Here are 7 simple things you can do to make sure your website is offering the user experience and value your customers deserve.
#1: Optimize for Voice Search
One of the biggest problems I see with websites is that many are using keywords that haven’t been updated in years. The days of short, generalized keywords are long past. Instead, focus on voice search, which is already important and on the rise.
As of 2020, 50% of all searches will be voice-based. With virtual assistants like Siri, Alexa, and Cortana more popular than ever, it’s safe to assume that a hefty percentage of the people who land on your site will get there via voice search.
#2: Add Structured Landing Pages
Structured landing pages have content that’s easy for Google to interpret. They provide context for your content and identify how it relates to your metadata.
The best-known tool for structuring your content is Schema markup. Schema provides a vocabulary that web developers can use to structure data around people, places and things on the web.
When you add Schema markup to your site, it delivers rich snippets and rich cards as part of your search result on Google -- making it easy for users to choose your site over the others that are available.
#3: Update Your SEO
Optimizing your website takes times, which is why a lot of companies do it only when they notice a big drop in their traffic. If it’s been a while since you updated your SEO, then it’s time to take another look. Why? Because Google updates its algorithm constantly.
The most important update in the past few years has to do with relevance. Google Rank Brain, which is now part of Google’s search algorithm, prioritizes sites based on their overall relevance to the term being searched. It measures bounce rates and the amount of time visitors spend on your site. The longer you can get them to stay – something that’ll happen if you provide tons of relevant content – the better off you’ll be.
#4: Be Ready for Mobile
There’s really no reason for any website not to be mobile optimized at this point. Google rolled out its Mobilegeddon update back in 2015. That’s when they started to penalize sites that weren’t mobile optimized.
It’s not enough to have a mobile site now. You need a site that’s perfectly optimized for mobile users. That means that mobile visitors can get the same content and functionality as a visitor using a desktop computer regardless of which device they’re using.
Some things that are particularly important are having buttons that are right-sized for mobile users, content that’s easy to read with no teeny fonts or horizontal scrolling, and access to ALL the relevant content on your site – not just a few things.
#5: Gather Some Social Proof
Social proof can take many forms. Some of the most common kinds of social proof are:
#6: Improve Your Page Loading Time
How quickly does your website load? If the answer is more than four seconds, then it’s a virtual certainty that you’re losing visitors as a result. After just three seconds, approximately 53% of mobile users will navigate away from a site and try another one. The numbers are just as bad for desktop users.
The problem with not updating your website often is that technology keeps moving. You can use a free online site loading speed testing tool such as Pingdom to see how fast your site loads. If it’s not making the grade, you’ll need to upgrade it to ensure that you’re not losing customers faster than you can attract them.
#7: Update Your Call to Action
Calls to action are everywhere – in every marketing email you send and on every landing page you create. However, not all CTAs are created equal. And if your calls to action are outdated and tired, then you might be losing subscribers and leads as a result.
Think about the opt-in form for your mailing list. What’s the call to action? Does it just say SUBSCRIBE or SUBMIT? If it does, then it’s time to rethink it and give it some spice.
I’m a big fan of calls to action that emphasize something positive about subscribing to your list. Here are a few examples:
I also like the idea of using humorous opt-outs because I think they nudge people in the direction of subscribing. Here are some opt-outs that could pair with the calls to action above:
Your website might be out of date, but it doesn’t need to stay that way. The 7 quick fixes here will help you give your Google rank a boost and ensure that you’re not missing out on leads and subscribers because your website’s more vintage than modern.
The trick, of course, is creating a loyalty program that does both. There are lots of different options, including referral programs.
So, with that in mind, let’s talk about loyalty programs. Should you create one? What benefits and features are best for your customers and you? Here’s what you need to know.
The Benefits of a Loyalty Program
Let’s start by talking about the benefits you’ll reap if you start a loyalty program that appeals to your customers. There are several that make loyalty programs a must for marketers and business owners.
Features of a Successful Loyalty Program
What features should your loyalty program have? There’s no one correct answer, but there are some things that most successful loyalty programs offer. Here are the ones that you should seriously think about working into your program:
Ideas for Loyalty Programs
Here are some suggestions for how to structure your loyalty program in a way that makes customers want to participate.
