THINK ABOUT THIS: While 97% of consumers looked online for local shops and businesses last year, fewer individuals are following that search with a site visit.

Do local businesses require a website in 2018?

Until recently, this question would have generated a definite ‘yes’. Today, the issue is rather less than clear. Increasingly, Google is drawing conversions and interactions far from your own site and into the main search results page, leaving some to question whether it’s truly worth investing in a local website at all.

There’s lots of evidence to suggest that customers are ending up being increasingly less likely to look for a brand’s website before working with them.

The median click-through rate for the number 1 ranking on Google was down 37% last year, recommending that fewer search users are clicking through to local service sites. Google’s growing capability to replace business site is at the heart of these modifications. With a lot of business information now offered in SERPS and the Google environment (consisting of opening times, location, reservations, Q&A s, showtimes, and much more), the need of checking out a site is reducing.

Research from BrightLocal shows that while 97% of customers looked online for a local service in 2015, fewer individuals are following up that research with a site visit.

While checking out an organization’s website remains the most likely next action (37%), customers are now most likely than before to get in touch directly with new Google features. A significant 17% of consumers will now check out the business after checking out favorable evaluations– a big dive from 7% in 2016. And what’s more, 10% now call the business as their next action– up again from 3%.

While this may appear unthinkable to some business owners, digital marketing firms and SEO firms, it is possible to argue that a local or regional business website isn’t really completely essential.

Wordstream research found that the mean click-through rate for the number 1 ranking on Google was down 37% in 2015, suggesting that fewer search users are clicking through to local business websites. Why trouble having one in the first place, then?

There is a reasonable argument that sites are no longer as reliable in the local market … sites must complete for relevance in a market with many other media platforms– social networks sites, directory sites, and evaluation sites– that are often viewed as proxies for the face of the franchise.

The Impact of Google New GMB Features

Google My Business and the changing face of Google search and mobile micro-moments likewise play into the belief that a site may not be necessary.

With the development of the Google Local Pack and the addition of myriad new features, there countless ways for consumers to engage with a local business, and perform much of the actions that would traditionally happen on the website, directly on the search engine result. In fact, this is something Google seems encouraging, with a host of intros which make it simpler than ever to do simply that.

Action buttons

Small business owners can now develop their own mobile-optimized Google My Business site for free. This is basically a mobile variation of the existing Google My Business listing.

Within this, Google revealed in January that it was possible to include action buttons, such as ‘get instructions’, ‘message us’, and ‘call now’ to the complimentary Google My Business site, apparently making a traditional site even less of a necessity.

Wait times

Google My Business has been showing wait time estimates on restaurant listings since November 2017 and enables predefined business descriptions such as ‘kosher food’ or ‘some kosher food’ to be added. While clients would formerly require to go to the site and see the menu, this details can now be found directly on Google My Business.

Action links

Hyperlinks to carry out particular actions such as ‘make an appointment’ or ‘order online’ can be taken directly from the Google My Business listing, so it’s no longer essential to go to the site to convert.

Posts

Posts were triggered in July 2017, permitting small business owners to share news and uses via their Google My Business listing. With this, the search engine eliminates another factor a consumer might check out the local website itself while adding yet another alternative to engaging with consumers on social media.

Menus

Bars and restaurants can also submit menus to their Google My Business listing, so visitors don’t need to go to the website to browse choices. And just this month did Google broaden this performance to work outside ‘food menus’, now permitting services to list their services.

Questions and Answers

With Google My Business Q&A s, common concerns and answers can also be displayed, eliminating a layer of interaction with the business that would typically take place on a website or over the phone.

Local business websites still should be considered an important and essential property in your marketing toolbox.

Google My Business (along with other portals, such as directory listings and Facebook pages) is undoubtedly a property for any regional business and provides abundant chances to provide customers with the info they need about your company.