Google Posts have transformed branded searches for businesses everywhere, especially small-to-medium-sized businesses. Posts allows businesses to showcase events, relevant content, sales, and general information for their branded search. While these posts may take a bit of consistent effort since most don’t last longer than a week (except for event-related posts, which last until the event is over), and there is no way to preemptively schedule them, they undoubtedly seem to be worth the work. The benefits of Google Posts extend beyond showcasing more information about a business. Posts include the ability to attract attention to timely business matters, improve organic rankings slightly, bring more traffic to the site, and possibly improve Google Maps presence. This case study—with several examples, experiments, and thoughts—will delve into the power of Google Posts.
If you don’t know what Google Posts are, or would like an in-depth overview prior to reading this Case Study, I encourage you to first read and watch my previous Google Posts Blog: All Things Google Posts #ThanksGoogle
The goals for Wpromote’s SMB Google Posts case study were to test:
Various types of Google Posts
Effect on organic rankings
The amount of web traffic that came from these Posts alone
Test #1 does not have a hypothesis, as this was merely an exploration into the capabilities of Google Posts. Nevertheless, my hypothesis for Test #2 was that implementing Google Posts would increase organic rankings. My hypothesis for Test #3, meanwhile, was that we would see a fair number of website sessions as a result of these Google Posts.
We were able to utilize several of our SMB account managers in an experiment where we utilized Google Posts for several clients. This led to some pretty great innovation as we tested different posting methods.
Test #1: SMB Google Posts Examples
Promote An Event
For Creekwood Orthodontics, an account manager created an event post for a Solar Eclipse Viewing Event, which was a great way to engage with current patients and also promote the practice to the local community. Because this was an event post, it was live for several weeks (from August 8th to August 21st).
Conduct Referral Contests
Referral contests are a powerful way for SMBs to drive new business through the door while also using the current client base. You know what they say: the best customers are your current customers’ friends and family. Using Google Posts is another way to promote referral contests. Again, this was an event based Google Post, and therefore was live much longer than the usual 7-day threshold.
Promotions Or Sales
Running promotions or sales can boost engagement and conversions. With Sender One Climbing, several promotions ran as a way to 1) entice previous customers to come back for more, and 2) increase conversions among first-time prospects. Google Posts were a good fit here because, at their core, they are essentially a branded SEO advertisement.
Promote General Information
Sometimes there is nothing fancy happening for a business and everything is, well, business as usual. Because a promotion or special event won’t be happening every week (and because Google Posts only last a week unless they’re event Posts) it’s absolutely acceptable and even encouraged to post general information. You can highlight a blog, a biography of a staff member, a treatment or service, or even simply post a clear call-to-action post like, “Schedule an appointment today!”
Focus on Specific Keywords
Keyword rankings are important for us to mark success of SEO campaigns and understand how to improve and expand said campaigns. Being able to let current customers know of an existing service that maybe hasn’t been promoted heavily in the past provides an important way for you to take advantage of Google Posts. Focusing on specific keywords allowed us to test the impact of Google Posts on keyword rankings, which answered our first hypothesis.
In this example for Smilehaven Dental Center, led by Dr. Stephen Chan who is a holistic dentist, “dental implants” was the specific keyword targeted for two main reasons: 1) many people don’t realize that holistic dentists offer many of the same treatments as general dentists; so dental implants is an important service that needs to be promoted. Focusing on a specific keyword allows a business owner to highlight less-promoted or well-known services. And 2) “dental implants” as a keyword had significantly decreased its position in the 30 days prior to this test.
To answer our hypotheses, we ran several experiments tracking the results of keyword rankings and subsequent traffic (as well as behavior of traffic) to the site.
Test #2: How Do Google Posts Influence Keyword Rankings in The Short Term?
Expertment #1: Smilehaven Dental Center
Findings show that Google Posts do have a noticeable impact on keyword rankings (at least in the short term), which can undoubtedly improve an SEO campaign and bring more organic traffic to a website.
In this example, we wanted to target the keyword “dental implants” for Smilehaven Dental Center given that we’d seen a steady decline in the keyword previously. The keyword ranking for “dental implants” dropped 7 positions in the previous 7 days and 12 positions in the previous 90 days to November 20th.
7 Days (Nov 13th vs. Nov 20th)
Post: The Google Post targeting the keyword “dental implants” was implemented on November 20th.
After 7 days of the Google Post being implemented, on November 27th we saw an 8 position increase for “dental implants.” The keyword jumped from the third page in the search engine results to the second page.
