As RankBrain improves to better understand searcher intent, search will continue to play a larger and larger role in the marketing of small businesses, and in turn will impact an even larger percentage of the U.S. economy. Google’s latest feature, Google Posts, provides yet another valuable tool to local business. This feature will now provide space on the search engine results page for a business to share content with searchers. In essence, the Search Engine Results Page (SERP) will now allow businesses to post statuses just as it does on Facebook.
Post offers, share articles, and link to reviews of your business
A local business now has more control over what searchers find during the consideration phase. In the case of the above example, a customer is researching different gyms and Active Fitness has made him aware of a $9.99/month special that it is running. This could be enough to entice the searcher to visit the page, where he can purchase a membership online. Before Google rolled out this feature, the only way that a local business would have been able to let a searcher know about such a special would have been through paid search.
It is no secret that search plays a huge role in the consideration phase of the customer journey, a role that the company has dubbed “the zero moment of truth.” With Google Posts, local businesses will have more control over this “zmot” than they have ever had. They will now have the opportunity to place front and center:
● Short messages to potential customers
● Positive online reviews
● Blog posts that the business would like to drive traffic to
● Online specials and coupons
● Social media pages such as Instagram and FB
● Pretty much anything that they would like people to see
To a local business, Google Posts could potentially be more valuable than Facebook status updates
Studies have tried to quantify the role of social media in the consideration phase of the customer journey, but most have tried to identify which social media channel is the go-to for social media research. One found that as many as 30% of survey respondents claimed that at least once a week they check a business’s FB page before making a purchase (a practice that is especially prominent in the food service industry). This number is bound to be exponentially higher for Google and presents a valuable opportunity for a business to communicate to customers during this phase of the customer journey. The impact of the content shared through Google Posts is potentially massive, and local businesses are likely to start taking advantage of this feature as they see more of their competitors using it.
We wrote a walkthrough of how to do a Google Post on the 12khz blog and believe that while it could be made a bit more user-friendly, it is easy enough to do that some number of business owners will start taking advantage of it. We also believe that it is possible that local search may be influenced by businesses that share Google Posts, photos, and frequently receive and respond to Google Reviews. We hypothesize that the more active a local business is on Google My Business, the more likely it is to rank in the local 3-pack.