Tag Archives: Google Plus


Interview: Why marketers shouldn’t waste their time with Google Posts

The search engine results page recently saw the return of Google Posts, the part-social, part-publishing feature that was launched by Google a little over a year ago during the US Presidential Election.

Billed as “an experimental new podium on Google”, Google Posts has attracted a lot of attention from marketers, search specialists and Google enthusiasts thanks to its prominent place on the SERP – appearing in the form of an eye-catching carousel of cards – and its mysterious deployment.

Over the year since it was first released, it has appeared in and disappeared from search results a number of times with no apparent pattern or explanation. Brands who wanted a shot at being part of Google’s new podium were forced to “Join the waitlist” and cross their fingers.

But last month Google suddenly announced that it would be opening up Posts to “museums, sports teams, sports leagues, and movies” in the United States, and all of the above groups along with musicians in Brazil – prompting a renewed flurry of interest from marketers. At the same time, the relaunched Posts became more visually eye-catching with the addition of embedded GIFs and videos.


One person, however, doesn’t believe that Google Posts is worth the hype. Michael Bertini, Online Marketing Consultant and Search Strategist at iQuanti, told Search Engine Watch why he thinks that Google has gone off half-cocked with Posts, and why marketers would be better off expending their energies elsewhere.

Google Posts: where is the value?

“I don’t think Google will admit that they made a mistake with this whole Posts thing,” says Bertini.

“Google already has a lot of great products and search results features on the page; to add Google Posts to that clutters up the results page unnecessarily. And I don’t think it offers much value to the end user.”

It’s true that while there has been a lot of excitement from brands and marketers around the prospect of publishing directly to the SERP, few of us have considered its usefulness to users. Google is still first and foremost a search engine; when users enter a search query, they are presumably looking for information.

While people Googling candidates in the run-up to the US Presidential Election would undoubtedly have been interested in what those candidates had to say about certain issues, subsequent versions of Google Posts have moved further and further away from a feature that is useful to the end user.

Interview: Why marketers shouldn’t waste their time with Google Posts

Few people searching for “Boston Red Sox” are looking for pseudo-social updates from their favorite sports team; they’re more likely to be looking for match scores, game tickets, or perhaps a link to the team’s website.

A lot of the interest around Google Posts thus far has been driven by sheer novelty, with people Googling ‘Andrews Jewelers’ or ‘Escape Pod Comics’ simply to see how the businesses had been using Posts – rather than because they featured useful information. In and of itself, how much value does Posts provide to the searcher?

“I don’t think anybody should put a strict focus on getting into Posts – or any one Google feature,” says Bertini. “What I’ve noticed throughout my career is that people who make it a specific focus to get into an area of Google – let’s use Google’s Answer Box as an example – ultimately, they’re left with content that doesn’t fit the end user’s needs. And then it dies.”

“If someone did want to get involved with Google Posts, they should write content that really answers the search query, and then of course request access on posts.withgoogle.com. But that’s all.”

Everything is a test

Based on the fact that Posts has already come and gone from the SERP several times before this most recent, wider launch, does Bertini think that Posts is finally here to stay?

“Everything Google is about testing,” Bertini replies. “Even after they launch it to market, what they would consider ‘permanent’ is not really what we would consider permanent. Personally, I think it’ll last up until the third quarter of 2017, and then they’ll mix it up with something else.

“If Posts get a really high CTR, then Google might invest more in it and add more features. But at the moment, it’s still very much in testing. It still lacks features – there’s no real social interaction, for example.”

Interview: Why marketers shouldn’t waste their time with Google Posts

Google Posts currently allows for limited social sharing, but doesn’t provide a way for users to truly interact with or respond to Posts.

If Posts, ultimately, is still in testing, it explains why it has disappeared and reappeared with so little fanfare – Google doesn’t want to attract a lot of attention to a feature that may not even be launched on a wider scale.

Bertini agrees that the lack of promotion speaks volumes about Google’s intentions – or lack thereof – for the feature. “If Google had complete confidence in this feature, they would be promoting it more.”

