If you own a small local business, you need to know this if you want to grow your business.
Before scrolling to the stats section further down, I want to tell you a few things that will explain why things have changed.
When social media first came on the scene small businesses found themselves on a similar playing field to larger businesses because it didn’t require large sums of money to play, just some time. Fast forward a few years and we’re back in the pay to play requirement, with one difference – Google’s approach to local.
Organic Reach on Social Media and in Search Engines
A few years ago, ads were designed to make you click and it didn’t matter the content. Google soon realised people didn’t like this, so they started forcing businesses to clean up their act and provide people what they were looking for when they clicked your ad.
Organic reach on social media and on search engines like Google is at an all-time low – more than at anytime you now have to pay to play.
Being Found Online
With most businesses having some sort of online presence it’s become imperative that you are easily found online when people search locally. The fastest way to the top is to pay with Google Ads (formerly known as AdWords), but in a competitive arena even this doesn’t ensure you get to the top.
Google Ads aren’t just about ads, you must have what Google considers quality pages to send the traffic to. If your Google quality score (the whole customer journey) isn’t good you still won’t get to the top of the search results – even if you’re the only advertiser for that keyword in that area, Google still WILL NOT put you at the top.
Local SEO for Local Business
Google is good at identifying the areas a business covers, so it’s important that your content is aligned with this. The Google My Business page now plays an important role in being found locally.
There are two aspects to consider:
- Google My Business listings show near the top of the search results
- With Google Ads and Google My Business, organic search results are below the fold line
See the example below for ‘Electrician Hastings’
On top of this, the top 3 listings on ‘Google My business’, are chosen based on criteria selected by Google. That means if you don’t have certain things in place from quality website, SEO and reviews as a minimum you will not be in the top 3 (unless your 1 of 3 or less
SEO and reviews as a minimum you will not be in the top 3 (unless your 1 of 3 or less businesses of your type in your area).
Search on Mobile for Local Businesses
The problem is even worse on mobile because the same content comes up, but the screen size means you have to scroll 3 screen views to find the first organic listings. Below are the first two screen shots on an android phone.
There’s More to Consider
At the bottom of the 3 Google My Business listings shown on the first page people have the option to click ‘More Places’ – see below
And when you do you’ll see more businesses in the area – but look at the top – more Google ads.
What Does all This Mean?
If someone is looking to spend money and if the search term proves it, such as ‘Emergency repair’, then organic listings will receive much less traffic.
This means the power of sites such as Checkatrade are being reduced and this will be set to continue.
Take Advantage of the Changing Local Search Landscape
Optimising your website, optimising your Google My Business page and using Google Ads are three key things you must do to help get you to the top of the local search.
As Google changes and makes it ever more difficult for organic to win, getting to the top, especially of Google My Business will play an ever more important part.
Those that don’t play this game will get left behind and as ever will be left with the scraps. Those at the top WILL win the lions share of the business.
Statistics That Prove Why Google Ads are Important for Local
These statistics show how resistance to clicking the ads has been changed by Googles ad quality score and when you then include Google My business taking a chunk of page one of search, it’s easy to see why organic has dropped so much.
- For searches with ‘High commercial intent’ (likely to buy) 65% click the paid links only 35% click organic listings
- On average the top 3 search ad listings get 41% of the clicks
- Being on top matters – the top ad listing averages 7.94% click through compared to the average of 2% - over 3X the business
- According to Google ads can increase brand awareness by 80%
- Google states that 75% of people who find local helpful information in search are more likely to visit the physical store
- 90% of online users trust reviews – hence the importance of Google reviews – they get seen
- 51% of searches are longer than 4 words – it’s about the phrases used to search
- Google found that consumers who click a Google ad prior to visiting a store spend over 10% more on average
The Bottom Line on Online Local
Now is the time to get established in the local online arena. Google won’t stop looking (and finding) ways to charge, so the more you do now to achieve a good quality local online listing the more you’ll be rewarded and from our experience if you do things the Google way, you end up better of – more business or better return on investment.