Take Advantage of Google Maps and Attract More Customers in the Monterey Bay Area

If there’s one thing to know about digital marketing for general contractors in the Monterey Bay area, it’s the importance of effective Google Maps marketing. Put simply, this refers to using the functionality of Google Maps to make your local business easier to find.

Of the many strategies that I’ve seen come and go through my experience of more than 15 years in digital marketing, I can’t emphasize enough how crucial it is to rank well on Google Maps. Some top advantages of achieving a high ranking on the popular format include:

  • Increase the trustworthiness of your business
  • Attract local searchers -- online searches are their go-to resource
  • Enhance overall local SEO efforts, including through links back to your site
  • Stake a claim to your business so your competitors can’t
  • Receive more online reviews of your business – a crucial ranking factor
  • Improve the visibility of your brand through visual Maps aspects like logos and photos
  • Prove to locals that your business exists – it essentially won’t unless you claim it on Google Maps
  • Ensure that accurate information about your business is displayed online
  • Take advantage of a cost-effective and very powerful digital marketing tool

The Local 3-Pack and Its Effects on Ranking on Google Maps

Before delving into strategies for improving your company’s visibility on Google Maps, it’s important to know about the shift that Google made a few years ago from its so-called Local 7-Pack to its current model – the Local 3-Pack. This is particularly relevant when it comes to digital marketing for contractor businesses in the Monterey Bay area, so pay attention.

Previously, Google used the Local 7-Pack, which grouped the seven top results for local searches into a distinct panel at the top of the SERPs. A few years ago, however, the search engine giant cut down that number to just three, creating the Local 3-Pack. 

Google primarily made the change to reflect the importance of mobile search; displaying seven results on a smartphone screen just doesn’t work. Anyway, Google has also stated that the last four results didn’t tend to garner much traffic.

As you will see, this change had far-reaching implications for ranking well in local maps results. In particular, it had a devastating effect on ranking well across multiple cities, neighborhoods and other areas.

 

Why a Well-Optimized Google My Business Listing Plays a Crucial Role in Effective Digital Marketing for General Contractors in Monterey Bay

When someone searches for, say, general contracting services while physically located in Monterey Bay, the location-based functionality of Google Maps – the most common way in which local results are ranked – kicks in. Therefore, Monterey Bay contractor marketing can rely quite heavily on the mere location of users to generate strong, 3-Pack rankings in organic search results.

However, if someone doesn’t have location services enabled -- or is searching for services in one place while physically located in another -- ranked Google Maps results come into play. Although customer ratings play a strong role in such rankings, another factor is even more important: The quality and optimization of a company’s Google My Business listing.

 

10 Ways to Optimize Your Company’s Google My Business Listing for Optimal Performance in the Local 3-Pack Results

Okay, now I am ready to provide concrete tips for dramatically boosting your contracting company’s visibility in Google Maps for businesses:

1. Claim and Verify Your Google My Business Listing

The first step to getting on the fast track of effective SEO for home improvement contractors via Google Maps is by simply claiming and verifying your listing on Google My Business. Using a Google account that is specific to your business, locate your company on Google My Business and claim its listing. You must then verify it by agreeing to have a postcard mailed to your company’s physical address; note that P.O. box addresses are not permitted. The postcard will have a PIN that you will then enter on Google My Business to complete the verification process.

2. Specify the Areas That Your Contracting Business Services

The switch to the Local 3-Pack drastically changed the way in which companies that service multiple areas rank across them. Where your Salinas roofing company may have once ranked well across outlying areas like Hollister and Monterey, for example, it may have only retained its ranking for Salinas, becoming nearly invisible in the SERPs for other locations.

Luckily, there are ways around this issue. First, you can specify areas that your company services by either dictating a mile-radius service area on Google My Business or by listing zip codes that your company most frequently services. The option that’s right for you will depend on how and where your business operates.

