Google Fends Off Facebook Threat with Local Search Feature

Although Google+ might be considered a failed experiment in creating a social network, it still came in No. 1 in the 2017 American Customer Satisfaction Index, meaning some people still find it useful. Most brands have moved from Google+ to other social media platforms with bigger audiences, but Google didn’t give up, introducing Google My Business in 2014. The service, which allows businesses to manage how information about them appears in a search, is poised to go big with Google Posts. It could also help fend off Facebook as a competitor in search and advertising revenue.

AdWeek reports that, when Google first introduced Posts in January 2016, it was “exclusive to political candidates looking to boost their search presence.” The company next introduced Posts to a handful of businesses (“mostly sports teams, museums, musicians and movies”), and, as of July, made it available for all businesses.

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With Google Posts, businesses can “share timely, relevant updates right on Google Search and Google Maps to help them stand out to potential customers.” Adding a social networking feature will help Google compete with Facebook, which is “building out its local search capabilities, with Facebook Places and Facebook ads.”

Although Google is still the search leader, with 3.5 billion searches per day, Facebook is creeping up, with more than 2 billion per day. In competing for searches, the tech giants also compete for advertising dollars.

“Many users today do not think of search engines first when looking for information, deciding how to spend their money and finding things to entertain themselves,” said TechCrunch writer Ingrid Lunden. “They go to these other applications, and that ultimately can cut into Google’s mainstay advertising business and revenues.”

Posts offers “some of the key features users loved most about Google+, which included the ability for businesses to engage with their customers and share relevant information about their brands with them,” but “customers still crave the ability to connect and engage with each other.” With Google Posts, local businesses can “upload an image, write text (up to 300 words) and add a title with start and end dates and times if it’s an event” as well as “add call-to-action buttons” for offers, sign-ups and information.

AdWeek predicts “a surge in Google Posts showing up in search,” adding that “this latest shot at making search more social might just be Google’s best attempt yet.”