How to get on the Google Map for Roofing Contractors…
If you are just getting started in Internet marketing for your Roofing Contractor Business and are trying to get an idea of how to get your company listed on the Google Map, this is a great place to start. I am going to cover the core fundamentals of what the Google Map is, how it works, and what you need to do to at least get the ball rolling in the right direction towards getting you placed on the map.
Fundamentally the Google Map or Google My Business listing is what shows up when you type in your city plus your services on Google. Up along the top, and along the side is the pay per click, and in the center at the very top of the results page is typically the map listings or what we call Google My Business or the Google Map listings. Directly below that in local search is what are typically the organic listings. There is a lot of information about search engine optimization, meta tags, meta descriptions and all of the like but really this is a totally different realm of search engine optimization known as Google My Business Optimization.
So, what do you need to do in order to make sure that you are listed on that map, and more importantly make sure you are showing up on page one over time? There are a number of things you can do, and there are multiple layers of complexity, strategies and things that you can do. The most important thing you can do from the starting point perspective is to go to http://www.Google.com/MyBusiness.
Google has set up this website for business owners to tangibly claim their Google My Business listing. If you go there you are going to see two different buttons. On the left side you are going to see one that says, “Consumer / Write Reviews.” On the right side it says “Business Owner? Get Started.” Obviously you want to click on the one that says, “Business owner? Get Started,” and what that will do is take you through the process of claiming your Google My Business listing.
The latest statistics indicate that more than 89 percent of users or businesses haven’t claimed their Google My Business listing. This creates a great opportunity for your to beat your competition to the punch. One of the first things you want to do is go to “Google My Business” and claim your listing so you can at least make sure it’s got all of your right information. Your phone number, your website address (if you have one) description of what you do, some pictures, maybe some coupons. More than anything else make sure that you have control of your own business listing on Google.com, in the places listings.
Some things to be aware of as you claim your Google My Business listing. The process is relatively simple. If you have got a Gmail account or some type of Google account, Google will recognize that and let you use that to claim your Google My Business listing. If you don’t, you’re going to need to go through the process of establishing your Google account. So that you can claim your Google My Business listing.
Once you have logged in, you will need to type in your phone number and company name. Then, the system will search the Google My Business directory to see if you already exist in the database. In most cases if you have been in business for any period of time for more than a year, you’re typically going to show up on the list already. So Google will pull up your existing listing and ask you to confirm it’s your and claim your listing. If you don’t, there is another process that will let you add yourself to Google My Business. So if you’re a new business or if for some reason you don’t already exist in the Google My Business directory, you would press “add new listing.”
In either event it’s going to walk you step by step through the process. You’re going to type in your company name, address, and phone number. You’re going to make sure all of that information is correct. A couple of things to pay attention to as you do that.
Make sure that you use your actual company name. So if you’re, “Roof Tech Incorporated,” make sure that you name it, “Roof Tech Incorporated,” and not some other facsimile thereof like “Roof Tech Roofing Services” or “Roof Tech, Your Dallas Roofing Company.” Don’t add additional key words in that name. It’s against the Google My Business rules and policies. Make sure you keep your name, the actual name of your company.
It is important that you establish your NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number Profile) and that it consistently referenced the same way across the web. That it’s showing your company name, phone number, and address the same way every time. As a starting point, if you’re getting started with Google My Business, make sure that you make it very simple. And that you use the same methodology for naming yourself across the board. Same with your address. If you’re at 105 SW 10th Street, Suite 105, use that same exact wording. If you’re going to use SW use SW. If you’re going to spell out Southwest, spell out Southwest. If you’re going to use your suite number, “Suite 105”. Make sure you either list it, or you don’t list it, and decide whether it’s going to be “unit number” or “suite number”. List it that same way every single time.
Moving on, once you have added the fundamentals, make sure you add your website address. This is very important. If you don’t have a website, I definitely recommend getting a website setup. I’ve share some ideas on different posts on what the best website formats are, and what pages you want to build to your website from an SEO perspective. Suffice it to say, add your website there. It’s obviously going to drive links to your website, but it is also going to make it easier for your customers to get to you when they do find you on the map.
