Google Posts might have recently been relegated by Google to the bottom of the knowledge panel, but a discovery this week shows that this definitely doesn’t mean Google is dismissing this valuable element of Google My Business.

Across the Local SEO community, people have started seeing the truncated text of Google Posts in businesses’ Local Finder and Local 3-pack listings. Dave DiGregorio first spotted it in a search for ‘chicago foreclosure lawyer’ and from there it’s developed into a fascinating and ongoing thread over at Local Search Forum.

At first it seemed others were unable to replicate the appearance of Google Post information in the Local Finder, but soon Joy Hawkins discovered a raft of instances using BrightLocal’s screenshot feature of its Local Search Rank Checker tool. Others have since chimed in, seeing instances live and for several industries, including medical and law.

Can I influence what appears in the Local Pack?

Google uses the Local 3-pack and Local Finder to present the business information that most closely matches the search term or search intent, as well as critical details such as address (if applicable), opening hours, review rating and count, and contact info.

This is why there’s no hard and fast rule about what will appear in these already very crowded boxes. Google has the user in mind, and so it will show everything it can to prove that the business it’s listed in the top 3 has a right to be there, based on the search term. You can’t influence the extra elements that appear in the Local Pack but you can make sure your GMB strategy is broad enough to encompass everything from subjective attributes to Google Q&As.

Why is Google doing this?

While there has been the customary lack of official word from Google on this, I would assume that they are starting to use Google Posts as another way to recognize entity attributes and more easily surface relevant businesses for the search term.

Other entity recognition elements that we’ve seen appear in Local Finder results include:

  • Google Review content
  • Google My Business description
  • Categories and sub-categories
  • ‘From the website’ (website-scraping)

Some potential entity recognition elements that we’ve seen in some places in which results are surfaced (e.g. the Google Maps app) but not yet the Local Finder include:

  • Google My Business Q&As
  • Subjective and objective attributes
  • Third-party reviews

With so many different sources of information vying for attention, instances in which Google Posts rise to the surface in the Local Finder and 3-pack could be resulting from some of the others having a little less weight in Google’s eyes or less relevance to the search term.

For instance, if a bridal outfitting business only has a few reviews, and none mention ‘bridesmaid’s dresses’, a reasonably recent Google Post talking about a new stock of bridesmaid’s dresses might be enough to push the listing into the 3-pack for a bridesmaid-related search term (perhaps provided there isn’t a great deal of info on this on the website, either).

One other theory I have, that was also touched upon in the thread resulting from Dave DiGregorio’s original tweet, is that wider use of Google Posts is part of Google’s post-Google+ plan*. If Google My Business is becoming more of a way for businesses to interact with their audiences (as seen with last year’s addition of a ‘follow’ button), there’s every chance this use of Google Posts in the 3-pack is an indicator of even bigger plans for GMB as a social network for business.

What does this mean for agencies and local businesses?

With no official word from Google to rely on, a lot of the above is conjecture that is very much open to testing by SEOs and local business marketers, so I wouldn’t recommend any drastic adjustments to your Google Posts strategy just yet.

I only hope that the ‘testing’ that will undoubtedly follow doesn’t turn into yet another opportunity for spammers. If you do start seeing clearly keyword-stuffed Google Post content appearing in the Local 3-pack or Local Finder, though, you know who to call.

*this might be the most insane sentence I’ve ever written