Once you get your loyalty program going, track the results and use what you learn to fine-tune your structure and rewards. Your customers will let you know if something’s working – and your bottom line will reflect their increased loyalty.
So, with that in mind, let’s look at where social media marketing is now, where it was, and where it’s likely to go in the future. After all, taking a wide view is a good way to plot your social media strategy going forward.
Facebook is Still Number One
Facebook is by far the number one social media platform for businesses. To give you an idea of just how popular it is, let’s look at some statistics:
What’s the takeaway here? It’s still worthwhile for small businesses to advertise on Facebook. Here are a few tips to help you figure out where to spend your Facebook marketing budget:
Instagram is the Fastest Growing Social Media Site for Marketing
A big part of that growth is due to the increasing popularity of Instagram Stories for business. It might surprise you to learn that 500 million people use Instagram Stories every day and fully one third of the most popular Stories ever posted were created by businesses.
Let’s talk about what that means for your marketing strategy. Here are a few key takeaways.
Instagram Stories are hugely popular and hugely effective. By a 2-to-1 margin, consumers in the United States say they prefer to get brand information from Stories instead of in their feeds.
Instagram users respond best to Stories that do one or more of the following things:
Keep in mind, too, that Instagram is a mobile app. While you can view it online, most users access Instagram on their mobile devices. That makes it an ideal platform for mobile marketing.
Twitter is Fading Fast
Twitter still has millions of daily users, but it’s not the marketing powerhouse it used to be – and it may never regain its strength and popularity.
For example, Twitter announced in the third quarter of 2018 that 326 million people use Twitter daily. That number represents a loss of four million users from the previous year and nine million from the previous quarter.
Twitter argues that the reduction is the result of more aggressive policing of automated posting and the elimination of so-called “bot” accounts. However, it’s also telling that they haven’t updated their statistic about the number of Tweets per day (500 million) since 2014.
What does this mean for the future of Twitter marketing? Well, it’s a mixed bag. Total ad engagements increased by 50% from 2017, and the cost per engagement went down by 14%.
If you’re not already using Twitter, then it may be okay to cross this one off your list unless you have very good reason to believe that your existing customers want to see you there. (It’s also interesting to note that Twitter is slightly more popular for B2B marketing than for B2C marketing – something to keep in mind if you’re B2B.) However, if Twitter’s in your marketing mix and getting good results, there’s no reason to pull out at this point.
LinkedIn is the Place for B2B Marketing
Approximately 80% of B2B marketers say that LinkedIn is their number one marketing platform. Fully 45% of all LinkedIn users are in upper management – which means, of course, that they’re decision makers in a position to use the platform to make buying decisions.
In many ways, LinkedIn is the dark horse of social media. It hasn’t experienced the exponential growth of Facebook and Instagram, but its slow and steady rise is one of the reasons it hasn’t been subject to the same drama and scrutiny as Facebook.
One of the most important things for business owners to know about LinkedIn is that organic reach is better there than on other social platforms, due in part to their algorithm. It filters out spam and low-quality content and prioritizes what it calls “clear” content.
Another thing that sets LinkedIn apart is that every post is reviewed by a human editor. Ultimately, they’re the ones who’ll decide if a post is relevant.
You can benefit from LinkedIn for B2B marketing by posting business and job-related content that’s relevant to your industry and connections. That’ll get it past the algorithm filters and the human ones – and give you a chance for your content to go viral.
The social media landscape might be changing, but there’s still plenty of reason to be optimistic. Staying abreast of trends – and using them to figure out how to allocate your marketing budget for social media – can help you edge out the competition and grow your business.
But, in these days of social media marketing, by far the most popular and impactful kind of proof is social proof.
What is social proof? Why does it matter? And – most importantly – how can you use it to come out ahead of your competitors and grab the lion’s share of your target audience?
What is Social Proof?
Let’s start by talking about what social proof is. It’s what happens when people talk positively about a product, service, company, or any other commodity.
Social proof can take multiple forms. For example:
There are some psychological reasons that explain the effectiveness of social proof.
Why Social Proof Matters
Social proof matters because social proof works. In fact, it’s extraordinarily effective because it does the work for you. People might not take your word for how good your products or services are, but they’ll take other people’s word for it.