Update your company name to read “Your Company Name”. Don’t add any additional information here.
Directly below that, you have categories. You want to, obviously, choose the categories that most specifically match what your business does. Don’t add yourself to categories that aren’t relevant. You can add five categories. So, if you’re a [Niche Type] contractor. You can choose the obvious ones from the drop down, “[Niche Type]”. That’s really the only default one that is available.
You do have the option to create custom categories. You might want to add a custom category for “water damage cleanup”, “water damage repair”, “emergency plumbing”, etc. That way you’re making sure that you’re categorizing yourself as well as possible. But always exercise the already available categories as much as possible, as opposed to creating some unique category name.
Moving down the list, the next thing that you see is the ability to upload photos and videos. I encourage you, you need to upload as much content here as possible because Google is looking for a complete profile. The more information that you have in there the more complete your profile appears. You can upload upto ten pictures & five videos. Try and use real pictures. Always upload first either your logo, or a picture of you in front of your truck, or a picture of your truck. That way you’re putting something up that is a representative of your company and not just some stock photo. Try and upload pictures that are representative of your organization. So your logo, pictures of your team, etc.
I love to get a team shot. If you have got three guys, 19 guys, or 150 guys, get a picture of the whole company standing in front of the building Or standing in front of a van or standing in front of your vans in an order.
That helps people quickly look at who you are and get a grasp.,”Wow this is an enterprise that has some bulk to it, and there are people behind it that drive this business.” My preference would be logo first, then photo second, with a picture of everybody standing in front of the truck, or standing in front of the building. And then an individual shot of the owner, maybe if you’ve got technicians in your company, pictures of your technicians, pictures of your van by itself, pictures of some of the equipment that you guys happen to run. If you’re members of the local chamber of commerce, members of the BBB these are the types of photos that you want to put in your Google My Business profile. Save those images with key words specific naming. So, if your first image is your logo, call it “your company name – your city service”. If you’re Joe the Roofing Contractor Specialist in Dallas, you might want to name that first image” Joe the Roofing Contractor specialist dash – your Dallas area Roofing Contractor”.
Video. You can upload up to five videos, and the videos connect through YouTube. Don’t miss out on this opportunity. You should absolutely upload all five videos here. Even if they’re not going to be super hi tech. Break out the iPhone, break out the video camera. Shoot a video of yourself / the owner, just explaining who you are and what you do, and what makes you unique. E.G. “ Joe the [Niche Keyword] is a full service [Niche Type] contractor, servicing the Dallas market. We do this that and the other, we provide emergency service where available to come out to your place of business or home. Anything, anytime, 24 hours, seven days a week. And as a special incentive if you reference this video you can save 20 dollars off your service call.” Something along those lines. Just a video that is a representative of who you are and what you do. What we find is, having a video, obviously it’s going to help build out your Google My Business profile which improves your probability of showing up on the map, because information is power in the Google era.
It’s also going to help people resonate with your organization. If they can feel like they get to know, like, and trust you before they have to decide whether they are going to call you or not. It improves the probability of getting that call, and getting that piece of business. So, upload five videos to YouTube and then connect them to your Google My Business listing. Ideal scenario: ten pictures, five videos.
The next section is the Service Area. You can select your Service Area based off your location & miles included in your service area. Try to make this a legitimate representation of your true service area (don’t over do it).
The last field on the Google My Business listing is additional information. Here you will find basically just two fields. One on the left, one on the right, and it basically lets you type in whatever you want. In a lot of cases, people left to their own devices will get to that section and just press submit, then feel like they’re done. This is the area where you can really add a lot of valuable content, a lot of specific information about who you are and what you do, and the specific services that you offer. What I like to do within that section is to create the first field which says, “Services Offered.” Right next to it list out all of your services. Again, if you’re a Roofing Contractor Specialist you would say, “Roofing Contractor services” – “emergency restoration, bathroom remodeling, water heater repair, leak detection, slab leak repair, and on and on.”
