Online searches lead to offline sales.

“If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?”

In today’s mobile and online world, a similar question is, “If you have a business and Google can’t find you, do you really exist?” I would answer that you may exist, but unless Google can find you, you might not last much longer.

When you’re looking for a local business, what’s the first thing you do? You pull out your phone or jump on your computer and Google it. Your customers are no different. When they need something, they do the same thing.

Custom web development company Go-Globe recently compiled research that shows why your business can’t afford to not be found by Google. And in this case, I’m talking about showing up in the local listings on the right side of a screen in the search results. Go-Globe’s findings show that 46 percent of all searches on Google are local, and more than 70 percent check online to confirm a store’s location before visiting for the first time.

Additionally, 50 percent of consumers who conducted a local search on their smartphone visited a store within a day, and 34 percent who searched on a computer/ tablet did the same. More than 75 percent of local mobile searches resulted in offline purchases.

Your current and potential customers are using Google to look for the products and services you offer. So, how can you put yourself in the best possible position to be found?

Google’s business tool, Google My Business, has massive potential for local businesses. It’s the opportunity to be found and stand out from the competition. Here are ways you can claim and optimize your Google My Business listing to get more attention and attract more business.

CLAIM YOUR BUSINESS

First you will want to claim your business and have it verified. Verification normally takes less than a week. Google will send you a verification postcard with a verification code. Once you receive it, you verify with the code and your business will be live.

You can then add pictures to highlight your business and location. In addition, you can provide information like hours of operation, services, etc. It’s a key opportunity to put together a message that makes a great first impression.

OPTIMIZE TO MONETIZE

Make sure your store’s name, address, and phone number are filled out and updated. Then, review them on a regular basis. Also review and update your hours of operationa. You don’t want a customer showing up at your door only to find you’re closed but didn’t update your online information.

Next, choose your primary category, but look through other relevant categories and add them to increase your chances of appearing in search results.

Add images. Don’t leave this area blank or leave it up to Google to pick an image for you. Remember, you’re making a first impression.

Actively try to get reviews. The more reviews you receive, the higher up in the search results you may be. And don’t ignore reviews, especially negative ones. Respond as soon as you can and do what you can to make it right.

Finally, update your page regularly. You can include photos, promotions, questions from customers and your answers, news, and events. Don’t forget to take advantage of the Google My Business app. With it you can get notifications, add photos, and respond to customers at any time from anywhere.

—Chris Rainey