iMarket Solutions Blog : Archive for the ‘Local Search’ Category

5 Google Updates That Will Impact Home Services SEO in 2020

Wednesday, March 25th, 2020

With 2020 in full swing, do you have all of the info you need to master Google’s search results? If your answer is no, our team is here to give you the details!

Google pushes updates out on a daily basis, so it would not be surprising if you’ve ever felt overwhelmed. The most frustrating part can be that most updates will have zero to little impact on your business, but you certainly don’t want to miss the ones that do.

Keeping home service businesses including HVAC, plumbing, electrical and solar in mind, we’ve collected the top 5 Google updates that will have an impact on your business moving into 2020. 

#1: Google Added Favicons to Organic Search Results

In late May of 2019, Google introduced favicons to mobile organic search results. At the time, it had been over a year since Google had made a major change to the design of search engine result pages. A favicon, which is a small visual that represents your brand, is now placed to the immediate left of a search result, next to the URL of the featured page. Starting in January 2020 Google began testing this treatment in desktop results as well.

Because a favicon is unique to your website, it’s a great way to draw attention to your result using colors and shapes that will draw the eye. Websites that do not define a favicon using Google’s guidelines will show a standardized, blue icon that looks like a folder. As a home service business, it’s important to use whatever tools are available to help your business stand out against the competition. We recommend using a favicon that contrasts against a white background. 

#2: Search Ads Are More Integrated within Search Results

Where favicons are displayed for organic search results, Google now displays a black “Ad” disclaimer next to PPC ads. Based on a user study which asked 428 users to identify ads over organic results, “users were unable to distinguish them between 77% and 83% of the time…”

Google’s new favicon result appears to show an improvement in user advert recognition, however, there is also a large increase in the percentage of users who think that natural search results are adverts.”

While Google is still testing this format on desktop, we may see a behavioral change in the way users interact with organic and paid listings. If your home service business is not capturing leads through different marketing mediums, you may miss out. 

#3: Google Has Recently Rolled out a Core Algorithm Update

Google continually tweaks its search results on a daily basis, but generally reserves major changes to its Core Algorithm for a few limited batches within a year. The Core Algorithm is essentially Google’s secret sauce, so when changes are made to this formula, it will have a major impact on search results globally.

Though Google has not released the nature of the most recent update in January 2020, one thing that contractors can count on is that if they have low-quality content, they may see a negative impact in their search rankings. On the flip side, contractors that have high-quality content may see a positive impact in the search rankings. Since fully rolling out, iMarket websites have seen a 3.83% increase in keyword visibility on the 1st page of search engine results.

#4: Search Crawlers Have a Better Understanding of Searchers’ Intent

In October of 2019, Google released BERT (Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers), an update that impacts around 10% of search queries. The purpose of this update is to better understand natural language and searchers’ intent. More specifically, it enables search robots to process words in relation to all other words in a sentence, rather than one-by-one in order.

This is especially relevant for home service topics that may produce unrelated results such as “garbage disposal,” which may be a garbage disposal system, but it could also be a garbage disposal facility. The role of BERT is to catch the meaning of search queries to produce more relevant results.

#5: Organic Click-Through-Rates Have Declined on Mobile

With content-rich Google attributes such as PPC ads, Google Local Service Ads, rich snippets and Google My Business owning the top half of search result pages, user behavior is leaning away from the traditional organic click that we have become accustomed to in the last two decades. The result of this is that over half of all searches result in a paid-click or no-click action according to leading search data vendor Sparktoro.

With this being the case, it’s more important than ever that home service companies use a varied marketing approach to ensure that they reach their audience. Companies that focus on their brand, building a presence through SEM, SEO, Google Local Service Ads, and reputation management, will have the upper hand in this “zero-click” environment.

Amp Up Your Home Services Marketing Goals for 2020

What are your goals for 2020? Knowing how these Google updates will impact the home services industry, are you thinking of adding SEM? Reach out to our team let us know what you’re ready to learn more about this year.

