Welcome to the new Staylisted blog! Our goal with this blog is to help educate business owners about changes and trends that affect their local marketing efforts. You’re running a business, you shouldn’t need a to get a marketing degree to just to make smart business decisions.

There are thousands of SEO blogs available online. And they all have a lot of great information. The problem is, the majority of these blogs are targeted toward other SEO professionals. We want to give you valuable information, without all the jargon and code names (but maybe a few acronyms).

I thought I would open up our new educational blog by answering one of the common questions we get from potential clients, “what is a Google Business listing, and why do I need one?”

With the vast majority of consumers using Google to aid with buying decisions, it’s easy to see why being listed appropriately is one of the most important marketing steps that a small business can take. That is why I feel it necessary for all business owners to know exactly what a Google My Business (GMB) listing is.

First things first…

All business owners should know that a Google Business listing is free. When you hire an SEO company to manage your Google listing, you are buying a service, not a product. Local SEO focuses on getting your GMB listing ranking as high as possible, and that is not free.

Also, a Google listing is not a website; it is a listing on Google that appears when potential customers are searching for your business name or service. It is sort of like a hub that allows customers to quickly find all of your contact info in one place. And let’s face it…the simpler it is for your customers to contact you, the more likely they are to do it. Each click between them and your phone number increases the likelihood that they’ll give up.

Where does my Google Business listing show up?

Let’s break down the sections of the Google search engine and see where a GMB listing can appear.

The first section of Google is one that we’re all very familiar with; the ads section. The Ads section always appears at the top of a Google search. It shows paid ads for the businesses targeting you as a customer.

Google Organic Section

Just under the ads section, is the Local Pack. This is the first section your GMB listing can appear. The Local Pack shows the top 3 ranking local listings. This section is what it’s all about. Your marketing aspirations as a business owner, and our goal as a digital marketing agency, is to have your GMB listing ranking in this section.

Google Paid Ads Section

Just under this, you will see a “more places” link, which expands the Local Pack to show local business listings for pages 1 through infinity based on the query entered. This is the second place that your GMB listing can appear.

Google Local Pack

Under the Local pack, characterized by a wall of text, is the Organic results section. This is where websites compete for ranking placement, not Google listings.

Google Local Section

This concludes our tour of the Google search page. However, there is one more spot that your GMB listing can appear. If your business is dominating the market for the location of the searcher, your listing can appear solo on the right hand side of the Google search; giving you 100% local visibility.

What info does a Google Business listing show?

Now that you’re familiar with the ways in which your GMB listing can be found, I want to introduce you to the separate sections of the listing.

It is important for ranking, and for your customers, that your GMB listing is filled out as completely as possible. If it isn’t filled out entirely, it can be penalized by Google’s ranking algorithm. Also, customers are less likely to trust the information on a local listing, if it’s not complete. Your listing should have:

Business name
Address or service area
Phone Number
Website
Business Hours
Photos
Reviews

A few of these sections are a little more important than others, let’s take a closer look…

Address/Service Area
Obviously, if you’re a storefront business, having your address correct is extremely important. Customers have the ability to click on your Google listing to receive instantaneous GPS directions to your store. If your address is wrong, they’ll never arrive.

If you’re a business, such as a plumber or electrician, and you travel to customers, your service area is high priority. The service area listed tells Google how far away from your location you are willing to travel.

Phone Number
Just like with your address, customers have the opportunity to click to call you directly from your GMB listing. If your phone number is incorrect, I can almost guarantee that you will lose that lead.

Website
Again, customers will have the ability to click to view your website. But there is another very important reason to have a website attached to your listing. Google uses websites heavily when deciding ranking placement.

Side note: it’s also very important for your website to be Mobile Friendly Website. If a potential customer is searching for your services on their mobile device, but your website is not mobile-friendly, Google may decide not to show your listing at all.

But, do I need one?

Yes, yes you do.

According to a Local Pack click-through study performed by Nifty, on average, 24% of consumers are clicking on the Local Pack when searching for services. Without a GMB listing, you would be missing out on a huge number of potential customers.

Also, according to Entrepreneur magazine, ranking your Google local listing has a higher return on investment (ROI) in the long term than pay-per-click (PPC) ads. Therefore, it is all-around important to invest time and money into optimizing and ranking your GMB listing.

Wrapping up…

So, to answer the question… a Google Business listing is a centralized point for all of your contact information on Google. Yes, you need to have a Google listing, because without one, you would be missing out on literally thousands of potential customers in your city, searching for services just like yours.

I hope that this article has given you a little more insight into the world of Google and online marketing. We look forward to writing many more articles that can hopefully help you make more educated marketing decisions for your business.