As local brands and their marketers watch Google play Trojan horse, shifting from top benefactor to top competitor by replacing former “free” publicity with paid packs, Local Service Ads, zero-click SERPs, and related structures, it’s no surprise to see forum members asking, “Do I even need a website anymore?”
Our Answer to this question is : “Yes, you’ve never needed a website more than you will in 2019.”
- Why it looks like local businesses don’t need websites
- Statistical proofs of why local businesses need websites now more than ever
- The current status of local business websites and most-needed improvements
Zero-click mobile SERPs
This slide from a recent presentation by Rand Fishkin encapsulates his findings regarding the growth of no-click SERPs between 2016–2018. Mobile users have experienced a 20% increase in delivery of search engine results that don’t require them to go any deeper than Google’s own interface.
Even your branded SERPs don’t belong to you
When a user specifically searches for your brand and your Google Knowledge Panel pops up, you can likely cope with the long-standing “People Also Search For” set of competitors at the bottom of it. But that’s not the same as Google allowing Groupon to advertise at the top of your KP, or putting lead gen from Doordash and GrubHub front and center to nickel and dime you on your own customers’ orders.
You’re Already Behind!
Almost 64 percent of the small businesses have their websites in early 2018. The small businesses, almost 48 percent have their websites since 2017. These businesses depend on websites for attracting new customers and engaging their existing customers. Websites also give confirmation about a business being legitimate by listing out its address, mission, and contact information to the public.
These days it is not uncommon to search a query on Google and locate that answer straight away. You do not have to click on anything else as you will find the information right in the search results. Due to this, there has been a significant rise in zero-click search results. You do not have to click on the further links because Google interface indicates that you do not have to dig further.
Paid Ads and Local Packs
While running a local search you will find the list of the local businesses. Local Pack is a new kind of search result that displays the list of three local businesses. Ads appear in 20 percent of the search results of Local Pack.
Google is being called the new “homepage” for local businesses
As highlighted at the beginning of this post, 64% of marketers agree that Google is becoming the new “homepage” for local businesses.
None of Google’s most recent local initiatives are about driving customers to brands’ own websites. Local SERPs have shrunk and have been re-engineered to keep users within Google’s platforms to generate maximum revenue for Google and their partners.
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