Google published a guide on four ways to drive local search traffic to an offline local business and make more sales. It’s a good reminder that Google is more than just the ten blue links on a search page.
Understanding all the ways customers are trying to find businesses will help create more sales.
For local retail, Google shared that various kinds of searches are growing exponentially.
In particular, three kinds of searches are showing dramatic increases:
- The first kind of search involves consumers searching for businesses that are local to them.
- The second type of search involves consumers who are searching for businesses local to them that have something specific in stock.
- The third kind of search involve restaurant related searches.
Google’s guide shared:
“Searches for “local” + “business(es)” have grown by more than 80% year over year, including searches like “local businesses near me” and “support local businesses.”
Searches for “who has” + “in stock” have grown by more than 8,000% year over, including searches like “who has Nintendo switch in stock” and “who has gym equipment in stock.””
Local Restaurant Searches
Google next shared that dining related consumers used not only Google search but Google Ads to find information prior to making a purchase. Google advertising can be a good way to gain an extra edge over competitors.
“Two out of three dining consumers said they used search to find food and beverage information during the pandemic.
Fifty-seven percent of dining consumers said they discovered food and beverage information during the pandemic via online ads.”
Think With Google article: What’s New at Mealtime?
YouTube and Local Shopping
YouTube isn’t normally considered as a way to drive sales to a local business. But it should be considered. Google shows YouTube videos in response to search queries and in specific contexts that provide more information for searchers who need to know about a service or product.
According to Google:
“Forty-five percent of viewers say they watch YouTube to see a product demo before buying.
Viewers say they are 2x more likely to go in-store or online to buy something they saw on YouTube versus the competitive average.”
Google Maps isn’t normally considered as a search engine. But like YouTube, it’s where people are turning to find local businesses that provide specific services.
This trend highlights the importance of claiming a free Google My Business account and working with that to enhance your Google Maps listings.
The important takeaway here is that Google Maps should be considered as a search engine that provides a highly targeted context for your local business presence.
- “Searches on Google Maps for “curbside pickup” have increased 9000% year over year in the U.S.
- Searches on Google Maps for “discounts” have grown globally by more than 100% year over year.
- Searches on Google Maps for “gift shop” have grown globally by more than 60% year over year.”
Google Maps is more than just a way to learn how to get from here to there. Consumers are using it to find businesses.
These are the top generic searches in Google Maps:
(Source: Google Data, U.S., February 2021)
- restaurants near me
- food near me
- grocery store
- gas station
Guide to Offline Sales
Google also published a short support page for businesses on how to get more local search related traffic with advertising that also contained two tips that also relate to non-advertising search traffic. (Build Your Digital Storefront)
The first tip advised businesses to build an online storefront and to use it together with a free Google My Business account to stand out in local related searches within Google regular search results and in Google Maps.
The second tip showed how to get up to 42% more referrals from Google.
“The key to driving store traffic from the web into your physical location is letting customers know you’re close by and that you have what they’re looking for.
Businesses that add photos to their Business Profiles receive 42% more requests for directions on Google Maps, and 35% more clicks through to their websites than businesses that don’t.”
That 42% and 35% increases in engagement because of photos is not surprising. In an article about images (5 Benefits to Using Visual Content in PDF Marketing Materials) I highlighted ways that images engage consumers and drive sales.
1. Images Are Emotionally Engaging
Scientific research discovered that images can influence a viewer’s emotions in a positive manner that enhances the marketing message.
2. Images Reduce Reading Fatigue
People absorb information through images as well as text. Images as a way to communicate how delicious a menu item is or the professional level of your employees should not be underestimated.
3. Images Are Easier to Remember
Images make a strong impact on consumers because they are easy to recall. According to research, consumers have the ability to remember over 2,000 images for days with a 90% accuracy.
4. Graphs Communicate Visually
Graphs can be a fantastic way to communicate the superiority of your business or communicate ideas. According to MIT neuroscientists, a human brain can identify images within 13 milliseconds. Communicating ideas visually is a powerful way of successfully getting across a marketing message.
5. Images Build Trust & Increase Profitability
Researchers have discovered, through analysis of millions of eBay auctions, that the liberal use of images increases sales.
Google is More than Ten Links on a Search Result
There are many takeaways in Google’s helpful guide. The most important is to expand beyond trying to rank in Google search and consider ways to increase visibility in Google Maps and YouTube. Additionally it may be helpful to add as many well staged and photographed images as possible in order to communicate the professionalism and high quality of the products and services on offer.