Whether searching for a local eatery or somewhere to get a car tire changed, your future customers’ first port-of-call is nearly always Google.
That’s why a recent survey of small business owners shows how 64% agree that Google is the new homepage for local businesses.
The truth is, Google My Business gives local business owners an effective path to where prospective customers live, work, and most importantly — start most of their purchasing journeys.
— “So, all I need is a Google My Business listing, right?”
Well, not exactly….
Websites Help Google My Business Listings
A Google search for a ‘nearby deli’ will show a map recommending the top three delis in the searcher’s local area.
So, how does Google know which three delis to rank at the top?
Well, while merely having a website won’t guarantee your spot; owners tend to see a correlation between a high-ranking website and their position in the Google My Business listings.
— What does that mean, exactly?
Well, if you have a website that ranks well in Google search results, then your Google My Business listing is likelier to appear at the top of the pack, too.
In fact, it’s rare for a local business to achieve a top-3 listing unless it has a top-ranking website as well.
Key takeaway? A high-ranking website will improve your position in Google My Business.
Websites Can Offer An Unlikely Competitive Advantage
In a world where websites are table stakes, the fact that many of your competitors don’t have one could present an unexpected opportunity.
Get your business online, and you could quickly rank above the competition — but first, make your website as appealing as possible to boost your SEO by:
- Including content with a local focus
- Linking to other businesses in your area
- Investing in local SEO if you can
Key takeaway? Websites are still a competitive advantage as almost 50% of US small businesses don’t have one.
You Can Build Trust (& A Tribe)
A website can serve as more than a shop window into your business.
If you think about what else your customers might be searching for online (local events, markets, activities) and add information relating to these, you could quickly become a bedrock of your community.
Say, you run a beachfront seafood restaurant….
You might want to connect with, promote, even write about other local businesses — fishing excursions, local food markets, family days out — to create engaging content that captures the searchers’ hearts and minds.
And as people like to buy from people; showcasing a human touch will help build personal connections — plus, readers will start to share your content on social media as a way to promote community goings-on.
Key takeaway? A website is your way to connect with locals and visitors alike.
Local Link Building Boosts SEO
As much as you can promote other local businesses, your community will want to promote yours as well.
And having a website makes it easier for them to do so.
If you don’t have a website, it’s hard for anyone to share information about what you do; whereas if you have an engaging online presence, it suddenly becomes easy for friendly neighbors to point customers in your direction.
In fact, community engagement is one of the most powerful ways to build a local reputation — and when you participate in local events, your webpage will earn backlinks through attendance, blogs, partnerships, and general news coverage.
Backlinks are where other webpages link to your website, and:
- They establish your domain authority;
- They let Google know your business deserves attention;
- They supercharge your Google My Business listing
Key takeaway? A website can earn backlinks and improve your local SEO.
What If You Choose NOT To Have A Website?
You may be sat there thinking, “I already have a Facebook page: creating a website just isn’t worth my time.”
On the one hand, we get your point…. but on the other, if you choose not to have a website, then you’re turning down the chance to:
- Build an on-brand platform
- Earn better search engine rankings
- And boost your real-world footfall
Don’t get us wrong: Facebook pages are useful (we have one ourselves!).
….but they are Facebook-branded.
They don’t allow you full control. And they won’t help you get that coveted top-3 Google My Business listing — meaning your prospective customers will have to work that bit harder to pick your business from the pack.
Key takeaway? It’s worth investing in both a Facebook page and a website.
Finally: Business Listings May Not Be Free Forever
There’s one last point to note….
Google is constantly updating its search experience.
Recently, Google My Business listings were cut from seven — down to three. And the search giant even introduced a paid placement at the top of local search results; who knows what’s coming next.
One thing’s for sure: there’s only so long you’ll be able to use local search as a way to attract customers to your business for free.
So, while we appreciate that setting up a website is a serious investment; if you do it well — and do it soon — we know it’s a reliable means of building a loyal customer base, then driving foot-traffic through your door for the long-term.
And for a local business, a devoted customer base is key.
Does your local business need help with IT support? Then, give us a call on 207-236-0021 for some simple, friendly advice.