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Local SEO

Google My Business Posts

By Local SEO, SEO 2 Comments

A few weeks ago Google rolled out a post feature for its My Business Listings. Now you can create Facebook-like posts in the back end of the Google My business interface, that will display an image, description and website link in a box below your Google My Business listing’s knowledge graph. First I’ll show you how to create & optimize these, then I’ll discuss where I foresee them being most useful.

Creating Google My Business Posts

First log into your Google My Business platform and select the location you want to create a post for (if you have more than one). So far posts have to be manually created for each location, so it’s not easy to roll them out to hundreds of listings. The post you create will only show up for the listing you create it for.

Once you’ve selected your location, click on the “Posts” option on the left nav and you’ll see a box in which you can write a post. You’ll also see previous posts located underneath (this particular post is expired, I’m not sure how long they stay there for).

Once you click into the post editor, it’ll look like this. The interface is admittedly clunky.

If you click on that big gray box, it’ll let you upload a photo and prompt you to crop it into a rectangular shape. (You would think the Photo Guidelines linked at the bottom would provide criteria for sizing, aspect ratio, etc. It does not.) Ideally your image should be engaging and grab attention. You may opt to include text in the image – this reminds me a lot of a Google AdWords Display ad, which may hint at the future of this functionality.

Then you can add a description – you have between 100-300 words.

There are really two types of posts – events and non-events. Non-event posts last a week, while event posts will prompt you to enter start/end dates and will stay up for the entire duration of the event.

You can also add one of several preset call-to-action buttons for people to click on (I’ve chosen ‘Learn More’) and add a URL. I highly recommend tagging this URL, just like you should tag the landing page URLs in your GMB listings. Otherwise, it’ll come through as organic, but you may not know whether it was from a normal SERP or the post itself.

You can use Google’s URL builder – be sure to tag the medium as organic (these URLs should only be accessible from an organic search). The source is up to you, but I’ve been using g-local-post as my source (to differentiate from g-local as my source in the listing URLs themselves).

Then you can preview your post and if it looks good, publish it.

Now you’ll see your post as a small box at the bottom of your branded knowledge graph. Despite the fact that I’ve done everything Google requested, the image is cut off and the description cut short. Hopefully this product evolves a bit and remedies some of those issues.

You might think “I wonder if they look better on mobile?” – the answer is no (see below). If there’s more than one post, you do see a carousel (whereas desktop only displays one post at a time). On mobile, Google does allow you to click on a tab and see the posts by themselves, but who’s realistically going to do that?


The GMB Post format and interface is clunky. The images almost never show up as intended, making them ineffective. Their usefulness is also limited by where they appear. The only time these posts will show up is in a knowledge graph, which typically indicates a branded search took place.

The chance they’d show up for a non-branded search is very limited, so they’re not much use to drive new organic traffic. If anything, they may steal traffic away from the GMB listings themselves, so be aware of that.

While my examples used blog posts, this is probably poor usage. These types of posts would be much better suited to location-specific events that someone searching for a particular location would want to know about.

It’s sort of like free display ads – I wouldn’t be surprised if Google eventually monetizes this with advertising, the way they added and monetized the local map pack with ads.

Questions? Comments? Tweet at me (@BerkleyBikes) or drop a comment here!

Why You Should UTM Tag Google My Business Listings

By Local SEO, SEO

Google My Business Listings can drive a lot of organic traffic for businesses with a localized focus. Adding UTM tags to the website URLs within those listings is considered a best practice for optimizing GMB profiles.

What Benefit Do UTM Tags Have?

Without UTM tags, a page could be receiving organic traffic from two places and you wouldn’t have any idea which was the biggest driver:

  1. Standard organic results.
  2. Google My Business profiles (knowledge graphs, local map packs, Google Maps)

Adding UTM tags lets you differentiate between them and understand the impact local map packs may have. For example, if the local map pack was driving the majority of traffic, then you’d want to spend more time ensuring that you’ve optimized GMB profiles, citations, etc. in order to improve local map pack rankings.

If the majority of traffic does not come from GMB listings, then it might be an early indicator that the site doesn’t rank well in those map packs, or it may be a sign that the map packs don’t play that big a role in a given industry.

Only by determining where traffic is coming from can you determine where you need to focus your efforts the most.

Traffic Breakdown/Impact

Adding UTM tags to 25 of a client’s Google My Business listings recently revealed some unexpected insights. More than 50% of organic traffic to those locations came through a Google My Business listing.

We did not anticipate that much traffic coming from the listings. We estimated 20-30% as a generous estimate. Needless to say, this revealed a lot of revelations – improving the on-page optimizations would limit our ability to really drive results, unless we also focused on local SEO too.

It’s also worth noting that in this particular vertical, it makes perfect sense that mobile has a higher percentage of traffic from GMB listings. In this particular industry, the locations are places you’d typically drive to shortly after finding the location.

Implementing UTM Tags in Google My Business Listings

First, you have to devise a UTM tagging scheme. This is the scheme I recommend:

  • Source: g-local (subjective, you can pick what you want).
  • Medium:  organic (required – anything else will prevent the traffic from appearing in the organic channel report).
  • Content: [specific location name]
  • Campaign: [regional location name]

If you’re tagging multiple listings at the enterprise level, the content and campaign categories are very helpful to identify specific locations and also regional markets. The client in this scenario operates in 8 regional markets with 25 locations spread across them.

It’s also worth noting that it’s good to keep these as short and abbreviate whenever possible. The GMB interface has a 256 character limit on URLs, so if your site’s URLs are long already, adding multiple UTM tag fields will push you past the limit very quickly.

Measuring Impact

It’s definitely recommended to do this before starting any local SEO efforts, because this will give you a baseline for how much traffic comes through various listings before you optimize them. Measuring map pack rankings is all and well, but traffic is the real metric you should be measuring. Doing this will also let you determine how well GMB traffic converts and if it makes a difference compared to traffic from standard organic results.

Questions? Tweet me @BerkleyBikes or comment here.