A homeowner needs to find a local propane company. You’ve got one guess for what they do first: They do a Google search for “propane companies near me.” When the Google search results load, is your company showing up in the top three search results? Consider these statistics:
- The first page of Google captures 71% of search traffic clicks
- The first five search results receive 67.6% of clicks
The bottom line is that if you’re not showing up in the top five of local search results, your competitors are the ones getting the business.
Pushing Your Site to the Top Takes Work
A lot goes into boosting your small business’s search presence — too much to really contain in one article. That’s why this article is a two-part series on how to push your website to the top of search results.
In part one, we’ll dive into how Google My Business (Google’s tool for managing your business profile on their site) can boost your search rankings. In part two in March 2022, we’ll be talking about content strategy to improve search engine optimization (SEO). But before we get into strategy, let’s explore the basics.
Understand the Basic Anatomy of a Search Page
There are three components that dominate the top section of search results: paid search ads, the local three-pack and organic search results.
Paid Search Ads
Paid search ads are an effective way for local businesses to increase traffic quickly — because you’re paying for it. Growing traffic organically takes time. Paid ads are a way to “skip the line” and plant your propane company at the top of the search results as soon as possible with an investment of $1,500 or more per month in ad spend.
The “local three-pack” refers to the top three search results that show up in a tidy little box — often with a map — near the top of the page. For a local service business, this is the key area you want to dominate.
Appearing in the local three-pack is most effective for businesses with good ratings and reviews, which will show alongside your business information. One study found that 56% of consumers chose a local three-pack business if they had positive reviews and ratings.
Organic search results are based on how relevant Google deems the page to be to the prospect’s search query. Showing up high in organic listings requires you to have high-quality, relevant content that both your prospects and Google like. Growing organic rankings can take time, but it’s a worthy effort.
How ‘Google My Business’ Can Improve Your Company’s Local Search Presence
Forty-six percent of searchers are seeking local results. To give the people what they want, Google has focused on improving local (or “near me”) searches. This helps locally based service providers like you appear higher in searches, if they are optimized for location-based searches.
To make a good first impression with Google My Business, think of your listing as your Google homepage. Your listing shows up in the sidebar when someone searches for your business and displays the name, number, website and address. Many local businesses have one of these listings, but not enough of them use it to their advantage.
How to Optimize Your Google Listing
1. Claim Your Google My Business Listing
Eighty percent of users rely on search engines to find local information. But, according to a recent study, more than 56% of local businesses haven’t claimed their Google My Business listing. That means the other 44% of local businesses are scooping up all the online leads. Taking ownership of your Google My Business listing can single-handedly improve your propane business’s local SEO ranking. Claiming your Google My Business listing is a simple process that should take less than 15 minutes. Here’s what you need to do:
- Search for your business on Google and click “Own this business link” on the business profile card
- Enter business details, including name, address and phone number
- Make sure you fix or remove any duplicate accounts, so as not to confuse searchers
2. Add Professional Polish to Your Profile
To get that professional polish, nail down the basics first. At minimum, you should add your hours, services and a brief description of your business.
Next, add robust information to your Google profile that will set you apart. Make a great first experience for your potential customers by creating a complete profile that answers as many questions as possible:
- Types of payments accepted (prove it’s easy to do business with you)
- Service area (confirm that you are local to your prospect’s area)
- Answer frequently asked questions, or FAQs (from propane tank sizes to delivery hours, answer the top questions your service reps receive in the FAQ section)
The next step is to add professional photos of your team and office. Don’t underestimate the value of a personal touch. Photos help you show your presence and can make customers more confident in your professionalism.
Exterior and interior office photos can be helpful if customers visit your office to pick up tanks or pay bills. On-the-job photos show your team delivering propane, installing tanks or providing excellent service, creating a great impression for potential customers.
Finally, create Google posts promoting offers on your profile. These can serve as lead generators directly from Google. Promote your latest tank installation offer; new customer deals; or heating, ventilation and air conditioning coupons right in your Google listing.
3. Win & Engage With Google Reviews
Eighty-four percent of users trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation from a friend. Help make the decision easy by winning more reviews than your propane competitors.
A robust number of Google reviews also helps push your company higher in search results. The trick to getting Google reviews is simple: just ask.
Once you receive Google reviews, respond. Not only does it help show you are appreciative and engaged, but it will also help manage your reputation after the inevitable bad review.
Improve Local SEO & Drive Sales
Your schedule is packed, especially now during the busy season. But it just takes one afternoon to set up and optimize your Google My Business account. After that, you only need an hour or so each month to maintain it. For such a small time commitment, nothing will do more for your company’s sales than optimizing your Google My Business account.
We’ll be back next month with the second part of this series, where we will dive into the content you need on your site to help potential customers find you on search engines.