In the last few years, the number of businesses listed in Google My Business (GMB) has increased rapidly. As a result, many agencies dealing with Local SEO felt that the importance of the small business website had reduced and it was no longer necessary for the business to have separate business website. However a survey conducted recently by BrightLocal indicates that a large number of customers still rely on the business website for getting information about the business before purchasing a product or service. Hence for small business marketing, the company should not ignore the importance of a business website.
Which sources have you used to find a local business’s phone number or address?
BrightLocal had conducted a survey of 500 consumers to find out their preferences for getting local business information. For getting details of the address and phone number of a local business, it was found that 62% of the consumer checked the GMB listing in search, 49% checked the business website, 44% used the business profile in the Google maps listing, 23% used online directories and 13% of the consumers did not use any of the above online sources. The consumers were allowed to choose more than one source of information for the survey, hence the percentage total is more than 100.
Do you think business websites or Google My Business listings have more accurate contact information?
The survey found that more than 75% of the consumers decided to visit the local business website at least half the time they were looking for information on the business. A larger percentage of the consumers (56 %) expected the official business website to have more accurate information than the Google business (GMB) listing (32%), while 12% relied on online directories. However, it is not clear that these results are because consumers expect the business to update their website more regularly and correctly or because the GMB listing is less likely to be accurate and of the desired quality.
How do consumers contact local businesses?
After finalizing the business which they wish to contact for its products or services, 60% of the consumers prefer to contact the business on phone. This is mainly because they can expect an immediate response when they contact on phone. However, it is observed that many businesses are unable to reply to the consumers who have contacted them on phone due to a number of reasons. Hence google is developing a virtual assistant called Calljoy to deal with the problem. 16% of the consumers will contact on phone, 15% will physical visit the address which is specified, 4% will use the contact form and 3% will use social media.
However, demographic data is not available for the consumers who took the survey, and there may be differences in the results for young people compared to other age groups. The consumers were also asked about the features of GMB which they were using. 69% of the consumers were interested in the opening hours of the business, 50% used it to get directions to visit the website, 44% read the reviews which were posted, 38% visited the official website of the business and 34% looked at the photos posted.
So whereas many digital marketing agencies have been claiming that small business websites are no longer important, yet the results clear indicate that though GMB is widely used, customers continue to trust the business website.