Local search is growing as one of the most popular search qualifiers online. In fact, 93% of consumers search for a local business when they research options online (up from 90% in just the previous year). And as more and more millennials and younger generations become homeowners, experts believe the digital landscape will become even more critical for the customer journey.
Home services customers are searching for a business like yours right now:
- 75% of pest control leads search online before selecting a home services business
- 65% of carpet cleaning leads search online before selecting a home services business
- 65% of home remodeling leads search online before selecting a home services business
- 64% of appliance repair leads search online before selecting a home services business
- 62% of HVAC repair and 62% roofing leads search online before selecting a home services business
Capitalizing on these searches is critical for home services businesses of any type. Most customers don’t have a specific company in mind as they research, leaving top search results prime candidates for selection. And if your business is selected, conversion is likely—78% of local searches on a mobile device lead to a purchase from that business in just 24 hours while as much as 88% of consumers who search for a local business (on their phones) will at least reach out to that business within 24 hours.
How can your business show up in local searches? The key is in understanding how search results work, especially on Google.
Search results are served up to consumers using several factors. Each factor is important and by combining each category, Google can deliver the most relevant search (and those likely to warrant a click). Local search results are prioritized and ranked based on relevance, distance, and prominence.
In order to meet the relevance requirement for a Google search, it’s critical that your Google My Business listing is complete. Google needs to understand what your business offers and how it can match potential searches from leads and customers. Keep your business description updated (and filled with keywords that your customers might be using to complete their search), the website linked, hours accurate, and a phone number added (bonus points if it’s a textable number that mobile users can simply click to connect to your business in real-time).
Google also takes into account words mentioned in your customer reviews as it builds your relevance score. Consider asking customers to be specific in their reviews as they post about their experience with your brand and the specific home services they purchased from you.
Just as your business description can impact your relevance score, your business address is just as crucial to ensuring your distance rating is accurate. Location is king in a local search—72% of consumers who search for a local business are more likely to visit a business within five miles of their current location.
But proximity isn’t necessarily the key to the top search result ranking. Even if your business is beyond the five-mile radius, your relevance and prominence will play into how Google ranks you against competitors. And if your business includes multiple locations, your brand will have a wider radius anyway, capturing local searches for each of your individual storefronts.
Your prominence score is determined by how well-known your business is according to Google. Large retail brands or popular landmarks are more likely to have a higher prominence score, but that doesn’t mean your business can’t have a high score, too. Your prominence score is compiled by aggregating everything Google can find about your business—review count, review score, links, articles, and SEO are all included. Because your website should already be focused on links, articles, and SEO, it’s important that you also have a separate campaign to improve your review count and average star rating to improve your prominence score.
Reviews are important for more reasons than your prominence score. They’re critical to the customer journey in every industry. Nearly 90% of consumers read reviews specifically for local businesses (including 95% of 18- to 34-year old consumers). And on average, your customers are likely reading at least 10 reviews before they even trust your local business.
In order to improve your prominence score (and increase your relevance score with better keywords), your home services business will need to focus on reviews. To get started, implement a review request process after every home services customer transaction. The more reviews you ask for, the more likely a typical customer experience will be reflected online. To boost your chances of customers writing reviews, ask for the review via text. Texts boast higher open and response rates and 77% of customers will leave a review when asked (especially if the link to the review is included in the text!).
Once your review request process is working, you’ll find that more reviews (and an optimized Google My Business listing) will help you:
- Show up where home services customers are looking for a business like yours—online and on Google
- Build trust with future customers through third-party testimonials and examples
- Rank higher in overall search results, improving your chances to get into the top three to five search result slots
- Stay connected to your customers—respond to negative reviews and thank positive reviewers online
To learn more about how reviews impact your online presence, check out this free eBook: Improve Your Ratings. Increase Your Traffic.