In this episode, Michael and Chris talk about online reviews and how localized business listings like Google My Business can help boost your rankings and improve the reputation and online ranking of your painting business.

In this episode, we cover:
What is Google My Business?
Why does it matter for online reviews?
How can it help your search rankings?
How do you claim and optimize your listing?

For more information on the tools and resources mentioned in this episode, please visit:
SearchPrimer: https://www.searchprimer.com/
Google My Business: https://www.google.com/business/
Hubspot’s Ultimate Guide to Google My Business: https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/google-my-business

Transcript

Chris Raines: If you’re thinking about search engine results pages and how your business appears, this is sort of the difference between showing up with maybe one organic listing or having a really strong sort of comprehensive visual presence on that search results page.

Welcome to Grow Your Painting Business, a podcast for commercial, residential and industrial painters to grow their businesses, and their local or regional markets. We’re experts in digital marketing for painters and other trades, and this is a show to share our experience with you. Grow Your Painting Business is a free podcast from Searchprimer.com, the experts in digital marketing for the trades. All right, welcome to episode 10 of Grow Your Painting Business.com. My name is Chris Raines. I’m here with Michael Epps Utley, a regionally famous figure skater. Not true. Again-

Michael Epps Utley: No, like I heard that somewhere, I don’t know. That same jersey. I’m just going to do a different claim to fame every time.

Chris Raines: Now, still on. Sadly Michael not a regionally famous figure skater-

Michael Epps Utley: Or anything.

Chris Raines: Or anything but expert in helping painting companies grow their business through digital marketing.

Michael Epps Utley: Yes. Yeah. That is cool.

Chris Raines: Michael welcome. Thanks. Yeah, thank you. All right, okay, so episode 10, Grow Your Painting Business where we’re talking about online reviews in general, but we’re specifically talking about google my business. The kind of elephant in the room of localized business listings.

Michael Epps Utley: Yup.

Chris Raines: Gosh, I don’t have any way to kick it off. So tell us about what is google my business? I’m sure everybody’s heard about it. Why does it matter? And what should people be thinking about in terms of their Google listing in 2019?

Michael Epps Utley: Yeah. One of the biggest things that’s changed in the last two years has been the importance of reviews for SEO, online reviews. And so yeah, this is a big factor and recently there’ve been a lot of changes and google has moved from just being part of google maps into being their own sort of authoritative directory of all businesses, that have any sort of presence in the physical world or online. And they’re really morphing this into their own directory that is independent of any one platform. So the same information that’s showing up in desktop results is also showing up in their maps, apps on phones, and it’s a big deal because it’s an SEO factor but it’s also almost like a new social media channel. They’re letting people push-

Chris Raines: And it’s a trust factor really.

Michael Epps Utley: Yeah, it’s a trust factor, it’s a major trust factor. If you’re thinking about search engine results pages and how your business appears, this is sort of the difference between showing up with maybe one organic listing or having a really strong, comprehensive visual presence on that search results page. So the map is a really big chunk of real estate for pages that it appears on, especially for local businesses. Also, it’s kind of a big deal because if someone is looking for a service provider, especially consumers, but even I would say for our industrial and commercial clients, if someone is looking for a service provider, they’re often being given what we call the local three pack, which will be three local vendors with their map pins shown in a large map image. And there’s a little bit of being in the club or not being in the club and-

Chris Raines: What happens now?

Michael Epps Utley: Once you’re in the club I’ll add, who are you gonna call first. I like to relate this to Amazon, so I don’t know how many times we’d been looking for something for the boys, the puzzle or some other kind of product. And you’re like, hey honey I found something on Amazon, looks pretty good, it’s got 200 reviews, four star boom. And people are being trained to think of things in that way. How many reviews are there? Right? Cause it doesn’t mean anything to have four reviews that have four stars, but if you have 200 reviews at four stars, that means a little more.

Chris Raines: Right.

Michael Epps Utley: And then the number of stars matters. So we’re kind of being trained and we can thank Amazon for this, to look at other businesses that we do nothing about, right?

Chris Raines: Mm-hmm (affirmative)

Michael Epps Utley: To kind of look at who else has reviewed them and what the number of stars is. So it’s so, it’s almost like you can’t stress enough how you need to manage those reviews and make sure you get as many positive reviews as possible.