Another way to effectively rank in the Local 3-Pack for multiple areas is by using geotargeted keywords across your website and in places like image file names; location markers; service pages; and title tags. This means using phrases like “roofing company in Salinas,” “electrician in Monterey” and “general contractor in Hollister” throughout your website. However, make sure not to overdo it – and keep the content natural and easy to read to avoid being penalized by Google.

3. Use Your Complete, USPS-Approved Business Address

Visit the USPS website to confirm the precise address that the agency uses for delivering mail to your business. It will include a room or suite number, if applicable, as well as the full nine-digit zip code. Make sure that your address is displayed without formatting errors – extra spaces are a common example – and make sure that you have checked the box to actually display your business address on Google My Business.

4. Check All Applicable Categories

Another way to optimize your Google My Business listing is by moving beyond just clicking a single service category, which is required. Indeed, you can and should elaborate upon that as much as you can by selecting additional categories and subcategories that pertain to your business. For example, you might select “general contracting” as your primary category and select things like “roofing contractor,” “builder” and “masonry contractor” as additional ones.

5. Optimize Your Business Introduction

Google My Business allows you to create a unique introduction to your business that is used to provide clarity about your company and its products and services in Google Maps results and elsewhere. In addition to explaining things like what your contracting business does and where it operates, you should outline what sets it apart from the competition. Include links and keywords, but don’t overdo it. The introduction should be easy to read and helpful above anything else. If you provide a wide array of services, use a bulleted list for the sake of clarity.

6. Include -- and Optimize -- Photos

Beyond the maps themselves, Google Maps is a highly visual platform. When it comes to effective digital marketing for home improvement contractors, then, it pays to add and optimize photos to your Google My Business listing. In addition to a primary photo that appears prominently at the top of your Google Maps listing, you can include additional ones that appear when people scroll further down it. Use a third-party app to add metadata to your photos; examples of such metadata include:

  • city, geographic location and country tags
  • physical address and longitude and latitude
  • relevant keywords, including geotargeted keywords
  • additional category information
  • comments about related services that are offered by your business

7. Solicit Online Reviews of Your Business

Although it is not clear precisely how customer reviews impact a company’s ability to break into the Local 3-Pack, there’s no question that they play a crucial part in Google’s algorithms. Note first that reviews won’t appear on your Google Maps listing until you have accrued at least five of them – another reason to encourage people to post them.

Here are some ways help your business make the most of online customer reviews for more effective Monterey Bay contractor marketing on Google Maps:

  1. Use a third-party tool like Mention to continually scour the internet for mentions – or, more officially, “citations” – of your competitors -- Find out how many citations your top-ranked competitor on Google Maps has to get a feel for the standard and volume of customer reviews that you should be aiming for.
  2. Be responsive to customer reviews – even negative ones -- In fact, you should be especially diligent about responding in a transparent and non-defensive way to such reviews. It appears that businesses that are consistent about responding to online customer reviews tend to show up in the Local 3-Pack more often than those that don’t, so this is a good way to further enhance your general contracting business’s visibility there.
  3. Encourage customers to leave online reviews -- Make a point of kindly asking customers to leave online reviews of your business. You might consider using a third-party tool to make it easier for them to do so; for example, there is software that can automatically send a follow-up email with links directly to your Google My Business listing, making the process as effortless for people as possible. If customers visit your company’s physical location, consider using the Google My Business Marketing Kit to generate marketing materials, including posters and brochures, that encourage visitors to leave reviews of your company on Google.

8. Take Advantage of the Latest Google Ad Features

Google advertising for home improvement contractors is another great way to bolster your company’s ranking in the Local 3-Pack. However, many companies fail to capitalize on the latest Google Ad features, which causes them to miss out on prime advertising opportunities. Google Ads are pertinent to Google My Business because they appear across Google Maps results within the Google Maps app; on desktop and mobile versions of the Google Maps site; and on Expanded Maps results on Google.com.

