First launched in 2014, Google My Business (GMB) is a free platform offered by Google that highlights information about a business.
Basically, Google My Business is the modern-day version of the Yellow Pages, and having an updated, optimized listing is equivalent to having a full-page, color ad.
You’ll probably recognize Google My Business listings as the cards that show up on the right-hand side of the screen when searching for a local business on Google.
It is found next to any paid ads you have on the search results page, along with any organic results like your website or social media pages.
Over the years, Google has integrated Google My Business into search engine results meaning that if your Google My Business listing is not up to date or hasn’t even been created yet, it is likely damaging your SEO and your organic ranking!
Think about it; nobody searches for ‘roof repair near me’ on their Friday afternoon coffee break.
In the home improvement industry, people who search for your service are likely really close to making a purchase. Especially if there has been a storm and insurance claims are up for grabs.
What does this mean for contractors?
It means if you don’t want to miss out on any leads or potential customers, you need to make sure that your Google My Business listing is not only active but optimized so that your business can show up at the top for any local searches related to your business.
How To Activate Google My Business?
Creating a Google My Business listing for contractors is so easy that it can be done in 4quick steps!
And if you are unsure if you already have an account, don’t worry; this will help you out too.
Step 1: Do a branded Google Search to see if you already have a listing (enter your company’s name into the search bar on Google and see what shows up). This will either let you know whether you’ll have to create a listing or claim one that was automatically created as your own and do some editing.
Step 2: In the case of the latter, you’ll can scroll down the listing until you see blue text that says “Own this Business?”. Click on that, and it will prompt you to log into your Gmail account associated with the business and claim the listing.
Step 2.5: If you did your branded search and found that there wasn’t already a Google My Business listing for you, you can create one here.
Step 3: Next, you’re going to choose a verification option (the most common is via mail) and enter the code provided. It is important not to do any edits to your account during this time, as you will need to get another verification code every time you edit during this period. Note that the verification process can take up to two weeks!
Step 4: Do another branded search to see your brand-spankin’ new (or updated) GMB listing!
Pro Tip: What’s most important here is that all of your information, especially your address is written the exact same way across everything (your website, social media, and Google My Business listing)so that Google can place your business at the one location, allowing you to show up on the map pack for local searches!
How To Optimize Google My Business
Now that you know what a Google My Business listing is and how to set up and verify your listing let’s talk about how you can optimize it for your contracting business.
By logging into your company’s Google My Business account (through the Google My Business Dashboard), you will be able to edit the listing.
As we all know, there is a good, better, and best to everything, and today we are going to show the 10 best Google My Business practices that will set you apart from your competitors and help you generate more local leads.
1. How to Upload Photos and Videos to Google My Business
We all know the power of photos, especially in the home improvement industry.
Photos allow homeowners to get an inside look into the work you are doing and what kind of results you are getting.
If a homeowner is planning on getting their bathroom remodeled, they will want to see the type of work you have done in the past to see if you will be the right contractor for the job.
Normally, before Google My Business, homeowners would have to go to a contractor’s website or social media channels to see pictures. This was a hassle as it required the homeowner to have to work in order to see your products and services.
Let’s face it. Nobody should have to search to see your beautiful bathroom remodeling jobs; they should be right smack dab in the middle of your online presence.
This is where Google My Business for contractors comes in to save the day!
Once logged into your account, you’ll be able to upload pictures in different sections—for example, the overview section, the exterior section, and more from the top menu.
You have the option to set up a cover photo, which is what will be shown first on your Google My Business account. The cover photo represents the first impression you get from homeowners, so it is imperative that you upload a clean, professional photo of your company or team to capture their attention. After that, homeowners can then click on the ‘see photos’ to view all of your photos that you have uploaded.
Here are the four best practices you’ll want to follow:
Each image should be smaller than 10 MB in size
Each image should be a minimum of 720 x 720 pixels
Each image name should follow this format (or close to it): Company_Name_City_Business_Category
You should upload at least one photo for each section of your Google My Business profile
Pro Tip:You can never have too many photos or videos. Keep your account updated regularly with relevant content!
