Search engine optimization

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By Ray Litvak

Gone are the days when running an ad in your local Yellow Pages directory is enough to get by in business. Let’s face it, running your contracting business the way your grandfather did won’t work very well in 2019.

To prosper in today’s economy, you need a competitive edge. That’s where the internet comes in. According to a recent survey of internet users reported on eMarketer.com, eight out of 10 respondents said a search engine was their top choice among digital and non-digital sources used to research local businesses. Specifically, 80 percent said they used a search engine to find a local product or service in the week before the survey, and 87 percent used one in the past month. Respondents cited a company website as their second choice. Printed white and yellow pages had the lowest reach in use last year.

In a nutshell, search engines are the new Yellow Pages. Moreover, according to Search Engine Journal, when it comes to search engines, Google dominates with over 75 percent of all internet searches. The remaining 25 percent happen across YouTube, Amazon, Bing and a few smaller players that inhabit the space.

A level playing field

On the internet, it doesn’t matter if you’re a national chain or an independent contractor. Online, you can compete with anyone, so long as you have the right online marketing strategy.

For those new to it, the online world has a variety of marketing options. Some can seem complicated—and expensive. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be that way. You can get your business listed and ranking on Google in a matter of days and, in some cases, for free.

How can I get my contracting business on Google’s Search Results?

The most common ways to get your business found and to rank on Google include:

AdWords (Pay-Per-Click): fee-based advertising that gives you instant exposure on Google

Local Service Ads: fee-based local advertising that also gives you instant exposure

Organic Search Results: free listing with rank based on Google’s proprietary algorithm

Google My Business (GMB): free local listing with rank based on Google’s local algorithm

Is fee better than free when it comes to advertising on Google?

Google My Business (along with Google Maps) is a type of advertising called Local SEO (search engine optimization) and is the focus of this article. It’s an effective way to rank in Google Maps and generate new business — all at no charge to a verified business owner.

Who can use Google My Business?

Google My Business is perfect for service-based businesses that cater to a local market. These types of companies make in-person contact with customers during specific hours.

The most common service-based businesses that qualify for a Google My Business listing are:

  • Brick and mortar storefronts (i.e., dry cleaners, restaurants)
  • Service Area Businesses – SABs (i.e., contractors, carpet cleaners)
  • Hybrids (i.e., pizza restaurants that also deliver)

Contractors are set up as Service Area Businesses (SABs) in GMB, as they provide services on-site within a local radius of their home base. Within GMB, they can choose targeted cities and categories that they want to serve.

Why should I list?

Should I list my company on Google My Business?

These days, a company is conspicuous by its absence. If your business does not appear in a search for its brand identity, it raises doubt in the minds of consumers and may bring your businesses credibility into question.

Local shoppers expect to find your business here; especially when searching for your corporate name. Google My Business allows you to have a free business page. Consider it your official landing page on Google.

What are the benefits of being on Google My Business?

Easy-to-use tools let you create a corporate presence in Google Search and Maps. When a search happens for your brand, its local GMB page should appear in Google’s Search Results.

A complete GMB profile lets you tell searchers what they need to know about your business to make an informed buying decision, including:

  • Business Name, Address and Phone Number (NAP)
  • Primary Category, i.e. Plumber
  • Pictures of your business
  • Reviews left by customers and third-party sites
  • Videos of your business
  • Areas served by your company
  • Google Posts (place mini ads about your business i.e., sales, events etc.)
  • Business description and FAQs

You can even create a free mobile and responsive website within the GMB platform.

Often, Google My Business becomes the new Home Page of many local businesses.

Research has shown that customers are twice as likely to view a business as reputable with a verified Google My Business listing.

Getting started

How do I get started on Google My Business?

GMB is easy to use. A business owner must first claim or register their GMB listing. Visit this link https://www.google.com/business/ to start the process. Sign in to your Google My Business account or create a new account if you don’t already use the service.

Once you’re signed in, click the button at the top right of your screen. Next, type your business name in the fields; Google will check if a page already exists on Maps for your business. If so, click it to continue. If your business is not on the list, add information about your business so that Google can create your listing.

Note: If your business does exist, you may see that someone else has already claimed it. If you’re the owner of the company, click Request ownership and follow the on-screen prompts to claim your business. Learn more about how to request ownership of a business

Upon adding or claiming your business information, you’ll have the option to verify your business. The most popular verification method is by postcard. It really is a postcard!

If you opt to receive a postcard, it will arrive within five to 14 days, depending on your location. Once in hand, log in to your Google My Business account and select your business. You’ll then be asked to enter a PIN (usually a five-digit code) found in the postcard. Enter the code and follow the instructions to verify your business.

Once verified, you can now *Optimize your GMB listing to rank and generate new leads for your business.

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