Using Google My Business to Secure Customers
If you’ve ever been baffled by your shop’s poor ranking in Google searches, Tom Zoebelein has some advice.
While a shop staff can only control it’s online reviews so much, it can do plenty to improve its positioning when it comes to Google searches. And, in Zoebelein’s experience, it’s as important as ever that shop operators attempt to rein in their business information on web pages like Google My Business, the free business profile page that helps businesses connect with customers.
Because, if a customer doesn’t like the look of a shop’s online photos, or sees a lack of helpful contact information, their eyes will quickly turn to other options.
“If they don’t like what they see, they’re going to look elsewhere,” says Zoebelein, the owner of collision industry marketing firm Stratosphere Studios, near Baltimore.
“Basically, the industry is going toward where people aren’t even going to have to click on your business’s website anymore,” says Michelle Whitehead, the operations manager for Marcel’s Collision in Windsor, Ontario. Customers “can get everything on Google. So, the more information you can put on there, the more likely you are to be scored highly by Google.”
The marketing experts’ suggestions for improving a shop’s Google My Business presence are plenty. Among them:
Claim your page.
Before a shop owner can rectify any unsightly elements of their Google My Business page, they need to “claim” the page, which allows them to make changes to the information presented. Typically, all that’s required to “claim” a business page is to click on “own this business” on a shop’s Google My Business page; that step is free of charge. Occasionally, business owners need to request “ownership” of their storefront business online by visiting business.google.com/add, clicking on “request access” and then filling out a form.
Zoebelein, who has helped body shops with marketing for 15 years, suggests also dedicating at least one, tech-savvy staff member to monitor the My Business page frequently, checking for notifications from Google if, for example, customers have posted photos of your facility on the web page.
“It could be a front-office person like a receptionist,” the marketing expert says.
Consistently update your content.
Making sure that your shop’s Google My Business page information—like its usual types of repair work, and frequently asked questions—is constantly up to date is key, Whitehead says.
“Google looks at a lot of different variants when they score you,” says the shop operations manager, who has long aided the marketing efforts of Marcel’s Collision, which has an average rating of 4.5 stars on Google. “Making sure the content is constantly up to date (helps). If you don’t revisit it for a year, you’re not going to be popping up on” web searches.
Whitehead also suggests frequently updating the “products” tab on a Google My Business page, for example, or highlighting offerings like a shop’s rental fleet.
Use specific keywords.
Another easy way to spur a shop’s climb in Google-search rankings is by getting creative with the keywords associated with its Google My Business page. For example, instead of writing the shop’s name as “Acme Collision Center,” it might be beneficial to include phrasing like “complete auto collision and painting, and detailing services.” It can also help to include the name of your city in the shop’s title, as in “Acme Collision Center-Los Angeles.”
“There are a bunch of businesses out there that specialize in Google My Business,” Zoebelein notes, “and they’ve zeroed in on specific factors, like proximity and relevance—and proximity almost always wins out. Then it’s relevance to the searcher—so, which words have I typed that are in that business’s profile? If we did ‘auto body paint’ we might get a different set of results.”
Get your website up to snuff.
While Zoebelein acknowledges it isn’t easy to climb the rankings on Google searches quickly, peripheral factors can be quickly addressed by shop staffs. Chief among those factors, perhaps, is simply updating and periodically enhancing the shop’s main website.
“That’s definitely a factor,” he says. “That (impacts Google My Business) prominence—how well does the shop show up online. Also, Google loves fast, mobile-responsive websites, and if you have an old, clunky barge of a website that loads slowly and doesn’t provide a good user experience, you will fail … in having your Google My Business page rank well. So, keep your ‘yard clean.’”
Zoebelein added that it’s important that all information like the shop’s address is presented identically on both a Google My Business page and a shop’s general website.
Include an appointment link.
In order for customers to find a shop with hours that fit their schedule, the facility’s Google My Business page needs to have its hours of operation frequently updated, especially during holidays or unscheduled closings, Whitehead notes.
Of similar importance, potential clients have a hard time connecting with a business if an ‘appointment’ link isn’t included on its Google My Business page. Still, many shops neglect to include that all-important piece of contact information.
“To me, the biggest (key) is an appointment link,” Zoebelein says. Potential customers “are going to decide in a few clicks ‘Am I going to do business with this shop, or not?’ And, if you’ve got someone on your Google My Business page, you want them to call you, right?