Website And Google My Business integration For Local Marketing Success

The challenge for many small businesses with a local customer base is how to secure more sales without relying completely on referrals and repeat work. In this post, we discuss one key element of any local business marketing plan – Website and Google my Business integration.

Research shows that 85% of consumers search for local businesses online (source). Worldwide over 80% of all organic website traffic is generated by Google. According to Advanced Web Rankings,  67% of clicks go to the first five listings on Page 1 Google.

So a relevant page1 presence on Google is of increasing importance to any business attempting to secure new customers in their local area. The key word here is relevant, There is no point at all ranking in a high position for search queries that have no relevance to the business

Google My Business And Website Integration

 The first page of search results for any location based business search such as Accountant location or Plumber location tends to be dominated by directories (such as Yell). Worse still, the top of the page is taken up by paid listings, the Google My Business listings and perhaps also a featured snippet.

To rank a small business website above the directories on page 1 can be difficult (and costly). However, a prominent position in the Google my Business listing pack delivers a position near the top of the page with an obvious link to the business website. For many small businesses with websites languishing down on page 2 or below this is a real bonus as the Google my Business listing effectively delivers a page 1 presence for the website. 

So if it is possible to achieve a position towards the top of Page 1 of the search results with an effective Google My Business listing why have a website at all? The two main reasons are credibility and nurture.

What is a prospect going to do when they first find a potential supplier online? If they have any initial interest they are going to check the business out. If there is no website is that going to raise suspicions? Is the business real? Are they a credible supplier?

The information available from a Google my Business listing is limited. It is not possible to deliver the depth of information required for a nurture campaign or to tempt customers to keep coming back for more.

Although testimonials and reviews available on a Google my Business listing are powerful they cannot deliver the same level of credibility as appropriate content published on a regular basis on a website.

Google My Business – An Overview

Any business can claim a free Google My Business listing and significantly increase their chances of appearing near the top of page 1 Google. In fact, a listing for a business may already exist as Google often creates a listing based simply on the information found on the web.

Google usually displays three local businesses (known as the 3 pack) in a panel, with a map, near the top of page 1 of the search results. Which local businesses are included and their relative positions are decided by a Google algorithm. The algorithm is based on many factors including how near the business is to the centre of the location used in the search query.

There is no guarantee a business will always appear in the three pack but it is possible to optimise a listing to ensure it has the best chance of display. The first step should be to claim a Google My Business listing if one already exists (the information pulled into the listing by Google can be incorrect) or to create a new listing.

The Business Website 

A proportion of prospects will find a business and make contact immediately but a much larger proportion are likely to make multiple visits over an extended period of time before making a decision. A Google my Business listing is effective in securing enquiries from those ready to make an immediate decision but it has limitations when it comes to building a longer term relationship.

A website is therefore required to build a profile and content that will engage with prospects and build a relationship over time. Content added to a website on a regular basis that either builds credibility (like case studies) or ads some value to the customer can potentially bring prospects back to the website when they are ready to buy.

The content may be in the form of text, video or graphics the key point is it must develop and change over time. Possible sources of information could be how to guides, before and after videos, industry news and comment and product photography (particularly if it shows product applications). 

There is little doubt every business with a local customer base should make online marketing one of its priorities. A Google local listing is a quick and relatively easy way to quickly obtain a page 1 listing on the search engines. When used in conjunction with a locally optimised website and best practice content and search engine marketing then more sales leads can be expected to follow.

What Is Local Marketing

There are many definitions but exactly what is local marketing? Does it deliver return on investment and, if so, what is the best way to implement a local marketing process?

At its basic level local marketing is about targeting a very specific group of prospects and allocating all resources to securing new customers from that group at the expense of all others. Obviously, the targeted prospects should be those who are most likely to become customers. In the case of many small and micro businesses that group is likely to reside in the area immediately surrounding the business.

Defining The Local Customer Base

Target customers are those who are likely to search for a local provider of product or services online with a location based search term (e.g. Family law solicitor in Leeds). In September 2012 43% of all Google searches were location based. What is more, various studies show that prospects using a location based search term have a higher chance of converting (becoming a customer) than the rest. Local marketing is all about capturing those prospects.

Like any marketing process the key elements to address are segmentation, communication and message. It is essential to precisely define the target customer, their profile, where they are located and their typical buying behaviour. With this information in place it is then possible to define the best way to reach those potential customers (be it online or offline) and the message to be delivered.

Local Marketing Process

The marketing process to secure more local customers cannot be build and forget but instead should continue on an ongoing basis. The world of online marketing has changed dramatically in the past 18 months with pull marketing of more importance.

That said, there are elements of online marketing that will work for larger firms but not small local businesses and visa versa. Local marketing is a specific disciple using a sub set of the marketing techniques that may be used by larger businesses.

Fortunately, the online marketing odds are now stacked in favour of businesses trying to source more local customers. Products (often free) like Google My business pages are specifically designed to meet the needs of local businesses. Self build website packages to build locally optimised websites are improving all the time and social media has a strong local element.

Local marketing then is all about capturing those customers specifically interested in suppliers of products or services in their immediate vicinity. It is about ensuring the business is found online if a prospect uses a location based search term. Finally, it is about building credibility and delivering the business message to the target local prospect base on an ongoing basis (online and offline). The tools are there but surprisingly, given the size of the opportunity, many businesses are failing to use them effectively.