He goes on: “If I ran my own business, and I wanted to get more searchers to my site, there are better ways to do that than to focus on GIFs and videos to get into Google Posts.

“For example, if I were making videos already, I would create pages for my videos, transcribe that content, and optimize it for search – that would be a better use of resources than focusing on getting into Posts.

“Ultimately, people are going to invest time and effort into Posts, when Google itself has not yet perfected this feature.”

Google Plus revisited?

Given the pseudo-social nature of Google Posts, a lot of comparisons have understandably been drawn between Google Posts and Google Plus, Google’s last ill-fated venture into social networking. And it could be that Google Plus provides a blueprint for what to expect from the future of Google Posts.

“If we look back at Google Plus – when it first launched, Google’s idea of what Plus would be is not what it is today. And like everything Google, Google will never admit that they made a mistake, or that the product didn’t turn out the way they wanted it to be.

“But I think the search marketers who used Google Plus as a social platform are very disappointed today – if they invested a lot of time and money into building up their profiles and optimizing their Google Plus. It’s not used the way it used to be used, any more. I think it’s going to be the same with Google Posts.”

Interview: Why marketers shouldn’t waste their time with Google Posts

Remember when Google Plus was a big deal?

Bertini believes the aim of introducing Google Posts to the SERP is to encourage more user interaction with the search engine results page. This would tie in with the recent addition of rich results for podcasts to the SERP, allowing searchers on smartphones and Google Home to play podcasts directly from the search page.

“Google is trying to make a different version of social [with Posts], which is social interaction with the search engine results page, where a user can interact with the search page itself. It’s just very early on at the moment.”

If Google can succeed in expanding the function of the search results page in this way, it would definitely be a means of keeping users inside its own walled garden for longer.

But without value to the end user, Google Posts could be a Plus-style flop, and Bertini thinks that Google would be better off focusing its attention on perfecting existing features of the SERP that have more value to searchers.

Interview: Why marketers shouldn’t waste their time with Google Posts

“Google is constantly trying to mix things up, when – once again, personal belief – I think that they should focus on good products that they’ve launched like Answer Box, which is already effective. Or ‘People Also Ask’ – they launched this section, and it’s still not perfect, but it’s good.

“I think this is what Google should devote its energy to, rather than – I don’t want to say get rid of Facebook or Twitter, because I don’t think that will happen – but rather than trying to make the search results page a social platform.”

The future of Google Posts

Google Posts, as it stands, still lacks a lot of functionality. So an ideal world, what would a fully-featured Google Posts look like?

“One, people search for something; two, a Post feature comes up; three, there would be a rating system for whether or not the Post matches the search query.

“Then there would be a sharing function where the user can share the Post via social media. You could also have a Hangouts-style feature integrating chat into Posts, allowing people to chat about what they’ve just read.”

It remains to be seen whether Google will try to keep integrating more functionality into Posts or whether it will once again disappear quietly from the SERP.

But one way or the other, marketers should keep sight of the importance of catering to the end user – not just to the newest Google feature.


Google Posts: GIFs and videos published directly to SERPs

To relatively little fanfare, Google launched its “Posts” initiative during the US presidential election campaign last year.

The launch was accompanied by a landing page that labeled this “an experimental new podium”. That same landing page remains live, unchanged, and with the same call to action at its conclusion to “Join the Waitlist”.

Google Posts seemed to be a stripped-back version of Google+, devised with the intention of at least maintaining some of the functionality of a social network after sunsetting Google+.

The main premise of Posts had ostensibly been to work as a one-way social platform, where brands or individuals could publish (and be indexed instantly), but without the requisite mechanisms to allow the audience to engage in conversation with the poster or ‘like’ the update.

Since that tentative launch, Posts has perennially appeared in and disappeared from the SERPs in various guises, each time with very little fanfare. It initially appeared to be being trialed by a select few small businesses, then was spotted during Google I/O the following May, being used to publish live conference updates directly to the SERP.

