Google is testing out a new format for its search results that will allow brands, celebrities and organizations to have a small, self-promoting feed built directly into the search results. Google confirmed the test to The Verge and said the tool does not yet have a name and is not part of a similar project referred to as Google Posts (not the official name).

Search expert Mike Blumenthal stumbled across the test while searching for engagement rings in Buffalo, New York, on Google. The results delivered a specially designed ad for a local jeweler.

Andrew jewelers Buffalo

The test is now being extended to a selection of small businesses. When a person searches for an item, the businesses taking part in the invite-only test will be able to display some posts at the top of the results in a Twitter-like feed that leads to the business’s website and can be shared with others on social networks.

Google says there are currently no plans to charge businesses for this feature, so it is technically not an ad, although observers believe this is something that could eventually become another stream of revenue for the search giant in the future.

The design calls to mind Google Now cards and Google+, but there is no way to leave comments or follow an entity. The posts have a blue “Verfiied” checkmark that implies they came directly from the subject.

A Google spokesperson told Business Insider: “This is an experimental search feature we are testing, but it is not tied to Google+. We are currently experimenting with presidential candidates and just started with some SMBs for a select pilot period.”

For businesses, it can serve as a “one-way social network” as they can show their latest sales without having to address any negative comments. It could give them a broader method of self-promotion that extends beyond Twitter and its limiting, short-post format.

This should make it easier for people to find the information they need directly from search, particularly on mobile devices where fast and concise results are more important.

Google Posts offering presidential candidates another platform

Last month, Google started experimenting with a similar platform for presidential candidates.  That new tool, which is known as Google Posts, allows the candidates to publish posts containing their views, videos, and rebuttals directly into the search results. The firm calls it “an experimental new podium.”

Google’s dedicated Posts page says that this feature is currently only available to presidential candidates, but there is a place where interested “prominent figures and organizations” can sign up for a waiting list.

Tobias Matthews

Tobias Matthews


Writer at Fourth Source.