Today we don’t just go online we live online. In fact, according to Google, the most prevalent factor in driving consumer behaviour today is the mobile phone. Our smartphones easily connect us not only with our nearest and dearest but also to the world’s facts and figures. Whether you’re waiting for a bus or looking for a place to eat, nine in ten people turn to their smartphone first to find out information.
Google has a name for these interactions – they call them micro-moments – suggesting life isn’t lived in years or weeks or days or hours but moments. How consumers interact with their phones during these moments can have a big impact on your small business.
From ‘I can totally fix this’ moments to ‘let’s celebrate’ moments to ‘I need help’ moments, people are turning to search every day to find the answers they need.
“Think of how many micro-moments you’ve already experienced today,” says Madeline Beattie Google Market Lead Australia. “For so many of these moments, google search is at the heart. It’s pivotal in connecting businesses to consumers in their time of need.”
Google says there are billions of searches made on the platform every month and over 30 per cent of these queries relate to local services or businesses.
“82 per cent of mobile users turn to search first when looking for a local business,” says Beattie. “We have seen 3x increase in searches relating to ‘near me’.”
With this in mind, Beattie says it is vital small business owners ensure they have a business profile on Google.
“Just having a business profile doesn’t guarantee you’ll show up in search results but it is the first step. A business profile will help customers find you.”
Beattie says apart from hosting important information about your business, a Google Business profile works on all devices, making it easy for customers to find you in their time of need.
“Smartphones have become an indispensable shopping tool for us. People use them to research and make purchases. Search is the number one way that a consumer looks to find a business phone number to be able to contact you. So why wouldn’t you set up a business profile – it’s completely free!”
Beattie says there are three main reasons a small business should consider setting up a Google Business profile.
Firstly, a business profile on Google helps you stand out.
“Three out of four customers use a search entity to find a business. Three out of ten people will make a purchase from the results they found.
“The second most important reason is to engage with your customers. Through your business profile, you can join the conversation about your business.
“Third is the ability to be able to find new customers. Google listings make it easy to understand how someone finds you. You will be able to track the searches and posts, phone calls and even map clicks for directions,” Beattie concludes.
Beattie says setting up your business profile is easy at google.com.au/business and having a Google business listing will also benefit you when it comes to page rankings. Beattie explains when people search for a product or service Google considers a number of parameters including relevancy, distance and prominence. She suggests the more detailed your business profile the more likely your business will be to show up in a relevant search. Distance will prioritise what is local and prominence is gauged by how well a business is known for a service or product.
She explains that picking the right category for your business is vital and says it’s not essential to have a shopfront to participate in Google Business. She suggests anyone considering creating a Google Business profile should download the My Business app as it will allow them to easily manage their business information.
“This will allow you to manage your profile at your fingertips and engage with your customers from your mobile device. Having an up to date profile have enormous benefits for your business.”
But she stresses it’s critical to keep your address and hours up to date and she tells KBB a well-maintained profile will help build trust with customers. She also suggests business owners make use of additional features such as messaging.
“Even though we do have more smartphones than ever before – people aren’t really making phone calls. They’re texting, their messaging… With a Google Business profile, you can message with businesses to take actions. Messaging allows you to chat with customers directly.”
There is a catch, however, when you have messaging turned on, customers will be able to see your response time, so keeping on top of messages is essential.
“Having customers engage with you is an opportunity to really build brand loyalty,” Beattie says. “If you download the app you can get notifications to people leaving a review – the timeliness and professionalism and the way you respond to reviews can positively influence customers. Two out of three customers say having a positive review is crucial to their selection…”
Find out more about Google Business and how you can use it to benefit your small business at https://learndigital.withgoogle.com/digitalgarage-au