When you look for a local business online, what do you look for?
And, where do you look?
Lots of businesses say to trust them.
…do those businesses deserve our trust?
Before your business can stand out, you need a way to capture attention.
Next, your marketing has to show your community you’re qualified, reputable and honest.
And, show potential customers that you obsess over their experience.
Does your business rank in the local maps results?
The local maps results (or Google local 3-Pack) refers to the top three business listings that show up in the Google Search Engine Results Page (SERP).
The businesses we see depend on what we search, and where we search from. Location is a big factor in local search.
What does that mean?
For example, let’s say I search “plumbers near me” in Google. Google shows me 3 businesses in the 3-Pack that they think are most relevant to what I’m searching for. Here, the best three plumbers near my current location.
If you only do one thing as part of Building Your Digital Marketing Foundation, focus on your free Google listing.
You probably search for businesses on Google often.
So, you know people usually hire a businesses that’s at the top of search results.
When’s the last time you took a look at how your business is standing out in local search?
Who are you trying to reach online?
Before you think about listing your local small business online you have to answer two questions.
Question #1: Who is your target customer?
You gotta know your target customer. That way, you know how to reach them.
You can still sell your product or service to anybody that wants it.
But, taking a more targeted approach to marketing helps your small business stand out.
Sometimes when I come up with new ideas, people say, “everyone’s not going to like that.”
You’re right. But, based on my research, our target customers will.
And, it never hurts to try to test out new ideas. Some will work. Some won’t.
When you know more about a specific audience, you can deliver a marketing message they can relate to.
Think about some of your favorite customers. What are they like?
Where does your target customer live?
What is your customer’s biggest problem?
How old is your target customer?
What do they do for a living?
What values do they have?
Question #2: How would you find you?
It’s not a trick question. Pretend you just moved to Westchester County, NY from outside of New York. Let’s pretend you need to hire a local business like yours.
What steps do you take to find a local business?
Phone books make great booster seats, are deadly against spiders, and if you have a really old one, you might even be able to sell it as a collectors item on Ebay.
But, chances are…there’s one thing you likely aren’t doing with it…
…searching for a local business.
So, that leaves a question. If you’re not showing up in the local 3-Pack, and, we know nobody’s using the phone book…what then?
Well, if you were in your customer’s shoes, where would you find you?
If you’re like most people, you do one of two things
Go online and start searching
Ask a trusted friend or family member for a recommendation
Online marketing can seem overwhelming – but when you break it down, it’s pretty basic.
So, if you don’t like what you see when you search your business online – or haven’t searched yet – it’s time to do something about it.
If you have the time, and want to learn yourself – follow our 9 Simple Steps to Building Your Digital Marketing Foundation.
Or, if you don’t have the time or just don’t want to learn, ask a marketing agency like ours for some help.
Our Learning Center isn’t about pushing you to hire us. It’s about improving the lives of small business owners.
For us, the important thing is that reliable local small business owners like you do something to help your businesses grow.
Because, nothing can ever change in your life without action. And, your neighbors deserve reliable local businesses to work with.
Get started: Your search habits
If you’re like the 97% of people who learn more about local businesses online than anywhere else, chances are you opened up a search engine.
Even if you prefer to use a personal recommendation, most of us still search the business online. So, start there.
Think about what you do when you yourself are a customer.
Then, think about what your customers will see when they dig into your online reputation
Now run your search. Then, study the results.
Maybe you’re hungry. Let’s pretend you’re hungry for pizza.
Also, you just moved to town. So, you don’t know your favorite restaurants yet.
How do you search for businesses online?
Here’s what I do:
Think of the shortest phrase to describe what I need
I go to google.com
Type in my search phrase
Study the results
After you run the search, spend some time on the page. What do you see?
Learn from what you are observing. Then, test what you learn on your Google Business Profile (GBP) Listing.
How do you decide where you want to order?
What do the local businesses on page one have in common?
Which small local businesses stand out?
Why do they stand out to you?
Which pizzeria would you choose?
Now you have a better understanding of how you think when searching for local businesses.
Next, let’s think like your customer
Are you ready?
If it’s the first time you’re doing this, some of you will feel a little foolish.
How do I know? Well, because I felt the exact same way.
