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A vital first step in any local SEO strategy is to claim and VERIFY your local business’ Google My Business (GMB) listing. Getting on Google My Business can increase your chances of showing up in Google’s Local Pack, Local Finder, Google Maps, and organic rankings in general.
Qualifying local businesses can claim this free listing on Google and include information about their company, like their address, phone number, business hours, and types of payments accepted.
Don’t list it like below if you listed it like above on Google. Make your listing the same on every platform, citation or directory.
Google has added some great features to Google My Business that companies should take advantage of that enhances your Google My Business listing and helps to grab viewers’ attention — and can increase how you rank in local search results.
If you haven’t claimed and verified your Google My Business Listing yet, that’s the first step. To get started, visit https://www.google.com/business.
You should add content, images and updates weekly, in some cases daily.
If you have duplicates take care of that as well as it hurts your ranking and SEO.
Many local contractors just claim their GMB listing and forget about it. What most contractors don’t realize is that there are a variety of other features Google gives you that you can use to optimize your Google My Business listing.
There are several reasons why you should check your business listing monthly to ensure that its accuracy stays intact. Do you want to know more?
Here is why.
There are questions Google wants you to fill out for your Google My Business profile. When complete, your listing will have valuable data that makes it easier for prospective customers to find information about your contracting company.
And if you don’t fill out that information…well, someone else could. Many contracting business owners don’t realize that anyone can suggest an edit to your listing — and that includes your competitors.
When a searcher clicks on your GMB listing they see a “Suggest an edit” option:
When someone clicks on that option they can literally edit your Google My Business listing and make drastic changes.
And these aren’t just “suggested” edits, these user-generated changes can be made live on your listing without you even being notified. This is a reason why it’s important that you log in to your Google My Business dashboard monthly to ensure that no one has made any unwanted changes.
If you log in to Google My Business, you can switch back to the “Classic” dashboard here:
In the classic dashboard, you may see “Google Updates” notifications.
If you see updates, these are changes that Google made to your listing because either their algorithm found new information about your business (perhaps from another directory/citation site or a change they found on your Google Map) or a Google user submitted an edit that was published. (Yes, when people make “suggested edits,” they are not really “suggestions” -– the changes are often made live without you ever getting a notification or the opportunity to dispute the change!)
When you click on “Google Updates,” you’ll see a box that allows you to “Review Updates.” It’s here where you remove incorrect information that was made by a troublesome Google user or competitor.
Google supposedly sends out emails to the owner and businesses who manage your Google My Business account when changes are made. But, we seldom ever get these emails. So beware: For example, your business category could be changed from “tree service” to the generic “landscaping” category, which could negatively impact your search rankings.
That’s why it’s extremely important for you to log in monthly and check your listing (especially when, some businesses have had their address and website URLs changed in their GMB listing by competitors, past employees or ex-wives.)
If you see a change that is incorrect and you have trouble changing it (like a bogus review), create a new post explaining the situation in detail in the Google My Business forum and reach out to one of the Google Top Contributor for help.
It’s important to realize that Google encourages people who know your business to answer questions, so that Google can learn more info about your company. To do this they simply click on the “Know this place? Answer quick questions” link.
They’ll then be asked to answer some questions about your business:
If the person knows the answer to the question, they can answer and then they’ll typically be asked another question.
Some contractors have complained, saying that competitors or an ex with harmful intent can cause chaos on their Google My Business listings with these features.
However, Google’s philosophy is that this type of user-generated content helps to build a community, more fully completes a business’ profile, and allows Google to experiment with different search strategies.
Just remember, after you get your Google My Business listing verified, continue to check your listing monthly to be on the safe side. Again, I do this for all my clients.
Google Posts are like mini-ads or social media posts that show up in Google search in your Google My Business listing in the Knowledge Panel and on Google Maps.
Once you have your GMB listing verified, now is the time to optimize your listing. This is where you have a greater chance to outdo your competition!
To get started with Posts, log in to your GMB dashboard and you’ll see the Posts option on the left-hand side:
You can have fun with your Google My Business Posts by adding an image, a call-to-action (CTA), and even including a link to sales, landing page or your website.
Here are just a few Post ideas:
Posts show up prominently in your business’ Knowledge Panel, so don’t miss this opportunity to stand out locally.
TIP: To grab a searcher’s attention, you want to include an image in your Post, but on Google Maps the Post image can get cut off.
ADDED: When I figure out the proper image size I will update this section of the article.
UPDATE: In Google post, ideal image size is 720px x 720px, but many times it cuts, so we can try 600x450px size.
