Claiming & Optimizing Your Google Business Profile
Marketing a home service company is all about being seen in the search results when someone searches for your services in your service area.
Companies of all sizes live, die, and thrive based on their visibility in the SERP and that goes double for local contractors. These industries are incredibly competitive with dozens of skilled competitors operating within a stone’s throw of you. So, how do you separate yourself from the pack and start earning more customers?
By claiming and optimizing your Google Business Profile.
What is a Google Business Profile?
Formerly known as Google My Business, this is a free tool that Google provides to help local businesses manage their online presence and rank in the local map pack, local finder, and on Google Maps.
Your company’s Google listing is the backbone of your local search strategy. And with nearly 56% of companies not having a claimed Google My Business listing, you have an opportunity to be the first company that people see in the SERP.
Follow this guide to learn the best practices of creating, optimizing, and managing your listing to start earning more qualified traffic and leads from the customers that matter most.
Table of Contents
- What is a Google Business Profile?
- Why should contractors use a Google Business Profile?
- Claiming your Google Business Profile
- Verifying your business listing
- Optimizing your Google Business Profile
- Handling Google Listings for Multi-Location Businesses
Why should contractors use a Google Business Profile?
In a nutshell, it’s what, quite literally, puts your business on the map. Claiming and optimizing your Google Business Profile is one of the most impactful facets of any local SEO strategy. It’s what lets you reach and market to your ideal customers in your service area.
Local SEO boils down to three main ranking signals:
- Proximity – How close your business is to the searcher and where they’re looking.
- Authority – How good your content is and how well-known your business is in the local area.
- Relevance – How much your business or content matches what the user is looking for.
Your Google listing helps you achieve all three and is a direct line into Google’s local search algorithm. Following this guide will maximize the effectiveness of both your Google listing and your local search strategy.
Claiming your Google Business Profile
Local contractors need to have control of their Google listings. Follow these steps to claim yours and secure your place in the local map pack.
Check to see if you already have a listing
Before you do anything, you need to make sure that there isn’t a listing for your business already out there. The last thing you want to do is create a duplicate listing and it confuses customers about which one is correct and has up-to-date information.
Google also doesn’t allow duplicate listings as it’s a form of spam. If you have duplicated your information, either by accident or on purpose, your local visibility can be impacted and your account can ultimately be suspended.
To see if you already have a listing:
- Go to google.com
- Search for your business name
- Look for a knowledge panel with your company’s info
If you don’t see a knowledge panel, there isn’t an existing listing and you’ll need to create one. If there is a panel, you’ll need to claim it or request access to it.
Claiming an existing Google listing
You can find your company’s business listing by searching for your company name on Google search or Google Maps. Look for an “Own this business?” hyperlink beneath the NAP data (name, address, and phone number) in the Knowledge Panel. If you’re on Google Maps, look for a “Claim this business” link.
Clicking either of these links will send you to a page where you can send a request to be added to the account as a manager. All you have to do is click the “Request Access button”.
Before you request access, be sure to double-check the Gmail account you’re logging into since Google will use that email address as the requesting party.
After you’ve requested access, Google will send the request to the account owner and they’ll have 7 days to confirm or deny it. If they don’t do anything, you’ll be given access to the account at the end of the 7-days.
This is also important to remember because you will get spam requests from scammers, and potentially shady competitors, looking to get access to your account. Pay attention to these requests and only approve ones from known email addresses.
Creating a new listing
Google has made it incredibly easy to create a business profile from scratch. All you have to do is:
- Go to https://www.google.com/business/
- Sign in with a company Gmail account
- Enter the exact business name
- Select your primary business category
- Add the address for your primary physical location
- Select the cities or zip codes for your service area
There are other fields you can fill in, but you don’t have to do them right away. I’ll cover them in more detail later since they’re more about optimizing your Google Business Profile instead of creating it.
Regardless of whether you’re making a new listing or getting access to an existing one, make sure that you’re using an email that your company owns. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to go through the process of reclaiming a Google listing for one of my clients that had an ex-employee claim and verify their listing for them.
Verifying your Business Listing
Google doesn’t allow unverified listings to be visible in the local map pack, the local finder, or on Google Maps. So, while it’s great that you’ve created or claimed your listing, you need to get it verified for it to mean anything.
