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Local search results may be in for a huge change. And by huge we mean monstrous. Last week, Google confirmed it was testing a new platform industry experts have been calling Google Posts, but remains “officially” unnamed by Google itself.
This new platform will help businesses publish content directly onto the search engine result pages (SERPs). It creates an enormous potential for local businesses to sink or swim in the search engine result pages, and if it’s made mainstream, will certainly blossom into a new must-have for digital marketing content plans.
So hang on as we answer the following questions:
- Wait, what exactly are Google Posts?
- How does it work?
- Why is Google doing this?
- How is this going to affect local SEO?
- What should I do to prepare for Google Posts to go mainstream?
Wait, What Are Google Posts? Local Business What?
Google Posts’ Local Business Cards are blocks—or cards—of sharable content that will show up directly in the SERPs when the searcher types in a related query. This platform is essentially a place for local businesses to publish content in real-time—similar to Google+ posts—straight to the search engine result pages (SERPs). Here’s what they will look like:
And this is what the platform itself looks like when you click on the card:
Basically, they are a local business extension of candidate cards.
Back up to January 2016. Remember Candidate Cards? Google rolled out these card-like search results to allow the Republican candidates a featured platform to publish content. It was designed to look like this:
But ended up being dominated by Carly Fiorina, presumably because none of the other candidates were making use of them.
How Do Google Posts and Local Business Cards Work?
Presumably, a local business shares an update, a GIF, a link, etc. to their Google Posts platform, and when a local searcher searches for either their business name or business category, these cards show up in the SERPs.
The examples we’ve seen don’t shed much light on what it will take to have local cards show up for specific businesses. In the first example up top, all of the cards belong to the business searched (Escape Pod Comics). In the second example, content from the actual business searched (A Healthy Choice Spa) doesn’t appear until the 6th card.
Why Is Google Doing This?
“…the intent is to allow the business to communicate something directly in search results — content or information highlighting the business’ products or services in ways that the Knowledge Panel doesn’t quite allow.”
Since this feature is still in Beta, there are kinks that still need to be worked out.
What Google has acknowledged:
- This feature is currently in the testing phase, with only a few select local businesses.
- The local business cards are formatted exactly like the Candidate Cards from the debate.
- The feature is being used as a real-time publishing platform emphasizing content
- Content will be sharable directly from the carousel
- Info in the cards offers more information about a business than what is available in the Knowledge Panel
What Does this Mean for Local SEO?
It means that your local SEO will either sink or swim. If your business embraces the new platform, updates it, and engages with it, this could have the power to skyrocket your content front and center à la Carly Fiorina. If you ignore it, or remain unaware, you’ll get left behind, much like the other Republican candidates in Candidate Cards. Oh, and directory sites like Angie’s List and Yelp may have a rough go of it.
Mike Blumenthal, who first alerted the SEO community to the change, has said that he doesn’t see how Google can trust businesses to use it without spamming. He’s also said it could become competition to Facebook’s Boosted Posts tool. Google still has made no decisions about the extent to which they would roll out this feature, and whether it will stick to small, local businesses or expand to national companies or franchises.
How to Prepare for Google Posts and Local Business Cards to Go Mainstream
Before you put on your panic hats, remember that this is only in Beta, and hasn’t rolled out en masse yet. It may never.
But it could, and if it does, here are some quick tips to stay on top of your Google Post game:
- Create new content on a daily, or at lease weekly basis
- Be sure your content is optimized for quick reading as well as search
- Line up images, because everyone knows an image is more clickable than text
- Get your reading glasses on, because there’s going to be a lot of updates to keep up with
For now, just know that change might be coming, and Google’s really bringing it on this time.
If you think you’ll need help keeping up with this new platform, contact Blue Corona, or enter your URL into the form below for a free assessment of your website.
About The Author: Betsy is the social media lead and a digital marketing expert with Blue Corona. When she’s not managing Blue Corona's digital content campaigns she’s urban exploring, hiking with her dog, or teaching horseback riding lessons. Twitter: @educatedbets
View more blogs by Betsy McLeod