Posts, videos and Q&As: What’s new on Google for businesses?

Smart business owners have themselves listed on Google My Business.

If this is you, great. If you followed my simple guide to getting listed on Google My Business, even better.

However, as with many things SEO things change a lot and often.

This post will update you on: some recent changes Google have made that will affect businesses; some changes still in the offing; what’s coming; and how you should prepare to maximise the impact for your business or website.

In a rush? Skip to the TL;dr (too long; didn’t read) summaries:

What is Google My Business Again?

Just a quick refresher. Google My Business (GMB) is the free listing service owned and operated by Google.

It’s how you can get your business to appear on Google Maps and how you can manage customer reviews which appear against your business on the world’s biggest search engine.

Google My Business – posts

Once you have your business on ‘GMB’ after you log-in, go to your Dashboard (click the little blue tent/pop-up shop near the foot of the page once you log-in).

You’ll see something like this (the red circle is mine, to draw your attention to it!):

A screenshot from Google My Business showing the addition of 'Posts' to the menu

The new “Posts” feature has been added in your administrator’s menu, right there, in second place (get the feeling Google are pushing this?).

I won’t walk you through the how to of how to use this (leave a comment at the end if you’d find it useful for me to add this) — because I think it’s pretty straightforward.

If you’ve ever posted anything on Facebook (or most other social networks) it’ll be pretty simple for you to work out how this works.

Hit Write your post and you’ll get something like this:

A screenshot of Google My Business' pop-up to make a post

Put a compelling image in here, write some astonishingly good copy (more than 100 words, fewer than 300) and you’re all good.

Quick note here: the images for Posts on Google My Business must be at least 250 pixels across and high; and they’re going to show in that rectangular shape (so the portrait photo of your new Grandfather clock ain’t gonna work!).

They also have to be jpg or png files (so no gifs or svgs – at least, not yet).

There are sliders for you to set if your Post refers to an event and if you’d like to add a call to action button.

For you to decide if you want those, it may help to see what they look like, right?

Here’s one I prepared earlier:

Screenshot from Google search results page showing a Google My Business Post event

That’s the inaugural Optimisey event showing as… you guessed it a Google My Business Post, event.

The blue “Sign-up” is the button.

You can see I posted that back in June but as the event’s not until October, it’s still going strong.

How to use Google My Business posts

You don’t have to limit yourself to events though.

That said, they’re a great way to maintain your SERP (search engine results page) real estate, as event Posts are the only type that last beyond seven days.

Every other Post will expire (and no longer appear) seven days after you publish it.

Events will last 7 days or until the event has passed, whichever comes sooner.

You should be using Google My Business Posts to grab as much of the SERP as you can.

If your business listing is appearing on the right-hand side of the SERP, great. If a customer (or potential customer) searches for your business name it should — but don’t let that make you complacent.

Grab as much of their attention as you can. Depending on your business niche you may have competitors’ ads appearing on the page or even their website appearing in the organic results too.

Posts are a great way to get more screen-space focused on your business and your content.

You could put your latest blog post, whitepaper or product launch in a Post.

Use it to show off. What have you done lately that you’d love prospective customers to see? What about a recent sale or discount? Get it in a Post.

And use the Add a button feature. I cannot see why you wouldn’t do this.

Again, it gives you more screen real estate and the opportunity to link that Post to your website — driving more traffic, clicks and engagement your way.

You are (currently) limited to Google’s out of the box button options: Learn more; Reserve; Sign up; Buy; and Get offer — but one of these should work for whatever content you have.

TL;DR about GMB posts

Too long? Didn’t read all that? Here’s the salient points about Google My Business Posts:

  • You can make ‘Facebook-style’ posts, via Google My Business, that appear on your listing in the search results
  • Images must be at least 250×250 pixels
  • Posts must have >100 and <301 words
  • Most posts last seven days from publication
  • Event posts last until the event date passes
  • Use the ‘Add a button’ feature to encourage click-throughs to specific content
  • Administered via your Google My Business account

Questions and Answers

Both this and the next update (videos) are, for the moment, Android device specific — meaning they can only be added and viewed by Android users.

However, this is one of the driving reasons for me writing this post — it’s on Android for now.

Get in on this now and get ahead of your competitors.

Google often do this — limited trials in specific territories or devices — as a precursor to a universal roll-out.

What are Google’s Business Q&As?

As the name might suggest this is where customers can ask questions of a business, right there in the SERP.

Note: this is not controlled through your Google My Business account.

Crucially, business owners and customers can post questions and answers.