Research shows that about 86% of all consumers – and 95% of consumers between the ages of 18 and 34 – read online reviews before buying a product. In fact, they read an average of 10 reviews before a purchase.
It’s also interesting to note that more consumers are getting savvy about reviews. The same study found that 40% of consumers in 2018 only read reviews that were recent, meaning they were no more than 2 weeks old. That’s up from just 18% in 2017.
Here are a few other key facts…
Tips for Using Social Proof in Your Marketing
How can you use social proof in your marketing? Here are some tips and examples to get you started.
Encourage (and Respond to) Reviews
Reviews are still the most popular kind of social proof. As a business owner, you can encourage reviews by:
Get a Professional Seal of Approval
Not all social proof comes from consumers. Sometimes, it comes from a professional certification or acknowledgement of your product’s worth.
This type of social proof has been around for a long time. Decades ago, Good Housekeeping magazine offered its seal of approval to products. Today, you can get a professional seal of approval by applying for and receiving a professional certification or cultivating relationships with reporters to get press mentions.
Tap into the Wisdom of the Crowd
You already know that FOMO is real. One way to tap into social proof is to take a page out of Netflix’s book. The streaming giant highlights popular TV shows and movies for streaming. They know that when people are talking about something, the ones who haven’t watched it yet won’t want to miss a chance to get in on the conversation.
You can accomplish that by highlighting your best-selling products or services on your website or social media.
Finally, you should consider using influencer marketing to get the social proof you need to boost sales. Influencer marketing focuses on getting recommendations and endorsements from influential people, often on social media.
Keep in mind that an influencer doesn’t need to be a celebrity. Most small business owners can’t afford a celebrity’s price for influencer marketing. What you can do is find people who have authority and clout in your niche or industry and get them to talk about your company.
Social proof isn’t new, but it is growing in importance. The ready accessibility of online reviews – and the ease with which consumers can research companies – means that no local business can afford to ignore social proof.
Blogging by the Numbers
A massive study of blogging, which reviewed 912 million blog posts, revealed some helpful information that can help you improve the performance of your business blog. Here are some of its key findings.
Backlinks are still one of the most important ranking factors for Google. The blogging study found that long-form content gets 77.2% more links than short-form content. That’s a huge difference, but it also has its limits.
The study also found that there was a sharp drop-off in links once a post crept over 2,000 words. But, that said, 94% of all the posts analyzed had no backlinks at all.
It’s also worth noting that some post formats and titles get more backlinks than others. The three most popular post types for backlinks were:
You might think that blogging can help you out on social media, but the numbers don’t bear that out. For example, there’s no correlation between social sharing and backlinks.
It’s also interesting to note that very few blog posts perform well on social media. The study found that 1.3% of “power” posts generate 75% of all social shares.
There were some specific findings about the length of headlines (longer headlines get more shares) and questions (blog posts with questions in the headline get more shares than those without questions.)
List posts are more likely to be shared than other posts, too – and by a significant amount. They get 218% more shares than “how-to” posts and 203% more shares than infographics.
The so-called ‘sweet spot” for getting your blog content shared on social media is between 1,000 and 2,000 words.
One final statistic to inspire you: one study found that blogging can improve your chances of getting a high rank on Google by as much as 434%. How’s that for an impressive number?
Tips to Improve Your Local Business Blog
The data from that study is useful because it can provide you with a framework to improve your business blog. Of course, there’s more to worry about than backlinks and social media, but other bits of data from the study point in a direction that may be useful.
With that in mind, here are 5 tips to improve your blog.
#1: Create (and Stick to) a Blogging Schedule
The first tip is to blog regularly and stick to a schedule. There’s some evidence to suggest that blogging four times a week is optimal. In fact, companies that blog at least 16 times per month get 3.5 times as much traffic as companies that blog between 0 and 4 times per month.
16 blog posts might seem like a lot. But what you may find is that creating a blogging schedule will help you be more disciplined about coming up with blog ideas and getting those posts written. And remember, you can always hire a writer to create blog posts for you if you don’t have the time or inclination to do that much writing.
