Are you confident that, when a local customer searches for your service online, they will find you? Or will they find your competition?
In most cases, customers are deciding between contractors based on what they see in Google My Business. Never heard of it? It is one of the most important, and least understood, components of your online presence.
In this article, we look at what Google My Business is, how your Google My Business listing can impact how you rank in your community, and what you can do to improve your rankings. Plus, we will release data from a nationwide study of 7k+ deck builders, so you can know exactly what it takes to rank on Google.
What is Google My Business?
Google My Business is a free product Google provides to local businesses so that they can be found in their service area. You’ve probably seen Google My Business (or GMB) listings before; they appear prominently on local searches (“deck builder near me”) and on Google Maps on your computer, phone, or mobile app.
To see your full GMB listing, you can click on a map pin, or you can do a search for your brand. Your GMB listing is where people can find info about your company – find your phone number, see photos, or read reviews about your company.
How to Rank in GMB
One of the most common questions we receive is “How can I improve my Google My Business listing?” Here are the three main aspects that Google looks at when deciding who to show in the search results:
- Relevance – The first thing Google looks for is relevance to the search query. If someone is searching for a deck builder, Google shouldn’t show accountants or hospitals; Google will show companies that build decks.
- Proximity – Since GMB is displayed visually on a map, it makes sense that Google would factor in proximity to the searcher. This can vary based on your community and the number of competitors in your area; some searches might display an entire county or region, while other searches zoom in to one side of town.
- Prominence – The final thing that Google looks at when evaluating GMB listings for a search is prominence. Google wants to display companies that are highly regarded within a community, have links to their website, and have a good reputation.
While the notes above describe how Google ranks GMB listings, they aren’t too helpful in figuring out what you as a business owner need to do to make sure you rank well. To that end, we conducted a survey of the top-ranking deck builders across the United States. We looked at 7,249 GMB listings for companies that ranked for “deck builder” and compiled the results in a report of the best practices and benchmarks.
Google My Business Best Practices for Deck Builders
1. Claim Your GMB Listing
The most common mistake we see with Google My Business is not claiming your listing. To prevent spam or malicious actions, Google requires business owners to verify certain information before you update your listing. In our study, we found that 29% of GMB listings for deck builders were unclaimed. My guess is that number is low and that there are even more deck builders who don’t have a GMB listing or their listing ranks too low for our study.
To verify your listing, you can click on the Own This Business? link. Google will mail you a postcard with a verification code; once you receive that code you can enter it online and you can then manage your listing.
2. Update Your Information
Once your listing is verified, you can update your company’s information, including website, phone number, and address. Even just doing this can put you ahead of your competition; in our study, we found that over 27% of listings were missing a website and nearly 2% didn’t have a phone number. Nothing like making it difficult for your customers to contact you!
For most deck builders, you don’t need to have your address listed. Google likes having addresses visible for stores or offices where customers can visit; since most deck builders are meeting customers at their home, an address doesn’t really help. This is especially true if you are using your home as your company’s address. You will need to submit your address when you verify your listing, but you can hide your address from the public. In our study, we found that over 41% of deck builders hid their address on GMB.
3. Select Your Category Wisely
For your GMB listing, you can select which category best describes your business. There are over 6,000 categories to choose from, including several that would apply to deck builders and outdoor living contractors: Deck Builder, Dock Builder, Fence Contractor, Landscaper, Patio Enclosure Supplier, or Carport and Pergola Builder.
You can select up to 10 categories for your listing, but the first one (called the Primary Category) has a tangible impact on how you rank. That’s not an issue if you specialize in deck building; however if you also build patios or install roofing & siding, you may need to choose which one you want to rank for.
In our study, we found that the most prominent primary category was Deck Builder (40% of listings), followed by General Contractor (13%), Construction Company (11.5%), and Fence Contractor (6%).
4. Ask for Reviews
You probably already know that online reviews are important, but did you know how much they can impact your rankings on Google? The number of reviews, the average star rating, and even the text of the reviews themselves all help to improve your prominence and get your listing clicked on more than your competition.
In our study of GMB listings for deck builders, we found that the average number of reviews for a company was 9. While some listings had hundreds of reviews, 61% of GMB listings had 3 or fewer reviews, and 33% of deck builders had 0 reviews on their Google listing. So the bar is low for you to clear; if you can get 3 reviews on your listing, you are doing better than the majority of deck builders.
Get in the habit of asking for a review once a project is complete. Ask for them to describe the process of working with you, the design process, or how your crew left their property. And once you have claimed your GMB listing, you can respond directly to reviews in GMB; we recommend doing this to every review – good or bad – as it shows that you are active online and care about your reputation.
5. Highlight Your Work
Since building a deck is such a visually appealing service, make sure you add photos and videos to your GMB listing. You can add photos of your favorite projects, show before & after shots, or highlight you and your team during construction. According to our study, the average number of photos a GMB listing has is 36, so you can add plenty of photos.
See How You Measure Up to Your Competition
One of the best ways to measure how well your GMB listing is performing is by conducting a bunch of searches on Google for your target service in your target area. Who shows up in the search results? How do you compare to them?
Usually, there are some simple steps you can take to improve your Google My Business listing that can have a significant impact on your rankings.
Want some help finding how you can upgrade your GMB listing? Until the end of 2020, NADRA members can schedule a free 15-minute GMB audit. During this call, we will answer any questions you have and provide specific upgrades you can make to improve your GMB listing.
Google My Business Trends for Deck Builders
Study based on 7,249 Google My Business profiles for deck builders in the United States.
- 39.29% of deck builders use Deck Builder as their primary category
- 13.17% of deck builders use General Contractor as their primary category
- 11.53% of deck builders use Construction Company as their primary category
- 5.72% of deck builders use Fence Contractor as their primary category
- 71.82% of deck builders link to a website from their GMB listing
- 47.47% of deck builders websites are not secure (https)
- 61.13% of deck builders have 3 or fewer reviews on their GMB listing
- 33.26% of deck builders have 0 reviews on their GMB listing
- 9.06 – Average number of reviews on GMB listings of deck builders
- 4.4 – Average star rating for GMB listings of deck builders
- 98.55% of deck builders have a phone number on their GMB listing
- 41.33% of deck builders hid their physical address on their GMB listing
- 36 – Average number of photos on GMB listings of deck builders
This article was contributed by YDOP, a digital marketing agency in Lancaster, PA that helps home service contractors with their online marketing needs. YDOP is a proud member and supporter of NADRA.