Columnist Joy Hawkins shares the results of a case study to see whether Google Posts can move the needle for local search rankings.
A few months ago, I teamed up with Ben Fisher from Steady Demand to test whether Google Posts have any influence on ranking in the local results (the “3-pack”).
We picked two different businesses to test this on. One was a garage flooring company that had been struggling to rank for their main keywords in the 3-pack. The second was my church, which does not have any SEO or marketing efforts going on. The team at Steady Demand made two posts every seven days in Google My Business from August 11, 2017, to October 1, 2017.
Case 1: Garage flooring in Vancouver
For this business, we saw their ranking in the local results increase one position on “garage flooring Vancouver.” It moved up from position four to position three, winning them a spot in the 3-pack, less than a week after they started posting.
For just “garage flooring” (implicit search), they increased from position seven to two about four days after the posts started. I double-checked to make sure they didn’t receive any new reviews a few days prior to the increase, since they did receive a few new reviews during the course of the test.
Case 2: Church in Keswick, Ontario
For my church, we were mainly tracking how they ranked for “church” keywords. They increased from position five to position three for “church keswick, on” but did so gradually after the posting started.
Unlike the garage flooring company, the posts on the church’s listing also drove a significant amount of traffic to the website. We used UTM codes to track the traffic in Google Analytics. Most of it came from mobile, and about half the traffic came from within the target area (the rest was out-of-state).
The post responsible for the largest amount of traffic was actually a bio/spotlight of one of the pastors. Google My Business showed zero engagement on the post despite its driving 74 new users to the website.
- Based on what we’re seeing for this case and others we’re testing, I think Google Posts do have a mild impact on ranking. These tests were purposely done in non-competitive industries, so it might not be enough to produce movement in some scenarios.
- Google Posts are low-impact, low-effort tasks. They should be combined with other tasks to help improve Local SEO for a small business.
- The rankings maintained themselves weeks after we stopped posting on the listings. This is different from what has been observed about posting on social platforms such as Google Plus.
- Google My Business Insights are wrong. You need to use UTM codes on your URLs to get proper insights on these in Google Analytics.
Google Posts have been surprisingly underutilized by businesses and agencies, partly due to the past inability to schedule posts. With the recent feature addition to create and update posts via the Google My Business API, this is an opportunity for people to start using Google Posts more.
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