As I’m sure many of you did, I read with great interest Colan’s GMB Products case study where he explored the impact that Google My Business Products can have on ranking, website traffic, and conversions.
I’ve been using Google Products (no longer Beta) for a while now, and for many of my clients, they drive critical business actions and e-commerce conversions – happy days! ??
However, I also use(d) Google product posts to drive that same sweet traffic and revenue, so I wanted to dig a little further into Colan’s description of the difference between Google Products (not so Beta) and Google product posts….
How things used to be
The birth of Google product posts
Wayyyyy back in June 2018, Google announced 2 new Google post types: product posts and offer posts.
Google My Business is excited to announce that we’ve added 2 new post types: product and offer posts! Product and offer posts allow you to post your product and promotional details to your customers. Learn more here: https://t.co/y30t7BJFMp
— Google My Business (@GoogleMyBiz) June 6, 2018
Prior to November 2019 Google product posts used to behave like regular Google posts – they’d appear where you’d expect them to appear on mobile and desktop; in the updates section for a period of time, and they were also added to a separate section on the products tab on mobile.
I was using them in conjunction with Google Products, but they were very different from Google products.
Google product posts – Products added via Google posts could always include a link, they appeared where you’d expect to see product posts – in the ‘updates’ section (labeled ‘posts’ in the screenshot below – Google and their penchant for renaming everything eh!) on a desktop and a mobile, as well as in a special section above Google Products in the Products tab, and also in the overview section, just like Google offers posts.
How Google product posts and Google Products (beta) looked on mobile in April 2019:
The differences in functionality between Google products and Google product posts in April 2019
Google product posts started getting a bit ‘borked’ in November 2019 (probably not a surprise considering the launch of Google Products), and any businesses that were using Google product posts that did not have access to Google Products in their GMB dash lost the ability to add new Google product posts or edit any existing posts.
Google Products (Beta) makes an appearance
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, in October 2018 some people started noticing Google testing a new feature that allowed them to add collections of products to their listings, rather than the pre-existing services functionality:
Been playing with new GMB beta feature, Products (Beta) Looks to be replacement for Services menu located in Info tab. Set up collections with products in each collection. I am putting service items in as well. Any additional info here @mblumenthal ? pic.twitter.com/1UKyVXKfkb
— Nathan Schoell (@NateSchoell) October 18, 2018
This was the early stages of Google’s ‘Products Editor & Product Catalogue’ – initially, it wasn’t possible to add a link to products (only a ‘call now’ CTA as per the examples above) and Google Products appeared only on a mobile. Measuring the success of these listings was only possible if you had call tracking in place.
Products (beta) came to desktop on the 4th April 2019 – securing a lot of SERP real estate and bringing its potential utility to the forefront of the mind of many savvy local SEOs.
Links from Google Products appeared sometime after April 2019 – I then made sure I UTM tagged up all products in order to measure the relative efficacy of one method of adding product inventory vs the other and put in place a strategy for differentiating between products added via Google Products (then Beta) and via Google product posts in order to avoid the creation of unintended duplicates. I wrote a useful UTM tagging for GMB guide here.
I opted for Google Products for evergreen inventory, and Google product posts for more seasonal or ‘for a limited time only’ products.
As Colan noted, Google Products launched ‘properly’ for many business categories in July 2019, with some businesses that had previously had this functionality losing it. Hotels and lodgings categories don’t get it – like they don’t get posts. Harsh.
So – where are we now, and what do I need to do about it?
Ok – the trip down memory lane was fun – but let’s crack on with exploring how Google product posts and Google Products work NOW.
Google product posts in the here and now
If you don’t have access to Google products in GMB (and many categories don’t) then you won’t have the option of Google product posts. Simple as that!
No products in GMB
Means no product posts…
If you do have Google products you’ll also have the option to add a product using Google posts.
However, you choose to add your Google products (via ‘Google posts’ or ‘Products’ in the GMB interface) they will look EXACTLY the same in the SERP – there is now no difference between them.
If you used Google product posts before the ‘switcheroo’ in functionality when they merged with Google products your old product posts will show in a product category called ‘From Product Posts’
If you didn’t use Google posts before this category will not exist.
Where do they show?
On mobile, products show in the overview tab and also in the products tab in your business profile:
And on a desktop Products get a big chunk of real estate right at the top of the business profile
Summation / key takeaways
- There are no longer any differences between products added with Google posts and those added with Google Products – they both look and function in the same way in the SERP.
- For this reason, you might decide to ‘do away’ with your old ‘From product posts’ and instead add these products into a more carefully curated category.
- You should definitely tag up your products using UTM parameters to measure the return on adding and updating this feature in GMB.
Finally, a word of warning ???
When you add a new product Google will automatically add the image you uploaded to
- the Google product post which will be viewable only in the SERP and not in your record of posts in the GMB dashboard
- your Google photos.
DON’T delete the image from your photos – deleting the image will DELETE the product in Google products.
This could be a bug – but to avoid having to add your Products again it’s best to avoid deleting any of the photos you’ve used – a video of what’s I’ve seen happening is here.