Want to have even MORE fun and potentially help your local SEO?
Try adding relevant emojis to your Post. Google is beginning to index emoji-relevant search results. (In fact, you can now search Google by “tweeting” an emoji at it!)
Additionally, people — especially younger people — are beginning to search (typically on their mobile devices) with emojis! So if a person is searching for “[pizza emoji] + nearby” and you own a local pizza restaurant and use the [pizza emoji] somewhere on your Google My Business listing — like in a Post with a special offer on a pizza order — you might have an SEO edge over the other pizzeria competitors in your city.
Not sure how to add emojis?
If you’re using a Windows computer, you can add emojis by pressing the Windows key + the “.” OR “;” key at the same time on your keyboard. The emoji list of characters will appear and you can select the emoji you’d like to include (but don’t get carried away — one emoji is enough):
When people search using Chrome on their smartphones with an “emoji + near me,” you might be surprised by what they find:
You got it! Pretty cool, huh?
But, don’t overdo the emojis — it gets obnoxious and doesn’t look professional if you go overboard.
Posts stay live for 7 days or after the date of the event. The old Posts still appear in your GMB listing — they’re just replaced or pushed down the list by the new Posts.
Posts show up prominently in mobile searches, so make your website stand out among search results by keeping your Posts updated.
Google’s Booking button feature can really help contractors stand out from the crowd. If your business that relies on customers asking for an estimate and you’re using integrated scheduling software, people can now book an estimate with your business directly from your Google My Business listing. This can make it even easier to get new customers — they don’t have to leave Google to book an estimate with you!
If you have an account with one of Google’s supported scheduling providers, the get quote button is automatically added to your Google My Business listing. Take advantage of this integrated Google My Business feature if you use the booking providers, it’ll make it super simple to get new customers.
Did you know that you customers — and potential customers — can send you text messages? This is a great way to connect directly with people interested in what you have to offer, and a great way to engage with people looking at your GMB listing (and you know that Google is always watching engagement.)
To get started with Messaging, log in to your GMB dashboard and click on “Messaging”:
You can then set up the message people will receive after they send you a message and your mobile phone number.
If you don’t want text messages sent to your personal phone number, you can download Google’s Allo app.
When you set up your Allo account, use the same phone number connected to your Google My Business account. Now when someone messages you, the message will be sent to the Allo app instead of appearing alongside your personal text messages.
The Allo app is a great way to keep your personal and business text messages separate:
This feature is still in its infancy.
As of now, messaging is only available to mobile web users and is not available to mobile app or desktop users. People won’t see the Messaging option in the Knowledge Panel or on Google Maps.
The only way someone can message your business is if they perform a mobile web search on Chrome. I am expecting Google will expand the Messaging feature once they work the bugs out.
Questions & Answers is a great feature for Google local search. Just like it sounds, Q&A allows people to ask questions about your business and you can answer those questions.
Here are a few things to keep in mind about Questions & Answers:
On mobile devices, you can see, ask and answer questions on Google Maps on Android devices and when you search for your business on mobile browsers on both iPhone and Android devices. To use Google Maps on your Android device, download the Google Maps app and sign in with the email address you use for your GMB listing.
You can’t see Questions and Answers on the Google My Business app.
No notifications of new questions show up in your GMB dashboard. To find out if you have new questions that need answering, you need to install Google Maps on your phone, log in, and check for questions/notifications.
You can also go on a mobile browser, search for your business, and see if you have new questions that need to be answered.
Google has recently started sending out email notifications letting you know that a new question has been asked, but it’s possible that not everyone associated with your account receives these emails.
TIP: Google has said that upvoting questions can make them more visible. If someone has a particularly important question, go ahead and up-vote it.
WARNING: It’s important to note that just like “Suggest an Edit” on GMB, anyone can answer questions asked of your business. Again, you want to check your GMB often and make sure you answer questions quickly and if someone else answers a question, that the answer is correct.
Unlike Yelp, which discourages business owners to ask their customers for reviews, Google encourages business owners to ask their customers or clients for online reviews.
Reviews appear next to your listing in Google Maps and your business’ Knowledge Panel in search results. Online reviews can help your business stand out amongst competitors.
Online reviews are known to impact search result rankings, consumer trust, website visits and click-through rates.
If you follow Google’s guidelines for Google My Business reviews, you can ask your customers for reviews. (However, if you violate any of these policies, your reviews could be removed.)
In the last month or two, Google made some changes to their review guidelines. They have now changed it so that current and/or former employees can’t leave reviews.