#2: Give Your Posts Compelling Titles
It turns out that titles make a big difference when it comes to generating traffic, social shares, and backlinks. Here are some pointers:
#3: Check Your Word Count
Earlier, we mentioned that the “sweet spot” for blog length is between 1,000 and 2,000 words, with longer posts getting more engagement, backlinks, and sharing than shorter posts.
Does that mean every post you write must be long? Of course not! But, if you’re in the habit of cranking out 300-500 word blog posts, it can help you to write a long post occasionally. It might turn into one of those so-called power posts that generates traffic on social media and Google.
#4: Add Compelling Images
This might seem like a no-brainer, but it’s surprising how many businesses don’t bother adding images to their blog posts. There’s research that shows that people retain far more information when it’s presented with a visual aid than they do without visuals.
PRO TIP: Pixabay.com and Pexels.com are both great no cost options
#5: Add Social Sharing Buttons and Widgets
People are far more likely to share your blog posts if you make it easy for them to do it. That’s why it’s a good idea to add social sharing buttons to your posts.
Be smart about it, though. If you offer a full menu of social sharing buttons, you may find that it has the opposite effect to the one you want. Where’s your social media audience? If they’re mostly on Twitter, put a Twitter button and use the “Tweet this” widget to allow people to share key quotes from your blog. If you’re marketing business-to-business, put a LinkedIn button on your blog.
The good news here is that it’s not hard to improve your business blog. It’s mostly about being aware of what the numbers say and figuring out a blogging schedule and strategy that’ll work for you. If you do that, the clicks, shares, and links will follow.
In fact, not knowing them can negatively affect your business’s profitability over time.
#1: The Size and Demographics of Your Audience
Your audience, whether they’re subscribed to your email list or following you on social media, is the pool from which you’ll attract most of your new customers. It’s also representative of the people who’re most likely to buy from you even if they’re not in your audience now.
There’s no denying those things are important. You should always know three things about your audience:
The final thing you’ll need to do is to analyze your audience. On Facebook, for example, you can view age, gender, and geographical breakdowns of your audience. You can also see what interests they have in common. Having this data at your fingertips can help you build lookalike audiences and do a good job of creating content that your audience will enjoy.
#2: Your Online Review Status
Online reviews are important to every business. Research shows that 86% of all consumers read online reviews, and that 89% read company responses to reviews. Those aren’t numbers you should ignore.
To get a handle on your online reviews, you’ll need to:
#3: Your Google Ranking
The third marketing metric you need to know – and it’s a hugely important one – is your website’s Google ranking. You’ll need to conduct regular Google searches for your most important keywords and keep track of how you’re doing.
Your ranking for one page may be high while another page is down on the second (or third, or tenth) page of Google results. If that’s the case, you’ll need to improve your SEO and increase your visibility to improve your ranking.
Why does this matter? Well, research shows that the first result on Google’s SERP for any keyword grabs about 30% of clicks. The second and third positions can get as much as 10%, but after that the fall-off is precipitous. You’ll be lucky to grab 2% of the traffic.
The good news is that focusing on local SEO and voice search can help you improve your ranking – but you must know where you are now before you can attack the problem and rise in the ranks.
#4: Ad Performance
Whether you’re running just a few ads or juggling dozens of marketing campaigns, it’s necessary to track the performance of each ad. It’s the only way to know whether your marketing mix is right – and whether your money is going down the drain.
Let’s use Facebook as an example. Facebook provides tons of insights for businesses. You can see how many people your ads are reaching, get an overview of their demographics, and even track the days (and times of day) when your posts get the most engagement.
If you prefer an all-in-one solution that will allow you to track your performance on all social media accounts, you can use UTM tags to track them with Google Analytics. Or, if you prefer, you can use a social media tracking tool.
#5: ROI by Campaign
The final metric you should track is your Return on Investment, or ROI, for each marketing campaign. In case you don’t know, ROI is calculated as a percentage using a simple formula. Here’s how it works:
Email marketing has a high ROI (4400%, to be exact). Let’s say that your revenue from this campaign was $9,000. That would mean the calculation would be:
$9,000 revenue - $200 cost = $8,800 profit, and $8,800 profit/$200 cost = 4400% ROI
ROI calculations will help you identify the marketing campaigns that are earning you the most revenue. You can use that information to:
It’s no wonder you’re having a difficult time connecting with your audience. You’re competing with millions of other advertisers! It’s a crowded space.