To learn about what we offer, contact iMarket Solutions today. We are dedicated to contractor success!

Continue Reading

6 Paid Search Trends You Should Know

Friday, December 20th, 2019

The world of digital marketing is growing and changing every day. This is due, in large part, to the changing ways that consumers hunt for information along with the rapid advance of technology. For the business owner, this evolution means that knowing a bit more about certain online search trends can help your digital marketing strategy—especially if you are using this information to stay ahead of the game.

We’ve selected six paid search trends that we think you should know about which could help to improve your ability to reach your potential customers.

There are certainly more than 6 trends to be aware of, but these are the trends that will help you the most when it comes to adapting your marketing strategy to ever-advancing technology.

1.      SERP Marketing

SERP refers to the Search Engine Results Page, where the user will see everything from Google Local Service ads, to Paid Search Ads, to organic search results, to Google Reviews and more. One of the goals of your marketing strategy should be to dominate page one of the SERP, because this will make you optimally visible to your ideal customer.

When you are looking for methods to do this, one thing to remember is that Google is now changing how it analyzes a search term. Now, instead of simply looking at the term typed into the search box, Google is looking at the context behind a search to analyze the user’s intent. This means it can now provide personalized results.

In translation: thinking like your customers, and thinking like Google, will help you make the most of the SERP page. And that is exactly what you want. The other trends we are discussing in this post all tie back to this.

2.      Digital Marketing Personalization

When we say that personalization is vital to your marketing strategy, we really mean it. Previously, search results and ads were sales-focused, essentially the online equivalent to an ad showing up in your mailbox whether you were interested in a product or not. In contrast, now content need to be personalized to the consumer to ensure it reaches the right person at the right time.

Why is this so important? Because 80% of people surveyed have said they are more likely to do business with a company that personalizes their experience based on that consumers’ wants and needs. It isn’t surprising that you are more likely to get business from someone who is on the hunt for HVAC or Plumbing services than you are from someone who isn’t and who simply came across your ad or organic SERP result by mistake. 

3.      Google Local Service Ads

The days of hunting through a Yellow Pages book or scanning the newspaper for service technicians are long gone. So are the days of doing a generic search on Google and hoping that you find a business somewhat nearby. Google Local Service Ads are geared to meet consumers where they are at. When you incorporate Google Local Service Ads into your marketing strategy, you are saving time and money. 

This is because you are paying per lead rather than per click, which ends up being much cheaper. Additionally, your business will be included in any voice search results done via a Google Assistant. Add to that the fact there are no keywords to manage, and Google Local Service Ads can end up being a huge boost to your marketing plan. Google Local Services Ads should never replace paid search ads, however they’re a powerful way to work with your already existing paid search methods. 

4.      Voice Search & Home Assistants

Now that we’ve mentioned voice search and home assistant, it’s important to understand that home assistants like Alexa, Google Home, Amazon Echo or voice search assistant on your phone are becoming more helpful and commonly used than ever. And we want you to remember them in your marketing strategy because your customers are using them to find you.

By 2020, at least 50% of all searches are expected to be done via voice search, whether through a home assistant or a smart phone. This, of course, will make an impact on the wording used for the search results. What you want to remember as voice searches become more the norm is that by using a more conversational tone on your site and gearing your content towards providing answers to questions you are more likely to be the one that comes up as a result to their search.

5.      Zero-Click Search Results

A zero-click search result refers to when an individual gets the information they want without ever needing to leave a search results page. Up to 61.8% of search results are now zero-click results and are largely common with mobile and voice search results. This is why we were talking about that search engine results page so much at the beginning; most of your customers will stop here!

So, if they don’t click through to anything, how do you reach out to a potential customer with this trend? The key here is to be that featured snippet or quick answer that is featured at the top of the page. Your content, whether via a blog or webpage, should be geared to answer the question that brings up this SERP. This makes you a resource and a name they know…and are more likely to click on after they get their answer.