For contractors this is great news because it means that disgruntled and ex-employees with a bone to pick can no longer post bad reviews.
Google made some changes with reputation marketing software. Reputation marketing software can help filter out people who were planning on leaving negative reviews so that they aren’t given the opportunity to leave that bad review online. It is called “Review Gating” Google wants to prevent that practice, so on April 12, 2018.
They updated their review policy to include information on reviews. In general, you don’t want to discourage or prohibit negative reviews or selectively solicit positive reviews from customers.
Whatever you do, do not offer a bribe in exchange for a review. Not only does it go against Google’s terms. Do you really want to bribe or ask a friend to leave you a good review? Customers can easily see if a Facebook friend or a review is fake.
When customers leave reviews for you good or bad make sure you respond to them. This shows that customer that you appreciate their feedback, it also shows potential customers that you care.
First, don’t flip out. Everybody has a bad day and most people recognize that. They realize you can’t please everyone too.
If you have a troll that gave you a one-star review and left a nasty comment, most people with common sense recognize that review for what it is.
Asking someone to leave a review on Google is very cumbersome.
To learn more about strategically getting more online reviews, message me on my Facebook/LinkedIn/Instagram/Twitter Page or email me RJCooper@ContractorMarketingNetwork.com
The Internet used to be all about text, but the visual appeal of the Internet is what grabs MORE people’s attention and that means photos and videos. Videos are so hot that you don’t even need sound. Studies show that as much as 85% of Facebook videos are viewed with the sound off.
Some of the best photos and videos are done on the fly — and with a smartphone!
Adding photos of your business is a great way to show off your contracting business and let your customers get a good look at what your company is all about AND your customers can post photos on your Google My Business listing, too! (Imagine that!)
The ability to add photos to your Google My Business listing has been around for a while, but adding videos is a new feature that Google introduced. Don’t get stage freight. You can now add a 30-second video about your company that will grab people’s attention on the most popular place people go to search and find information: Google!
To get started, log in to your Google My Business dashboard. You will either see the “Add Videos” image on the Overview tab:
Google says that it can take up to 24 hours for the video to show, but most show up after just a few minutes. The videos should be 30 seconds long, but we’ve uploaded longer videos just fine.
Want to know how to make a video that gets attention and results? Message or email me.
For you contractor’s out there that are drooling thinking of the cool videos you can upload, hold on for just a minute. Make sure your videos are taken at you jobsite or place of business and are of people that work at your business or directly pertain to your business.
Google can remove the videos if the primary subject of the content is not related to the business.
Owners who upload videos will be shown in the “By Owner” tab. When customers or clients upload videos, those videos will appear in the “Customer” tab.
ALL of the videos will be displayed in the “Video” tab.
As a bonus, once you have two or more videos on your GMB listing, you’ll get a Videos subtab that shows up on mobile devices!
Good news! Google now allows business owners to include a business description on your Google My Business listing.
You’re allowed 750 characters in your business description, only 250 characters show up before they get cut off in the Knowledge Panel. You want to make sure that you carefully create your business description and put the important information and keywords, including your city/marketing area towards the front of the description.
Google really does review your business description to make sure people aren’t being spamming.
On a mobile device, you can only see a business’ description if you click on the About tab.
You sell services, like a roofing, tree removal, painting, asphalt seal- coating, or even a kitchen remodeling, and have a “menu” of services, the new Services list in Google My Business is a great new addition.
This feature is only available for food and drink, health, beauty, and other services businesses that don’t have a third-party “menu” link.
The “Services” list allows you to categorize and list out all your services and prices so that potential customers can easily see what you have to offer.
This list itemizes out each service you offer. To get started, log in to your Google My Business listing and click on Info. Then scroll down and you will see the “Services” section where you can add or edit your items.
This is where you can create categories, add items, and you can also add a description of each item.
If you own a service business with set prices, I recommend you include your list of services and make sure you update these services and prices if things change.
Google is always looking to improve things for searchers and you, as the owner, have your Google My Business listing. The more interaction, the better your chances of ranking higher in the local three-pack and organic rankings.
You need to keep optimizing your Google My Business listing.
As new features come out, plan on using them to keep your GMB listing fully optimized.
Google has even introduced a new notification that alerts users who have opted in to receive alerts about newly posted media on their Google My Business Locations.
Wow! (If you have someone on your team that can code, you’re at an advantage!)
Hopefully these features have given you a new reason to login to your Google My Business account and get busy!
Until our trails cross,