Google continues to reign supreme when it comes to lead generation. For some businesses, Google My Business in particular may just be the source of leads they have been looking for. This is because, regardless of what social media fads may be passing, you just can’t beat user intent when it comes to getting in front of someone looking for what you have.
Google dominates the other search engines, with 94.43% of all searches in New Zealand being carried out on its platform. That is an insane level of market dominance!
As an individual, you may not be surprised, not care, or think it is outrageous. But what really matters as a business owner is understanding just what percentage of prospects are looking for you (or one of your competitors) via a Google search – and more importantly, how to get in front of them.
The stats vary depending on business type and location, but many conservative figures put the percentage of local businesses found via an online search at over 50%, others closer to 90%. Even with the low-end estimates, it means that if you are not getting found on Google, you are missing out on at least 50% of the potential market (likely much more).
For many years there were only two ways to get found in Google, either via Search Engine Optimisation (natural search), or via Google Ads (paid ads). Back in 2014 though, Google released Google My Business, and have been increasing its importance ever since.
Google My Business now appears in the search results between the paid ads and the natural search results, but unlike the others, it is made to stand out in its own box complete with a local map showing the listings locations.
There are three very important points for a business to keep in mind about Google My Business…
- Not surprisingly, due to its prominence, a Google My Business listing that appears in the ‘top three’ gets far more business than those businesses not in the top three, and enjoys more clicks than either the paid or natural search results.
- Getting ranked in Google My Business may not be as easy as getting listed in the paid results, but it is generally easier than getting ranked in the natural SEO positions. This is because with natural SEO you are competing against national and international listings, but with Google My Business it is only local companies that have bothered to create a Google My Business listing (which not all do).
- If you have a modest amount of competition, it will pay to get a professional to manage your listing. This is because getting, and staying, ranked takes time and then ongoing effort. We spend time every week to ensure our client’s position remains high. The good news is, it is a lot less time than SEO, and typically costs less than Google Ads, which makes the return on investment (ROI) ridiculously good.
So what’s the catch?
Well, it’s not for everyone. For a start, it requires you have a business with a sufficient local customer base. If your local town is tiny, and most of your trade takes place online, it’s probably not for you.
However, service industries do particularly well (think layers, accountants, hairdressers, cleaners, plumbers, electricians, etc.). If you have a high ticket service, then a single customer can easily pay for a year or more’s worth of maintenance. We had one client who in the first week alone generated over $12,000 of additional business – and while this is obviously not typical, it does demonstrate the power of this marketing channel.
Google My Business is so effective, and has such a good ROI for local businesses, it has become our most recommended strategy for those on a tight (even almost non-existent) budget, and an essential part of a more complete marketing plan for those with larger budgets.
As always, getting listed in the top three is only the first challenge to overcome before getting new business. You also need to get the person searching to click on your listing rather than the other two competitors, and then get them to book your service or buy your products.
The first of these challenges, getting the click, can be boiled down to two key requirements; having good copy, and having a lot of high-quality reviews. Writing your listing in a way that grabs attention and stands out from the other listings is something we do as part of our service. If you are doing this yourself, I highly recommend you grab a copy of Ca$hvertising, by Drew Eric Whitman – an excellent book that anyone writing any form of copy should read.
Getting good reviews is simply a case of providing excellent service and then asking for the review (unless you are an STD specialist – in which case you may struggle to get clients to publically put their name to your service!). However, for everyone else, this is so critical that I devote an entire article to just this.
The second part, getting people to use your business after clicking, will come down to having a website that is designed to convert. A topic we cover in many articles, so I won’t carry on about it here.
The bottom line though, if you are a local business you should have a Google My Business listing. They are quick, easy, and free to create, so you would be crazy not to. For most business putting a bit more time and effort into your listing (or better still, getting an expert to do it for you), will pay dividends. We struggle to find anything that comes close to providing a better return, especially (though not limited to) service-based industries.
If you currently have a Google My Business listing, but are either not showing in the top three, or have few (or no) reviews, then give us a call and we will give you a free appraisal of your listing to see just what it will take to get it where you need it to be.
Whatever you do, don’t be one of those businesses that make the foolish mistake of thinking that “we get most of our business from XYZ, and almost nothing from Google, so it is not worthwhile”. To put it bluntly, if your listing sucks, it is precisely the reason you are not getting more business from Google, and exactly why you should invest time or money into it.
Remember, the majority of local business trade starts with an online search. If you are not getting it, then someone else is.