Update: Google My Business is now called Google Business Profile.
Google Business Profile can transform how you acquire customers online.
For many businesses, I'll go as far as saying that it's more important than their own website.
If you're in charge of growing your company's bottom line, this article will arm you with the know-how to turn your Profile into a revenue-pumping machine.
(While 10x-ing your own value in the process.)
I'll be using real world data from my own campaigns and third-party sources to illustrate just how powerful Google Business Profile has become in 2023.
Let's get started.
About 11 years ago - so a million in internet years - Google gave people ten blue links, along with some ads when they searched for something.
Things have changed in a big way since then.
Google has been de-prioritizing organic search results in favor of ads and what are known as "No Click Searches".
No Click Searches: Instances where people are searching on Google, only to get the information they need without needing to visit any websites.
Google understands that it can only get so aggressive in terms of prioritizing ads over organic search results.
What they've gotten very good at is getting people to stay on search results pages until they actually click an ad.
They're doing this in many ways that you've already seen - and it's happening more frequently.
Here are some examples:
This may not seem like a huge deal at first, but the growth of No Click Searches is no joke.
And it's affecting local businesses.
Google's intent is to offer users as much value as possible directly within search results - so when people do something that Google can't directly answer - the chances they click an ad (so Google gets paid) increases.
Rand Fishkin, one of the original thought-leaders in SEO, held a presentation about this at a conference. Here's one of the slides that refers to this:
Business owners who rely on traffic from search engines previously just had to worry about the growing prominence of ads - as Google pushed organic results lower and lower on the page.
From the data above, it's clear we're now fighting against these ads, and the rapidly growing instances of No Click Searches.
No Click Searches on mobile: The real kicker is how No Click Searches work in combination with mobile devices. Due to the small screens, No Click Searches account for over 60% of searches in some cases.
The small screens mean that ads get even more priority on mobile.
When ads are followed by Google's efforts to keep users from clicking on organic results (answer boxes, etc) it turns into even more No Click Searches.
Here's an example of what we see when we search "mortgage rates Calgary". Normal organic results aren't even shown until the bottom of the third screen.
This illustrates the lengths Google is taking to offer people information directly in search results - so they can keep them on their pages longer - instead of having them visit your site.
That bright shiny site you paid a ton for - and are paying someone truckloads of cash to optimize for search engines?
Even if it ranks first, it's now buried on the second half of the page.
This is why so many sites are seeing decreases in their search engine traffic - even when their rankings haven't decreased.
Here's what a well respected agency owner had to say on LinkedIn.
What does this mean for your site? Should you still be paying someone to optimize it?
Listen, I'd rather not give you my opinion. We've never met and I don't know the ins and outs of your business.
Let's look at the math instead.
The effort (cost) needed to rank first hasn't changed between then and now.
But the ROI has.
Let's assume your website converts visitors to customers at a rate of 5%.
And each customer is worth $100 in revenue.
Let's say you're paying an agency $1,500 a month to manage your campaign.
Here's how things looked before the spike in No Click Searches:
Ranking = #1
Total monthly searches = 3,000
Percentage of visitors that click on the #1 ranking = 27%
Website visitors = 810
Customers (5% x 810) = 41
Revenue (41 x $100) = $4,100
Revenue - Expenses ($4,100 - $1,500) = $2,600
Previous ROI = 173%
In 2023, you're still paying an agency the same fees, but No Click Searches now account for 47% of all search queries:
Ranking = #1
Total monthly searches = 3,000
No Click Searches (47% x 3,000) = 1,410
Total monthly searches, excluding No Click Searches (3,000 - 1,410) = 1,590
Percentage of visitors that click on the #1 ranking = 27%
Website visitors = 430
Customers (5% x 430) = 22
Revenue = $2,200
Revenue - Expenses ($2,200 - $1,500) = $700
ROI in 2023 = 47%
Keep in mind this example does not account for other expenses, like your overhead or cost of goods sold (COGS).
Moral of the story?
Your costs aren't yielding close to the returns they used to.
But many agencies and consultants would never tell you that.
Because your campaign is how they make their living - even if it's slowly causing you to lose your shirt in the process.
Google Business Profile has been around for quite a while - before No Click Searches were even a thing.
Here's some of the other names it's gone by:
Google Business Profile has grown in prominence in terms of how and when these listings appear in search results.
