Do you still have a phone directory? You know, the yellow, large book of phone numbers and addresses? Recently, one of my clients told me he has 3 and he uses them to reach items on the higher shelves of his kitchen cabinets.
In other words, phone books are obsolete. Just about everyone now goes online to find what they’re looking for. As of 2018, 93% of those online seekers start with a search engine, and to no one’s surprise it’s most often Google (check out their market share). If you want your business to be found more often, you had better make sure you have a Google My Business (GMB) listing — and more importantly, that it’s up to date.
Search engine business listings are just like your old phone book listing, but now you can add even more information like your website, photos and reviews. And by the way, it’s (still) FREE. Ma Bell is turning over in her grave.
Your GMB listing will get you noticed with 2 types of queries: web page-related results and place-related (or real world) results. All search engines use local business listings as part of these query algorithms. Web page-related results are optimal if your business lives only online, whereas place-related results are far more important for businesses in the real world.
As for the accuracy of your GMB listing, it’s no secret that this is crucial. People are going to contact you with certain expectations based on what they read on your listing, possibly even your website. This becomes even more vital if your business depends on actual foot traffic.
The results above stem, in part, from your local SEO efforts. Oh, what is local SEO? Glad you asked.
Local SEO is part of the process of optimizing your online presence to attract more business from relevant local searches with ANY search engine, not just Google. It is similar to organic SEO, and is an excellent way to get found online because the queries that lead to your business are based on locations deciphered from the query by the search engine and, in some cases, by the user.
These results are what you see when entering a search query on your desktop computer, but also while using Google Maps or a map app on your phone. Google will serve up your listing based on certain factors, one of the most important being the distance to your business from the user making the query.
For example, a user might type into the search box “auto mechanic near me” or “auto mechanic ipswich ma” to find an auto shop to which they want to go. Your GMB listing is part of the information included in the search results of the query that will list your business, hopefully in the coveted Google Local 3-Pack as shown.
Now, can you imagine if your information like phone, address or maybe even your menu was incorrect? Hint: No Sale.
Setting up your GMB listing is easy, and the benefits are many. Another possible bonus lies in the fact that about a quarter of local businesses have not claimed their GMB, thus setting up yours puts you a step ahead of your competition.
Now, a quick note about Google+. If you’ve made some SEO efforts on your own, you may have set up a Google+ listing for yourself, thinking that will suffice for your local SEO. Google+ is actually a part of Google My Business, and now it doesn’t even matter anymore — Google+ is going off the air. Permanently.
Thus, it’s up to you. Be found locally, or maybe be found locally. To GMB, or not to GMB, that is the question! But, if you want more customers, there is only one answer.