6.      Search Marketing & Social Media

These two trends are a unique and important pair. Search marketing is marketing that is geared to answer the question your customer is asking in order to reach them. However, you earn their trust with your social media. A growing number of people are using social media to decide whether they want to work with a company. 

Being visible isn’t enough at this stage; your social media is vital to earning the trust of your customers so they feel comfortable with that first click. Combining these trends together helps you drive both leads and awareness at once.

Remember Your Content

When it comes to search engine marketing for contractors, making sure that you stay up-to-date on these trends will help you immensely in allowing your business to grow and thrive. Within these trends though, one major point to remember is this: your content plays a huge role in who will notice you and when. 

Content that is geared the right way (i.e. personalized, answering a question or providing important information) will help you reach the right people at the right time. When you start to meet your customers where they are you’ll see that difference.

Looking for help with your search engine marketing? That’s what we are here for. iMarket Solutions helps contractors thrive in their digital marketing. Discover how we can help boost your paid search results by contacting us today.

Continue Reading

Google Local Carousel: An Interactive Means to Finding Local Restaurants, Entertainment & Attractions in Google Local Search

Wednesday, June 19th, 2013

Earlier this morning, Google publicly announced the release of Google’s local carousel feature in English to desktops within the United States. Until today, the Google local carousel has only been available to some Nexus and iPad tablet users. Having been initially introduced back in December, 2012, we think it is safe to say the feedback for the local carousel was positive enough for Google to want to roll out such a significant design change to their search results. However, it does seem Google is still only taking baby steps, as Google’s carousel is only being displayed for specific types of local businesses.

Baby Google baboon

What is Google Carousel?

Google carousel is an interactive scrolling bar displayed at the top of some of Google’s local search results, introduced to increase the user experience and accuracy of searches while searching for popular local companies. In Google’s official plus post on carousel, they provide a quick run-down of the features you will currently encounter while using the Google local carousel. The most noticeable feature is that the carousel displays a large amount of businesses within a smaller surface area than the traditional 7-pack or blended search results. The number of local businesses it displays must vary based on screen size, as we were able to see 15 businesses on the first tab of the slide. In clicking the directional arrow located at the far right of the listings, Google displayed an additional five listings relevant to our targeted search. And in clicking on one of the new local business listings, Google automatically performed a search based on [company name] + [company city], which then brought up search results and the knowledge graph relevant to searched company and city.

Clicking on Dave & Buster’s while doing a search for Arcades in Irvine, for example, revealed the following information:

  • A main photograph chosen by that business to represent their business.
  • A clickable map which could be used for further refining your search, or simply to browse the area.
  • A button for getting directions to the business in your search, and another for writing a review.
  • Contact details, which included just the address and phone number.
  • A dollar sign ($) guide, with one through four $’s to indicate the prices to expect at that business.
  • The hours for the day with a link to see all hours.
  • A link to their menu located at Allmenus.com.
  • An overall review score of their business using the Zagat rating system.
  • A numbered link to their reviews listed within their Google Plus profile, with the number being their total number of Google reviews.
  • Links to more reviews on their local profiles at sites like yahoo.com, insiderpages.com, judysbook.com, and urbanspoon.com.
  • A short list of other popular and relevant local business names linking to their Google local listings.

Below is a screenshot, highlighting the Google carousel in Google’s search results. Click the image to view the live listing.

Update, 6/20/2013: Please note the below linked image may not show you the exact listing you see in the image, due to either caching issues or personalized search. If you’re interested in remedying this, you can do a private (or incognito) search, and can also change the area you search from by clicking on the Search tools tab in the search page’s top navigation.

Google local carousel example for Dave & Buster's Irvine

Will Google Carousel Display Plumbing, HVAC & Other Contractor Companies?