That said, Facebook ads can still be useful – with a twist. Instead of sticking to the same traditional ads you’ve been using, it might be time to check out Facebook’s newest ad option – Facebook Messenger Ads.
What Are Facebook Messenger Ads?
Facebook Messenger ads are ads that appear either on the newsfeed or directly in people’s Messenger inboxes.
The newsfeed ads have a call to action that directs people who click it to Messenger, where they can send you a message and get more information about your business.
53% of people say they’re willing to buy from a company they can message directly on Facebook Messenger. And, customer service is increasingly moving toward instant and direct messaging. Customers expect instantaneous responses and favor brands that provide it.
Facebook Messenger Ads allow small businesses to connect directly with potential leads. They eliminate the need for a hard selling ad and instead, open a dialogue. They provide an opportunity for you to personalize your marketing in a way that encourages people instead of putting them off.
Three Types of Facebook Messenger Ads
There are three types of Facebook Messenger Ads available for small businesses to use. They are:
Sponsored messages allow you to deliver special offers and communications directly to the user’s Messenger inbox. A key feature of sponsored messages is that you may send them only to people who have messaged you previously. They’re a form of remarketing with a personal touch.
Finally, home screen ads are ads that appear in Messenger. The difference between these ads and sponsored messages is that their intent is not to start a conversation. It’s to drive sales by encouraging users to click on the ad.
How Can Facebook Messenger Ads Benefit Your Business?
Facebook Messenger ads are a great option for small, local businesses. They allow you to personalize ads and connect directly with the people who are most likely to buy from you.
Want some examples? Here are a few ways that you can use Messenger ads to boost your profits:
How to Get Started with Facebook Messenger Ads
If you’re itching to get started with Facebook Messenger ads, here are 7 easy steps to help you get going.
Getting a great ROI on Facebook advertising can be tough. There’s a ton of competition and as a small business owner, your marketing budget is limited. Facebook Messenger ads can help you leapfrog over the competition and connect directly with the most valuable people on social media – your customers.
The statistics around voice-enabled gadgets like Siri, Alexa, and Cortana, are even higher. Only 18% of US households owned one as of 2018. By 2022, it’ll be 55%.
What’s that tell us? Voice search is here to stay. It’s growing – and businesses who don’t embrace it now are going to be left scrambling in the very near future.
Your challenge, should you choose to accept it, is to embrace voice search and recognize that optimization is not optional. Here’s what you need to know.
Voice Search vs. Traditional Search
There are two key differences between voice search and traditional text-based searches. Understanding them is a must if you want to capitalize on voice search and grab your share of traffic and sales.
The biggest difference is one that illustrates why the growing trend of voice searches isn’t something to take lightly.
With traditional search, you can grab a share of the organic traffic from the SERP even if you’re not ranked number one. Why? Because searchers don’t always click on the first link. They’ll scroll, skim titles and meta descriptions, and choose the link that best suits their needs. Even if you’re tenth – or on the second page of search results – you can still get a few clicks out of the deal.
Voice search is a different thing entirely. When someone searches a keyword or asks Siri a question, they’re not getting a list of results. The virtual assistant reads one – and only one -- result. In other words, in the world of voice search, if you snooze, you lose!
The second key difference between voice and text search is the keywords that dominate. Google’s been prioritizing long-tail keywords for all searches, but in voice search there’s no other option.
Pointers for Optimizing Your Site for Voice Search
As you probably expected, Google keeps its voice search algorithm secret. However, there are some ways to improve your chances of ending up in the featured spot – the coveted position where your site is the one being offered as the solution to a search request.
#1: Answer a Question
A lot of voice searches are worded as questions. Answering the most commonly-asked questions can help you move up the SERP to the featured position.
Not sure what questions to answer? You can try using Answer the Public, a site that generates questions based on the keywords you enter. Here’s a sampling of the suggested questions for Facebook advertising:
#2: Optimize for Long-Tail Keywords
A lot of businesses are accustomed to optimizing for short keywords. Those days are over. Long-tail keywords are the name of the game. They’re more conversational and contextual than old school keywords. They’re also the keywords most likely to be used in voice searches.