A few months after that, Google Posts reappeared in search results for a charter school in New York, KIPP NYC, and then disappeared again. Each time, users have remained in the dark about whether a fully-fledged roll-out of Google Posts might be on the horizon, and nothing much has happened in this space to justify the tag ‘experimental new podium’. However, that may be set to change.

I noticed during a routine search for [red sox] that gifs were autoplaying within the knowledge graph sidebar, both on desktop (as in the screenshot below) and also on mobile.

Google Posts: GIFs and videos published directly to SERPs


This is particularly eye-catching and is in line with numerous other Google initiatives to bring a sense of vitality and immediacy to its results, most notably in the shape of Accelerated Mobile Pages and the decision to allow emoji in select organic results.

Although the Posts initiative itself is not new and nor is its inclusion within search results, there is a clearly-labeled ‘New’ box in the top right of this section to alert users of a change.

The same was observed for [yankees], so at least Google shows no clear bias in that sense:

Google Posts: GIFs and videos published directly to SERPs


This has been spotted by others in the last few weeks, although it does seem that is being rolled out in a piecemeal fashion.

The two entities that appear to be taking part in this partnership with Google are Major League Baseball and the National Hockey League, as seen in the screenshot below in a search for the ice hockey team [new york rangers]:

Google Posts: GIFs and videos published directly to SERPs

If it’s new, what has changed?

GIFs were also spotted in SERPs on a few occasions when Google+ was up and running, but again this was isolated to a few brands, and it was clear that this was being pulled from their own Google+ account.

What is most noteworthy in this instance is that these results may not be showing up as a result of direct action from each individual sports team.

It is therefore worth assessing the source of the posts to ascertain whether brands will be expected to update their feed on an ongoing basis.

This is quite vital if we want to know where this platform could go in future, as it helps us define whether this is a streamlined social media network (more in line with Twitter than Facebook) or more of an automated content syndication platform.

Back to the Red Sox example for further investigation.

First of all, clicking on an individual post, as it appears within the SERP, opens up a larger window containing the image or GIF. As you can see from the screenshot below, this is all contained within the same results page:

Google Posts: GIFs and videos published directly to SERPs

Clicking on the ‘More’ link leads to the original post which, intriguingly, is hosted on MLB.com rather than the Red Sox Google Posts page.

As such, this could be a welcome boon for brands like Major League Baseball, who will undoubtedly receive increased traffic. This will be of great interest to publishers, as there is the tantalising possibility of a new avenue to get their content in search results, should the initiative go mainstream.

The Red Sox ‘profile page’ is really just a feed of images and external links to more in-depth content – all of which are hosted on MLB.com.

Google Posts: GIFs and videos published directly to SERPs


This arouses the suspicion that the functioning of Google Posts is changing, especially as this seems to be the case across all MLB teams. The same is also true of many ice hockey teams, which link out to NHL.com from all of their posts.

As a result, it is plausible that the partnership here is between the sites hosting the content (MLB.com, NHL.com) and Google, with the individual sports teams acceptant beneficiaries of the increased engagement.

In the initial announcement about Posts, the selling point was said to be that individuals or brands could publish directly to Google. That requires a certain complicity; one would have to take action to set this process in motion by posting content via Posts, whether fully-formed or just a link to an external site.

In our coverage from March 2016, we noted that a few small businesses had been given access to Google Posts. There didn’t appear to be much in the way of consistent rationale for choosing these particular businesses over others, although their feeds are all still live.

The fact that the links from the Red Sox are invariably from one website suggests that Google is automatically pulling these links through to its search results when they go live on MLB.com. This differs from the small business accounts, which are composed of unique updates written for Google Posts.

This demonstrates an important and telling distinction from the original functioning of Posts, and could be one with far-reaching implications.

Google Posts: GIFs and videos published directly to SERPs

What is Google seeking to accomplish through Posts?

The reasons for doing this are self-evident.

Eric Schmidt was very public in admitting that the company “missed the boat” on social media, their only real foray into the market being their overdue and (in hindsight) always-doomed Google+.