The latest features that I strongly recommend employing for your Monterey Bay general contracting business are:

  • Promoted Pins – These can and should include branding and logos to help your ad to stand out even more in Google Maps results.
  • In-Store Promotions – Update your ads regularly with the latest promotions that you are offering for the roofing, landscaping or other contracting services that you provide to encourage clicks.
  • Customizable Business Pages – Customize your business listing as it appears in Google Ads to make it reflect your branding more clearly.
  • Local Inventory Search Functionality – Although not usually applicable to contracting businesses, companies that sell actual products should consider allowing people to search their inventory directly via their Google Ads.

9. Be Patient and Persistent with All of These Techniques

From personal experience, I know how eager you probably are to implement these techniques as quickly as possible. That’s well and good, but it’s important to remember that no single item on this list – nor even all of these techniques used in combination – represents a magic bullet that will catapult your company to the Local 3-Packs that you are targeting. As with things like website design for home improvement contractors and SEO for home improvement contractors, there is no “finish line” for effectively optimizing a Google My Business listing and ranking well in Google Maps results. Rather, remember to bide your time – and to continue employing and refining these and other techniques on an ongoing basis.

10. Take Good Care of Your Customers

All of the Google Maps ranking strategies in the world won’t matter a bit if you’re not doing right by your customers. Therefore, before anything else, focus on providing a stellar customer experience each and every time. Acknowledge that mistakes can and will happen, and be willing to be transparent in handling them and in making things right whenever you can. When combined with the above tips, you’ll have a recipe for true, ongoing success on Google Maps.

 

What Will Your First Step Be?

Knowing what you do now, where are you most likely to start in your journey to improve your Monterey Bay contracting business’s visibility on Google Maps? If you’ve already claimed and verified your Google My Business listing, you have plenty of other avenues yet to explore. Let me know your thoughts about how you are most likely to proceed as well as which strategies are most likely to help your company. I look forward to hearing from you!

 

If you’re looking for more digital marketing ideas for home improvement contractors, we can help! Coastline Marketing Group can answer your questions about Google Ads, Website Design, Paid Advertising, Social Advertising and more. Please contact us today to learn more about how to grow your contracting business online.

 

Article by Phil Fisk
CEO, Coastline Marketing Group, Inc.
831-789-9320

 

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contractor working and planning marketing

Contractors: Your Customers are Online – And You Should Be Too

contractor working and planning marketing

 

If you own a contracting company but haven’t prioritized establishing an online presence and digital marketing strategy, you’re selling yourself way short. Having been in the digital marketing industry for more than 12 years, I can assure you that all businesses need a solid online presence – yes, even general contractors, plumbers, electricians, landscapers, builders, renovators and roofers. In this climate, the only way to reach the next level with your contracting business is through digital marketing. This has been the case for several years now, but many contractors continue to eschew online marketing – and many don’t even have a solid online presence.

 

Why Digital Marketing is Crucial for Contractors

Consider this: As of 2019, only 45 percent of the estimated 830,000 construction companies that exist in the U.S. are growing. Sure, some may be happy to rest on their laurels, relying on traditional marketing methods like word of mouth and mailers. Those that wish to rise to the next level, however, need to understand that their competitors are increasingly investing more time, money and effort into digital marketing. From establishing a professional, up-to-date website with informative and useful content to relying on SEO to obtain top Google rankings, construction companies and other contractors that put real effort into digital marketing overwhelmingly outshine their competition and soar to new heights of success.

 

Digital Marketing for Contractors Matters – Yes, Even for B2B Firms

In my experience, contractors that provide services directly to consumers are far more likely to grasp the importance of digital marketing than those that offer B2B services. All too often, I hear owners of B2B firms say things like, “Phil, online marketing doesn’t matter if you’re selling services to other businesses.” Perhaps that was the case a few years ago, but times have changed. Consider this: 71 percent of commercial buyers start their research by searching Google for what they’re after. Among B2B contractors that have turned to digital marketing, 57 percent say that SEO generates more leads for them than any other type of marketing effort. If you’re not already prioritizing digital marketing, then, how can you hope to truly compete?

