Utilizing Posts in College and University Google My Business Properties

Carnegie Higher Ed Aug 22, 2017 Carnegie Higher Ed Persona The Visionary Frontrunner

At the end of June, Google made its posts feature in Google My Business available to all users. This means that you are now able to create posts that will show up in your Google My Business property at no cost, which gives you control over some seriously valuable SERP (search engine results page) real estate.

Let’s back up for a second though and recap what Google My Business (GMB) is as a whole.

What is Google My Business?

Google My Business properties show up in branded and location-based searches. They’re the knowledge graphs that contain photos, directions, reviews, and other information about a school or business. You likely see these all of the time when searching for “restaurants near me” or something similar.

GMB properties can appear a few different ways in Google. For example, they can show up in the right sidebar (on desktop), as a carousel underneath the search bar, and as a list at the top of the SERP on mobile.

How do you get a Google My Business property for your school?

Google often automatically creates these properties based on name, address, and phone number information it already has indexed from directories. For colleges and universities, you may find that your institution has more than one GMB property. For example, there may be one for the entire university, one for the graduate school, one for the business school, ones for multiple satellite locations, etc.

You may find that there are also several Google My Business properties for your school that don’t have any distinction. This is often caused when your school is indexed at many different addresses. In these cases, it’s often best to merge them. Most importantly, you need to claim your Google My Business properties if you haven’t done so already. In order to utilize Google Posts, you must have your property(ies) claimed.

How do Google Posts work with Google My Business?

“Google Posts” (which isn’t the official Google name, but one adopted by the SEO community) allow you to advertise events, articles, blog posts, and other webpages right in your Google My Business property. This is great for advertising open house events, info sessions, news, etc.

Each post contains:

  • A photo. This should, of course, be a picture that pertains to the event, article, or webpage that you are posting about.
  • A title, in the case of event posts. This should be just 2-3 words, to avoid having it truncated and replaced with ellipses.
  • A 100-300 word description. We’ve found that, though Google lets you include up to 300 words, that this text gets truncated pretty quickly.
  • For events, you can add the start date and time and the end date and time.
  • You can (and should) also add a button for all posts. Google gives you five button text options to choose from: Learn more, Reserve, Sign up, Buy, and Get offer.

You can have more than one post at a time. They will show up as a carousel in your Google My Business, with the most recent one appearing first. Each post stays up for seven days and then is automatically taken down. In the backend of Google My Business, you can track how many people saw and clicked on each post. You can also use UTM parameters to track post clicks in Google Analytics.

Carnegie recently assisted St. Thomas Aquinas College in advertising two on-campus events using Google Posts

What’s the value in Google Posts?

Google Posts is definitely most valuable for branded searches, which make up a large portion of a school’s organic web traffic. This is because, in addition to current students, prospective students always go back and find you organically. Once they know your name, they are more likely to continue to search for your school in Google than type in your web address.

Posts also appear in local searches, though not as prominently. That’s because, when someone does a search using your brand name, your Google My Business property is the only one to show up, so the full property (including posts) is displayed. However, if someone does a search for “colleges in new hampshire” they will get a list of many schools’ Google My Business properties and only after clicking on your property will they see the posts.

Bottom line: Google Posts allow you to customize messaging and calls-to-action in a prime spot in the SERP at no cost.

Want to learn more about how we can help your college or university with Google My Business posts? Reach out now.

You can follow Rebecca on Twitter @beccablanchette for more SEO and analytics insights.

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