7 Days (Nov 20th vs. Nov 27th)
It’s important to note that no onsite content implementations were done targeting this word in the previous 90 days. As such, it certainly seems that Google Posts directly aided this keyword’s increase in position. In an effort to verify this finding, I tested what would happen to the keyword’s ranking if Google Posts were not implemented in subsequent weeks. What I found was that there was a slight decrease in the keyword’s ranking 7 days after later.
7 Days (Nov 27th vs. Dec 4th)
This decrease indicates the power of Google Posts and shows the impact Google Posts has on keyword rankings. It was, in fact, the post that caused the “dental implants” to rise in the rankings.
Expertment #2: Dr. Edwin Schottenstein
A second test of Google Posts’ impact on keyword rankings was conducted with Dr. Edwin Schottenstein, who is an ophthalmologist in New York City. The keyword of interest in this experiment was “eye doctor NYC.”
Prior: 90 days prior to the Google Post, this keyword dropped 9 positions; however, 7 days prior, this keyword went up in the rankings. This increase then proposed the question: “Could the keyword be boosted even more with a Google Post?”
7 Days (Nov 13th-Nov 20th)
The below post was implemented. As noted, the post uses a variant of the keyword “eye doctor NYC” in an effort to target and influence this keyword.
After: 90 days prior to the Google Post, this keyword dropped 9 positions; however, 7 days prior, this keyword went up in the rankings. This increase then proposed the question: “Could the keyword be boosted even more with a Google Post?”
7 Days—Google Post was active: (Nov 20th-Nov 27th)
7 Days—Google Post was inactive during this period: (Nov 27th-Dec 4th)
What We Learned:
Google Posts do have a measurable impact on keyword rankings—specifically, keywords and variants that are mentioned in the Google Posts themselves. In the competitive world of SEO even a slight increase in keyword rankings is beneficial. However, while we discovered that Google Posts have a measurable impact on keyword rankings, one must then wonder if these kinds of results are sustainable when you’re targeting several keywords.
Test #3: How Do Google Posts Influence Web Traffic?
Similar to an advertisement, Google Posts allow you to send people who click on the Google Post to a specific web page. Using Google’s URL Builder, for this test we were able to track the amount of traffic that came in from Google Posts specifically. And while the traffic results weren’t as impactful as those a straight advertisement might yield—largely because these Google Posts only populate on branded searches—they certainly brought in enough traffic to warrant using Google Posts.
Experiment: John Cozza Salon
For this experiment we tracked how many sessions came from Google Posts. Implementing posts every week between July 24th - August 24th garnered 38 total sessions for John Cozza Salon, which made up about 1.23% of the website’s total sessions. Moreover, 8 goal completions came from Google Posts, which accounted for 1.34% of the total goal completions during this time. Lastly, the engagement metrics—bounce rate, avg. session duration, and pages/session—that came from Google Posts were healthy and better than the metric averages.
So again, while these findings aren’t showing a dramatic increase in traffic, a 1% increase on a monthly basis can become significant over time—especially because the conversion completion rate from Google Posts was higher than the rate of sessions from Google Posts.
Some of the post example for this experiment included:
Bonus Test: How Do Google Posts Influence Search & Maps Presence?
While this is a very difficult area to draw direct causation from, we found mild evidence that Google Posts correlated to an increase in presence in Google Maps. This was not an experiment we ran per se, but the increase in presence was certainly a notable observation.
With Sender One Climbing there was an increase in Local Pack presence and an increase in the total presence on Google Search and Google Maps around the same time as Google Posts started being implemented on July 21st. Some of the Posts included:
These Posts featured some sale promotions while others were focused on general information with calls to action. Below is a graph showing views on Google Search and Google Maps. As demonstrated, the presence increase has been significant. And while the upward trend started prior to the first Post being implemented, the implementation of the Post on July 21st (and sustained implementation thereafter) seemed to help sustain this very steep upward trend.
The consensus among Wpromote SMB account managers is that Google Posts are absolutely worth integrating into your overall digital marketing strategy. To be most effective, set a calendar reminder and be sure to implement your Google Posts at least once a week. For post content, think of ways to promote in-office activities, events, and contests. Furthermore, focusing on a few high-priority keywords may be the best strategy to ensure that any keyword ranking increases are going toward the most desired keywords you want to rank for. We look forward to using Google Posts and are excited to see how else Google will improve the Google My Business dashboard in the future!
Shoutouts: Thank you to all who participated in this case study and provided quality feedback and examples including Maddie Quinn, Jessica Dahlstrum, and Candice Oliver. And many thanks to Geanna Culbertson, Stephanie Port, and Darren D’Altorio for the support in the ideation, creation, and/or review of this case study. Last but not least, THANK YOU GOOGLE for creating an awesome feature that can be leveraged by businesses all over.