Photos by Hillary Ehlen and via Pexels
By Justin Bumann, Managing Partner, Metrics Media Group LLC
With today’s advancements in technology and consumers’ drive for information at the tip of their fingers, it’s no surprise that 69 percent of consumers search for a local businesses online. For this reason, it’s impossible to underestimate how crucial local search listing is for your business, especially with the historical rise of smartphones and their online usage. As a result, consumers dependency on search engines has sky rocketed. Even Webster dictionary has added Google to their dictionary as a verb. So, it must be important, let’s call it the “Google era!”
The Demand for Local Search
We are all familiar with grabbing our mobile phone and quickly searching; where is the nearest fitness studio, veterinary clinic, bank, or restaurant? We want to quickly acquire a business’ phone number, address and even reviews. From personal experience, I do it multiple times a day!
As a real-life example; just the other day I organized a reservation for friends at a new restaurant in Fargo, ND, I informed my friends of the time of the reservation. Easy, right? But some within my group didn’t know the location as they’re from out of town. It was no surprise, they grabbed their iPhone for directions and were then misguided to a location four miles away from the restaurant. Why? Well it appeared the restaurant focused millions on their property, menu and staff, but missed the important details of their online presence.
As a consumer and local marketer, this is something that I personally find to be frustrating, not only for the inconvenience listed above, but more for my desire to see local North Dakota companies succeed.
As years pass, Google continues to show signals of importance around relevance and accuracy with local search. They strive to give their users the best search results, by pinpointing the exact locations and expanding on the information collection about your business. This is easily observed as they add additional features to their Google My Business Knowledge Card.
What Is Google My Business?
Google My Business (GMB) is a free service offered by Google which allows businesses to manage their Google Listing and Knowledge Panel. This allows you to tell Google about your business, in turn attracting you more customers to your business.
With an actively managed Google My Business listing; you’ll stand out by sharing your latest and most useful business information, directions, phone number, hours of operation, photos and much more!
You can engage with customers; share articles, frequently asked questions, obtain reviews and most importantly allow them to easily access you via smartphone searches.
Start understanding how customers are finding you; GMB gives you important reporting around how their interacting with your listing. You can view the number of searches, phone calls and requests for directions.
Understand The Importance, Let’s Get Verified
With the above information, you should now be convinced of the importance of Local Search. If not, still go through the process of getting verified as the results will show you the importance.
First, you’ll need to go through a verification process to be listed on Google Maps, Search and other Google properties. This allows Google to trust that your information is accurate. Therefore, allowing you, the business owner, to access your GMBs full listing.
- Step 1: Go to Google My Business to Sign-up Page
- Step 2: Walk Through the Online Setup Form, Business Name, Address, etc.
- Step 3: Check Your Mail Daily, Snail Mail that is… A Postcard will Arrive (1-2 Weeks) with a PIN Verification.
- Step 4: Follow the Instructions on the Postcard by Entering the PIN Online
- Step 5: Done. You’re now Verified! Continue Completing all Information within GMB
Completing & Updating Your Profile
Once verified, you’ll notice within Google My Business that many more features are available within your profile. In 2018, Google added many extra features to GMB focusing on growth and the importance of local search. Google is on a clear path to making sure local search ranking is further developed and monetized for businesses. Last year alone Google added; Google Posts, Q&A, Messaging and Videos.
As a best practice, Google keeps adding more features. It is in your best interest to be as thorough as possible when completing your profile. Empty fields in Google My Business could potentially lower your local search ranking. Be sure to diligently log into your GMB account to update fields.
By following these steps, you can easily rank above your competition. If your local competition is neglecting to see the importance of their online presence… take their loss and make it your win, get a head start and put your business on top!