Complete reference for Google Posts
Google continues to evolve the Google Business Profiles 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 Business Profiles
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 Google Website
If you have taken advantage of the free Google 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.
Helps with searches and “justifications“
If Google finds a good match in the text for posts on your Google profile, you improve the chances the algorithm will pick your business listing to show in the pack.
Seeing Google Posts in the Knowledge Panel
On desktop, a posts section shows if the business has used posts.
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, but can be pushed aside when newer posts are added.
Uses for Google Posts
- Daily specials or current promotions – encourage new and existing customers to do business with you.
- Promote events.
- Showcase top products.
- Announcements for 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 (eg. an industry magazine where you’re quoted or interviewed).
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
“Content published on this service should not mislead your customers. It should be upfront and honest about the information presented.”https://support.google.com/business/answer/7213077
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.
GMB Categories Restricting Post FunctionalityThe following GMB categories either partially or completely restrict the ability of the listing owner to create posts.
In some instances the options shown
|What's New /|
|Accommodation (hotel, B&B, vacation rentals, etc)||N||Y||Y|
|Adult DVD store,|
Adult entertainment store, etc
|Adult entertainment club||-||-||-||-||-|
|Alcohol shops (wine store, bottleshop, breweries, etc)||Y||Y||Y||Y||N|
|Drug store / Pharmacy||Y||N||Y||Y||N|
|Skin Care Clinic||Y||Y||Y||Y||N|
Google Posts Rejection
Before we get to writing our post, let’s get the basics right.
Recall this is Google’s product, therefore they make the rules and are under no obligation to tell us all the rules.
That said, there are a number of things to avoid to reduce the likelihood of your post being rejected by the ever-impersonal algorithms Google loves to use.
Your business details (phone in particular) can be found elsewhere in the knowledge panel – don’t them them in the body of the text.
There is a long list of words Google considers “offensive or sensitive” which will cause the post to be rejected. Obvious ones (like swear words, certain parts of anatomy, drug references and so on) are no brainers. You will also find some of the strangest words causing posts to be rejected, so be prepared to be flexible with your wording and err on the conservative side.
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/
Your account history matters. This is a growing trend I am seeing across all of Google’s platforms. If your account, or an account which has managed the listing, has been naughty according to Google’s guidelines, you can find yourself entirely unable to post.
Tread lightly with “Covid-19“. Referring to Covid in a standard post can sometimes cause the post to get bumped. Google’s sensitivity on this seems variable, but I advise clients to chose other wording if the post is not a specific Covid-19 update.
Create a Google Post
Go to the Google Business Profiles dashboard
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 5 types of posts
1) Update ( what’s new)
5) In 2020, Google introduced a Covid-19 Post type
A note about Covid Posts
These posts don’t feature an image. Initially these posts showed in the carousel with other posts, making them less visible and useful IMHO.
Google has adjusted this by making covid posts appear higher in the knowledge panel.
When your business puts up a covid post, the regular posts carousel no longer displays. This makes it imperative to keep on top of what is being posted and when. These posts have a “natural life” of 28 days.
Google helps those posts stand out in your dashboard with a bright red-triangle in the upper right corner.
When your covid notice is no longer required, simply delete it.
Nice one for Local SEOs to be aware of. Now seeing standard Posts appears from months back by default. Would show for 7 days previously, then “expire” and become hidden behind the ‘view all’ button. Glad to see more visibility given to Posts – this change makes sense IMO.pic.twitter.com/H3pQTDG5qH— Brodie Clark (@brodieseo) January 20, 2021
What’s New / Updates
- Post does not contain a title. You can, however use text that is formatted differently to create visually catchy text.
- Informational in nature, useful for quick messages (self contained content), or click-through (to promote a blogpost).
- Optional action button.
- As of Jan 2021, Google allows posts to display in the knowledge panel up to 6 months.
- Posts display in the order they were posted, meaning even if an event is still pending, it could be pushed aside by more recent posts.
- Designed for events.
- Contains a title block
- 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.
- Google adds a yellow tag to the block, so put your most important words first in the offer title
- Requires 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.
It should be obvious, but I’ll restate it here anyway – the content you post needs to relate to your business and be of good quality. Posting about things not related to your site, or posting keyword stuffed content, abuse, slander, personally identifiable information, etc is a no-go. Also forbidden are links to spam sites, sites that aren’t related to your business, or links to bad-behaviour sites.
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. Click the Add Photos or Videos box. The default option is to upload from your computer.
If your image is already in your GMB image library, click on the Album tab, then select the image.
To load from your device, you can either use the standard search function, or click and drag it into the area.
Google allows you up to 10 images per post.
The image is now in a 4:3 ratio (think a slideshow slide). Google recommends a minimum image size of 400(wide) x 300(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. If you use a small image, be sure it’s high resolution.
Google will automatically adjust the image to the centre.
if you want parts of the image excluded from the display, you can crop out parts of the image you don’t want to show.
To complete the process, use the “upload photo” button. A bit counter-intuitive given you have already loaded the image, but that’s the way it works.
Google Post Videos
Google accepts videos in the following formats: AVI, MP4, MOV, FLV, WMV, MPG, M4V, MKV, M2TS, and MTS. The official guidelines are:
- Duration: Up to 30 seconds long
- File size: Up to 75MB
- Resolution: 720p or higher
I have uploaded video files which are larger (100mb), so use the 75mb as a rough guide.
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.
Tip: Add relevant text to the image. Just like with other social media platforms, it can help catch the eye of people! Unlike a certain platform, there is no restriction on the text – just make sure it’s readable and visually attractive.
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 need to be JPG or PNG format.
- 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.
- Add Text – Just like with other social media platforms, it can help catch the eye of people! Unlike a certain platform, there is no restriction on the text – just make sure it’s readable and visually attractive.
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.
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.
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.
Reporting a Post
Next to the sharing icon is an option to report a post and select the guideline the post violates.
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.”