2. Geotagging Photos for Google my Business
This falls in the same section as photo and video, but because it is a bit more complex, we have it as a stand-alone point.
Geotagging is the process of adding geographical information to various media in the form of metadata (data about the data).
It typically consists of longitudinal and latitudinal coordinates that can help search engines see the association between the specific photo and the location.
This is KEY in getting found locally on Google.
Most smartphones automatically geotag your photos when you take them unless you have that feature turned off.
If you are using a device to take photos that does NOT have GPS location settings built-in, the location services have been manually turned off, or you have previously taken photos that you know were not geo-tagged, no worries!
Follow these 6 steps to geotag your photos like a pro:
Step 2: Search for your company location on the map with the red pin
Step 3: Upload the desired image(s)
Step 4: Click Write EXIF Tags
Step 5: Click download to get a new photo with the geotagged information
Step 6: Upload that photo to your Google My Business account
Pro Tip: Upgrading to the “Pro Version” of this software is only 10$/month and if you plan on regularly keeping your GMB account updated with photos and you value a more user-friendly experience, it might be worth it to upgrade!
3. Google my Business Category Examples
Selecting the correct categories for your your Google My Business listing if you are a contracting business is a must & here’s why:
A whopping 84% of business profiles on Google My Business are found through indirect searches. Meaning that homeowners are not looking for “Kingdom Roofing Systems” when they need a new roof, but instead “roofers near me.”
To snag that 84%, you want to be sure that your categories are selected correctly so that you will show up in the right types of searches.
This is especially true for contracting businesses whose ‘category types’ aren’t present in their company name. For example, contractors with a name like “Red Nail, LLC.” will want to triple check their category listings to make sure they aren’t missing out on those indirect searches!
Google My Business for contractors allows you to choose one primary category and up to 9 secondary categories.
Here are the 3 best practices to follow when choosing your category:
Be as specific as possible
Choose secondary options that are relevant
Edit your categories according to seasonality (if necessary). [For example, HVAC contractors should have their category set to “Furnace Repair Service” in the winter and “Air Conditioning Repair Service” in the summer.]
As you can see below that this contractor used three of the 10 available categories, with siding contractor being their primary.
From this, we can tell two things:
1. They likely have a business name that isn’t representative of what services they provide (ex. Red Nail LLC.), so they want to make sure they are covered in terms of categories.
2. They really want to rank for exterior remodeling jobs such as siding.
We know plenty of contractors who either have their home address or warehouse as their business address.
But what if you don’t want people showing up at either of those places?
While Google My Business does require you to have a physical location (where you can geotag your photos too, and have your verification code shipped to), you don’t have to be restricted to just that area!
This feature is ideal for contractors who chose to work in specific locations in and around their city. You can select up to 20 service areas that you are willing to work in, which lets homeowners know right off the bat that you will be a good match simply based on location.
The only catch is that your service areas can’t extend past 2 hours driving distance from your primary location.
Being able to specify those areas makes your Google My Business listing more likely to rank for prospective homeowners who are further away from your primary location but still within the area you serve!
Here are some best practices to follow when updating your service area:
List your hours for your service area. If you are a 24hr company or you operate out of standard operating hours- this is a must!
Research your competition to see how you can improve your Service Areas based on theirs. Are there any locations that are being missed?
Pro Tip: As a contractor, you probably spend the majority of your day out of the office. You might want to look into downloading the Google My Business App to ensure that you can get quick access to your account, whenever you need!
5. Google My Business Services
One of the latest additions to Google My Business is the addition of the Services Section, which gives contractors who use it another huge advantage as it helps rank in those indirect searches.
For example, a homeowner may search ‘kitchen cabinet replacement,’ which may be hard to rank for organically as your category and business name is centred around interior remodeling.