Then the second one would be, “Brands Serviced.” So you want to get in your brands. If you’re an AC contractor in this environment, you might want to put, “AC units serviced and installed.” Then you would type in “Rheem, Ruud, Trane, and list out all of your brands”. You can be really creative here. You can also go to the next one and say, “Areas Serviced.” Then in the areas serviced section, you can then type in all of the little cities in and around your main city that you happen to service. So that gives you some ability to, really, add some additional keyword rich information into your Google My Business listing, and enhance the probability of showing up for additional key words.
Once you have got all of those things filled in. And you feel comfortable that you have got the right images, you have got the right description, you have got the right content listed in the additional information, then, you go to the next step and press “Submit.”
This is where the verification process takes place. Google gives you two options for verifying your listing. Depending upon if it’s a new listing, sometimes they don’t offer the phone verification process. Typically, you have the choice verify via phone, or verify via mail.
I always encourage you, if you do have the option, to verify via phone. Just to go ahead and verify via phone, because it is an instantaneous process. You press verify via phone. You will get a message indicating that Google will be calling that number with you PIN. Whatever your business number is. As soon as you press submit, a call comes into your business line. So make sure you have got someone available to answer that call directly. It will be an automated system that calls with a message like “this is Google, your pin number is 43625″ for instance. Then, you type that into your Google My Business account online. You have now officially claimed and verified your Google My Business listing.
If you don’t have that option for whatever reason, and I have seen cases where Google is not making the phone verification process available, then you need to press “Submit” to verify via mail. Then you would receive a post card, via the mail, within typically within three to five business days. It has a pin code just like the other option. It takes a little bit longer this way but at least you get your pin and you are able to log back in and verify your account and be off the ground.
Now once you have verified your Google My Business listing, now you have the ability to go in and post status updates, add coupons, special offers, or promotions. I would encourage you to log back into the account. Up on the top right hand corner you will see, “Dashboard” and on the right you will see, “Offers.”
You have the ability to upload as many offers as you want. So, create offers. Whatever coupons you offer to your customers make them available there. “$25 off any service call by mentioning this coupon.” Or “10% off any service call.” Or “$150 off new, tank less, water heater installation.” Whatever offers you want to make available. Because offers, again, make your listing a little bit more attractive to the end users.
Fundamentally, that’s where you want to start. You want to go to www.google.com/places, build out your listing as I have described. And now you have got a placeholder and a higher probability of showing up on the Google map. I wish I could tell you it is just as easy as that and you’re going to be on Page One for your City + Your Service. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple, because there are hundreds of businesses in your area, if not thousands, all doing the same type of thing. A lot of them have claimed their Google My Business listing. So, at this point it really doesn’t give you a free pass to the front of the line. But it does get you on the list.
Really, the next step in getting placed on Google My Business on the map, is obtaining consistent name, address, citation profile across the web, and getting online reviews from legitimate users. When I say establish, consistent name, address, phone number, profile across the web, we talked about the fact when you claimed your Google My Business listing, you wanted to use the same name, address, and phone number across the board.
Now what you want to do is make sure that you have got yourself on other important online directories. Because Google looks across the web and it says, “OK, Joe the [Niche Keyword], in Dallas has a Google My Business listing, but where else are they listed online?” They look at a lot of different places. They look at Yahoo Local. They look at Bing Local. They look at CitySearch. They look at Angie’s List. They look at YP.com. They might look at Dex. They look at MerchantCircle. And the list goes on and on.
They pull data from info providers like InfoUsa, and Axiom. So, in order to improve your probability, you need to make sure you’re showing up in all of these different places with a consistent name, address, phone number, and profile.
That’s another thing Google looks at. Just making sure that you’re credible, and that you do exist on other online directories.
The other really important thing you need to do, in order to improve the probability of showing up on the map, is to get reviews from real customers online. You will notice that the companies showing up on spots A F on page one have a tendency to have a large quantity of reviews.
