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Google has released a new report showing how people are using the search engine to find small businesses around them every day. 

Overall, the report shows that local search continues to grow with “tremendous” speed. Specifically, searches with “local” + “near me” have gotten more than 350 times more search interest compared to a decade ago. 

On a more recent scale, the search engine says that search interest in “mom and pop shops” has climbed to a three year high, with especially high interest in restaurants, coffee shops, diners, pharmacies, and pizza places. 

Google also notes that search interest in “local shops” hit a record high last year. 

To make the findings easy to take in, Google created a nice infographic breaking down all the most important findings. Check it out below, or in Google’s blog post “Small Business Search Trends” here.

Today is International Small Business Day, and Google is celebrating the day with a new hub full of marketing resources for small business owners and marketers.

Many of the tools and features included were developed as part of the ‘Google for Small Business’ initiative and were created using feedback from small business owners around the world. 

In the announcement, Product Management Director at Google described the initiative as a personal effort to help businesses save time and grow their business more effectively:

“I’ve had the opportunity to get to know many small business owners and the challenges they face. Most of them tell me that they need help saving time at work, or that they need easy tools to help them promote their business.”

In the new Google for Small Business hub, you will find:

  • Personalized Plans: By completing a few quick questions about your business and your current goals, you will receive a customized step-by-step plan you can follow to accomplish your goals.
  • In-Person Workshops: Stay up-to-date with any upcoming free Grow with Google workshops happening in your local area.
  • Latest News: Stay updated with the latest news about tools and services for small businesses.

A new study focusing on small businesses in the US reveals that a huge number of small brands are working without any sort of plan for their marketing.

The survey from Outbound Engine asked 350 small and medium business (SMB) owners about a number of areas, including revenue growth, stress, their biggest hurdles, their marketing strategies, and more.

Of the business owners surveyed, approximately half of all SMB owners do not have a marketing plan for 2019 and are unlikely to create one.

Small Business Marketing Struggles

The lack of marketing plans in the survey is largely attributed to an increase in small businesses being overwhelmed or working with limited budgets.

According to the report, 62% of SMB owners say they are as or more stressed about their business this year compared to last.

Further, the study finds that:

  • 25% of SMB owners surveyed are unsure of how they plan to grow their business in 2019.
  • More than half (55%) of SMB owners spend less than 5% of annual revenue on marketing.
  • More than 58% of SMB owners spend five or fewer hours on marketing each week.
  • 86% of respondents say they prefer to spend their time on other business activities rather than marketing.

Small Changes Lead to Big Rewards

While the study shows that many businesses feel lost or unable to focus on their marketing, it also reveals that investing just a little more time or money can pay dividends and reduce business stress.

According to responses about last year performance, small increases in marketing investment led to more revenue growth for SMBs in 2018. Additionally, spending just 5% more time on marketing was tied to increased revenue growth.

This is reflected in the finding that 81% of respondents who invested between 5% and 10% of annual revenue into their marketing reported revenue growth in 2018. Meanwhile, only 50% of respondents who invested less than 5% of revenue into marketing saw growth.

The full report is available in PDF form here.

Google My Business is now letting businesses specify their service area. This is particularly big news for companies that service a wide area or tend to work in an area aside from their physical location.

In the past, the search engine automatically specified a listing’s service area based on their physical location. That could be a major problem if your business was located out of your house or a building in a suburb but largely provided service in the nearby city (or vice-versa).

Starting this week, Google My Business is finally giving listings more control over their service location, with a new separate field. Now, your physical address and service area are entirely separate fields.

This also allows businesses who don’t provide services at their physical location to leave that information blank and just input their service area.

However, Google has created a small restriction on these settings. Businesses can no longer edit the radius of their service areas. In the past, the service area would be a controllable radius. Most businesses opted for a radius of 25 miles from their physical address. This is largely unnecessary now, as you can specify exactly what your service areas are.

If you have previously set a distance around your business as a service area, that setting will continue to stay in effect for now, but you won’t be able to change it in the future. It is likely this data will disappear once the majority of listings have updated their service area information.

Rather than using radius information, the new settings allow you to specify your service area at the region, city, or ZIP level.

To update your own service area information in your Google My Business listing, just follow these steps:

  • Sign in to Google My Business.
  • Select “Info” from the menu.
  • Select “Edit” from within the service area section.
  • Enter your business’s service area information based on region, city, or ZIP code.
  • Click “Apply”.

A recent survey from the United States Chamber of Commerce confirms what many already knew: small businesses across the country are discovering that social media can help find new customers and grow your business. In particular, they see Facebook as a major platform for marketing their business directly to their audience.

The findings of the survey show that more than half (60%) of all small businesses are using Facebook to grow their business, boost sales, find new customer sources, and reach customers they typically would not be able to reach.

Why Facebook?

For many small businesses, establishing a robust online presence seems difficult and costly. Over 50% of survey respondents said the cost of internet services keeps them from developing an online presence. Additionally, 57% of small businesses said digital tools were confusing or challenging.

However, small businesses agreed that Facebook provides an affordable alternative that is easy-to-use and understand.

How are small businesses using Facebook to grow?

According to the survey, 60% of small businesses are using Facebook to achieve a variety of business goals, such as:

  • 32% reported building their business on Facebook.
  •  42% reported hiring more employees since using Facebook
  •  56% said using Facebook as a business tool increased their sales
  •  52% reported that Facebook allowed them to grow their business by allowing them to reach customers outside of their local area, in other cities, states, and countries
  •  70% of small businesses report that using Facebook helps attract new customers
  •  39% of small businesses prefer to send potential customers to their Facebook page than to their own web page.
  •  Over 50% of small businesses reported that Facebook allowed them to take advantage of growing digital sales.

