Did you know that 88% of searches for local business on a mobile device either call or visit the business within 24 hours? (Source Nectafy). Additionally, "Near me" or "Close by" type searches grew by more than 900% in over two years (Source: Chat Meter)
The list of stats that prove the importance of local search goes on and on, but there is one thing that is certain: it is critical to have a modern business website for your local business in today's world.
You may already have a website that isn't showing up on Google or you are looking into getting a website and want to know what can impact if your website will rank on Google when someone types in "Landscaper near me," "Pressure Washer near me," "Painter near me" or more. In either case it is important to understand that as Google continues to control the vast majority of local searches, it's critical that your website and online listings are optimized for this search engine to crawl your site and recognize your sitemap. This will help both current and potential customers find you and schedule your services.
There are many factors that can impact if your website will show up on google, but there are top 5 critical actions to check that will impact your search performance.
1. Make sure that you have a Google My Business Listing set up
The Google My Business page allows your new website or exisitng website to show up in google search results with general information about your business such as your service area, phone number, customer reviews and more. Customers will often review the general information on your profile and then click on the associated website to learn more.
Check out this guide if you do not yet have a Google My Business listing set up.
2. Check that your Google My Business is verified
It is great to create a GMB account, but you must ensure that it is verified as just creating the account alone will not get your site to register to Google.
If you are not sure if your business is verified you can check this by googling for your business listing. If you see the text, "Own this business?" underneath your listing, then you are not verified. Don't worry! You can fix this.
You can verify your GMB listing by mail, phone or email although some businesses may qualify for instant verification online. The available options will allow you to verify your account.
- Postcard verification of your business listing: As the most commonly selected option, Google will mail a postcard to the address specified in your business listing with your verification code. Once you receive the postcard it will have a code unique to your GMB account to verify it. The postcard generally will reach you within 5 business days.
- Phone verification of your business listing: This option will only show for some businesses. You will know if you are eligible if the option to "Verify by phone" shows upon on the verification screen. You will received an automated text message with your code that you then need to enter into your GMB profile listing.
- Email verification of your business listing: This option will only show for some businesses. Like the phone verification, you will know if this is an option if it shows on the verification page. If so, you will receive an email with your required code to verify your account. Make sure that the email you enter is correct such that you can access it.
3. Proactively manage your Website, especially when it is New
While you can start to get traffic immediately by linking your website to a GMB and other social media pages, your ranking will take some time to build up on Google. New websites that are about a year or less are considered new on Google and can have a hard time competing in search rankings organically with other businesses that have authority on Google maps, a large number of positive reviews and other citations.
For newer websites you may need to dig deep into the Google search results to find the website when trying to search the name of your company or services. The reason for this is that it can take a few months to start to rank against competitors that have been producing content and optimizing their sites for longer. A website, much like skills you learn for the job take time to master.
While this is true, it makes it all the more critical to start your website ASAP to start improving your website ranking versus competitors in google search console. Even if your website is new there are a few actions that you can take to improve it's ranking and start to gain some traction to compete with other listings. You should start by:
- Request reviews as often as you can from satisfied customers
- Get as many high-quality backlinks to your website as possible
- Join your local business association
- Ask bloggers to link to your website in their blog post or web pages. You can offer content or quotes for their articles. Most of the time bloggers will use wordpress sites so it is easy to update them. If you see a blog that you could contibute to try reaching out.
- Cross promote your website with another small business owner you know (e.g., a different type of service)
- Add more photos or update wording on your website and GMB account each month
4. Create a website that is optimized for SEO and local search
While it is critical to have listings like GMB and links in your social media accounts to your website, it is also essential that you have a local SEO optimized website. The content on your website is what Google automatically crawls with algorithms that determine your website ranking by identifying what services you provide and who your are. There are general best practices to website layout and keyword inclusion that can impact this. Some of the most important aspects are the title tag and meta descriptions that can affect the search engine results pages in what content to match from a website to the content searched.
In addition to your page content, it is imporotant to have quick load times (e.g., page speed) as this can effect search engine visibility since Google's Algorithm can give a penalty for slow load times. Thus quality content as well as webpage design are important to help show up on the first page of google. Google has a googlebot that will crawl your website and the ranking algorithm is constantly undergoing google algorithm updates.
One first step is to ensure that your website is indexed and not flagged as a noindex site which can be one of the google penalties. You can use a free URL inspection tool from Google to check this. If you work with a service like ProPhone, your website will be registered when the domain is registered as one of the first steps.
Additionally you want to ensure that your website has the proper layout and is desgined correctly for home services. This is one reason that utilizing a website builder like Wix or Squarespace isn't recommended for those that don't understand these nuances as compared to working with a service like ProPhone that optimizes each pro page for their specific keywords and layout.
Lastly, as mentioned above, it is critical that you continually update your site's content as Google will continue to check if the webpage is active. Adding new photos, services, and testimonials each month can do the trick.
5. Make sure that you have proper citations and links online
The first step is to ensure that your GMB has the proper category and description for your services. This will help Google to discover, define and start to rank your website for customer search queries about your services. It is also best practice to ensure that you have the right information filled our for your company name, address, website and phone number. This is critical for any listing that you have online, such as Facebook, Yelp, Home Advisor, Angie's List, Thumbtack, etc.
If you aren't sure what description to list for these online listings it can help to work with a company like ProPhone for suggestions on wording and copy on your website that you can use for other online listings. If you ever change your business information such as your business name, address or key details it is important that your online profiles reflect this both for potential customers that know to search for your business as well as others that may be searching generic terms "near me" online.
If you take the time to check these critical items, you will give your business the best chance possible to appear on Google Map and Search for your services. If you still aren't sure if you need a website, either because you have enough work or because your don't know if a website will bring your more work, there are valid reasons for both scenarios. It doesn't hurt to use a service like ProSite by ProPhone to get a free sample and decide for yourself if you want to expand your online presence.