktop, slightly less on mobile.
If there’s no call to action, you’ll likely see around 115 characters on desktop. On mobile, you’ll see the entire post.
There is a maximum of 1500 characters. Remember, just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. This feature isn’t well designed intended for long-form content.
You may be wondering why Google recommends so many characters when it doesn’t display them in the knowledge panel?
Posts are not required to link to anything. That means posts exist as an entity on their own as part of the GMB suite. As such, they have their own unique link.
When people click on a post (not the call to action button), a square popup box appears over the search results. If the text is long, the scroll bar appears on the right.
Clickable links in the text
You can add links in the body of the text, and they become clickable when displayed as a post. You have to use the URL, and the whole URL displays. If you’re going to use campaign tagging (and I recommend you do), you might want to use a link shortener.
Google Posts does have restrictions about the kind of content you can post.
… not allow content related to regulated products and services, including alcohol, tobacco products, gambling, financial services, pharmaceuticals and unapproved supplements, or health/medical devices.https://support.google.com/business/answer/7213077
Content related to the sale of dangerous and illegal products, services, or activities that cause damage, harm, or injury is not permitted.
Additionally, Google puts posts through a content filter. Key words can trip the filter causing your post to be removed automatically. These are typically swear words, sex-based terms or slang for the same, and they can be words from languages other than English.
Sterling Sky has a partial list of words and phrases known to cause problems on posts: https://www.sterlingsky.ca/words-that-cause-failed-google-posts/
Add a Call-to-Action
Google provides a range of phrases to select from as your call-to-action. These show underneath the text.
- Order online
- Learn more
- Sign up
- Get offer
- Call now
Add your event start and end date & time as well as title.
Titles can have up to 58 characters. If you exceed the maximum, the error message doesn’t show until after you try to publish the post.
One other caveat with the title, only 28 characters will display in the knowledge panel. (see examples)
In your dashboard, events show with the date and time, event title and action. The description does not show.
Events also allow you to add the same buttons as non-event posts.
Posts show in the carousel order they were posted, not the dates of the events.
June 2017 Current glitch: Events scheduled for the same day they are posted may receive error “cannot create an event that has already passed”. It’s a known glitch and has been reported. No ETA for the fix yet.
Links to web pages
Select the most appropriate phrase to show as the Call to Action.
Add the link – links do not need to be complete with the http etc.; they can be as simple as the domain.
When ready to publish, click Preview. If the preview looks good, click Publish. If you need to edit something, click the grey back arrow in the upper left corner.
You can delete posts once they’re published. Simply click on the post from your dashboard, and select delete.
To get the best value out of Posts, where possible, create links to content on your own site, not another site (unless it’s something like a booking or tickets page for your business).
Think of this from a visitor’s standpoint. They’ve searched for you by name or they’ve clicked on your name from Google Maps. You have a Google Post that piques their curiosity (you’re featured in Forbes, as an example) and so they click on it. Suddenly they’re taken to Forbes Online. Now they’re on someone else’s site, and it’s all too easy to run down that rabbit hole and forget about you.
Can you see how that works against you?
Instead, create a blog post with extracts from the Forbes article (maybe even an image of it), and put it on your site. To give proper credit you can put a link from your blogpost to the Forbes site. But now when people click on your Google Post, they can still read your messaging and stay on your website.
Publish & UnPublish
When you’re ready to publish, select Preview. Google gives you one last chance to have a look at it before it goes live.
If you like it, click Publish.
If you want to correct something, click the back arrow to return to edit mode.
Once you publish, the post usually goes live within a couple of minutes.
Want to un-publish the post before it expires? The only option at this stage is to delete it.
Deleting a Google Post
As mentioned before, if you want to remove a post completely or take it off the “production line”, deleting is your only option.
Be aware when you delete it, you lose all the statistics that go with the posts. The only place you may have some residual information about the post is in Google Analytics, IF you have used campaign tagging.
Google Posts come with their own in-built stats. They are rudimentary and do not appear to be accurate.
A View is recorded if the Post is displayed in the Knowledge Panel, if the Local Finder is displayed, or if the post is shown on the mobile display.
A Click is recorded if someone clicks on the post.
Tip: Use Google Analytics to get a better estimate of people’s interaction with your post (see next section – tracking in Analytics).
Similar to Analytics, stats take 1-2 days to be recorded in the view.
As with any marketing effort, knowing what’s working for you and where visitors or customers come from is important.
I won’t repeat what has already been well explained on the web, but I will add three resources.
- Neil Patel wrote a good article on GA tracking. It’s a bit out of date, but the concepts are still solid
- Google’s campaign tag builder
- And if you want to systemise your campaign structure, use the UTM Builder Chrome extension from Effin Amazing.
The system I tend to use is:
- Source = google
- Medium = organic
- Campaign = posts
- Campaign content = postKeyPhrase
Whatever system you devise, the most important aspect of it is consistency. Don’t use “Posts” one time and “posts” another, for your campaign. These create separate entries in Analytics and make it harder to quickly analyse the commercial benefits you get from Posts.
The reason I put in this much detail with the tracking is Posts appears to be messing with the info coming across to Google Analytics at times.
As an example, you might have a link that goes to a blog post in the Google Post. But the landing page that might get tied to the campaign tracking might be the home page of the website – not the blog post.
Examples of Google Posts in the wild
- The carousel shows up to 10 posts on both mobile and desktop.
- When a post gets taken down for spam, the owner will get a notification. When a post is taken down, searchers stop seeing it immediately. Google won’t tell you specifically which rule was violated – it’s up to listing managers to read the guidelines.
- On desktop, only the current post/s are available from the search results. On mobile, you can see all present and past posts.
- If people click on the Call to Action, it takes them straight to the destination page.
- If people click on the post text or image, it takes them to the post.
- When people share the post on social media, email or via the link, they get the link to the post, not your destination page.
Consistently posting on Google Posts is similar to consistency with Social Media platforms. Overall, it’s a positive signal.
Regular posts helps people and Google know you are very much “alive”. Actively updating your posts indicates your business listing is not abandoned or neglected. It gives a reassurance to people the information displayed is up to date. Posts also give people an “at a glance” about the latest and greatest goings-on in your business.
- No in-built automated scheduling.
- Not currently available for accommodation type categories – hotels, B&B, etc.
- Not available for regulated products and services, or categories related to the sale of dangerous / illegal products, services, or activities that cause damage, harm, or injury.
- No automatic integration with Google Analytics.
- Google pulls in Posts to display on the free GMB Website.
- Posts are part of a listing’s data, and are indexed as part of organic search.
- There is no “draft” or “scheduled” posting option. Posts are either in and live, or expired.
Sharing Google Posts
When a post is viewed in its entirety, there are options to share or report the post.
The options for sharing are Facebook, Twitter, email and a direct link.
When sharing to Facebook (left), the business name + “on Google” shows as the title of the post.
One image and some of the text from the post comes across. When you click on the post, it takes you to the post display on Google’s search results.
When sharing on Twitter, you get virtually the same with your business name + “on #Google.”
Reporting a Post
Next to the sharing icon is an option to report a post and select the guideline the post violates.