 

How Can Digital Marketing Help Your Contracting Business? Let Me Count the Ways

At this point, you may be a bit on the fence about the benefits of digital marketing for contractors. After all, as the owner and CEO of Coastline Marketing Group, I have a vested interest in convincing you to give me your business – especially if you are located in a California Central Coast community like Monterey Bay, Hollister, Santa Cruz, Morgan Gill or Gilroy. That’s not what this blog is about, though. I am here to show you that in today’s competitive world, the only way to get ahead as an electrician, plumber or other type of contractor is by putting real effort into online marketing.

 

Here are seven great reasons to invest time and effort into digital marketing for your contracting business:

  1. Improve Customer Service – Most contractors are SMBs, so they struggle to juggle customer service while providing the services that actually pay the bills. By establishing, maintaining and frequently updating a website and social media pages, a general contractor can provide information to prospective and existing customers without having to pick up the phone. Through FAQs, videos, webinars and other online content, you can provide information to people who would otherwise have to call you for it and save yourself a lot of time and effort in terms of customer care.
  2. Cultivate an Authoritative and Professional Image – Given that 97 percent of consumers go online to find and research products and services, failing to have a professional and engaging online presence is a major misstep for contractors. If someone needs plumbing services in Monterey Bay, for example, and your company doesn’t appear in local Google searches, people not only won’t become aware of its existence – they will seriously question just how competent and professional your firm is.
  3. Be Available on a 24/7/365 Basis – As any SMB contractor knows, a key aspect of generating new leads and keeping existing customers happy is being available to them. If you are only available during regular business hours, you’re certain to miss out on lots of potential business. With an effective online presence and digital marketing for contractors, you can be available to prospects and existing customers 24 hours per day, seven days per week and 365 days per year. In essence, your company will be “open” three to four times longer than it otherwise would be – and you can imagine how significant that can be for your bottom line.
  4. The Internet Was Made for Business – Although some may argue that the internet is primarily there to entertain us, myself and many other digital marketing experts posit that it was really created for business. From the start, companies flocked online to extend their reach and increase their fortunes. In 2018, nine out of 10 American adults used the internet. A whopping 90 percent of people go online to research their home building and renovation needs – and 53 percent of them begin with online searches on major search engines like Google. Through SEO and other digital marketing practices, you can help your company rise to the top of local search results – and then you will see precisely why the internet is designed for business.
  5. Increase Responsiveness – At the risk of sounding redundant, I want to reemphasize the fact that having a solid online presence, including social media pages and an information-packed website, can dramatically increase your responsiveness to customers. Whether they are prospective customers or existing ones, providing avenues through which they can learn more about your company and get the answers that they need goes a long way toward improving your bottom line. Compared with hiring a slew of customer service reps, digital marketing is extremely reliable, affordable and effective.
  6. Cut Costs – Through a well-designed website for your contracting business, you can even cut costs in many ways, making digital marketing more affordable and effective still. By simply providing sales videos, for example, you can avoid having to hire sales reps or having to go out and pound the pavement yourself, so to speak. Many contractors, including landscapers, builders and roofers, even provide online billing services. Their customers can create online accounts through their websites and then view and pay invoices and even request quotes. The manpower that would be needed to provide those services at a higher volume would be considerable, but your website could handle much of it for you for a far lower price.
  7. Getting Started is More Affordable Than You Think – As an SMB owner, you are acutely aware of every penny that you spend to market your business. Not surprisingly, many contractors are reluctant to get started with digital marketing because they assume that the initial costs will be far too great for them to manage. In reality, though, digital marketing can be tailored to suit any business and any budget. You can get a new website off the ground for far cheaper than you probably think, and outsourcing things like SEO, social media marketing and the like is far more affordable than many traditional forms of marketing.

