Google has started to experiment with an entirely new, almost Twitter-like format of search results. These results could eventually allow any celebrity or business to have a content feed built directly into Google Search results.
The new results, which have been rolled out for US presidential candidates and selected small businesses, feel like stripped out versions of Google+ posts and have been given prominent positions on search result pages.
The product is being positioned as an “experimental new podium,” initially allowing users to hear directly from the US presidential candidates in real-time on Google.
Google says it plans to roll the feature out to other “prominent figures and organizations” in the future. And with some small business already a part of this experimentation phase, this feature could become a powerful tool for brands to deliver content to consumers through Google.
We’d love to explore this new feature with you.
Let’s dive in.
How does this feature work?
Dubbed ‘Posts’ around the web, (though a Google representative confirmed to The Verge that these are in fact not called ‘Posts’, and don’t have a name yet), these new search results will allow users to communicate with text, images and videos directly on Google.
Google explain more about the feature on its landing page:
Creating content is fast and simple, and once published, posts will appear instantly in search results related to the candidate. Each post can also be shared on popular social networks, amplifying the message even further.
Initially, it looks like these snippets of content will feature quite prominently whenever the name of an individual or company is searched in Google (if they’re active on the ‘posts’ new platform, that is).
Alongside presidential candidates, Bernie Sanders and John Kasich, A Healthy Choice spa are one of the first business to have been spotted using the feature. Upon searching ‘a healthy choice spa’ in Google, their ‘posts’ appeared second in the search results:
Upon clicking on one of the posts from the Google search results page, you’re then taken directly to the post in a full-screen view:
Though it may feel like a Google+ post, aside from sharing to other networks, the ‘social’ elements have been completely removed. You’re unable to comment or ‘+1’ (Google +’s version of ‘likes’) and you also can’t opt to follow and receive updates from a page or follow in any way.
It feels as though this platform will be a way to share content that’s only visible if someone searches for something relevant in Google.
A new platform for business
Andrew Jewellers were the first business spotted using this feature, as discovered by search expert, Mike Blumenthal.
Since Blumenthal’s discovery, a couple more businesses have also surfaced: A Healthy Choice (as mentioned above) and Escape Pod Comics.
Google search has a much larger reach than any social network and this feature could be extremely powerful for small businesses and large brands alike, especially if posts continue to receive such prominent placements on the Google search results pages.
The ability to communicate and deliver real-time content directly to Google search results gives users the reach that Google+ is largely unable to deliver. And this could be a perfect platform to deliver important company updates, real-time news, and offers.
Though Google says it does not plan on charging for this feature, it could potentially evolve into a competitor to Facebook Sponsored posts too, with Google allowing users to sponsor posts based on keyword searches.
Over to you
It’s not quite clear when this feature will be opened up to more users, though Google does have a waitlist on their landing page for any interested parties to sign up (we’ve joined the waitlist and can’t wait to experiment and share more with you once we’re using the feature).
What are your first impressions of this feature? What types of content do you feel businesses should be posting to Google? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.