I will point out that you don’t want to try and game the system on reviews. It might be easy to think, “I’ll just go out there and set up a bunch of accounts and I will write up a bunch of reviews, and I’ll have 55 reviews on my account then I should be good to go.” It’s not that simple.
Google does have algorithms in place to prevent people from gaming the system. Really they are looking at the reviewer’s profile. In order to write a review on Google My Business, you have to have a Gmail, or a Google account. Google knows the historic profile of those that have Google accounts. They watch their search trends. They have IP information which gives them information about where they are located. A lot of cases, they have entered and volunteered that information. “I’m located at this address, and they have frequented these types of web sites.” So Google has a pretty good idea who legitimate users of their Google search engine, one of the most frequented sites in existence. They have data on just about everybody. If you’re trying to game the system, Google will catch that.
You want to make sure that you have a process within your business to solicit reviews from legitimate people who have used your services. I have got a whole podcast available that explains our review acquisition process, and our review acquisition system, which includes sending an email out to the people in your sphere of influence, asking them to write a review. Printing up some review cards and systematically handing them out to your customers after service. Telling them, “Hey, if you would, please write us a review on Google My Business, CitySearch, or some of these other places.”
We also have a tool that we have got available through www.nearbynow.co/Companieseo that gives you the ability to, through a mobile device, have your technicians check in at the place of service. Whether that be, at a business or at a home, and check in on the mobile device, indicating that you’re there. That GPS data, is captured and can get passed to Google to help them know exactly what your true service area is. Then automatically send an email to the customer after service saying, “We appreciate your business, please write us a review.” We have found that to be the ultimate strategy for really passing your authentic service area data to Google and getting reviews on a consistent basis. Again that’s nearbynow.co/Companieseo. We’ve got a whole series of information on that. How it works, and why it’s valuable.
Again just to cover the fundamentals of what you want to do from a starting point to really get started on Google My Business and get the ball rolling in the right direction. First, go to www.google.com/places. Claim your Google My Business listings with some of the specifications that I defined earlier.
Then, really get aggressive with your name, address, and profile information across the web. Go onto websites like; CitySearch, Angie’s List, and Judy’s Book, and make sure that you’re listed there and that your information is consistent.
Then, launch an aggressive process for getting reviews from authentic customers.
If you start to do these things on a consistent basis you will start to show up on the Google map, in your area when people search “your service + your city”.
How to claim & optimize your Google Map Listing
There are a number of best practices that you want to be aware of to properly optimize your Map listing.
- Company Name – Always use your legal Company Name – don’t stuff additional fields into the Name Field. E.G. If you company name is “Joe’s Roofing “ don’t try to stuff additional keywords like “Joe’s [Niche Type] – Dallas”. This would be against the Google My Business Guidelines and will reduce your probability of ranking.
- Address – On the “Address Field” use your EXACT legal address. Be intentional here. You want to ensure that you have the same address listed on your Google My Business listing as it is on all the other online directory listings like YellowPages.com, CitySearch.com, Yelp.com, etc. The consistency of your N.A.P (Name, Address, Phone Number Profile) is very important for placement.
- Phone Number – Use a local (not 800#) and use your real office number rather than a tracking number. We find that 800#’s don’t rank well. If you use a tracking number it won’t be consistent with your other Online Directory Listings and ultimately won’t rank well.
- Categories – You can use upto five categories, so use ALL five. Be sure to use categories that describe what your business “is” rather than what it “does”. So you can use “[Niche Keyword]” “[Niche Type] Contractor” and “Water Heater Repair Contractor” rather than “[Niche Type] Repair” or “Drain Cleaning” the latter would be considered a violation of Google’s regulations and would hurt rather than help you.
- Service Area & Location settings – Google offers 2 options here 1. No, All customers come to my location 2. Yes, I serve customers at their location. As a home services business you need to select “Yes, I serve..” because clearly you and your technicians are visiting the customers at their location. Not doing so can result in a penalty on your listing.
- The next option once you click “Yes, I server customers at their location” is “Do not show my address”. If you work from a Home Office it is required that you select “Do not show my address” not doing so puts you at risk of having your listing deleted.
