Over the years, local businesses have come to accept that digital marketing is essential. Today, nearly all businesses have a website at the very least. This includes even small, niche shops.
A website makes a business available to anyone at any time. Buyers can use it to gather information that will help them make more informed purchase decisions. And with an eCommerce site, transactions can be made 24/7.
Savvy business owners know that they can gain a competitive edge by having a modern, conversion-centric website. However…
You may be surprised to learn that your website is no longer the most important tool in your digital toolbox.
That’s right. Generating web traffic isn’t the end-all-be-all you believe it to be. It’s important, no doubt, but there’s another tool that carries even more weight these days — Google My Business (GMB).
For you to continue to grow your business by attracting more customers and increasing sales, GMB needs to be a focal point. This means not only do you need to claim your account if you haven’t done so already. You also need to populate your account with timely, relevant and informative content and optimize your account for maximum effectiveness.
The goal of this article is to explain why it is so important for local businesses to utilize Google My Business. You’ll learn about how GMB impacts website traffic, as well as features of the platform designed to assist buyers.
Read on to learn how to harness the power of Google My Business to increase your revenue.
Why Google My Business Has Increased in Importance
Before we get too deep into the Google My Business discussion, we want to emphasize that this doesn’t mean you should start ignoring your website or divert assets away from it. It should still factor heavily into your marketing and sales strategy. It just shouldn’t be the sole medium your entire marketing plan revolves around.
Google has taken a seat at the table by stealing the thunder of the websites listed on its platform. In the past, a Google search would display the organic listings front and center in the form of hyperlinks to relevant websites. But now, search results look much different. Here’s an example:
This search yielded a map, images, business listings, ratings, even a Wikipedia listing “above the fold.” But what you don’t see without scrolling are businesses’ website links. And this is a desktop example. The amount of scrolling necessary to locate organic listings on mobile devices is even more due to the smaller screen size. This is significant because as of April 2021, mobile has over 54% of the market share.
Google now prioritizes what are termed “zero-click searches” or “no-click searches” over organic listings. Why have Google’s priorities changed? It’s simple. They either want businesses to pay for ads to get in front of buyers or they want to keep web traffic on their platform longer as opposed to quickly and easily directing it to business sites for free.
A Google Search Results Page Dilemma
Search engine optimization (SEO) experts will tell you that it’s vital to rank high in the organic search results. They’re right. A study found that the top result in Google’s organic search results gets an average clickthrough rate (CTR) of 31.7%. Ranking in the #1 spot (or at least #2 or #3) will put you in a prime position to generate traffic to your site.
But the question when you consider the way Google currently displays search results is, will searchers locate your listing in the first place? That answer is becoming increasingly unclear.
Nearly 65% of Google searches in 2020 ended without a click to another web property. That was up from 50% zero-click searches in 2019.
Whether it’s because Google is doing a good job of displaying relevant information or people don’t have the attention span to hunt around (maybe a combination of both) one thing is becoming apparent. Local businesses need Google My Business to get in front of buyers.
Key GMB Features
You may not like that Google has complicated things and tilted them in their favor. But that’s the price you pay when utilizing an external medium. When you’re on their platform, you’ve got to play by their rules… and those rules can change at any time.
You’ve also got to look at the bright side and consider the benefits of Google My Business. With the current state of the digital marketing landscape, the right approach to GMB can be a game-changer. You may find that it brings in more customers and generates more revenue than your website-only approach.
Consider these statistics:
- 93% of local searches now feature Google My Business listings [Source: STAT Analytics]
- 49% of businesses receive more than 1,000 views on Search per month
- 78% of local mobile searches result in offline purchases.
This tells us that Google is the go-to source for local business information, and GMB listings are prominent in search results. The listings are getting noticed by hundreds or even thousands of potential buyers every month, which translates into many eventual purchases.
What do searchers learn from your GMB listing? Let’s look at some of the key features.
How often do you search with local intent? “Coffee shop near me.” “Shoe store [insert city name here].” If you’re like the average person, probably pretty often. When performing local searches, one of the first things you’re likely looking for is a map to see how close you are to businesses that offer what you’re looking for. Google provides just that.
GMB allows you to put your business on the map so the locals can easily find you and learn more about you.
Today, when buyers are looking for a product or service, they look for reviews of that product or service and the business that supplies it. People value feedback from their peers, not a sales pitch from a company rep. According to Spiegel Research Center, 97% of consumers said that customer reviews influence their purchasing decisions. Google My Business displays a rating and a link to reviews near the top of a business’s profile.
Reviews are also featured further down on another section of the profile.
This social proof helps buyers decide whether or not to consider a business. Generally, if reviews are mostly positive, they’ll be interested in learning more. If reviews are average or below average, they’ll search for a better-reviewed alternative.
Content marketing is an important component of a business’s marketing plan because today’s buyers love to consume content… especially content that is informative, entertaining and timely. A component of the Google My Business profile that local businesses should take advantage of is the posts feature. With posts, you can:
- Share your latest blog article or case study
- Promote an upcoming event
- Draw attention to a discount or special offer
- Promote a product or service
Here’s how the posts section looks:
The benefits of GMB posts are that they allow you to:
- Grab attention and call to action
- Boost SEO
- Differentiate your business
- Be timely
- A/B test
To learn more about posts, read our article.
Google My Business profiles are expansive. In addition to those previously mentioned, here are some other features:
- Phone Number
- Questions & Answers
How Local Businesses Can Get the Most Out of Google My Business
We can’t understate the importance of Google My Business for local businesses. GMB has changed how people get information and buy. Because of the way the profile displays and functions, people are no longer reliant on your website to:
- Learn about your products and services
- Call, email or message you
- Read and post reviews
So, how do you tap into everything Google My Business has to offer to benefit your local business?
Start by claiming your business if you haven’t done so previously. Then, fill out your profile completely. Keep it updated, post new content often and respond to reviews. It’s important to keep in mind that GMB is not simply a business listing like something you’d find in the Yellow Pages.
To harness the power of Google My Business and turn it into a revenue-generating machine, you need to optimize it and develop a strategy for it to ensure your business not only gets found but also compels people to contact you and eventually buy.
For a more in-depth look at how to optimize Google My Business that includes a checklist of tasks to increase and maintain dominance, read our article How to Get Found & Beat Your Competition in Local Search.
Have questions about Google My Business or want to learn even more? Call us at 815.431.1000 or submit this form to contact us.