Home services business owners know the importance of attracting customers online. Websites help, but they’re not enough to make your business rise to the top of search engine results pages.
Fortunately, Google launched Google My Business (GMB) in 2014, a free tool that makes it easier for consumers to find home services businesses, and easier for the owners of those businesses to improve how their companies appear on Google’s search results page (which is pretty important considering Google holds over 90% of the search engine market).
But in 2018, Google implemented multiple changes to GMB—changes that are important for you to know.
Read on to learn about five key changes made in 2018 to Google My Business and what they mean for your home services business.
1. January 2018: Video comes to GMB
This time last year, Google announced it would let business owners add up to 30 seconds of video to Google My Business accounts. Given that consumers are primarily visual learners, home services business owners would be wise to take full advantage of video on their GMB page to grab the attention of prospective customers.
It’s important to note that all videos posted to Google My Business must relate directly to the business they’re promoting—if they don’t, Google will remove them.
Need some GMB video ideas? Try...
- Telling the history/story of your business.
- Posting customer praise and testimonials.
- Creating videos that introduce your employees.
- Giving a tour of your office or place of business.
2. March 2018: Business description field added to GMB
Giving customers a strong business description is important, but for years the only way home services business owners could change their company’s description on GMB was through a linked Google account.
Then, in March 2018, GMB added an editable business description field to the info section of the GMB dashboard.
Why take the time to fill out a business description?
Because Google’s search algorithm uses GMB business descriptions, and a more complete and thorough description can help a home services business climb up the ladder on the search engine results page.
3. April 2018: GMB adds a services field
Another key change rolled out in 2018?—the addition of a “services” field to the GMB dashboard, which allows home services businesses to list service categories with detailed descriptions. For example, a plumbing business might have different categories like “Re-piping,” “Installation,” and “Water Heaters” with different services listed under each.
How this impacts your GMB listing?
Service fields allow home service business owners to create more detailed GMB profiles that deliver more value to consumers and inspire more confidence.
Moreover, service listings with valuable detail lead to increased GMB page engagement, which can improve search engine ranking on Google.
Not sure where to begin? Check out the official announcement from Google, which includes links to their help center.
4. May 2018: GMB launches offer posts
Consumers love deals and discounts, which is why Google incorporated the “Add an Offer” feature to GMB.
Through the Add an Offer feature, home services businesses can essentially advertise a promotional or introductory rate to attract new customers searching the Internet without using an external provider, like Groupon.
What you can do with offer posts?
With offer posts, you can improve your chances of winning new business by optimizing your GMB listing with promotions that speak to new and returning customers.
Here are some ideas to help get you started with offer posts:
- New-customer discounts.
- Return-customer discounts.
- Bundles and packaged-services deals.
- Special offers for booking at non-peak times.
- Discounts based on seasonal or weather-related needs.
5. November 2018: Service Area Business changes come to GMB
This past November, Google My Business made a big change to the way businesses list their physical location(s).
Prior to the most recent update, home services businesses had to enter a physical address, and create a radius around that physical location (e.g., “Serving customers within 100 miles”).
The issue? Many home services businesses don’t serve customers at their physical address.
So, Google decided to abandon the address requirement so home services businesses can simply define a service area by either zip code, region, or city—good news for service-area businesses like plumbing companies, HVAC companies, etc.
Why is this update important?
With this update, home services businesses can freely modify their location and service areas online, improving their ability to rank well in local search and ensuring maximizing exposure to potential customers (just make sure your home services business chooses the most accurate service areas for reaching customers).
A few more important things to note about this update...
- Major changes to the service area will require re-verification.
- In instances where postcard verification is required, GMB will not show the address on Maps.
- Deleting an address without choosing a service area defaults the service area to the home country (e.g., USA).
- Existing radius areas based on physical location will be updated by GMB in the future to “places;” instead, select your service area or risk Google choosing for you.