From house painters to window cleaners, HVAC contractors to pest control specialists, service-based businesses are looking for new and innovative ways of leveraging Google for leads. Sure, it helps to have a robust website. But getting quality local traffic that converts is about more than throwing up a WordPress site and calling it a day.
In 2019, 2020, and beyond, it’s about owning the SERPs in the spot that matters most… the map pack. And this doesn’t only apply to brick-and-mortar shops.
Service Area Businesses (SABs) are dominating Google Maps these days, largely thanks to digital marketing professionals like you and me. Whether it’s for our specific clients or for our own lead generation businesses, these SABs are among the top mechanisms for us to accumulate leads and grow.
Let’s explore the 5 best strategies for optimizing your Google My Business listing as a Service Area Business today.
Google My Business updated its service area formatting recently, no longer allowing businesses to place a broad coverage range on their listings.
For example, if you are a pest control specialist in Hartford, CT, you can’t say that you serve clients within 50 miles of your location. Instead, you’d list the nearby cities to your main location, like so…
Be sure to list all the nearby locations that you serve, since proximity is a massive factor in ranking a GMB listing. I typically add the county of my main location as well.
Images are an increasingly important component of Google’s algorithm, both as they appear on your site as well as on your GMB listing.
It’s important to use images that satisfy one of two requirements, a) showing products or services related to the business, or b) showing specific landmarks in your city.
Let’s break these down in more depth…
- Showing products or services related to the business
Google’s Image API is a valuable tool you can use to determine how Google sees your images. Simply upload them here and Google will show you what entity associates exist.
If you’re a plumber, you need to show images of your team working on fixtures, bathroom equipment, and other tasks relating to plumbing, as well as team photos, trucks, logos, and other branding elements. Uploading each photo to the Image API is critical for understanding how Google ranks your images, and ultimately how they rank your business’s web properties based on entities.
- Showing specific landmarks in your city
Another component of entity association for local businesses is, well, location.
If you’re operating a business out of a big city, you can use your surroundings to your advantage.
The above example shows the iconic Los Angeles City Hall. This image is ranking on a local plumber’s site. This entity association is also helping the plumber rank its GMB for the coveted term “plumbing Los Angeles.”
The magic sauce for ranking a SAB right now is the ability to tie in your main service offerings with your location.
If you can post these photos both on your site, as well as on your GMB page, you’ll be in great shape.
This leads us to the next key point of optimizing your service area business’s map pack listing…
It may seem like Google Posts are a new phenomenon, but they’ve been around for a couple of years!
They are a really useful tool for promoting events, specials, and products in a catchy manner. Once again, images are a major component of these posts. Using prominent branding and visual cues will improve click-through rates and lead to more conversions.
The “offer” feature is one of the most valuable aspects of these posts, allowing you to add special pricing and discount codes to entice prospective customers. Include a call to action phrase like “Act Now” or “Book” to encourage visitors to go on to your website and complete their booking.
There’s no exact methodology for Google Posts. Other than creating content around each special or offer you promote, it’s wise to publish posts at least 1-2 times per month. Of course, there’s no harm in posting more often rather than less often.
The most important factor about these posts is that you’re using relevant images (that register necessary entities in Google’s Image API) and you are including a few important keywords sprinkled into each post’s content.
This sounds self-explanatory, but getting reviews from Google account users who have posted to other businesses in your city is hugely important.
Remember that whole entity thing we keep bringing up? Well, part of that entity discussion involves location. Since Google views and classifies service businesses according to their service offerings + location (proximity), it’s vital that your reviews check both of these boxes.
“But I can’t dictate who is leaving me the reviews and what they are saying, can I?” Technically, no. However, there are ways you can tactfully encourage better reviews.
When you reach out to past customers, simply ask them to address a specific service you provided them by name. For example, a plumber might ask “We’d love to hear feedback about the bathroom remodel we provided you, can you address what parts of the service you were most pleased with?” This will encourage reviewers to mention services by name, helping you rank better for each local service in the map pack.
Once reviews are posted, it’s your duty to respond within your GMB dashboard. No matter if the reviews were positive or negative, this interaction will show Google that you’re an active business who cares about customer service. This will help you SAB rank!
Having your name-address-phone number on as many additional web properties as humanly possible needs to be your top priority.
Even though service area businesses do not serve customers at a fixed location, Google still wants to see your business details on a few dozen high-level business directories. This gives your business an extra level of legitimacy and can even improve your map rankings.
Citations can be time-consuming and tedious, which is why it’s recommended that you hire a DFY citation service.
The key to dominating the local SERPs is your amount of activity. Stay busy creating Google posts, responding to reviews, and incorporating relevant photos to show Google that your service area business deserves to be ranked.