Google has confirmed that they are expanding the test of a “write directly to the search” results product first seen in January for presidential candidates and in the March time frame seen for small businesses. According to Google the test is expanding from “10’s of small businesses to thousands”.
We should be seeing more and more examples in local branded search results over the next 30 days.The test is being run in the US, Brazil and India. The product has not yet been seen being tested with larger brands but is also being tested with live events like soccer matches, certain vertical solutions and other entity types likes schools.
Essentially the product, which has no formal name (I refer to it as Google Posts or Google Podium or maybe the product that “shall not be named”), allows an small business (or other entity) to easily create “cards” that present directly in search results much like an AMP page. In the March SMB tests these local “cards” showed on broad search terms but it appears that in the new test these “cards” will typically show on a brand search in close association with the Knowledge Panel.
Think of it as a live, real time stream of local business content for search. The local card is essentially a super lightweight, fast loading web page that resides directly on Google and may become one of the simplest ways for a business to create a web presence for user discovery.
The product apparently uses a dedicated app/environment that is a super simplified way for a small business to post images, text, links and videos in real time. With these cards, Google is opening up a more dynamic, real time content arena for local businesses. The cards, as in the previous test, can be easily shared by searchers via email or social channels. Essentially Google is attempting to make search results more of a destination and possibly viral.
Given that this current test is focused around showing these local cards on branded results only, I could envision a companion monetization by “boosting” a card to broader local search terms or charging for possible calls to action.
Given that the test is being expanded in Brazil and India as well implies that Google might be seeing this feature as a web alternative for small businesses in developing countries with less bandwidth and computing resources.
When viewed in conjunction with AMP, Places Actions (the ability to schedule a visit via the Knowledge Panel), Google Local Trip Planner and other long standing features like click to call, you can see a long term product arc that is making Local search results the final destination for users rather than a stopping point on a purchase journey.
Update (via Joy Hawkins): here is a search My Special Day that returns the results.