Ever since Google released its Hummingbird update in 2013, the emphasis has been on long-tail keywords. To maximize your traffic from voice search, you’ll need to identify the most likely search terms and highlight them in your content.
One of the easiest ways to identify long-tail keywords is to scroll down to the bottom of the Google SERP after doing a search and check out the “People Also Ask” box, which lists questions that are commonly asked along with what you searched. It’s a great way to identify variations and pinpoint the terms people are using to search.
#3: Optimize for Local Searches
You might be tired of hearing about local search, but the truth is that it’s more important than ever. 76% of all voice search users use it for local searches at least once a week, and 53% make local searches daily.
If you haven’t standardized your NAP listings, optimized your site for local keywords, claimed your review listings, and optimized your Google My Business listing, you’re probably not going to perform well in voice search.
Make sure that all business data is accurate, including your hours of operation, address, and any other information that might be relevant to searchers.
#4: Use the Right Words
It might shock you to know that approximately 20% of all voice searches are triggered by the same 25 words. These include words like:
#5: Speed Up Your Site
Voice searchers expect to get search results nearly instantaneously. In fact, one study found that a site that took just 5 seconds to load was 90% more likely to get a bounce than a site that took only one second to load.
Complicating matters is the fact that mobile searches have a bounce rate that’s nearly 10% higher than desktop searches.
Maximizing your site’s speed increases the chances that you’ll move to the top in voice search. A slow-loading site is not going to be Google’s first choice. Remember, their goal is always to deliver the most relevant site to the searcher as quickly as possible.
Voice search is coming for all of us – and you can’t afford to ignore it. SEO is never an exact science, but the tips here can help make your content what Google voice searchers want – and increase the chances that you’ll land the coveted top spot.
What mobile marketing elements are the most important for local businesses? Fortunately, if you’re new to mobile marketing, there’re only three big musts – and if you focus on them, you’ll be able to capitalize on the huge growth in mobile searches.
#1: X Marks the Spot
In the world of marketing and SEO, it’s common for experts to go out of their way to mention that not all searches happen on Google. But guess what? Virtually all mobile searches DO happen on Google – and that’s not an exaggeration. As of 2018, almost 95% of searches on mobile devices were Google searches.
The challenge is clear. Your business must be findable on Google if you’re to have any hope of ranking for local searches and grabbing your share of traffic. And yet, Google Maps rankings incorporate both organic and paid traffic.
The good news for you is that many local businesses aren’t optimized for mobile and local searches. That means you’re in an ideal position to improve your ranking and take your competitors out – if you follow these four steps:
#2: Stop Procrastinating and Optimize Your Website for Mobile
It wasn’t that long ago that optimizing for mobile was optional – but that’s no longer the case. According to Statista, 52.5% of all worldwide traffic to websites came from mobile devices in 2018. That number’s only going to grow in 2019 and beyond.
That’s not the only number that matters, either. Mobile users are notoriously impatient when it comes to loading times. According to a Google poll, slow-loading sites were the top complaint of mobile users. And, according to an Akamai case study, the optimal page loading time for conversions was 2.4 seconds. When you take into consideration that the average site took a whopping 22 seconds to load on mobile as of 2018, you can see why there’s room for improvement.
The bottom line? Visitors shouldn’t need to squint or scroll horizontally to navigate your website. It should be easy for them to find what they need – and even more importantly, take the action you want them to take!
Fortunately, the solution is easy. It’s not difficult to build a mobile-optimized website. Your mobile website should include all relevant information from your regular site, including vital information about your products or services. It should also have clear actions for visitors to your site to take, such as:
#3: Embrace the Potential of Mobile Marketing
You know where your customers are. If you’ve done any audience research at all, you know where they live, what they like, and what they need from you. And, if you’ve got a local business, you know that most of your customers live within a small radius of your business address. It stands to reason – 90% of consumers buy what they need within a short distance of their home or workplace.
A lot of local businesses have been slow to adopt mobile marketing, but it’s one of the best ways to target your audience. You have a few options to consider:
Once you’ve run a few campaigns, it’s a good idea to do some split testing and gradually improve your mobile ads’ conversion rates. Mobile marketing can take a bit of trial and error. It’s worth the time and effort to fine-tune your mobile marketing campaigns.