Chris Raines: That’s right, yeah. So managing this information is important, having a handle on it, staying current. And so yes, we can dig into some of that.

Michael Epps Utley: Yeah.

Chris Raines: What do you do? I mean, gosh, I’m just thinking about processes like, so if you’re a painting company, you’ve got lots of clients, especially if you’re a residential, you may do 20, 30 houses a week, I don’t know, or more. So how do you … You’re out there, you’re trying to schedule, you’re trying to get trucks out, you’re trying, how do you fit in? Oh yeah, we got to follow up with these people and make sure that we get good reviews. And the same holds true for commercial, you probably have a smaller, greater number of clients, but it’s still important to have reviews.

Michael Epps Utley: Absolutely.

Chris Raines: What should painting companies be thinking about in terms of setting up process to get those reviews?

Michael Epps Utley: Yeah. So I’m going to talk about three things. Number one is claiming your listing and making sure you’ve got a good accurate fiscal address, verifying your account and then optimizing your listing. And then last reviews.

Chris Raines: And I guess with this[crosstalk 00:05:58]

Michael Epps Utley: So we will talk about those three things.

Chris Raines: Yeah, and I don’t mean to interrupt that, I guess reviews, would you say that that’s part of optimizing your listing?

Michael Epps Utley: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah I would. So number one, you can look up your business online and see how you’re appearing. And if you haven’t ever thought about this as new information, you may have a link there that not everyone can see when a business has been claimed, that just says claim this listing or claim your business, or is this your business. I can’t see it right now, I can’t remember what it is. But yeah, if there’s a business that they’ve picked up on either in some data set they’ve absorbed in the past, or I think in the early days they had old yellow pages data. But if google is showing a business listing for you, but it says, claim this business, that means you’ve got some work to do.

You need to create your account, claim your business, and then verify it. So you need to go through the steps to prove ownership. It’s easy to do, you just start at finding your business listing and you can either do it with a postcard, or there’s some other options, ways to try. In this, I’m not going to get into too much detail here because it changes pretty often-

Chris Raines: Right.

Michael Epps Utley: And so I don’t want this to be sort of stuck with one method. But yeah, getting access and control over your listing is number one. And it’s pretty easy to do the po … We’ve had trouble in the past with the postcard thing. Sometimes either they get lost on the way in or never make it to the right person. So sometimes you might have to try that a couple of times, but just get in there and do it, tell somebody at the front desk to be on the lookout for this. Whatever, whoever is receiving the mail, make sure that that person knows what they’re looking for, hi, there’s a postcard coming from google, we need the pin number on it. You can also typically go through the steps to do a phone verification and that sends a onetime code through an outbound phone call.

So we answer the phone, have a pen in your hand, be ready to capture it, but that’s important. And so after that we get into optimization and then it’s wide open and you’re ready to get rolling. Yeah. What are we talking about? We’re talking about you can upload photos, so that’s one thing especially for anything that’s a visual business, at painting companies, certainly in that category. That’s right.

Chris Raines: You have pedals, you have-

Michael Epps Utley: And on the photos thing, if you don’t sort of decide what you want to show, google is going to make some best guesses for you with images they get from your website. And sometimes the things that get thrown in there are pretty goofy. You might have some sort of a telephone icon on your website next to the phone number and-

Chris Raines: Or what I’ve seen too is that-

Michael Epps Utley: They load that as a photo.

Chris Raines: Yeah. And I’ve seen too, if you don’t have any photos, a lot of times google will upload the street view of your office. So maybe you have kind of an unassuming office that’s not super impressive, it’s kind of this little door, it can look not the way you want it to look if you just let that pull in from google, because google is going to show something-

Michael Epps Utley: That’s right.

Chris Raines: And if you don’t have a photo to show, it’s just going to show whatever your front, whatever, whoever happened to be driving by with the 360 camera, with google maps, whatever they capture, so that may or may not be what you want to show.

Michael Epps Utley: And that reminds me of something else, a lot of times people are wondering, well, we have a successful company, we’re offering residential painting, light commercial throughout a large region of a densely populated part of the United States, top in a million in revenue, but we work out of a house. What do we do? We don’t want people getting on google maps and coming to our house. So I’ll give you my experience and kind of how that’s played out for us. Typically we’ve not seen that be a problem, people shown up the house and the value of having the maps listing is so much more valuable because your maps listings is going to include a link to your website. So that is so much more valuable that it’s worth it.