- If you don’t have a Business Address or a Home Address to list the only other option is a Virtual Office. Unfortunately P.O. Box Addresses & Mail Boxes Etc. Addresses don’t tend to rank well.
- Picture & Video Settings – You can upload upto 10 pictures & 5 videos. Use this opportunity to upload authentic content about your company. It’s always best to use real photos of your team, office, equipment rather than Stock Photos.
- Pictures – You can get more juice from this section by saving the images to your hard drive with a naming convention like “your city + [Niche Keyword] – your company name” rather than the standard file name. You can also create geo context for the photos by uploading them to a video sharing site like Panoramio.com (a Google Property) that enables you to Geo Tag your photo’s to your company location.
- Vidoes – Upload VIDEOS. They don’t have to be professionally produced and can help to resonate with your customers. A best practice is to upload the video’s to YouTube and then Geo Tag them using advanced settings.
Once you have Optimized your listing using the best practices referenced above, you want to be sure that you don’t have any duplicate listings listed on Google Maps. We have found that even just one or two duplicate listings can prevent your listing from ranking on page one. In order to identify and merge duplicate listings run a search on Google for “Company Name, City”.
To clean up duplicate listings, click on the listing in question and then click “edit business details”
- Then click “This is a duplicate” and let Google Know that the listing should be merged with your primary listing.
If you follow these best practices you will have a well optimized Google Maps listing for your [Niche Type] Business. The next step is to Establish your NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number Profile) Across the web.
GOOGLE MAP OPTIMIZATION TIPS
Now that you have claimed your Local Business Listing on Google, Yahoo & Bing you need to take additional steps to improve your placement on the maps in your
- Establish a Consistent NAP– You need to establish a consistent NAP
(Name Address & Phone Number) across the Internet, on your website, as well as on the major Data Providers (InfoUSA, Super Pages, Yelp, City
- Consistent Name – Pick the format for your name & stick with it e.g.
“ER [Niche Type]” not “Emergency [Niche Type] Services”.
- Consistent Address – If your address is 1267 SW 29 St, Suite 10 you want to be sure that it reads that exact way and not 1267 SW 29 St #10.
- Consistent Phone Number – You want to use the same number on each of these sites (if you don’t, it will hurt you).
- Use a LOCAL not a Toll Free Phone Number.
- Get Reviews – Reviews are a key determinant of placement within the Map Listings.
- The number of reviews of your local listing is a key determinant in placement.
- As a practice, you need to request reviews from your customers in order to get them. A strategy that we use takes a three-pronged approach:
- Send an initial email to your client database asking them to write a review of your company on Google and provide them with the URL to your Google My Business page.
- Keep an open ear for happy customers and ask them if they would be willing to write a review. If so, get their email at that moment and let them know that you will be sending them an email with the link to write the review.
- Have a “Review Us” card printed and give it to your customers after service.
- Build out your Places Page – You have the option to upload photos, videos and coupons (where applicable)
- Fill your Places page with quality content. Add all 10 photos your office, staff, company logo, coupons / special offers, fleet and equipment
- Upload a video or two. These videos don’t necessarily need to be high definition or professionally produced. Break out your digital video cam era or even your iPhone and take a few choice shots. Record yourself (the owner or manager) explaining who the company is, what you do, and what your unique selling proposition is.
- Select the Right Categories – You have the option to choose up to 5 categories.
It is very important to select the appropriate categories and/or add new custom categories, as needed.
- Increase your Citations – All things being equal, citations are a key determinant of placement. Just like in SEO where in-bound links determine placement with local listings, citations determine placement. He who has the most quality citations wins.
- Citations are listings across the web that contain your NAP (Name Address & Phone Number) with or without a link.
In order to build up your citations:
- Add yourself to the local directory sites where you are not currently listed.
- City Search
- Super Pages
- Insider Pages
- Search for “your industry, directory”
- Search “your city, directory”
- Look at the listings of the people who have spot A, B & C on the Map for your services and look that their citations. In
many cases you can go out and get those same citations!