The main source of organic traffic for local businesses is often Google, which holds 85% of the search engine market share in the US.
Google My Business (GMB) recently surveyed some local businesses asking if they would be willing to pay a monthly fee in exchange for “extra” listing services such as:
- Google search results placement
- Google “Guarantees”
- Getting leads from competitor profiles
- Adding video to your Business Profile
- Instant quote ability
- Promoted map pin
- Removing competitors ads from your Business Profile
What is Google My Business (GMB)?
Google says that “Google My Business is a free tool for businesses and organizations to manage their online presence across Google, including Search and Maps.” In other words, GMB is where all of your local business details are entered into Google and displayed alongside the data gathered by all of the various Google systems. GMB signals about your business are thought to be an important ranking factor for searches, deemed by Google, to have local intent such as, “attorney near me”.
The information local businesses can enter is one of the few aspects of Google that businesses may directly control.
What kind of information, you ask?
Your business profile at GMB contains the following:
- Business name and details (street address, phone, website, & hours of operation)
- A business description
- Business Categories
- Menus (for eating and drinking establishments and service businesses such as spas)
- Photos (owner and customer submitted)
- Posts with images and calls-to-action (posts expire in 7 days)
- Questions & answers if asked & answered
For example, Google “The Creative Company Madison” and the image below shows our Google My Business Profile (also called a knowledge panel).
What should local businesses do now to impact Google results pages?
Google may or may not implement additional pay-to-play options, but as of June 2019, here are 4 foundational tactics that you can do now to better control your Google results:
- Use Google Posts! Adding posts to GMB helps to push your competitors down the page.
- Strongly consider Google ads on your brand or business name to help control search results of branded searches (searches using your brand or business name). Generally branded keyword ads provide great ROI and again help you control the search results pages.
- Verify that your business name, address, and phone number (NAP) are accurate on the most important citation sources for your business (examples: Google, Bing, Apple Maps, LinkedIn, Foursquare, etc.).
- Continue to make brand deposits by publishing content that provides value to your users. This increases your domain authority, which increases results for your “money” pages.
Listen to what this business leader has to say about the importance of your online presence:
"When I want to buy something these days, I almost always start with a search online. And so do the residents of assisted living and their families before making a decision! Having a strong online presence today is essential in reaching your new customers and residents and helping them learn how you can meet their needs. Your prospect's first call will probably be to the assisted living community that shows up best online - make sure that's you!"
Next month, we will delve into what small businesses can do now to optimize for Amazon Alexa and Google Voice Search queries.
Does your business need assistance with improving its online presence? Let's connect and set up your free initial consultation to get started.
The Creative Company
Senior Web Developer