One of the most challenging hurdles for many small businesses and startups is increasing visibility and getting found by new customers. Being present and prolific on social media is a smart placeto start, but won’t necessarily guarantee potential clients and prospects can easily find your company when they perform online searches. This is where Google steps in. The widely utilized search engine—in addition to Google AdWords and Google Analytics—now provides a free one-stop-shop for businesses to select, monitor, approve, and alter what information appears across Google about their business.

What is it?

If you run a business that serves customers in a particular location or within a designated service area, Google My Business can help those people find you online. Google My Business is Google’s latest addition to their already powerful tools for large and small businesses, brands, artists, and other organizations. It allows business owners and managers to manage their online presence across Google’s many web functions, including Maps and Search.

Why use digital tactics to target a local audience?

The fact that your business relies on a local clientele does not insulate it from the ubiquity and importance of online content. Consumers rely on the internet to vet the businesses at which they shop. One study concluded that online reviews influenced 90% of the consumers surveyed. Yet many businesses still don’t have any significant online presence. According to a 2016 Entrepreneur article, only 64% of small businesses have a website.

How Google My Business Helps You Attract New Customers

  • Manage your information. When potential customers search for businesses online, it is often to find the website, reviews, or business information. If these users can’t easily access your business’ hours, street address, or phone number, they’ll likely turn elsewhere. Google My Business allows you to input and verify all this information to ensure it is accurate, up-to-date, and easy to find. You can provide your company’s name, address, phone number, logo, pictures, hours of operation, and even popular times of business.
  • Interact with customers. Google My Business allows you to read and respond to customer reviews, post photos related to your company’s ventures, and gather information about online user interactions. All of this information appears in the sidebar when a user googles you. According to Google, a company with an online presence that includes relevant and current content like photos helps businesses receive 42% more requests for driving directions on Google Maps and 35% more clicks to their websites. Visitors frequently use photos as an opportunity to gain insights into your company atmosphere as well as the quality of the products or services you provide.
  • Collect and analyze data. Data analytics is incredibly important for any business. Google My Business allows you to gather insights by tracking impressions, clicks, and other information pertinent to your business’ important online metrics. These insights can give you a better idea of who is searching for your business online and how they navigate your online presence so you can better tailor your advertising. You can thoroughly understand how users interact with your online listings by seeing how customers found your listing, where they find you on Google, what actions they took with your listing, the number of phone calls placed, driving direction requests, and which photos they looked at.

Promoting your business expansively and globally was once the marketing trend to “making it big.” These days, however, business owners and managers are realizing the importance of attracting and sustaining business locally as well, especially for brick and mortar stores. Finding and maintaining business locally, however, doesn’t just mean handing out flyers to nearby stores, publishing ads in your local newspaper, or airing a commercial on your county’s favorite radio station anymore. Now, supplying information to local customers that use Google to find you is now as critical as hanging an “Open” sign on your door or placing your store in the right location.