Chris Raines: Yeah.

Michael Epps Utley: And it offsets the risk of someone thinking that there’s a physical office. And a lot of people wonder, is that possible, can I use a residence? We’ve not had any problems submitting and creating new listings, either for new backs, et cetera and new setup places that offer a full street address or anything with a suite number or any house, those have all worked fine. What we still don’t see anyone have the ability to do is a business location that is a Po box, so that still seems to be the one that you cannot do. And so, we lean toward recommending yes, do have a google my business listing, even if it’s a residence or some office that you don’t use that often. Sometimes people work out of, maybe a warehouse environment where they have trucks meet up every once in a while or whatever it is.

But yeah, the answer is it’s good to have that listing, it’s definitely worth it for the SEO, and then you can proactively manage the profile to offset any sort of concerns you have. You know, like hi, there’s a picture of a building, doesn’t look that great or hi, we don’t want to put a picture of our house up here. You can offset that by actively creating more content that’s a little bit more visually interesting.

Chris Raines: Yeah. And another thing I thought of is kind of goes back to the reviews part of google my business is inevitably whatever business you’re in, if you attain some level of success, you’re going to get a negative review on google my business. So Michael, and I’m sure you’ve had painting companies that deal with negative reviews. What’s the best advice? You can’t stop it from happening, maybe you did a bad job, but some people are just kind of malcontent, they’re gonna fuss and complain anyway. What’s the best way of dealing with that and making sure it doesn’t take your google my business listing?

Michael Epps Utley: Yep. So now we’re into part three optimizing, so it’s good to make sure that the google my business profile has full and complete information. So address, hours, phone number, images and then after that, the most important thing is getting on top of your reviews, and we do it a couple of ways. There are a lot of tools out there for using a two step process to send out an email, get some sort of informal response and then sending the positive ones, say the four and five stars an additional email to post google review. And so that’s a two step process, we found that on lower volume numbers of clients and opportunities for reviews, it’s too much of a diminishing return to have that two step process.

It actually swamps the whole thing and no reviews get all the way through the process. So what we’re recommending for any company that’s able to close 10 projects out in a given month or fewer, is to actually just say, hi, how did it … Talk to the project manager, hi, how did it go? And then have them hand walk someone through the process saying, thank you for letting us do your project, we depend on you to have other great projects to work on. We’re gonna send you an email, there’s a link there if you could please click that, we’d really love to have five stars from you. And now on Yelp, they take a very different approach. They’re very negative toward any sort of active promotion of gaining reviews.

Google seems to be a little bit more open, to just using reasonable forms of communication to provide your link for people to post a review. And sometimes people say, well, gosh, shouldn’t we just get every friend and family on there that we have, and get them to post a five star review, interestingly no, you shouldn’t. Google is really good at knowing when things are legitimate when they aren’t. And then you asked about bad reviews, so here’s number one thing. We recommend that for every review that happens, you have some kind of response, especially the positive ones, but all of them, 100%. So, Mary posts a five star review, wow Mary, thank you so much, we had such a great time working on your project. Really glad that you contacted us. Please let us know when you need anything in the future, and contact us if you run across any problems with project we just completed.

If there’s a bad review, you got to answer it the same way, and then really you’ve got to decide some pretty hard things. Number one, does a person have a legitimate complain, if they do, if you’re going to be a good company, you going to get there and fix it. It’s called a callback and it’s pretty typical in the industry and you go back, but what you have to add to this that’s different than doing a callback in years past, is you have to have a little bit of an appropriate public conversation so people can see that. So an appropriate response to the review in google and in your google my business listing, you can actually have this sort of conversation back and forth.

You can say, John, thank you for the comment, we hear loud and clear. Our project manager is going to be in touch to schedule a time to come out and take care of the problem. We really appreciate you taking time to let us know, we’re going to make this right. And then-

Chris Raines: Simple.

Michael Epps Utley: The best you can do is let people see some of that conversation. And there’s been a lot of kind of back and forth about whether or not reviews can be edited or removed or if a client can … Sometimes people feel so badly that they posted something that they want to go take it down and depending on the different platforms over the years that’s been either possible or not possible. But yeah, it’s a new world and some of these conversations are happening in a way that’s a little bit more public than it would have been. And you’ve just got to find a way to do that without disclosing any, you don’t need to be the person who comes off snippy because your client, your customer was not satisfied.

