While flipping through the Yellow Pages the other day...Already sounds like an ancient ritual, huh? Understandably so. The internet and smartphones have dramatically changed the way we search for businesses and services. Gone are the days of looking through a phone book, selecting a random business, and calling them. With so much information available online, there's no reason to look anywhere else.
Customers want quick and convenient results when looking for a business online. Since 2011, searches containing “near me” have shot up 34x’s. Can you imagine the impact that has for small businesses? If a business has an online presence, their chances of getting discovered skyrocket.
A Google Business Listing is one of the best and more affordable ways for a business to get discovered online. It gives businesses leverage when a potential customer is on the hunt for a product or service.
Everyone uses Google. Okay, not everyone, but over 90% of global online searches happen on Google. Google Business Listings are great because they display a large amount of information on your business to a large amount of people. No other platform presents the quantity and quality of information that Google does. A complete listing has a map, reviews, contact info, pictures, reviews, hours, menus and more. Without a listing, businesses could lose out on thousands to competitors.
As an example, let’s pretend you are searching for pizza in Lake Tahoe. Let’s say instead of a general search, like “pizza lake tahoe” you know the name of the pizza joint you want, for example, “Lake Tahoe Pizza Company.” Google often recognizes that this is an actual company name and will display the business profile front and center.
This gives the business an opportunity to show off their brand with photos, give a description of the business, and present reviews of (hopefully) satisfied customers. All these things help promote the business. The Google Business Listing is low hanging fruit every business can claim to immediately reach customers through Google searches.
Keyword searches are most common in local search. Let's say you search for, "pizza in Lake Tahoe." Google will generate a list of any listings they feel are relevant to the search. Multiple businesses will show up as well as an option to see more locations.
These first few businesses are what every person searching for pizza in Lake Tahoe will see. You can view their star rating, location, a brief description and hours, as well as pictures. If your listing is one of these first listings, every person searching for pizza sees your business and your chances of attracting new customers increases! After seeing the list, a customer can click on a specific business for more information.
Often people will search in Google Maps, where the functionality is the same. Google will generate the same list of businesses based on the proximity and relevance of each business listing.
Google generates a ranking out of five stars based on customer reviews. This is marketing gold if your reviews are high! Have you ever searched for “best” or “good” restaurants or services near you? Google automatically filters any listing lower than 4 stars. That’s great news for businesses with high reviews. Reviews are a huge topic on their own, so check out this blog post for more information. For now, just know that star ranking is Google's way of aiding customers in their quick decisions. As you already know, the difference between 3 stars and 4 stars is enough to change a customer's mind.
One of the most common misconceptions is assuming customers already know the name of your business. Unfortunately, this generally isn't the case unless you run a huge chain. Especially for first-time customers, your business name is a total mystery. All the customer knows is the product or service they are looking for. A Google Listing can help you show up for searches that may not mention your business name through keywords and categories.
Keywords are naturally occurring words that might show on the listings description or featured message. When writing the business description, business owners should focus on their services and benefits. Referring back to the Lake Tahoe pizzeria example, this business owner will want to include a number of keywords that describe the business, like “homemade,” “Italian,” “deep-dish,” or “delivery.” Not only does this inform the customer, but it gives Google information to pull from in generating their lists.
Categories work similarly to keywords, except Google generates them in a specific place rather than allowing you to place them strategically throughout your business description. Categories work by distinguishing your service with more and more specific descriptions. For example, our pizza location may use several different categories like, Food & Dining > Restaurant Dining > Pizza > etc. Effective use of categories will increase your searchability.
The Featured Message is a 50 character field on your listing that gives a business the opportunity to concisely advertise themselves. This message could be a short description of the business, but is also an effective place to link to a deal, sale, or promotion that will take customers to the company website. Businesses who update their Featured Messages at least once a month tend to get a great deal more traffic to their websites.
Business owners should regularly update and maintain their Google Listing. That may include addressing any changes to hours, locations, or products, and adding new photos and updating descriptions.
Obtaining and maintaining a Google Business Listing is one of the best ways to develop an online presence. At Jump, we believe in helping local businesses succeed. This starts with securing a Google Business Listing, and continues as we give you the tools you need to maximize its potential.