In May of 2019, it appears that a change was made in Google’s Algorithm for search. This change seems to have begun using local search techniques to reward small businesses using Google My Business naturally and effectively. At onCOREventures, we have seen this firsthand with some of our clients. At the annual Duct Tape Marketing conference in October, these same results were reported by the founder of Gather UP one of the pieces of technology that we use for our local clients. What does that mean for local small businesses’ marketing strategy? What is the impact? Let’s take a deeper dive into the relationship between Google and Local Business.
What is Google My Business?
As we discussed in our overview of Google My Business, this free profile can help elevate your search ranking when used organically. When you continually update your listing with posts, holiday hours, and photos, you’re providing valuable information for your specific customer journey. The more you connect through the platform, the more trust and credibility you build.
In this digital age, customers need constant avenues of connection. Giving them options to call, leave a message, or a review are all ways to increase the customer experience. Essentially, the easier you make it to do business with you, the more growth you’ll be able to see.
Add connect to other directory services. – 14 key attributes from the original Yext deck across 70 directories – or more – this is referred to as citation management
Google and Local Business: How Do You Use It Organically?
The first step in this process is making sure your Google My Business (GMB) page is completely up to date. Make sure to include information such as:
- The best method to contact you
- Operating hours
- Website links
- Other important details or descriptions
This information is critical as it influences the information in your search Knowledge Card. It is also the means in which allows you to connect directly with customers 24/7.
The next step in using Google My Business naturally is by creating consistent posts on the platform. Remember, these posts should have the goal of helping the ideal customer along their customer journey. Posts can do things such as:
- Link to a blog with valuable information
- Update the public on your holiday hours
- Share a new promotion or limited special
- Increase awareness about an event
- Show customers a glance “behind the scenes”
- Introduce a new staff member
And these are just a few ideas! Unleash your creativity to create organic customer journey content!
How are Small Businesses Rewarded?
As Google itself evolves, small businesses need to get smart about how they can still stay in the game. Small businesses struggle in the sense that they simply cannot run the same plays of larger corporate teams. The resources simply aren’t there.
To be blunt, Google does not want its users to leave the SERP. That way they can track what you look at and what you buy. That tracked information then becomes their own intelligence to use for your specific searches in the future. And to be even more blunt, as a local business you cannot expect many of your customers or potential customers to ever get to your website because of that. Larger enterprises will show up as the experts on a general topic, meaning that you need to be hyper-specific in your approach to content creation. Does this mean that you do not need a website? No, rather it means you need to be smarter about how Google sees and favors your website. The more concise and accurate the information you provide Google, the more it will help consumers get in contact with you via SERP features.
The information we talked about before is shared through variations of SERP features based on search type. Google is now also allowing customers to call, message, make a reservation, or look at your services menu all from your Knowledge Card or Map Pack. With the features acting as a lesion to you, your website becomes a source of information for Google. It needs to be structured in different ways than in the past so that the search engine can read it and understand it.
Part of your website strategy should include a method for structured reviews. That is because reviews are an essential part of today’s customer buying journey. How many times have you yourself used peer-reviews to determine whether or not to make a specific purchase?
As Google and other service providers increase the ease of leaving a review, you’ll want to create a system that provides a steady stream of reviews. It’s crucial that small business owners get proactive about facilitating those reviews. Even a bad review is better than no review at all! And that’s because Google doesn’t trust a business with only 5-star reviews.
At the end of the day, it’s important to remember that each one of us is a human trying to do the best with can with the tools we have. Showing a little empathy and extra kindness can create tremendous amounts of brand loyalty. And when you take a moment to respond and engage with your customers as the people they are, you end up in a win-win situation of service and growth.
Structured Reviews with onCOREventures
Remember, Google wants to be pulling information from multiple sources including your website, reviews, directory entries, news sources, images, GMB and any other source they can find. They do not care if they ever send the user to your site.
If you’re a small business, don’t waste resources creating a website that most users will never see. Through regular posting of awesome content and structured reviews, you’ll see small business growth! We would be glad to help you design the most effective review and content strategy for your small local business and increase your searchability in 2020.