 

Statistics Show the Importance of Digital Marketing for Contractors

In the sections below, I highlight key statistics regarding various aspects of why digital marketing is so crucial for contractors – whether they are B2Cs or B2Bs:

 

Why Having a Quality Online Presence is Crucial

If you think that having a quality website and online presence only really matters to companies that sell goods online, I’ve compiled some eye-opening statistics that suggest otherwise. Indeed, things like SEO for home improvement contractors can make a significant difference for everyone from electricians to roofers. According to Google Ads there are:

  • more than 1.7 million searches per month for contractors;
  • more than 4.2 million searches per month for home builders and design-build companies;
  • more than 2.8 million searches per month for plumbers;
  • and more than 1.2 million searches per month for roofing services.

Additionally, 80 percent of internet users own smartphones, so having a mobile-friendly online presence is equally important – especially considering that 82 percent of smartphone users use search engines to find local businesses.

 

Why Having a High Ranking on Google Matters

The stats also show that when it comes to drawing in relevant traffic, achieving a high ranking for crucial keywords on Google is a must. More than 5.5 billion searches are performed on Google every day. Having a number-one position on the Google search engine results pages, or SERPs, for your desired keywords can increase desktop click-through rates by about 34 percent and mobile click-through rates by about 31 percent. On top of that, 86 percent of users look up the locations of local businesses on Google Maps, so Google advertising for home improvement contractors is a sure-fire way to attract more business.

 

How Website Design for Home Improvement Companies Can Help

Think of your business website as a type of sales rep that is out there 24/7 promoting your company. Now imagine hiring a human sales rep who looks disheveled and is unable to speak articulately. That’s what you have if your business site isn’t up to par in terms of functionality and user experience. Considering that 92 percent of people look at websites when researching local businesses, yours needs to be as professional and user friendly as possible – and these additional statistics back that up:

  • 63 percent of users mostly rely on a contractor’s website to find and engage with them
  • 30 percent of users won’t even consider a business without a website
  • When a page loads, users form an opinion about the business within 0.05 seconds
  • 75 percent of users judge the authority and credentials of a business based on the design of its website

 

Content is Still King – Even for Contractors

For a long time now, quality content has been one of top characteristics that Google “looks at” when calculating rankings. Therefore, content marketing for home improvement companies is essential. Did you know, for example, that adding a blog to your site can increase its odds of ranking by 43 percent? Surveys have also shown that 70 percent of users feel closer to a company after viewing or reading its custom content, and 82 percent have a positive impression of a business after reading unique, engaging and informative content on its website.

 

Online Reviews: A Crucial Component to Any Effective Digital Marketing Strategy for Contractors

When it comes to online reviews, slapping a few customer testimonials onto a website won’t cut it anymore. After all, 85 percent of users don’t trust online reviews that are more than three months old, and 40 percent only look at ones that were posted within the last few weeks. When doing research for goods and services online, a whopping 95 percent of users read online business reviews. The right digital marketing strategy can help you to cultivate more consistent and effective reviews that drive business your way.

 

Don’t Forget Social Media

Finally, statistics demonstrate the importance of social media marketing for home improvement contractors. Through social media, roofers, builders and other contractors can engage in real, human interaction with prospective and existing customers, which helps to build trust and to increase the odds of generating effective leads. Incredibly, only 1 percent of contractors report using social media on a regular basis, so there’s fertile ground for companies that put some effort into doing so. Also, 90 percent of companies that engage in social media marketing state that those efforts have increased online exposure for their business, and 75 percent say those efforts have helped to increase traffic to their sites.

Have I convinced you yet? If so, how do you envision your digital marketing strategy taking shape? If not, why? I’d love to start a conversation with you regarding digital marketing for contractors and why it’s so crucial!

If you’re looking for more digital marketing ideas for home improvement contractors, we can help! Coastline Marketing Group can answer your questions about Google Ads, Website Design, Paid Advertising, Social Advertising, and more. Learn more about our digital marketing for contractors here