This one had a lot of SEO’ers clawing at their eyes. The opportunity/risk for spam or down right trolling is obvious.

There have already been several examples of this, mostly on places you’d expect (think politics etc.) as Twitter-friends (and local SEO experts) Tim Capper, Joy Hawkins and Mike Blumenthal help me demonstrate:

And it’s not limited to English language either:

As Mike points out, company’s with crappy service best beware.

If you’re thinking: “That’d never happen to my business – we give great service.” — rest assured you’re not immune to bad reviews (or trolls). You need to get ahead of the game on this.

If you get a spurious or defamatory ‘Question’ you can flag it and report it to Google.

Whilst you wait (and wait, and wait) for it to get taken down it may well be costing you business.

Far better to drown it out with genuine, helpful and informative questions of your own or better yet, from genuine customers.

If you want to post Questions and Answers on your own business listing Google encourages that, there’s no need to go all secret squirrel.

If you know that customers often ask about vegetarian options; or where they can park etc. You can post those questions and answer them yourself.

Here’s an example I did for Optimisey – watch the video (you may want to expand the YouTube player, so you can read it) and you can see:

a) where these Q&As will appear in the SERPs

b) what they look like

c) that you can (and should) ask and answer your own questions

(as well as how I’m still competing with ‘other companies’ to own my own brand name!)

TL;dr – Key points about Q&A on business listings

Too long, didn’t read? Here’s the summary:

  • Customers can ask questions about your business right in the search results
  • You and other users can answer them
  • Google wants you to ask and answer FAQs about your own business (add value)
  • It’s on Android only — asking, answering and even seeing (for now!)
  • Adding Q&A to your listing increases the screen-space your listing gets

Want to learn more? Mike wrote about this on his blog including a useful Q&A about Q&As; and Tim covered this well too – hat tip to both of them and Joy Hawkins for their help compiling this.

Videos in Google Maps listings

I first spotted this thanks to aforementioned local SEO whizz Mike Blumenthal.

Note, this too is not something you can see via your Google My Business console.

This feature is open to some Google ‘Local Guides’ — contributors to Google Maps that have reached a certain threshold of points (by writing reviews, posting photos, updating/correcting Maps listings etc.).

To upload videos you have to be Level 4 or above.

Similar to Q&As above this is also only on Android — for now.

Adding videos to your listing

If you have your business appearing on Google Maps you’ll have noticed that customers can leave a review, give you a score out of five stars, post photos etc.

Through your GMB console, you can add photos to your own listing. You cannot add videos, yet.

That is a power your customers now have which you don’t.

Unless…

You (like me) are canny enough to get yourself to a decent ‘Local Guide’ level yourself.

If you haven’t done this, now is the time to start:

Users can upload videos (of up to 10 seconds) directly from the Google Maps app or upload a video they already have on their device (to a maximum of 30 seconds).

This is what it looks like in the app:

Screenshot showing a video on Google Maps

You can read more about this on Google’s Local Guides Connect page.

How to use Videos on Google Business listing

Get ahead of your competitors and get some videos on your listing.

The foody example from Google above is, of course, lovely.

Show your business off. If you don’t make food show off your products; make a useful ‘how to’ guide; or introduce yourself or your team.

Bear in mind, not everyone has a face for video. Nor the slick presenting skills of a Tess Daly (or Des Lynam if, like me, you remember him!).

Don’t expose your customers to poorly made, clunky, cringe-inducing videos. That’s not the ‘brand’ you want to be.

TL;DR – key info on videos on Google Maps listings

  • Users can post videos direct to your business listing on Google Maps (as they can now with photos and reviews etc.)
  • Videos uploaded via the Google Maps app are limited to 10 seconds
  • Pre-recorded videos up to 30 seconds can be uploaded
  • Uploading is limited to Android (for now)
  • Videos can be viewed on any platform

Summary

This is just a few recent changes from the last few months but — done well — they could have a significant impact on your business.

Done badly (or hijacked by your competitors/nay-sayers) they could really hurt your business.

Now's a good time to get on-board with Posts, Q&A and Videos — before your competitors do.

Be one of the early adopters. Get there before your competitors do and wow your customers with the results.

What do you think?

Have you used Posts or Q&As or even videos for your business? Are you going to? I’d love to see more examples of this.

Show off! Post a comment and I’ll share good examples in an update to this post.

How to keep up with SEO?

If you read this with a rising sense of dread, thinking: “If this is just a few month’s worth, how the heck am I going to stay up-to-date longer term?”

Fear not, Optimisey is here to help.

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