Does your website still serve a purpose?
Google’s primary objective is to answer people’s questions as quickly and as accurately as possible. Years ago, if you searched for a product or service, you would have been required to click a link to another website from the search page. This is no longer true. If you operate a local business or ever searched for one, you will likely know this.
Search for ‘electricians near me’ for example and you will likely see among other results 3 businesses at the top of the screen. Known as the ‘3 pack’ these are the three listings Google deems to be the best of the bunch.
According to Search Engine Land, 93% of searches with local intent show a 3-pack-2016
Search for a specific local business and you will probably be presented with a ‘knowledge panel’, complete with contact details, opening hours, images and more.
50% of local mobile searchers are looking for a business name, phone number or service information. – 2016
A lot of the time this sort of information is all people are looking for, especially on mobile; they can quickly be answered in the knowledge panel or local pack. In that case what’s the point in having a website you might ask?
Smart Watches, Home Speakers and Beyond…
These devices are designed with convenience in mind. You’re not going to browse a full blown website with a home speaker, (although technically it would be possible). Most of the time you want quick answers to specific questions.
“What time is Costco open until” for example.
These day’s it’s not too much of a stretch of the imagination to envisage such questions being asked to your car.
“Where’s the best place to go for an Italian meal?”
You’re out for the day and want somewhere great to go and eat. You don’t have time to browse loads of restaurants websites, you just want quick, reliable answers, maybe a number to call and directions.
These questions can easily be answered with the data Google has already collected, without the help of a company website.
The number of problems that can be solved without leaving Google is increasing all the time. Since Google launched GMB (Google my Business) in 2014 the search giant has added more and more features to this end.
Importance of having a website for local SEO
Local listings such as the 3 pack are a big part of any local businesses’ online marketing strategy. Add in reviews, online directory listings etc. and you can strengthen your position.
It is certainly possible to get visibility in Google with a GMB listing alone, but don’t count on it. Although Google can discover information about a business from the internet in general (social media and directories), a website is a valuable asset which can further help Google to understand what type of business you operate and the products or services you offer.
According to a 2017 study by Moz website signals play an important role in local pack positions.
- Link signals – Inbound links to your website from another (17% of all factors)
- On page signals – Content and keywords in page titles etc. (14% of all factors)
- Click through rate – How many people click the website link from the local pack/organic results (n/a)
There is a lot of evidence that organic and local pack listings are closely linked. A website that does well in the organic listings for example may find that their local pack position is boosted.
It’s important to remember that despite the local pack’s popularity and ease, organic still drives a lot of traffic. There’s certainly a lot more flexibility.
Most of the time it isn’t possible to show Google all that you do with your GMB listing alone. In GMB there’s limited space to tell Google all there is to tell about your business. This is where a website can be helpful. With a website you can promote an unlimited number of services and products which can be indexed as individual pages in Google. This way you can become known for more, and discovered by a wider range of potential customers.
For many businesses the limited data Google My Business provides is not enough. Consumers might want to browse a website to find out more information and get a feel for the company.
Choosing a real estate agent to sell your house for example is not something most people want to rush into. Yes, quick answers are good, but they are not always the most appropriate solution.
For now at least, websites still play an important role and make sense for most local businesses. How can you make sure that your website stays relevant? Here are some steps.
- Make sure to follow all the rules for onsite SEO. Our Local SEO Checklist for 2018 can help.
- Content, content, content. Google wants information, starved for it. If your website becomes a go-to informational source for Google, you will be off and running. Update pages as more information becomes available. Deleted information that is no longer valid or relevant.
- Update your website regularly. If your website is static, that means the information on it is old. Be sure to add updates regularly. I fresh site is a happy site, in Google’s eyes anyway.