Having a Google Business profile is more important than ever. But is it better than a website?
- A Google business listing is effective and essential.
- Local search has changed and some businesses have been negatively impacted
- A Google business profile alone, is not enough
- Websites and business listings work hand in hand to provide the best visibility for your business
Yes, you need a Google business profile.
When you search for practically anything online, you’ll almost always see the same things. First, you’ll see paid ads. This has been the case for many years. These are usually sitting on the most valuable real estate at the very top of the search results page. Just beneath, you’ll see local business listings by Google. We see and use them every day. We use them when we are looking for a restaurant, finding new places to visit, need directions or just want to call a local business. Let’s face it. They are very convenient and they are very useful. At this point it’s hard to imagine the internet without them.
Many local businesses that have taken the time to create a Google business profile in hopes of attracting new customers have often seen great results from doing so. If you are a small business owner and have not taken the time to do this, you should stop reading immediately and go create your profile. Seriously, go do that RIGHT now. Having a Google My Business profile has become essential for any business today.
However, not all businesses have benefitted from the changes to SERPs over the years. The effort by Google to make things easier and more convenient for users has made it more difficult for some businesses (especially ones that serve more than just their local area) to get found online. But why?
Local search results aren’t what they used to be.
Google makes great efforts to give users what they want, when they want it and where they need it. And they do a great job. The problem is that everything has become localized. You may have noticed that the same search in a different geographical location can produce very different results. This is especially true when it comes to Google business listings.
Although your business listing may show up first from the office, after making the short drive home and searching again you might find very different results. This has proven difficult for service providers that depend on more than their hometown to keep the business running. Although GMB allows you to add additional areas that you serve to your profile, there is no guarantee (and it is unlikely) that it will appear above another listing that is based in that service area.
So if you are based in one city, it’s hard for your listing to appear in another part of the state. Instead, similar businesses that are actually based out of those areas are likely to show.
In the past, organic results from a website could help a business to appear in different local searches. But that isn’t exactly true anymore. Not only are some of the methods used to achieve this in the past frowned upon now, it just isn’t as effective anymore. This has resulted in many businesses turning to Google Ads to ensure exposure in different services areas. Well played Google. But why are businesses forced to do this?
Life below the fold.
All the way down beneath the ads and business listings, you’ll find the websites that are well optimized and actually fit the criteria for your search. The problem is that these websites are now “below the fold”. This means that a user has to scroll down to see them. That doesn’t seem like a big deal. But it is. It is a very big deal. Chances of anything below the fold being seen or clicked is dramatically reduced. This has always been the case and Google knew this when they first implemented the changes that we are now so used to seeing. Google’s own studies in addition to countless others have shown that anything below the fold gets drastically less views. According to some studies this could be 84-100% less views. That is of course, a huge difference. In short, even well optimized websites have much less exposure online than they have in the past.
In some cases, even after scrolling you’ve only managed to see one or two actual organic website results. Things like the “People Also Ask” section can push other organic results even further down. And forget page two. You’d be better off nailing a flyer to a random street post in your hometown.
So what does that mean to a website owner? It means that without a Google business listing with good visibility, users are far less likely to click through to your website. Many of them won’t even see your beautiful number one organic position in search results because they have already clicked through to another website or called another business via Google business listings.
So having your website on page one of Google isn’t quite as glamorous as it used to be. It almost seems useless. So why do you need a website at all? Can you just create a Google Business profile and call it a day?
4 reasons you should have a Google business listing AND a website
Although it may sound like having a website serves no purpose, having a website is actually more important than ever. Here are a few reasons why.
1. Google business listings don’t tell your entire story.
You have a story to tell. Your business means a lot to you and you have likely put your whole heart into it. Perhaps many years of your life. Your story deserves more than 750 characters allowed by Google in the about section of your profile. A website provides a way for you to tell your entire story and engage with your customers in a way that a simple business listing cannot. It allows them to dive deeper. If you want visitors to know the real you and the passion you have for your business, a Google listing alone isn’t going to cut it.
2. People still expect a reputable business to have a website.
People still have certain expectations of reputable businesses. And in today’s age, a business without a website can be overlooked. People might assume that you are less professional or trustworthy than you actually are. One of the first things people do when viewing Google business listings is click “visit website”. If you don’t have one then you are missing out on potential customers. A website assures that you aren’t losing business while allowing you to have a professional and trustworthy image.
3. Websites serve many functions that a simple Google profile does not.
A business listing can only do so much. You may need to sell products, provide downloads, schedule appointments and many other things that you cannot do with a Google business listing. A website gives you the freedom to reach your customers and interact with them in a much less limited way.
4. Google uses your website to know when to show your your business.
This is perhaps the most important reason to make sure your business has a website. Some people don’t realize this, but when you connect your website to your Google listing, Google uses the information on your website to know when to show your listing and to who.
You may have noticed some business results that say “Their website mentions:”. This is because although your business listing itself may not have been the perfect fit for that search alone, when combined with information on your website, Google knew your business was relevant. So your website is an extension of your Google My Business profile and helps Google to show your business to potential customers as often as possible.
Google My Business was never intended to take the place of a website. It works hand in hand with your website to give your customers the best experience possible. Both are needed to have the best visibility and the most professional appearance for your business. Both compliment each other and boost your online visibility. Having one without the other is like having a can without a can opener.
So get your business listed with Google. It is essential. But build a website, find a local website design service or do whatever you need to do in order to have a professional website for your business. Because it’s more important now than ever.