However, with skilfully selected services in your Google My Business listing, you can skate right around that issue and add in the most popular services you provide to help you rank higher in the indirect local searches.
Dying to update the services section in your Google My Business listing?
To add or edit your services, follow these 5 steps:
Step 1: Sign in to your Google My Business account
Step 2: Select your primary location
Step 3: From the menu, click Info
Step 4: In the “Services” section, click Edit
Step 5: Add your sections and items
Services businesses (I’m looking at you contractors), can choose from a suggested list of services, or create their own.
For example, exterior remodelers could add “Window Replacement” to their service list.
Here are 2 best practices you should consider when defining your services:
Don’t be afraid to be specific about what services you do and do not provide. The more hyper-specialized you are in your offerings, the more qualified your leads will be.
Adding descriptions with relevant keywords to your services can give you that extra boost!
Pro Tip: There is also an option to add prices, but due to the high and varying ticket prices of home improvement services, we recommend just leaving them blank.
Here’s an example of what one home remodeling contractor did with their Google My Business listing.
They took full advantage of the services section and listed a strong portion of all of the services they provide. This will be a huge advantage for them when looking to rank for specific services rather than just ‘exterior home remodeling.’
6. Google My Business Post Examples
This is one of our personal favorite features!
It gives contractors an opportunity to highlight their content, give company updates, or offer up any promotions they may have.
The best part is that this content is being shown to people who are already looking for you; you won’t be competing with photos of baby animals like your typical social media channels.
You don’t even need crazy headlines and eye-catching images.
Adding your link to schedule an appointment with you in your Google My Business account sets you up in a position to catch that 70% who you would have otherwise not booked with you!
Homeowners want convenience, and with the wide variety of online scheduling platforms, there isn’t really any excuse for you not to be utilizing these tools!
Bonus: If you don’t already have an online booking platform, we recommend checking out Calendly.
Once you have your scheduling URL, follow along these 4 steps to add this to your Google My Business listing:
Step 1: Log in to your GMB account and select your primary location
Step 2: From the menu on the left-hand side, click Info
Step 3: Scroll down until you see a section titled Appointment Links
Step 4: Press the pencil and paste your URL into the box and click Apply
Here are the three best practices to keep in mind when adding an appointment link to your Google My Business listing:
Check your link regularly to make sure it is working properly
Try to stick to adding only one link (GMB gives you the option to add multiple)
If possible, make sure your landing page for the URL is branded and your messaging is clear. The last thing you want is homeowners thinking they clicked on spam!
Pro Tip: Google doesn’t correct or notify you if you put in an invalid link, so be sure to check it after you apply it. It usually takes around 5 seconds to load on your public listing once applied in your account.
8. Questions and answers
Each Google My Business listing offers a section for questions and answers. With this section, anyone can ask or answer any question about any business in the world.
The more robust your Q&A section is, the more likely you will show up higher for more searches, especially if your questions and answers are chock-full of relevant keywords!
Sounds great, right? But if you are a bit of a control freak, your heart might have skipped a few beats at the thought of other people answering questions about your business.
Well, no fear! We will walk you through our fool-proof process that will keep your Q&A section under control and on-brand.
First, let’s talk about the benefits of having a Q&A section:
You’ll be able to better qualify your leads
Your will rank higher in more searches
It will save you time answering the same questions multiple times
You’ll meet customer’s expectations
You will gain insights as to what homeowners want to know about your business.
There are a ton of benefits of utilizing and maintaining a Q&A section that can help with your sales and marketing tactics. The insights you will gain will be invaluable when onboarding new customers!
Let’s circle back to the concept of how anyone can ask AND answer questions.
The reality is that this user-generated content can be a double-edged sword.
Contractors need to properly manage their account in order to reap the rewards of this feature!
Here are some best practices to follow to ensure that you are getting the most out of this feature:
Download the Google My Business App, and turn on your notification so that you can be the first to see all new Q&A’s
Monitor and answer every question
Populate your Q&A page with FAQ’s (this will also help you with qualifying your leads!)