The bottom line is that mobile marketing is a must for local businesses. It provides you with an opportunity to connect directly with your target audience – and give them a reason to patronize your business instead of your competitors.
But it was never intended specifically for local service based business.
That’s not the case with Google Local Service Ads. It’s designed especially for local businesses. Let’s talk about it – and about the Google Guarantee Badge.
Why is Local Search a Must?
Simply put, 75% of all local searches result in an in-store visit within 24 hours. This one statistic demonstrates the importance of local SEO. If you can attract a lead through a search, the odds are in your favor that the searcher will come to your business.
As Google focuses more on local SEO and searches, it’s natural that they’ve decided to offer searchers a way to verify local businesses. And that’s where Google Local Services comes in.
Google Local Services got its start as Google Home Services in 2015. It was originally a pilot program in the San Francisco market. It offered consumers some detailed and useful information about local businesses, including:
Once a business has passed Google’s screening, they’ll get a badge with a green checkmark next to it and the words “Google Guaranteed.” That’s a signal to potential leads that your business is trustworthy.
What Does the Google Guarantee Offer Consumers?
The Google Guarantee offers two things to consumers: peace of mind and financial protection. Here’s how it breaks down.
The first thing is that, as I mentioned before, the Google Guarantee tells potential leads that your business is licensed and insured and that your employees have passed a criminal background check. That’s essential in the home services industry.
The second thing the Google Guarantee offers is financial protection. Google will reimburse money paid for a job when the consumer is dissatisfied. There’s a lifetime cap of $2,000 and the service must be:
If one of your customers files a claim, Google will contact you to let you know. You’ll have a chance to work things out with your customer first. If that fails, Google will reach a verdict about how to handle the claim.
Where Do Google Local Services Ads Appear?
If you haven’t taken part of Google Local Service listings yet, you might be wondering “Why do I need to jump through hoops to complete Google’s screening process?
Well, there’s a couple really good reasons. Let’s discuss.
First, if you’re properly licensed and insured, the only other thing you need to do is get background checks for your employees. And frankly, if you’re sending your employees into people’s homes, that’s a good idea for every business.
Second, it’s all about the ad placement. Businesses that pass Google’s screening process get preferred placement on the SERP on both desktop and mobile devices.
On desktop, business with the Google Guarantee Badge appear in a box above both the traditional Google 3-pack and the regular organic search results. The display will list:
On mobile devices, the Google Local Services ads appear above the SERP, too. Typically, the top two results will appear along with the name, badge, rating, and a call button that mobile users can click to contact you directly.
How Does Google Local Service Ads Benefit You?
Most people who perform a Google search never get past the first page of search results. In other words, it’s incredibly important for local business to rank for search if they want to capture leads and grow their businesses.
Google Local Service Ads and the Google Guarantee Badge can help you do both. If you have good reviews, then your business will be front and center when people search your top local keywords.
Potential leads will know that your business has been guaranteed by Google. They can access reviews easily and be confident that you’re someone they can trust with whatever work they need.
Remember, in any sale process there’s a need to overcome buyer objections. One of the biggest objections when people are looking for home services is safety. They want to know that you’re reliable and that your employees can be trusted. The Google Guarantee Badge provides some peace of mind and takes the guesswork out of hiring you.
But here’s the best thing - While traditional ads operate on a pay-per-click basis, Local Service ads run on a pay-per-lead basis. That means you’re only charged for the leads you receive through your Local Service ad
And, compared to regular search ads, Local Service ads have a pretty simple setup. No keywords, research, or creative to manage.
Are There Any Downsides to Google Local Services?
I can’t say that there are any real negatives to qualifying for the Google Guarantee Badge, but FYI not every business can take part of this program. Google’s Local Service Ads cater to local service-based businesses in specific industries, such as locksmiths, plumbers, garage door professionals, electricians, and HVAC services. To find out if you can connect to your customers with Local Service Ads, first confirm your business type and location here.
So if you’ll jump through some hoops – Google’s Local Service Ads can give your business a big leg up on your competitors and drive more high quality leads to your business.
Google AdWords is dying whether you’re ready or not. This is the perfect time to embrace Google Local Services, go through the screening process, and get that coveted green checkmark next to your name – so if you own a local service based business - what are you waiting for?