You wake up on a Friday morning and your cheery TGIF disposition is suddenly interrupted by the discovery of a leaking water heater.
Immediately you Google “Emergency plumbing service.”
Or maybe you’ve just moved across town and are in the mood for sesame chicken, so you Google “Best Chinese restaurants near me.”
What shows up in every search is hardly random, and the businesses that are most savvy with search engine optimization (SEO) — and can take advantage of Google practices and algorithms — will reap the benefits.
The goal: to be one of the three search results ending up in the Google Map Pack, those top-of-list choices that appear alongside an area map.
“It’s really this battle to be in those three spots,” said Chad Taggart, founder and CEO of Axis Local LLC, “because that Map Pack is where the majority of people are going.”
What Taggart and the folks at Axis Local are finding, however, is how few firms are taking advantage of opportunities to appear in the Map Pack, a process that begins by creating a Google Business Profile.
“Fifty percent of companies haven’t even claimed their Google page,” Taggart said. “In some cases, it’s worse than ignoring your web page. It’s this huge opportunity that a lot of companies don’t know about.”
That’s where Axis Local comes in. A data-driven digital marketing firm, the agency strives to help businesses be found online.
“You’re going to want to be in the Map Pack,” Taggart said. “Google is going to make these even more important because they’re making money off it. But it’s most important for you if you want to be found in local searches. It’s huge for restaurants, it’s important for anyone in a highly competitive field.
“It’s almost a first impression.”
The Map Pack includes an area map, three business names and links to the firm’s official website and directions. It’s especially important because it’s at the top of a search, businesses see 60 to 70 percent of online traffic from mobile users, “and you’re not going to scroll as much on mobile,” Taggart said.
He launched Axis Local in 2019 and a focus today is on ensuring clients are positioned to use SEO to their advantage while gleaning data and showing where Google ad spends hit and where they missed.
Miller Funeral Home and Cremation Services, Inc., enlisted Axis Local to create a new website and also track online traffic and results right down to specific search terms.
“They built out a Google document that shows me words that are being clicked on the most,” said Josh Miller, co-owner at the firm. “It shows what terms are working and what are not working, whether we’re spending way too much for a word that no one’s searching.”
The end result: There is a noticeable increase in people contacting Miller Funeral Home and Cremation Services because of how they’ve positioned the business with Google, and because of how Google presents search results to users, Miller said.
Several law firms and wealth management firms have really capitalized on the Google Business Profile. You won’t just find Edward Jones Investment in a search for financial planners, you’ll find a list of every advisor at every office.
“Every employee has their own page, and by doing that, they’re stealing share from others,” Taggart said.
The same is now true at MTE Equipment Solutions, Inc., a supplier of commercial grounds maintenance equipment. The company began using the services of Axis Local about a year ago.
“They created a Google page for all our sales people and it does seem to drive local traffic,” said Craig Houseknecht, vice president of sales and operations for MTE Equipment Solutions. “Google likes it and it drives traffic back to our website.”
Axis Local also made sure users in the Northeast searching for wheel loaders or turf equipment were directed to MTE Equipment Solutions.
“They built a specific ad words campaign to target the audience we’re looking for,” Houseknecht said.
Just showing up at the top of a search list doesn’t mean the work ends, though. Maintaining current customer/client reviews and eliciting those reviews is critical.
“Seeing reviews over three months old, the customers views them as obsolete,” Taggart said. “And sometimes a company will say, ‘We don’t need to worry about that, we’re already No. 1 on the list.’ Well, do you know what you’re converting when you do show up?
“You need to know if you’re making data-driven decisions for your business.”
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