Searching your own business and industry online seems obvious.
But, we’re super busy as small business owners.
Can you really blame us for not always thinking about the obvious things?
Don’t feel bad.
Every small business owner that makes the leap from novice, to marketing pro goes through the same thing.
Everyone’s journey to becoming a pro is different. For some, you’ll read this and realize you need a change. Then, you might start working on Building Your Digital Marketing Foundation yourself.
Kudos to you!
That’s why we are giving these guides away for free. That way, everyone can use them.
For others, you might need some help with your marketing. That’s okay too. It’s why we’re here. You can be a marketing pro, while having a marketing support team.
Being a pro means recognizing when you need help
Let’s try another exercise. This time, it’s all about you.
It’s time to think about how you search for a business like yours.
Now, it’s time to see how you stand up to the local competition. What do you see now that you’re finally scoping things out.
Do you show up in Google’s top 3 business results (the Google 3-Pack)?
Do you show up on the Google search results (Google SERP)?
Choose your search phrase and search your industry
Are you happy with what you see?
How do things look? Maybe, like a lot of local businesses, you’re not happy at first.
For example, one of our full-service marketing clients is Mike Casolaro from MCAS Roofing & Contracting, Inc. They’re a local family owned roofing company.
Mike has been kind enough to let us share the story of his journey.
That way, we can all learn from each other. That’s what community is about.
When Mike did this exercise before working with us, he ran the search phrase, “roofer near me” and wasn’t happy.
His business didn’t show up in the top search results.
But, Michael studied the results.
And, with some help, began to see what it takes to capture these coveted top 3 spots.
Results before optimizing on Google Business Profile
Mike ran his own search and didn’t show up. But, he took it as a learning experience.
Together, we observed a few things
The other roofing companies showing up in the top three results had some things in common.
Consistently good reviews
Link to business website
Great review rating above 4.5 stars
Business responds to customer reviews
Contact information complete and up to date
Business constantly posts new photos
What search did you run for your own industry? Does your business stand out?
Take some time to understand what you see
Try a few different searches. If you have trouble thinking of ideas, scroll to the bottom of the first google search result. They give suggestions for you.
Does your business stand out?
Which competitors are active on Google?
When did your competitors last post?
What do the top results have in common?
How many reviews do the top businesses have?
How many reviews do top businesses have?
Are your competitors responding to reviews?
Now you see the power of listing your business on Google. Take some time to think about your local search results
Are you happy with how your business is showing up? The great thing about Google listings is that you always have time to start.
Google 3-Pack presents a unique opportunity
There’s no better place on the internet to list your local business than Google. The best part is it’s free!
Google local listings let you connect with customers by offering up to the minute contact information, offers, news, promotions, photos, videos, messaging and more.
You can manage it yourself, or have a marketing agency do it for you.
Is there a current local leader in your industry?
What do the search results look like? Is there any business that stands out? If so, how good of a job are they doing?
If you didn’t notice a clear leader in your business category popping out on Google, then you’re lucky.
You have a once in a lifetime opportunity to increase your revenues. If the path to the top is wide open, it’s that much easier to get there.
It’s kind-of-like driving home from work.
If there’s lots of traffic, it takes longer. But, if the road is open, you get home faster.
As a small business owner – the top of Google would make a lovely home for your small business.
You can drive consistent free leads with your Google listing
Most of your competitors are not leveraging Google like they should. Even the ones that do, usually don’t do everything Google tells us to do.
So, no matter what, if you follow the right advice, you can take them.
Whoever starts first has the advantage!
So don’t put this off. The sooner you’re claim, verify and optimize your Google Business Profile, the faster you see results.
I know you’ve probably heard this one before, but this stuff works. You just have to do it right.
We can prove it to you. And, you’ll have no risk while we’re proving it.
Your neighbors are looking for businesses like yours
Our research shows, people are looking for businesses like yours. We ran a survey of 70 local homeowners from the Hudson Valley, NY region. Here’s what we found.
People prefer to hire small local businesses.
82% of people agree or strongly agree with the statement “I prefer to hire small local contractors instead of regional corporate contractors”
People have a hard time finding you
Only 26.82% of homeowners surveyed said they have an easy time finding reliable contractors in the Hudson Valley, NY.