Taking a positive service oriented approach. It’s forward looking, at the end day you just got to go make it right if you’ve got a legitimate complaint. And now the flip side, one more thing. If you have somebody who posts something and you’re looking at it thinking, we don’t think this is our customer, then what you do is state very succinctly, non passionately John, I’m sorry, but we don’t recognize your information, could you please contact our office so that we can take care of you?

Chris Raines: Yeah.

Michael Epps Utley: We don’t see you in our customer listing. And if it’s a real person, they’ll follow up. If they’re not, people are going to kind of get it.

Chris Raines: Yeah.

Michael Epps Utley: A lot of consumers are more familiar with this now than they used to be. And I mean B to C and B to B. People get it, there’s just weird random stuff out there on the Internet now.

Chris Raines: Yeah. And I guess the main lesson here Michael, would you agree is just transparency. If you did something wrong or if somebody is unhappy, acknowledge they’re unhappy and publicly acknowledge it and say, gosh, we’re unhappy, get on their side of the table, we’re unhappy too, how do we we fix this? And then if you don’t recognize it, if it’s some random or somewhere, say I’m sorry, we don’t have a record.

Michael Epps Utley: Yeah.

Chris Raines: I wonder if we miss something here, can you get back in touch with us and let’s see.

Michael Epps Utley: Yeah. Being positive-

Chris Raines: Being positive and transparent, service oriented, solutions oriented, never ever, ever get into some crazy flame war. Take that off-

Michael Epps Utley: On your Google My Business page.

Chris Raines: Yeah.

Michael Epps Utley: I think it’s the initial contact-

Chris Raines: There’s never a time when that would be.

Michael Epps Utley: Sure. Yeah. And so if there is a major contention or someone’s very unhappy, take it off, acknowledge and honor the fact that they’re unhappy and empathize with them, but take it offline for the particulars of that. And you got to handle it that way.

Chris Raines: Absolutely. Great. Michael, anything else about google my business that you want to cover? It’s ever changing obviously, so we could probably do a podcast in six months and we talk about different things, but anything else that we didn’t cover?

Michael Epps Utley: It is, this kind of falls into that category of things you need to stay on top of. This is, if you have kind of a checklist for the health of your company, this is something to put on the one month checklist to look at and observe and ask questions and be curious about, once a month because google is still figuring out where to go with this. They are doing a thing where you can post regular content and updates, and I would say that that’s in sort of an experimental stage right now. We’re not not utilizing that for everyone, but it is-

Chris Raines: But it doesn’t hurt to do it right?

Michael Epps Utley: It’s a great new way to show some personality and to post some regular content. It’s sort of like they’re taking a page out of the Snapchat book and they’re making it disposable content. So you posted, it’s up there for a couple of weeks and then it goes away. So that’s an interesting experiment that they’re doing, but I think the number one is gaining some good quality reviews, maintaining good, accurate, complete information and continuing to keep an eye on it once a month by keeping it on your checklist to sort of watch and see what’s going on, and just make sure that you’re doing everything you can to be present for the people who are looking for your services.

Chris Raines: Yeah, and one thing, I guess it’s assumed, but we didn’t really highlight it or strongly call it out, but the google my business listing in terms of how you’re optimizing it, the reviews is actually an organic ranking factor, especially for a local business?

Michael Epps Utley: Yeah it is. And so yeah, when we’re doing this with the Search primer program, we’re generally thinking in terms of having correct verified listings across about 100 of these platforms, but because it’s google it’s worth calling out and treating separately and making sure that it’s correct.

Chris Raines: Yeah. And it’s google’s world, we’re just kinda living in it, at least in the digital world. All right, great. Michael, that’s all the time we have for today. Google my business, we will probably do another episode on this in six months because it’ll probably all be different, but as of right now, early 2019, those are the things we need to look for, for your painting company or trades company for google my business.

Michael Epps Utley: Absolutely. Alright, catch you on the next one. Thank you.

Michael Epps Utley: The Grow Your Painting Business podcast is a free service of Searchprimer.com. Visit us today for more information on how you can grow your business using the latest tools in digital marketing, Searchprimer.com.