Simply put, no. As of today, it does not appear it will affect you in the slightest, unless of course you want a quick and easy way to find local restaurants, attractions, or entertainment. We wouldn’t be surprised to see this eventually roll out to all local businesses though, as Google is keen on always providing the best possible user experience, and this already seems like a far cry from the way they used to display these types of search results. But as the Google carousel is still in its infancy, we are certain we will be seeing even more features introduced in the future.

iMarket Solutions always does its best to not only stay on top of game changing search engine changes, but to also make sure our clients are informed and prepared for what is to come. If you have any questions regarding the Google local carousel and how it could affect your local business, or want help with optimizing your contractor company’s Google local listing, feel free to reach out to us at (800) 727-3920.

Continue Reading

How Much Money Do You Make From Yelp?

Wednesday, March 27th, 2013

As a business owner serving a specific geographic area, you should have a listing on Yelp.com. Once that listing is claimed and verified by you or your SEO team here at iMarket Solutions, you have access to several tools in the back end of the site. Yelp announced a new tool available as of Monday March 25th to help business owners even more!

New Revenue Estimation Tool for Local Businesses

You know that being on Yelp is important and that reviews influence potential customers to pick up the phone and call you for service. What may be hard to figure out, though, is how much revenue you may be generating from your Yelp presence.

Now this is no longer an issue – Yelp released a “Revenue Estimation” tool that will not only show you how much revenue Yelp estimates you have gained from your listing there, but it compares it to the national average from a recent survey on revenue from Yelp listings.

If you need help with checking out any of the data in your Yelp account, feel free to contact us for assistance!

To read Mashable’s post about this new tool, click here.

Continue Reading

Serve your customers off site? Time to hide your address in Google Places!

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

Google has stated that for businesses that service their clients off-site at a client’s home, or “on the road”, the address in Google Places should be hidden. As an HVAC, Plumbing, or other on-location service provider, your business falls into this category. This is definitely a big adjustment but one that is necessary for your optimum success in Google Places and local search overall.

Show your address or hide your address?

Prior to the last few months, it has always been key to have an address showing on your Google Places listing. This was one way you were optimized for the searches in your area for your business. However, we have been noticing some changes in ranking factors, and have had these changes confirmed with Google’s latest update to the Google Places Guidelines, as well as prominent industry information.

Google’s newly updated guidelines state, “If you don’t receive customers at your location, you must select the ‘Do not show my business address on my Maps listing’ option within your dashboard. If you don’t hide your address, your listing may be removed from Google Maps.

While we know that you are used to seeing your address on your Google Maps / Places listing, we are sure you don’t want to risk your listing being removed! If you are an iMarket customer, we have already begun to make this change for you.

What if my business has a showroom where clients do come to our location for service and purchases?

If you have a showroom, we can leave your address visible; however, in the future it may be something you want to change. We believe that Google is making this change across all verticals that are known for primarily serving customers at their homes or office locations, not at your brick and mortar address.

We are definitely doing some testing to determine the best course of action for clients who have a showroom. Let me know if you have a showroom and we can discuss your listing.

What if I have (or wanted to have) multiple Google Places listings for different addresses?

We are no longer recommending that you have multiple listings. On a single Google Places listing, you can specify your location and any additional cities / areas you serve. We have 2 options for this:

  • We can list all towns you service one by one.
  • Or we can select a certain radius (in miles) surrounding your location.

Both options will enable you to come up for searches in the areas you service without the need for a separate Google Places listing in each city or region.

If you have multiple Google Places listings we are recommending the additional ones are deleted so that Google does not have to remove them as spam. Remember, Google may remove the one you wanted to keep, and leave up your others, so it’s best that we choose to remove the right ones, and optimize the best one.

What can I do to help my Google Places page rank better?

You can add photos and videos to your Places listing as a start. If you’re an iMarket Solutions customer, you can send your photos and videos to us and we’ll take care of it for you.

Another post is coming soon with even more information about local ranking factors – stay tuned!

We realize this is a lot of new information, so please contact us with any questions you have! iMarket Solutions is 100% committed to you having the most successful online presence possible, and everyone on our team is happy to help you achieve your goals!

Continue Reading