The report also explains:

“In addition to facilitating firms’ successes, over half of small businesses on Facebook reported that the platform as helped them overcome challenges in increasing revenue.”

Every small business person knows there is no marketing quite as powerful as word-of-mouth. No matter what you promise in your ads, it won’t pack quite the punch as a positive, well-written review for your business. But, what if you could turn your positive reviews into your ads?

With the help of Google’s #SmallThanks Hub, you can no do just that. The new online resource aims to help small businesses create top-quality digital and printed marketing materials based on your Google reviews.

“Simply search for your business name on the site, and we’ll automatically create posters, social media posts, window clings, stickers and more — based on the reviews and local love from your customers on Google,” writes Google’s vice president of marketing for Ads & Americas, Lisa Gevelber, on The Keyword blog.

The new resource is available to all US businesses with a verified Google listing with an address.

“Reviews from your fans are like digital thank you notes, and they’re one of the first things people notice about your business in search results,” writes Gevelber in the announcement.

In the post, Google also highlighted data indicating that up to 71% of consumers say positive reviews in search results make them more likely to visit that business and that business listings boasting positive reviews receive up to a 360% increase in click-throughs to their website.

As part of the launch of the #SmallThanks Hub, Google also included a few tips for small businesses. These include keeping your Google listings up to date, encouraging customers to share reviews online, and posting “Find us on Google” stickers in their store and across social media.

Wish you could put personalized messages into search results? Until now, the only way for you to get a specific message out to people finding your business was to send out tweets popular enough to get included or to publish paid search ads.

That’s all changing now, though. Google released a new feature this week called Google Posts for all businesses with a Google My Business Listing. With Google Posts, you can finally share your message on search results without the costs of ads or hit-and-miss nature of social media.

Any time you share a Post, it will appear in search results and Google Maps pages that include your business listing. The message will initially be just a small snippet, but searchers can expand it with a single tap to read more.

There are potentially limitless ways businesses can take advantage of the new feature. Specifically, Google suggests getting started by updating customers with information about new sales, upcoming events, and new product launches to build excitement.

In addition to your customized message, you can also include photos and custom calls-to-action to encourage making a reservation, signing-up for your newsletter, or linking to your latest special offer.

Google Posts are already available to any business with a verified Google My Business account. You can get started sharing your messages and customizing your listings now from any desktop, iOS, or Android device.

FacebookClick

In the age of the internet, Facebook has become one of the premier ways to advertise a local business. Now, a new report from Borrell Associates shows just how many businesses are using the biggest social platform around to grow their business.

According to the report, almost 80% of local businesses have a Facebook page, and 62% are buying Facebook ads to reach a larger audience. In total, that adds up to more than 2.5 million US businesses paying to promote their brands or content on Facebook every year, spending $1,500 on average.

For the survey, Borrell Associates quizzed a mix of US businesses – many of which qualify as small businesses. However, it is important to note that some respondents represent larger brands with annual marketing and media budgets over $100,000.

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Among those surveyed, 85% said they maintain a presence on at least one social media site. The vast majority of those (96%) were on Facebook, with Twitter in second place. Surprisingly, Snapchat does not appear on the list at all.

The data also shows that online marketing of all forms have firmly overtaken more traditional advertising mediums like print or TV ads as the best source of new customers for businesses. Company website and social media were second and third respectively, only outranked by word of mouth referrals.

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A significant number of the respondents were categorized as “social media mavens” by the report, because they consider social media as the absolute best channel for acquiring new customers for their business. However, these businesses are probably not who you think.

Instead of new, high-tech start-ups or large businesses with the budget for extensive social media marketing, these “mavens” are described as being:

  • “Smaller, older, independent companies with less than $1 million in gross sales.”
  • “More likely to have a single location or be home-based than have multiple locations and slightly more likely to cater to consumers (B2C) versus only businesses (B2B).”
  • 76% manage social media themselves.
  • 57% pay to boost posts

A significant number of these companies are also looking at cutting or eliminating traditional advertising from their marketing mix in the near future.

The findings highlight that you don’t have to be a Forbes 500 company or a typical online-based business to benefit from marketing your business on Facebook. Businesses of all sizes are seeing the social platform as an enormously powerful tool for reaching new customers.

Google-My-Business-Logo

Your Google My Business Page is the epicenter of all your local online marketing for your brand or business. Now, Google is making it easier to see how users find your GMB page with enhanced insights that show where your visitors are coming from.

The biggest question the new insights help answer is where your GMB page visitors are coming from. Specifically, are they coming from Google Maps or Google Search? With enhanced insights, you can now see a simple breakdown of how many visitors are coming from each source straight from your GMB dashboard.

The new insights also help you understand how people are finding your page. Some may be searching directly for your brand or business name, but others are likely to find you by searching for a related keyword.

You can now view a comparison of who found your page by searching for your name and who searched for a related keyword. Don’t expect to be able to see which keywords they were searching for, however. Those are currently ‘not provided’.

While these new insights are being added, Google is also removing the Google+ statistics from the GBD dashboard.

It may seem like everyone is online these days, but somehow some businesses still don’t have websites. Your business might even be one of them.

If your business has gone this long without a website, you probably have your reasons. You may think you don’t have the money or you simply don’t need one. Neither of those is correct.

A website is a fundamental part of running a business in 2016 and many consumers won’t consider purchasing from a business if they can’t find information about them online. That’s true even for brick and mortar stores. In this connected age,people will even Google stores from their parking lot to make sure the trip inside will be worth their time.

Rapid Web Launch put together an infographic breaking down every reason you might have for not having a website and why it is wrong. I know you’ve gone this long without one and your business may be doing fine, but there’s nothing to lose and everything to gain by getting one set up today.

Check out the infographic below or at Rapid Web Launch.

NoWebsite