Have you ever been planning on going to dinner with a friend and decided to look up some restaurants online to plan your evening? What about the last time you realized you needed to replace the tires on your vehicle - did you search for something like "tire specialist near me"? And I bet google got some more action when your puppy needed its first shots. Of course, you did! Or your friend did. It makes total sense. Results for each of these inquiries are just a few seconds away. As consumers, we love the convenience of this. We love seeing photos of the business and its products, and comments others have made about the business at hand. Since these searches are specific and, more often than not, we are gathering information for a purchase we actually intend to make in the near future, this is something a business owner ought to really pay attention to.
We live in a time when the internet (specifically Google) serves up a local list, local meaning geographically close in proximity from where the search was made, of the types of businesses we are searching for and has already done a good amount of work for us. The expertise, authority, and trust of a business have already been vetted by the time we pull out our phones and perform the actual search. Google does that work. We look to the top of the list as the leaders, the highly sought-after, the big dogs. As consumers, it is likely that we will choose to do business with one of the top results (at least on the first page), and unlikely that we will look to the second or third page of the results for our desired product or service.
If you are a statistics person, Bright Local would be a really great resource for further research on local SEO and many other related topics. They are a well-known and well-respected wealth of information when it comes to consumer behavior in the digital age. Here is another article with 101 Statistics about Google My Business by Magnified Media. Remember now, in 2023 it's called Google Business Profile, and you might see the acronym GBP. See the bottom of the article for links to other really helpful and credible resources, such as Semrush Blog, Hubspot and Embed Social.
From a user perspective, how and why a business appears on the first page of local search results is non-important. We search, we read, we click and we buy. From a business perspective, we ought to understand that those appearing at the top of local search results did not get there by accident, and they are benefitting from their position in the rank. What I mean is that there is gold at the top of that list. Any business would benefit from being at or near the top of that list. "The list" is the infamous Google Business Profile. It was previously called Google My Business, so this may be what you know it by. This online business profile is free to business owners and is one of the most powerful online local search tools. It's also, shockingly, one of the most overlooked. If you're a business that serves local clients, through products or services, then it's a good idea to aim for earning a spot at the top, and consequently higher likelihood of conversions (sales).
There are two things that I am consistently astounded by and hopeful that there is a solution to. One: some small business owners, who serve their local community, are completely unaware of the significant benefits that creating, verifying, completely filling out, updating, and maintaining their GBP can provide. Two: the number of small business owners who do not take action when they hear the information. I mean, we are basically talking about a free website. There would be a dedicated amount of time to work the profile to its fullest (or a monetary investment to pay someone to do it for you). However, the rewards seem to always outweigh the costs when the profile is worked, or optimized properly.
So, if you are a business owner who serves your surrounding geographical area, and you are hearing this for the first time, or you are hearing it again, but this time it is making a little more sense, what should you do about it? Well, the first thing is first. Do you have a Google Business Profile? If you don't I recommend watching the below video on how to set one up for your business. You will need to follow the steps all the way to the end. The next thing to consider (and just bite off what you can chew, cuz this can be a process) is creating a plan to maintain the profile in a way that will coincide with any other marketing goals you have in place. The insights that can be obtained from the profile are invaluable and can be put to use to create higher and more consistent conversions. I'm super stoked to announce that Stella Web Design has added Google Business Profile support to its available services. Should you see that it would be helpful to have assistance in maintaining your Google Business Profile, regardless of what phase of business you are in, go ahead and schedule a call with me. It's obviously cool if you live near my office, but absolutely not necessary. Just thought I would throw that out there since we are discussing "local" business listings:)
Note that this article is not a comprehensive list or explanation of the history of this tool, its benefits, the customer or owner usage, a full comparison with other local listing tools, or an analysis of the integration of this profile with the unique marketing efforts that currently exist within your business.