When you were a kid and you had a lemonade stand, where did you set it up? Not in the backyard or in the house, but on the street. Why? Because that’s where people are. The same concept holds true for businesses today. If you want to be seen, you need to be where people are; and today, people are online. In fact, 84% of consumers use their computer or tablet to search for local business online, and 88% use their smartphone.
Yet unlike your lemonade stand from childhood, people are not just driving by—they’re actively searching for businesses like yours! In order to get your business found as quickly and easily as possible, make sure you have a Google business listing, and that it is the best representation of your business.
Updating or editing your Google listing isn’t difficult, but many business owners overlook it. There is a lot more value in your online business listing than you think. This post will explain how a business listing can help your business get found by new customers, how to edit your business listing to make it more effective, and when you should update your business listing.
While this post mentions Google business listings in particular, it’s important to note that there are other online business listings. Google is the most popular search engine, but business listings on Yahoo, Yelp, Bing and other search engines should also be maintained and updated.
How Does a Google Listing Help My Business?
In addition to validating your physical existence in a digital world, a Google business listing offers many benefits to your business, including more customers, more sales, a stronger online presence, and increased exposure.
Increases Customers and Sales
According to the same study above, 34% of consumers who find a business through local search on their computer or tablet end up at its physical location, and the rate is even higher (50%) for those who search on mobile phones. In addition, 18% of local searches lead to a purchase within a day, versus only 7% of non-local searches. This means that the easier your business is to find online, the more likely that a customer will make a purchase within a day of searching for your business. The data shows that something as simple as a Google listing update can increase traffic to your store and boost sales.
Improves Website SEO
Many people are intimidated by SEO (search engine optimization), but SEO can be done in bite sized pieces. One of the easiest ways to improve your website’s SEO is to update your Google listing.
Google is constantly crawling the internet for updated information in order to provide the most accurate and reliable search results. Google’s algorithms enable it to search across the web to obtain as much information as possible on any particular business. The more places your business is listed online, the more information Google can collect about your business, and the more likely it is for your business to show up in search results.
Search engines are not the only tool people use to find products and services they need. There are hundreds of apps and directories out there today that are more specifically directing people to the right destination for them. However, these platforms build their databases by crawling the web and relying on larger search engines to gather this information, such as Google. As a result, many of the listings in these smaller but more commonly used directories contain information that has trickled down through Google business listings. Update your Google listing to make sure that the hundreds of other applications out there will be populated with the right information and can multiply your reach.
Just as a Google business listing can help your business, an inaccurate or incomplete listing can hurt your business, so it is very important to update your Google listing.
How to Update a Google Listing
To update your Google listing, utilize Google My Business, which offers step by step instructions on their site. The basic components of your Google business listing are name, address, and phone number. More specifics on a good Google listing update are as follows, but can be applied to any online directory.
Inaccurate online listings are more common and more problematic than you may think. If your online business information is inaccurate, Google will stop trusting you and consumers will too. It is just as important to update your business listing when moving to a different floor or suite within the same building, as it is when you’re moving to a different state. Supply as much information to people as possible for when users are searching for your business or services.
The more complete a picture you can paint for search engines, the better your business can be represented online. Remove as many barriers to entry as possible by presenting the most accurate information in your Google business listing.
As previously mentioned, Google crawls the internet for accurate information. The more consistent your business listings are, the higher your website will rank on Google’s results page.
The importance of consistency in your online business listing cannot be stressed enough. Although search engines are robust, a simple typo in a business name may be enough to throw a search engine off track. With the hundreds of databases, apps, and search engines out there, one small error or inconsistency in your business listing information can compound itself and prove disastrous for a small business. Be sure to make every bit of information in your online business listing identical—right down to whether you use an apostrophe (e.g. “Kims” versus “Kim’s”) or how you spell street (e.g. “street” versus “st” versus “st.”).
Google My Business, like many directory listings and sites, will allow you to upload a logo. A logo adds a nice visual element to your profile and a professional look to your business, but it should never replace text in online listings. Text is what enables people and search engines to search for and find your business.
When to Update a Google Listing
There are a few scenarios that call for you to update or edit your Google Business listing.
Business Moving or Relocation
In order to prevent the loss of existing customers and to promote the increase of new customers, update your Google business listing as soon as you move or relocate your business. If you’re moving the location of your business, word of mouth will inform some, but not all. Announcing your move on social media will inform more, but not for long, as the posts will eventually get buried under new ones.
Existing customers and community members may be aware of your new location, but what about future customers and community members? They won’t know to visit your old location to find your new location. You don’t even exist to them yet! This is why it’s crucial to update your business listing with any and all changes to your information as soon as possible. As mentioned above, even the smallest changes need to be reported, such as to a different suite or floor within the same building. Accuracy is crucial in getting online listings and search engines to benefit your business.
Multiple Business Locations
Having multiple locations can be confusing for search engines and people. Make sure that each location is listed separately.
Inaccurate Business Information
As previously mentioned, even if you have only input your company listing information in one source, there is a high chance that it will reach other sources crawling the web. To find out where and how you’re showing up, perform a Google search for your business. Does your business show up online? If so, great! Make a list of the various places your business is listed and how accurate the information is that is displayed.
Updating your Google business listing can fix many of the small errors showing up elsewhere, but you may need to manually change some listings. This may take time, but it is well worth the investment. This is because people are either unaware of or forgetful to the fact that you are not the only one supplying your contact information on the internet. People automatically assume that it is you providing the information, so if it is inaccurate or incomplete, they will attribute it to deficiencies or incompetencies on your part.
No Website or Weak Web Presence
As mentioned before, search engines are constantly on the hunt for the most relevant and up to date information on your business. If you don’t have a website (you need to get one!), Google will search for information on your business elsewhere, which, as already mentioned, can be inconsistent and inaccurate. If you don’t have a strong online presence, Google cannot rank you on their search engine results page. Don’t make Google search around for information on you. Give it your information, so it doesn’t have to go searching in unreliable sources, and so it can then reduce the unreliability of those sources.
Non-Obvious Business Name
Business names that don’t have the name of their service in the title can sometimes have a harder time reaching and acquiring customers. If it isn’t obvious what you do from your business name, then consider updating your Google business listing with categories. For example, the name “Sam’s Auto Repair” makes it clear that the business services cars. On the other hand, a business called “Happy Trails” could be a dog walking service, hiking tour company, or a bike path paving company!
Use categories in Google+ to update your business’s Google listing with industry and service-specific categories. If potential customers don’t have an immediate idea of what your business does when they find it, they will pass you by. Categorizing your business’s Google listing is an easy way to get more customers to your business.
Having a Google business listing will do nothing to benefit your business unless it is accurate, consistent, and up to date. Do your job of maintaining your business listing so that Google can do its job of helping to get your business found by the people looking for it. More information for more people means growth for your business and more happy customers!