A Google Business Profile is a hidden gem that many small business owners can use to their advantage. Just as search engine optimization can fuel your growth in the Google rankings, Google Business Profiles are another way to direct eyes from organic searches to your business.
We’ve highlighted the impact of Google Business Profiles for your business in Google’s search rankings. Now, we want to help you make the most of each post you put up on your Google Business Profile. So we interviewed Joy Hawkins, a GBP expert, on how to make your posts perform better. Joy shared a ton of tips for maximizing the effectiveness of your posts which we’ve included in this article.
Oh, and don't forget, you can now draft, schedule and share all of your Google Business Posts with Buffer. 🎉
Choose the right type of post to share
You can create four types of posts on your Google Business Profile :
- What’s New
- Covid-19 Updates.
But Joy highlights two of them as being the most effective: Offer and Covid-19 posts.
With Offer posts, Joy theorizes that they perform so well because they have a different display than other post types.
“When you're looking on the Google Maps app, they [Offer posts] display way better than any of the other posts, and come with tags so they're a lot more visible. And I feel like most businesses are utilising the other types of posts in there but forgetting about offer posts.”
Joy recommends using Offer posts – even if you don’t have an offer for your customers – but with a unique and creative touch so it catches the customers’ eye.
Covid-19 posts may not be around for much longer and are limited in functionality (for example, they can only be displayed as text). But Joy says they are great for sending out updates that need to be communicated immediately. This is thanks to a feature called the knowledge panel, which is the box that shows up on the right side of the screen with all the information about a business. In the knowledge panel, a Covid-19 post has the highest placement. Joy says this feature makes it useful for all types of content.
“So if you've got a message you need to get out urgently like office closure or a short-term discount, you can use a Covid-19 post – even though they're supposed to be about Covid-19.”
Use every available element to draw the reader’s eye
In any given post on your Google Business Profile (GBP), you have the option to include at least a title and accompanying text. So even though it’s optional, Joy recommends always including a title.
“Always make sure you add a title. It's an optional field, but we found that posts with titles got more clicks and more conversions.”
In addition, elements like emojis and images help with post performance and conversions. Emojis are particularly interesting – this study found that emojis increase customer engagement, when used for emphasis and in positive contexts. And they seem to work great for GBP posts as well – Joy’s research found that posts with emojis got twice as many clicks.
“We found that a conservative amount of emojis help with post performance and conversions,” says Joy. “We weren't like listing six or seven emojis in a row. But having one or two that are relevant, helps catch people's eye.”
Another great way to draw attention is to show proof of work through before and after images if you have a business that lends itself to such. Joy mentions a lawn care client that showed the before and after images of a lawn they worked on that performed really well compared to their other posts.
“[That type of image] is really visually appealing. So if you can make use of an image that way that really helps performance as well.”
Include the keywords you’re already targeting
It’s important to note that your GBP posts don't help you rank for keywords. But if you're already ranking, sometimes it can help you show up in the search results for related keywords. So try including the keywords you're targeting on Google in your posts. Don’t be spammy about it (that can get you banned).
On thinking through your use of keywords, Joy advises, “Let's say, for example, you're State Farm doing a post about how much you'll save on auto insurance. Everyone already knows them for auto insurance, and they already rank for that keyword. So they would want to say something like, ‘Save up to 40% on auto insurance’ in a GBP post. And by including the keyword ‘auto insurance’ in there, it helps the post show up more in the search results for related keywords.”
Joy also points out that Google will sometimes pull in a little piece of the post right in the search results in the Local Pack — the list of three that shows up with a map. These are little snippets that they sometimes will pull in with Google posts. And you can increase the odds of that happening by just ensuring that you utilize keywords in your posts.
Avoid including anything that Google has banned
One of the most important things to note about your GBP post is that they go through a review process. So, unlike other online publishing platforms where you can post and then be rejected, posts on your GBP must be approved before they appear on your Profile.
Joy recommends reviewing Google’s Business Profiles post policy for what (and what not) to include in your posts. Here are some things that Google might flag your post for:
- Content that's irrelevant to the business or that has no clear association with the business – this also applies to links and visual content like images and videos
- Spammy-looking content: Anything that’s misspelled, poor-quality, or directing users to harmful or irrelevant sites and software
- Inappropriate content
- Content that contains private or confidential information
- Including a phone number – Google recommends attaching a ‘Call Now’ button to your post that links to your verified phone number
- Prohibited content according to the guidelines
Joy also mentions that, unlike other social media sites, including hashtags in your post – which don’t help your content regardless – can get your posts rejected and should be avoided.
Treat your posts more like ads than social media
While they are a great way to organically connect with your customers, Joy says your Google Business Profile should be treated more like a way to advertise than a social media platform.
“It's very different than what you'd want to post on Facebook, for example. With social media, people will say often that you should post about things that will engage people, like your dog. But that’s not the case for Google posts – you need to use them for promotions,” Joy says “The worst performing posts are informational, ‘how-to’ posts because the people that are seeing it already know about you or why they need you.”
A better strategy is to think of your posts like coupons or magazine ads. “We had a car repair client that offered a $10 coupon off oil changes and that post got a lot of activity.” So if you’re selling a product of any kind, it could be beneficial to talk about any promotions, coupons, or the savings your customers could get from approaching you instead of any competitors they’ve come across.
Use your posts to stand out in the search results
Posts to your Google Business Profile can’t be optimized for search — rather, they enhance and support your existing SEO efforts. Traditional SEO has way more to do with your website and backlinks – that’s what helps you rank.
In a final word of advice from Joy, “It [Google Business Profiles] is more about grabbing somebody, once you've already got them. It doesn't get you there, it doesn't get you in front of people. Once you already rank, differentiating yourself from the other people you're ranking with, that's where Google posts can make a difference.”