Upvote important Q&A’s so they appear in the knowledge panel (click the thumbs-up icon)
Flag any questions or answers that are: off-topic, spam, inappropriate, or incorrect
Pro Tip: Q&A’s including advertising, email addresses, or phone numbers other than your company’s goes against Google’s policies. The process to remove these is manual, and after reporting them, Google should have them removed within a week. This is especially helpful for any negative comments that have any of these elements!
9. Google My Business Reviews
Let’s talk about reviews.
We all love them, but sometimes we don’t know how to get them.
With service businesses, there is no trial run like software uses to gain trust.
For contractors, having a robust, hearty Google review section is like the ‘free trial’ option.
People will always want to know what people are saying about you and your business before they make a purchase with you.
You’ve got to test-drive the car before you buy it, right?
However, the key piece that most contractors miss out on here is that they don’t ASK for reviews; they simply just hope that they will magically appear.
With homeowners, not only is it about asking for reviews, you need to make sure that you are asking at the right time and offering the right resources.
In your Google My Business listing, the number of reviews and your total amount of stars will show in your listing AND in your name on the map pack. So it is vital that you not only have a handful of reviews but that they are quality reviews.
Step 1: At the beginning of the job, mention that you’d love to get a review from them once the work is complete. This makes your ask more predictable as they already had it in their minds that they would be asked this.
Step 2: Ask homeowners for a review right when they are most satisfied. Maybe this is after their insurance claim went through, after their free estimate, or once the job is completed.
Step 3: Provide the tools to make writing a review easy. Sending homeowners an example review AND the link to your Google My Business listing immediately after you made the ask can make a world of a difference. People love convenience!
The same goes for your Google My Business account. Without the ability to track and analyze your account’s metrics, there will be no way for you to know how to improve and optimize.
If you have just created your Google My Business account, let it run for about a month and then come back to it to explore your analytics.
To access your insights, follow these 3 steps:
Step 1: Log in to your Google My Business account
Step 2: Click Insights on the left-hand side menu bar
Step 3: Scroll down to see what metrics are being reported
Your insights can provide you with information about:
Types of searches being made about your company (direct, discovery, and branded)
Where your customers viewed your company on Google
What actions customers take on your listing
The areas where customers are requisition directions to your business
Date, time, and number of phone calls
Number of photos viewed vs. similar companies around you
Amount of photos vs. similar companies around you
Did you catch all of that?
The power of Google My Business Insights is undeniable. All you have to do is use this data correctly to create experiences for homeowners to give them the ‘wow factor!’
What are the best practices for Google My Business Insights for contractors?
Regularly check your insights (we recommend once a month)
Track and compare data for long periods of time to see how you can improve(What patterns do you notice, and what does that tell you?)
Make use of downloading your data. You can use this link to download your insights
Pro Tip: As of March 2020, Google is currently the midst of transitioning into a new version of Google My Business Insights which will be called Performance. Minor changes to the metrics will happen, but the big change will be in the look and feel. To find out more, check out this article.
Google My Business for contractors is a powerful tool when it is optimized correctly; it allows contractors to rank higher on organic local Google searches.
Just like we talked about earlier, local is key!
Your contracting business is serving local areas, so it is paramount that it can be found by local homeowners in their searches.
With an optimized Google My Business listing, you’ll be able to:
Show up in the map pack
Rank in more local searches
Rank higher for unbranded/indirect searches
Engage and delight homeowners before they enter your website
Grow your brand over time
And the list goes on…
All you have to do is follow our guide to make sure these 10 features of your Google My Business account are active and optimized.
So, what next?
Be sure to regularly check these 10 features every couple of months to make sure everything is not only working, but updated. A simple calendar reminder never hurt anyone!
One Final Pro Tip: Although we stay on top of the game to provide you with the most up-to-date information, we recommend you check the Google My Business announcement board occasionally to make sure you never miss a beat!