With the way business is conducted today, it is increasingly more important to have an Internet presence for your company, no matter its size. If no one can find your website, what’s the point of going through the hassle of building one? This is where local search comes in.
Not to worry, Google My Business is here to ensure that your business is easily found through local search results. It will drive more traffic to your website and will make sure your customers find your company exactly when they are looking for it. Best of all? It’s totally free.
The importance of local search for small and medium-sized businesses
When a consumer wants to buy something, they turn to a search engine to find it. Usually, they’re searching for something nearby, so that they can go pick it up, or have it shipped, quickly. When a consumer performs this kind of search query, whether they know it or not, they are performing a ‘local search’. A local search provides the consumer with important information about the product they are looking for, the company that sells it including business hours, geographical location and sometimes, product availability.
In 2014, Google released a study that outlined how many consumers used local search and its importance to businesses both large and small. The end goal of this study was to determine what the behaviour of local search was, what information was being searched for, and how businesses could benefit from the information.
The results of the study indicated that 4 out of 5 consumers use search engines to find local business information. Of these consumers, 50 percent visited the establishment they were researching within a day and 18 percent of local searches resulted in a purchase from said business.
But local search goes beyond simply more detailed and convenient search listings. Savvy business owners can also take advantage of localized searches with advertisements and coupons for specific geographical areas. According to the Google report, over 60% of consumers used location information in advertisements and say that it is important to them to see a business address and phone number in ads.
How Google My Business can help you optimize for local search results
Google My Business (formerly Google Places) gives your company everything it could ever need to be found through a local search. Once you’ve created your free account through Google, your business will appear front and centre when potential customers search through Google Search or Maps. Once your business appears in the search, everyone will be able to see your business name, store hours, location, phone number, reviews, and the various ways to get in touch with you with the click of a button. They’ll know exactly where you are and exactly how to reach you.
Customers and prospects can find your business on desktop computers and laptops, mobile phones, and tablets. Whether they’re searching at home, on the go, or switching between devices, they’ll find the same reliable information about your business. You can even provide a virtual tour of your business by adding pictures of your location, inside and out. By adding a 360-degree view, customers will be able to get up close to your business and see what you’re all about.
Google My Business also enables reviews, so that your happy customers can help advertise your business for you. With lots of positive reviews, more and more people are likely to come and visit your establishment. This also allows you to gain important feedback from customers who may not have had a positive experience with your business while also creating a dialogue between yourself and the unhappy customer, allowing you to potentially correct the issue.
And with the Google My Business mobile app, you can manage your business information while on the go. You can check customer insights, manage your online reputation, update your business hours, and even share photos with customers, all from your smartphone or tablet.
How to set up Google My Business
Getting started with Google My Business is easy and free. Simply go to the Google My Business dashboard and sign in with your Google account or sign up if you don’t have one for your business. Then click on the green START NOW button in the top right part of the window.
The next page that appears will have a search bar and a world map. Type your business name into the search bar. If the business already exists within Google My Business it should pop up. If your business has not been added to Google My Business yet, simply click on “I’ve correctly entered the name and address”. The next page that appears is all of the information that you must input for your business.
Once you’ve input all the required information, Google will create your Google + page. You will need to confirm that you are authorized to manage your business. Then click “Mail me my code” and a code will be emailed to your email address for you to to verify your business. Once this process has been completed you will officially be on Google My Business! From here Google will give you a tour of how to use Google My Business, or you can skip the tour and get started on your own.
When consumers come to the realization that they want to make a purchase, according to the Google study, 2 out of 3 of them will start by conducting a local search from their desktop computer. Interestingly, the report also detailed how consumers make multiple local searches throughout the course of the purchasing process, from inspiration to research to purchase and even post-purchase.
As online shopping and global ecommerce continue to grow at breakneck speeds, the thought of a local business keeping up the pace can seem daunting. But within the Google research, there is more than just a glimmer of hope. Over 30% of consumers would actually rather make a purchase in a physical store if they knew that the store was nearby, has the product available, and can possibly offer a more affordable price. As a business owner with Google My Business at your disposal, more customers will be able to find you through a local search which, ultimately, will bring more business right to your front door.