Everything we've covered to this point is about how Google is getting greedy with its traffic.
They don't want to send people to you unless they have to (or unless you pay for it with ads).
But the fact is - people will always want and need to speak to local businesses at some point.
Google knows this (they know a lot, after all).
So rather than having people go to your site when they reach that point - they built an entire platform for people to connect with businesses - one that they own.
Before you start yelling at the sky and condemning Google, it's important to realize two things...
1. We need to play nice with Google (you'll see why shortly).
2. Google Business Profile actually generates more customers than your website does on its own.
We have two choices.
We can take our ball and go home - crying about how Google is evil, agencies are evil, and we're not going to play with either any more.
We'll debate the ethics of Google's desire to keep their traffic. We'll argue over the usefulness of agencies and consultants.
Or, we can choose to be rational problem solvers, survey the digital landscape, and let the results drive us towards better decisions.
And honestly, that's what I love about digital marketing:
At the end of the day, the data is all that matters. Data tells us what's working, what's failing, and where we should invest our time and money.
I don't want you to just take my word for it.
The internet is filled with unqualified opinions - so let's not add to that dumpster fire.
Here's what the data says:
1. 46% of all Google searches have a local intent. [Source: HubSpot]
That's about 1.6 billion searches per day where people are looking for products, services, and information in their location.
2. 93% of local searches now feature Google Business Profiles. [Source: STAT Analytics]
There's a lot of people using Google every day for local purposes.
And now we know that virtually all of those searches feature Google Business Profiles.
3. 68% of people contact a business directly from search results. [Source: Search Engine Land]
If they're on a mobile device - which we've established is already 50% of all web traffic (and growing) - all someone needs to do is tap a link...
And they're calling you - or your competitor - directly from search results.
These three data points show the importance of Google Business Profile - especially when we already know that Google wants to send people to a platform they own.
But we haven't even covered the most important one...
"88% of people trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations." [Source: Forbes]
Reviews from trusted third parties - like Google - are at the core of buying behavior in 2023.
There's no way to escape it.
People don't want to hear you toot your own horn.
They want others talking about how great you are - on websites they trust.
This is the single most important piece of data which speaks to the usefulness of Google Business Profile.
When used correctly, your Google Business Profile can become a high-octane customer acquisition engine.
That's because the people viewing your Profile are being pre-sold on doing business with you, because of one of the most persuasive assets a business has...
Let's look at another example of how traffic from Google Business Profile differs from normal search engine traffic - previously known to be the best quality traffic in terms of converting visitors into customers.
Important: As this is based on real data from a client, I am not going to share the industry to protect their confidentiality.
I will say that the numbers are significant (analyzing millions in revenue).
Revenue per lead (search traffic): $197
Revenue per lead (Google Business Profile traffic): $679
Leads from Google Business Profile are worth 245% more than regular search traffic.
In April 2019, Google started shutting down their failed social network, Google+.
This was at least their third attempt at trying to build a competitor to Facebook. The other two:
It's pretty clear what's going on here.
Google knows they can't compete with social networks like Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok in the same way.
So they're building a platform based on what their users are already doing - searching for information, products, and services in their location.
Just look at these features that have been added to Google Business Profile:
See how Google Business Profile is slowly turning into a social network all on its own?
But more importantly...
People don't need to visit your website anymore to:
...all the core functions of a company's website.
Now, you're probably wondering:
Most businesses will just claim their Profile.
Maybe they'll pay an agency $750 to $1,500 to "optimize it" for them too - while that agency just copies and pastes information from their site and calls it a day.
And then it's forgotten about.
Maybe they'll visit their Profile every now and then to respond to a review - but that's it.
If you haven't guessed, that's the wrong way.
(We'll get into the right way shortly.)
Your best prospects - the ones using Google to find your products and services - don't need to visit your site to decide if they want to do business with you.
The smartest companies know this and they're doing something about it.
Here's the catch:
In order to thrive on Google Business Profile, you have to stop thinking about it like a generic Yellow Pages listing. Handling it like a Yelp page isn't good enough, either.
Because if you're still thinking along those lines, you'll never be able to make Google Business Profile work. I mean really work.
But if you're ready to give Google Business Profile the respect it deserves, it will change everything for you:
On the next page, I'll walk you through The Execution Plan for transforming Google Business Profile into a customer acquisition engine.
One that's comparable to a super car - not a beater.