There are a few ways to verify your Google Business Profile:
- Postcard: Google will send a postcard to the address listed with a verification code inside.
- Email: You’ll receive an email with a verification code.
- Text message: Google will send an SMS message with a pin code to verify your listing.
- Video: Upload a video of your location with your street name and number or your signage visible.
You may have all or only a few of these options available to you depending on what type of business you run. I’ve had clients that could only upload a video to verify their listing and others that had all four.
While you’re verifying your listing, your profile may be listed as “Pending Review”. Your listing won’t be visible or able to be found in Google Maps or the Local Map Pack until you’ve proved that you’re an actual business.
Optimizing your Google Business Profile
Many companies think that all they have to do is claim their profile and call it a day. That this is all they need to do to show up in the map pack, but this is how you get mediocre results. Use the tips below to optimize your Google My Business listing and cement your spot in the local map pack to get more qualified traffic that turns into hot leads.
Fill out every field you can
There’s a ton of valuable information in your Google business listing. In addition to the fields from earlier, you can add info about your:
- Hours of Operation: List what days and hours your business is open. You can also add special hours for the holidays or certain events.
- Phone Number: Enter your local number, not an 800 or 866 one, to show that you’re a local business.
- Website URL: Add the URL for your homepage since it’s the best option.
- Appointment Links: Add a URL to your contact page or appointment scheduler to give users a direct way to make an appointment with you.
- Products: Create listings for your products to help prospects learn more about what you have to offer.
- Services: Create listings for each of the services you provide to help prospects get a better idea of what to expect.
- Company Attributes: Highlights specific aspects of your business, i.e. Woman-owned business, veteran-owned business, wheelchair accessible, Appointment required, Staff wears masks, curbside pickup, online appointments, etc.
- Summary: Open text field where you can describe your business and what you do in less than 750 characters.
- Founded Date: When your company was created.
- Photos: Add photos of your location, trucks, technicians, and job sites.
You should fill out every field possible. Remember, your business listing acts as a homepage for your business. Potential customers can see every piece of important information that they might be looking for. You want to make this info available and at their fingertips so they’re more likely to get into your sales funnel by clicking through to your actual homepage.
Add high-quality pictures of your physical location
Pictures are probably the most important things you can add to your Google business listing after your company’s information. This can be a major driver of qualified traffic from local searches since profiles with photos get 35% more clicks to their websites than those without pictures.
You may be tempted to use stock photos, and I get it. It’s faster and easier than getting a camera, staging all of the different shots, reviewing the images, and then picking the ones that look the best.
However, having pictures of your trucks and your technicians with your branding is far more powerful than some generic shots of Joe the Plumber or Tom the Roofer standing next to a white panel van or pretending to be working in an empty model home. There’s also the fact that Google will likely flag and remove any stock photos that get added to your profile.
Be sure to regularly upload eye-catching images to your profile to build your brand, improve your visibility, and give your customers a preview of what they can expect from your business.
Earn & respond to Reviews
Your company’s reviews have a major impact on both your ability to rank in the local search results, and whether or not potential customers will want to do business with you. Think about what you do when you’re about to buy something online or hire someone to do a job for you. What do you do? You check out their reviews.
You want to have an idea of what to expect from your transaction. Reading about what other people have experienced is a huge trust builder and helps your prospects feel more confident in the decision they’re about to make. Confident customers are customers that make decisions.
“High-quality, positive reviews from your customers can improve your business visibility and increase the likelihood that a shopper will visit your location.”Google Business Profile Support
Reviews are especially important because Google uses the information practically everywhere. Your review score is on your Local Service Ads, your Google Maps listing, in the local map pack, it can show up in the SERP, and it will undoubtedly show up anywhere else Google plans on using it in the future.
You’ll also want to respond to every review you get, both good and bad. Doing this shows your potential customers that they can expect responsive customer service when working with you and that you’re taking an active role in managing your business.
And don’t use canned responses either. This is lazy and comes off as insincere. Take the time to write a brief personalized message to each person that made the effort to give you a review.
Add the Products that you offer
One of the more overlooked features is the ability to post your products directly in your business listing. Showcasing the most popular products your company sells drives customer interactions and funnels new potential customers to the items you know they’ll be interested in.
