Google is still the #1 search engine on the web, which means any opportunity to improve visibility in Google’s search engine results should be a no-brainer for businesses. One such “no-brainer” is Google My Business, a free local business listing management platform that feeds directly into Google’s local search results.
Google My Business is an essential component of a local search optimization strategy. Not only does it make claiming and optimizing your local business listing through Google easier, but it’s also a cost-effective way for small to mid-sized businesses (SMBs) to reach new customers and increase revenue online.
Not convinced? Let’s dive deeper into why Google My Business is useful for businesses online.
You Control Your Local Business Listing
When someone searches for your company or your products/services online, wouldn’t you prefer to control what they see? If your business has been around for a while, it’s likely that Google has already created a local listing to represent your business. But that doesn’t necessarily mean the listing will correctly categorize your business, have an accurate address and contact information, or include current images that attract customers.
By using Google My Business to claim your business listing, you’re in control. You can set the categories that most closely match your business; ensure your address, hours, phone number, and website are right; and choose pictures that best represent your company.
An additional benefit beyond providing accurate information to searchers is that a properly established Google business listing improves your chances of being found for the searches that matter to your business.
Local Search Is Remarkably Effective
Local SEO specialists BrightLocal ran a survey in 2015 to identify which digital marketing channels are most effective for local businesses and determined local search as the clear winner.
The main findings of the survey were that:
- Local search and organic search deliver greater ROI than other channels.
- Local search and organic search deliver the highest quality leads.
- Local search delivers more clicks and calls than other marketing channels.
- If those surveyed could only use one channel, 34% would choose local search (The next closest was organic search at 28%).
Local Can Be Less Competitive than Organic Search
Even though there are fewer local search results (3) than organic search results (10) on the first page of Google, in many instances, your chance to invade local search results is better than organic. Why? A couple reasons:
- National aggregator sites aren’t eligible for local pack results. For example: Hotels.com, TripAdvisor, Expedia, and Kayak dominate the organic search results but can’t be included in local pack results, meaning local hotels can stand out in the local pack.
- Though local search optimization does play a significant role in search engine rank, other factors like your location in comparison to the searcher are also significant (See image below). So results can be vastly different based on where a search is performed within a city. This levels the playing field a bit.
Google Business Listings Have Prominent Placement on Search Results Pages
Local business results are given more prominent placement in search engines, especially when local searches are performed on mobile devices. Local pack results are typically shown above organic results. If a search results page doesn’t include ads, local results will be the first thing searchers see.
Because of their visual prominence, local results are clicked on frequently. In an article by Moz, results from a test tracking user behavior for searches that included the three-result local pack showed that these results receive a high percentage of clicks.
Multiple tests were done, and results differed between tests, but one test resulted in 52% of clicks (44% for top three local results and 8% for additional local results) being on local pack results followed by 29% for organic searches and 19% for ads. The variable that drastically lowered CTR for local pack results was organic results above the local pack (22% of clicks including additional results). In all other tests, local clicks remained above 40% and were the most clicked on group of results.
Local search optimization success doesn’t rely solely on your Google My Business listing. There are several other factors, including how well your website is optimized, how many accurate citations you’ve built on powerful directories across the web, and more. But one thing is for certain. A Google local business listing is essential to local search visibility.
Looking for a company that can help with local search optimization? Check out our Website & Local SEO Solution page!