Google My Business vs. Website. What generates more in-store traffic
If you are the owner of a brick-and-mortar business and strive to attract customers online you will face a problem in that competitors who have been upgraded in SEO take the first positions in the SERP. So, getting traffic and leads becomes more difficult.
Just a few years ago, local search results looked like a list of links: advertising came first, then there were sites with the best SEO, and a small block with a map.
Today, the SERP has undergone significant changes. Any search for a company, goods or services (commercial, categorical or branded queries) is local. The map takes priority.
Accordingly, five years ago a user’s “path” to purchase looked completely different.
They would have had to explore multiple sites of the SERP, clicking through tabs and searching for the contacts of necessary locations, business hours, and reviews. To find the contact details of other relevant results a customer had to repeat the process over and over again. As such, it took a lot of time and was inefficient.
Today’s customer search journey has changed. There is no need to research organic results. It’s much easier to go to the map with pins on. It doesn’t take much time, and it’s easy to make a call directly from the company’s listing on the map, to examine a user’s reviews and rating or to pave the route. And all this only takes a couple of minutes.
So, omnichannel users have stopped visiting sites to specify contact details or to even find goods or services. Rather, they search for products and business details where it’s convenient for them at that particular moment: online maps, navigators, social media, company directories, etc.
A case in point that confirms this idea is the search for “tire fitting near me”. A user can make this mobile search query while on the road. The device may show a map where the nearest location is 5 miles away. However, there is almost certainly a tire fitting service that is nearer: it has a website, but hasn’t submitted the company’s information to Google Maps and other relevant sources.
The potential client will not be able to find it, because they will not view organic results in order so as not to waste time opening many tabs and switching between them. And finally, a customer will choose the business that is indicated on the map (even if it does not have a website), but not the one that has a website but doesn’t have Google My Business.
Why not Website?
Stores, hairdressers, pharmacies and gas stations are only a small segment of businesses in a local market that are unlikely to appear at the top of search results. However, they can (even without having their own websites) if all the business information is submitted to Google Maps (by means of Google My Business) and optimized accordingly.
The GMB platform is becoming so dominant because it delivers exactly what a user is looking for: accurate business information, reviews, and ratings; moreover, it is clear how to get to a specific place by providing routes.
By now, Google accounts for over 90% of all web searches.
When it determines that a user is searching for a place, services or business (local intent), it doesn’t provide results with links to websites, thus neglecting this information. Instead Google gives the user a handy list of relevant businesses (Local Pack) that match the search criteria.
And this is a win-win situation: customers get what they were looking for – a list of places/businesses to choose from – and Google keeps searchers on its own site (search page) for longer.
Thereby a search engine directs customers away from companies’ websites and guides them toward GMB listings.
One more fact which confirms that users are turning more to the map (and not to companies’ websites) when exploring information before purchasing is that 93% of consumers typically travel no more than 20 minutes/miles from home to make their everyday purchases (a study from Access Development).
Unfortunately, many brick-and-mortar businesses are still not aware that online maps have become a powerful driver of in-store traffic.
Some findings that correlate with these data were provided by Google: 76% of people who search on their smartphones for something nearby visit a business within a day, and 28% of users result in a purchase. So, it goes without saying that the greatest number of customers that walk through a company’s doors is generated by Google Maps.
If you’re a local business owner, creating your Google My Business account is the first step you should take to make your business’s online “visibility” better and thereby to increase in-store traffic.
Even compared to the sites at the top of the SERP, Google My Business provides advantages in attracting customers due to higher conversion rates.
The results of a Moz study confirm this assertion:
So, only 8% of consumers click on “More places” while 44% of consumers make their decision based on the Local Pack. About a third of users (29%) explore the SERP, and less than one fifth (19%) click on paid ads hoping to find what they are looking for.
This means that if you’re not ranking in the top three, you will only reach a small part of all local searches.
Accordingly, the main source of online-to-offline traffic that marketers should focus on and that is much more relevant to brick-and-mortar businesses, is Google My Business.
Here is a shortlist of some insights that can help you to optimize GMB listings to rank higher on local searches:
- Listing information. Maximize all business information accurately in GMB listing is the shortest and most effective way to create visibility in Google’s local search and to drive traffic to your locations.
- Select the correct business category (main and additional).
- Add photos. It was proven, that photos induce users to view listings, thus improving engagement. Simply put, the more images – the more customer actions.
- Citation signals: Submit your company’s details to the relevant sources: business directories, catalogs, social networks, review sites, etc. Local links (citation signals) are perceived by the search engine positively.
Moreover, it is one of the most important local search ranking factors. The company’s information should be detailed and accurate with no mistakes.
- Work with reviews: By stimulating customers to write comments, you are optimizing your reviews both for Google and for the potential clients that are reading them.
Answer all questions (even negatively), show an interest in solving conflicts and disputes. This will help you not only encourage users to click but will also rank you higher.
- Work with content: Create Google Posts.This can help you rank higher on generic local searches: this happens by means of behavioral “signals”, improving the click-through rate.
Keep in mind: the entire GMB listing should be claimed.
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As search algorithms evolve, Google My Business “signals” are given priority as a determining factor in local search. It is not enough for brick-and-mortar companies to boost their websites by SEO or paid ads in order to get more in-store traffic.
Listings on maps give advantages to a business even compared to websites that are on the first page of the SERP.
If you want to convert search traffic into foot traffic, use the power of a global trend: make your listings more “visible” optimizing to thousands of user requests. Managing multiple listings is extremely difficult in manual mode – trust a professional software to make your listings stand out.
Bio: Alena Selivanova – an expert of online-presence management in RocketData.io