UPDATED 6/27: One of our eagle-eyed digital strategists recently pointed out that the branding on the landing page seems to suggest that this product is now being called either “posts with Google” or “Your Podium on Google.” See for yourself on the new Google Podium landing page.
Google confirmed on Monday that it’s testing an as-of-yet-unnamed feature that will allow local businesses to promote original content in search results. As search industry observers have noted, the format appears to be the same as the content cards that were rolled out for 2016 presidential candidates in January. By all indications, this new feature has the potential to completely change local search.
Local Business Cards for Local Businesses in Local SERPs
These cards — which Greg Sterling at Search Engine Land has taken to calling “Local Business Cards” and Nick Statt at the Verge is calling “Google Posts” — currently are showing right alongside the Google Knowledge Panel. See for yourself by searching “engagement rings Buffalo,” and scrolling down to the results for Andrew Jewelers. You also can see a screenshot of the search results for Escape Pod Comics below.
Since the feature is still in testing, it’s not available to the wider public yet. Businesses wanting to participate will have to sign up for a waitlist before they can try this feature out.
Beta Testing: What We Know So Far
The cards are contained in a carousel designed as a showcase for businesses — think product displays, service summaries, special offers, news updates, and other bits of easily digestible information. The net effect will be similar to window-shopping in a mall or a department store, except here the currency is original content.
According to Mike Blumenthal (who first documented the feature last Friday), the cards are Google’s “newest social sharing environment.” He says they “very well could become paid placement that is easy to use and understand by the small business. It could be directly competitive with Facebook’s Boosted Posts.”
Here are a few other observations on these cards and how they appear to work:
The content is original — it’s not being pulled from Google My Business, the social network formerly known as Google Plus, or from the business’ websites.
Some of the SERPs are showing animations and GIFs. This is the first time Google has allowed animated images directly in search results.
All the logos are sporting a blue “verified” checkbox, which likely means that only businesses with verified Google My Business accounts can participate.
The cards have social media sharing controls that will allow users to share the content directly to their social media accounts.
Clicking on the posts isolates them into a larger viewable area. If you click deeper, a full feed appears with even more posts. The look and feel is not unlike Twitter or Google Plus.
Content Cards + Original Content + Local SEO = Major Implications
From a content discovery perspective, this is a significant (although not particularly surprising) shift on the part of Google. The search giant has been encouraging businesses to create original content for years. Combine that initiative with one of Google’s other favorite pet projects, local SEO, and you have the recipe for a revolution. It will completely change how users discover and consume content produced by local businesses.
These “local business cards” are yet another reason you can trust LeadBuilderⓇ as a leading digital marketing product for home services businesses. Original content production for the small and mid-size business (SMB) is a core element of our inbound marketing strategy. By observing industry trends, we’ve known that Google was heading in this general direction for a long time. As a result, our clients are in an excellent position to take advantage of this feature, because they’ve been receiving continuous local consumer content since day one.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in March 2016 and has been updated to reflect new, emerging information about Google’s content cards, which now appear to part of an offering called “Podium.”