To post a product, click on “Product” in the left nav menu of your Google Business Profile Manager dashboard or click on “Add Products” in the product section of your knowledge panel if you’re signed in.
Simply fill out the form and include the following information:
- Product image: Add a high-quality photo with a solid background to make it eye-catching.
- Product name: Be as brief as possible. You only have 58 characters, but only 16 characters are visible on desktop.
- Product category: Assign the product to the correct category. If you haven’t made any yet, you can select “Create a new category” to create one. Try to keep the organization as similar to your site navigation as possible.
- Produce price: Set the price for the product, if applicable. This field is optional so you don’t have to set the price if your products have variable pricing models. You can add a price range by clicking on the toggle next to “Show price range” to add the minimum and maximum prices.
- Product description: Take this opportunity to cover the benefits of the product and what it does for the customer. You have up to 1,000 characters so make them count. Be sure to use relevant keywords too!
- Add a button: Including a button on your products will add a link that you can point to that product’s page on your site. Be sure to use a UTM parameter link to properly attribute where the traffic to your site came from.
Add your company’s Services
Similar to Products, adding Services to your listing can help teach Google everything that your company has to offer your prospects. It’s also a great way to generate more click-throughs to your site from the search results.
Click on “Services” in the left nav bar of your GBP manager dashboard to start adding services. The primary and secondary categories you picked earlier will be auto-populated here and your services can be nested underneath them.
You can add up to 10 total categories (1 primary and 9 secondaries), but you really shouldn’t go over 4 total unless they’re hyper-relevant. Having too many categories can confuse Google about what it is you actually do and have a negative impact on your visibility.
Click on “Add another service” and Google will show a modal that has suggested categories that already exist and give you the option to create custom ones. If you don’t see the service you’re looking for, click on “Add a custom service” near the bottom of the modal and enter the service’s name.
Once you’ve created your service, you can click on it in your dashboard to edit the details. You can add:
- Price: You have 4 options to choose from – No price, Free, Fixed, and From.
- Description: Give a brief rundown of your service and keep it under 300 characters.
You can add as many services as you want under each category, but I recommend that you don’t get spammy. Think of this as a way to replicate your site navigation except on your Google listing.
Regularly publish Posts on your profile
Posts are a way for companies to share more about what’s going on with their business. You can also use them to put important info in front of your users, direct users to specific pages on your site, tell them about an upcoming event, and much more.
Four Types of Google Posts
- What’s new: General information-based posts that offer a lot of freedom with their content.
- Offers: Create limited-time coupons to offer discounts on your products or services.
- Events: Get the word out about a seminar, webinar, charity event, or any other type of event that you’re hosting.
- Product: Just like adding a product to your GBP dashboard.
“What’s New” is the most used Google Post type since it’s the most versatile. These posts stay on your profile indefinitely and companies have 1,500 characters to share the latest news, post a micro-blog, or whatever they think might provide value to their users.
Add your FAQs to your Q&A section
The main reason why people search for anything is that they’re looking for answers. They might have a toilet that keeps running and they need to know how to stop it or maybe their fence was blown over by a recent storm and they need a fencing company to fix it. They might even be looking for a particular AC unit since theirs just died on them.
All of these people need answers and the Q&A section of your Google Business Profile is the perfect place to provide them.
You can either wait for users to post a question or you can post them yourself. Regardless of how you get them, you need to answer them quickly so your answer is the one that earns the likes and stays at the top. Try to keep your responses brief, but as descriptive as possible. People will only be able to see the first 440 characters of your answer so make them count.
Be sure to keep an eye on the questions that are being asked. Your Q&A section can be a great source of leads with customers asking if you provide a particular service or if you carry a certain product that they need. Just respond quickly with the answer and prompt them to get in touch with you for more help.
Claiming your Google Business Profile and optimizing your listing will help customers find your business. It’s the backbone of your local search strategy and can be the difference between showing up in the local map pack or being buried on the second or third page of listings.
Just follow the steps outlined above and you’ll start getting more traffic, leads, and phone calls that turn into booked jobs. If you need help managing your GMB listing, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us to speak with one of our local SEO experts.