That is a substantial missing piece in the jigsaw for a company that is competing with Facebook to maintain its digital advertising dominance.

Speed is of the essence, as indicated by the growing presence of AMP pages in search results.

Google Posts: GIFs and videos published directly to SERPs

Of course, it stands to reason that having brands publish directly on a Google platform is of great benefit to the search giant, as it has a significant task on its hands to crawl, index, cache, and serve everything that is published on the web instantaneously.

Moreover, one reason for using Google+ as a content distribution platform in the past was simply that it led to faster indexing. If Posts can offer the same benefit, especially if updates about a brand are pulled automatically from relevant websites, there will be a clear use case for most companies.

What could this mean for businesses and marketers?

The results pages are crowded as it is, so the addition of GIFs could only serve to intensify the battle for consumers’ attention spans. However, as always, we can expect Google to test this in detail before taking the plunge and releasing the functionality to the masses.

One concern is that Google may give prominence to these results over other social networks, notably Twitter, in order to ensure its own success. Perhaps the reason for such a tentative entry into this space is the hope of avoiding another newsworthy social media misstep, should the initiative fail to take hold.

The waitlist for Google Posts has been open for quite some time now, after all, but very few companies are active on the platform. Either demand is suspiciously low or (more likely) Google is taking its time on this one.

Google Posts: GIFs and videos published directly to SERPs

That said, any opportunities to increase organic traffic are very welcome nowadays, and that could be what Posts comes to offer us.

For now, we can only join the waitlist and patiently look forward to an invitation to start Posting.


8 Best Practices For Your Google Plus Page by @ChristinaBaldas

Let’s have a look at the eight strategies that should be in place for every local business' SEO in order to boost the organic visibility of the business’ Google+ page.

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[#SESDENVER] Could Google+ Be the Future of SEO?

At SES Denver, Merry Morud and Cindy Krum explained that as Hummingbird places more importance on social signals for ranking, Google Plus could be the key to boosting SEO rankings.

The Death of Google Authorship: Why Being an Author Isn’t Dead by @JuliaEMcCoy

Just a few months ago (late July 2014), we heard about the disappearance of the Authorship head shot. Now, the news has broken that Google has killed Authorship. Not changed it in another way. You heard that right: Google killed Authorship. Google Authorship is Dead At least that is how Forbes contributor TJ McCue put it, in a post published last week, following Google’s announcement that its Authorship experiment has run its course. In practical terms, this means Google will no longer use the rel=author markup to track content to a self-identified author, effectively eliminating authorship features from its search results page. […]

The post The Death of Google Authorship: Why Being an Author Isn’t Dead by @JuliaEMcCoy appeared first on Search Engine Journal.

3 Ways to Create a Hashtag Monitoring Dashboard by @seosmarty

I’ve always loved playing with hashtags. I can proudly say I was an early adopter (I can’t say the same about Facebook but I do love using hashtags on Google Plus). I’ve been using hashtags for monitoring guest blogging opportunities, helping spread brand awareness, especially through Twitter chats, interacting with friends, brainstorming and finding which questions my potential audience is looking to answers, and so forth. Quite obviously, I’ve been playing with various hashtag-monitoring tools for ages (reviewing new ones, looking for alternatives for discontinued ones, and learning to combine them for better results) Here’s my recent step to better hashtag productivity: a […]

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8 Keys To Getting More Google+ Interaction by @adamjayc

Google+ isn’t dead, far from it in fact. But, I know a lot of marketers are still on the fence about Google+. This study by Forrester Research gets cited a lot when people look to validate the social network as a viable channel. While Facebook is still in the lead when it comes to brand engagement, Google+ is getting close, particularly when you consider the extreme decline of Facebook’s organic reach. This makes a strong case for developing your presence on Google+. But, this begs the question – what can you do to get more interaction for you and your […]

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...consultant in Dallas. He specializes in social media, mobile apps, SEO, gamification and lead generation. Find him on Google Plus atbrettrelanderconsulting .