Get Wise to Google
Where do your customers go when they need something? Probably the same place you do: Google. No-one’s going to dig out the Yellow Pages when the service they need is just a couple of clicks away. This is why it’s essential that your business comes up in Google Search and Google Maps. If customers can’t find you, they can’t hire you.
Fortunately, getting yourself listed on Google is simple – and it’s free. Google My Business lets you set up a business profile quickly and easily, using the following steps:
First, enter the name of your business. Always use the same name wherever you are. If you’re Tony Stephens on your business cards and Anthony Stephens online, you’re making yourself harder to find.
Next, put in your address. Google needs this to verify who you are. If you don’t want members of the public turning up at your home expecting a shop front, you can tick the box at the bottom of the page to make sure it doesn’t appear in Google searches.
This is also the pace to enter your phone number. If you don’t have a mobile for business only, consider getting one. It doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive, just a number for taking business calls. Apart from anything else, it’s always a good idea to keep personal and work stuff separate.
This is also the place to select your business’s ‘category’ – in other words, what it is you actually do. This is very important, because it determines what kind of search you show up in. If you’re not sure what category you belong in, don’t worry: you can add or change categories later.
Next, enter your company’s web address. If you don’t have a website, you should make setting one up a priority. Not only will this make you more visible on Google, it also looks much more professional (for more information, see ///later article///).
On the next page, you can choose your service area – in other words, how far you’re prepared to travel for a job. Choose a large radius at first, to increase your chances of being found, and hired.
Once you’ve done all this, congratulations! Your business now has a Google profile. The next step is to fill it out with the sort of information that will make you stand out among the competition.
Choose and upload some photos of your work, but make sure the photos are high quality! If you’re just starting out, it’s better to have no photos at all than bad ones. Low resolution or poorly lit photos look lazy and unprofessional, which is absolutely the worst possible way of advertising yourself.
You can also set your hours of operation. These should be as broad as possible. Even if you’re not planning to work weekends, customers should know they can phone you on a Sunday evening. If Google says you only work Monday to Friday, they’re going to call someone else.
Here is where you can add or change your category too. Think carefully about what categories you belong in. For example, you might be a painter and decorator, but happy to work as a handyman too. Those are two separate categories, and you should make sure your profile lists both, to help you get either type of job.
Once you’ve started to get work, there is one more essential step to take: reviews. Good reviews won’t just see customers queuing up to hire you, they will also get you listed higher in Google search results, making you even easier to find. Bad reviews will have people running to your competitors instead, if they can even find you in the first place.
Reviews get you noticed
Make it a priority to get five Google reviews: after this number, Google starts displaying a star rating next to your result, which is a great way to stand out. You can ask clients to review you, but don’t be pushy about it – the best way to get a brilliant review is to provide brilliant service. A follow-up call, text or email a week after finishing the job is a thoughtful way to show your customers you care about them, and if you can mention reviews at the same time, even better.
And once someone has taken the time to leave you a review, thank them for their time! Building a loyal customer base is almost guaranteed to bring in more work, and makes it likelier that your happy customer will tell their friends about you.
As your business grows, make sure you keep your Google Business page updated. Especially with crucial information like contact details and business hours. Managing a page takes a little bit of care and attention, especially at first, but once the work starts rolling in, you’ll be glad you invested the time.