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Business Website, digital marketing, Lead Generation, Lead Generation for Contractors, SEO, Uncategorized

Solving the Problem of Duplicate Google Business Profiles Being Created by Google

By Dipa Gandhi and Diane Lovine

Problem Discovered

Late in 2021, the team at 99 Calls noticed duplicate Google Business Profiles (GBPs) had been created for many of our clients’ service area businesses. After some investigation and confirmation with our clients, it was apparent the duplicate profiles were generated by Google. In many cases, even though we had already built a GBP representing the customer as a service area business Google was auto-generating a secondary and often incomplete listing. 

99 Calls primarily works with service area businesses; those that travel to their customers to perform a service, rather than from a brick-and-mortar building where customers go to receive a service. Google’s own established guidelines specifically state that businesses that service their clients at their residential or business location should not display their street address on the GBP. 

It was determined that Google was using information from the Contact Us pages of the lead generation websites to auto-generate duplicate listings. These listings kept the addresses visible and promoted the Contact Us pages of the sites as the landing pages on the GBPs. This resulted in dozens and dozens of our customers having 2 GBPs; one with their address hidden as is in compliance with Google’s best practices and with the home page of the lead site used as the landing page, and the other with the address visible and showing an actual pin location that promoted the Contact Us page of the website as the landing page.

Below is an example of a customer who ended up with two GBPs, one that was successfully created and managed by the team at 99 Calls and the other that was auto-generated by Google:

Duplicate Auto-Generated GBP:

Original GBP Managed by 99 Calls:

Google’s Business Profile Guidelines

As per Google’s guidelines, businesses such as plumbers, electricians, HVAC contractors, and other trades should keep their addresses hidden on their GBP, allowing them to be represented as service area businesses. This prevents Google Maps from having an actual pinpointed location and instead displays the service area served by the business. The duplicate listings that were being generated by Google were out of compliance with their own guidelines.

Correct GBP: Service Area Shown:

Incorrect GBP: Address Shown with Pin:

How 99 Calls Fixed Duplicate GBPs

Having 2 GBP listings with the same business name, address, phone number, and website can impact SEO efforts, hinder lead volume results, risk a suspension of the live active GBP we manage, and cause confusion for people searching. 

Since 95% of our clients are service area businesses and do not have a brick-and-mortar location, we submitted suggested edits regarding the duplicate GBPs to Google. Specifically, we suggested that the businesses no longer existed at the locations indicated. We waited 30 days, and then if the duplicate listing had not been removed, we contacted Google Support for additional help, explaining the situation and asking them to remove the duplicate or merge it with the original GBP that we manage. 

Effectiveness of Removing Google-Generated Duplicate Listings

In some cases, the duplicate listings had been removed within 30 days of the suggested edits. More often, the duplicate listings were still showing and our team contacted Google support for further action. Within 60 days, almost all reported duplicates had either been removed or merged by Google, leaving just 1 GBP for the business.

Google Removed the Wrong Business Profile!

However, a new problematic issue was noted. In many cases, Google was merging the 2 GBPs but keeping the (incorrect, auto-generated) duplicate GBP. After the merge, what was shown was a GBP with the reviews still intact, but with the address visible and the landing page that people are being directed to as the Contact Us page, rather than the homepage of the website. Also, the business category is often slightly different than what it was prior and the business hours were removed. Unfortunately, this means we had to go to the GBP dashboard and correct the problems on the profiles. Luckily, once these edits were completed and the listing was back in order, the problem was resolved for our customers.

How to Prevent Google From Creating a Duplicate GBP

The team at 99 Calls recognized that Google was using the information contained on the Contact Us page of our lead generation websites to build these second (duplicate) listings. By removing the Contact Us pages from the sites altogether and utilizing an About Us page only, we have been able to avoid further issues with these duplicates being generated. 

Business Website, digital marketing, Google Ads, Lead Generation, Lead Generation for Contractors, Nurturing, Online Appointment Booking, online marketing, Pay Per Click Advertising, service contractor leads

Phone Etiquette Achieves Higher Sales

Phone Tips from an Experienced Customer Service Representative

by Devon Osborne

The way you conduct yourself on the phone with potential customers can be the determining factor in whether you get the job or not. Proper phone etiquette may seem straightforward, but it can be easy to slip up and speak to potential customers or business partners as you would speak with a friend. Making an outstanding first impression, in a good way, of course, will help you convert more jobs. 

Dos

  • Answer the phone with a professional greeting. Introduce yourself & your company 
    • Customers want to know whether or not they’ve reached the proper party as soon as possible. Start your conversation off on the right foot with a professional greeting like: “Hi this is [name] with [company], how may I help you?”
  • Return calls quickly
    • Missing calls is something that is bound to happen, but it is important to return calls promptly. A good rule of thumb is to try and respond to missed calls within 24 hours, but the sooner the better! If you have difficulty being available to answer calls, consider hiring a receptionist or using an automated process for responding to missed calls such as this one.
  • Speak clearly
    • Don’t Mumble! You want your customer to be able to hear what you’re saying, don’t you? Speaking clearly and confidently can help avoid unnecessary frustration and build trust with the customer.
  • Listen to what the customer is saying, take notes, & don’t interrupt
    • Why are you answering the call if you’re too busy to actively listen to the customer’s needs? Having a conversation with someone who is not listening is maddening. Agree on a time that you both can speak and call back. 
  • Be kind
    • Would you choose a company to work with if they were rude to you? No. Being kind is an easy thing to do and it goes a long way. Just be nice!
  • Eliminate background noise
    • If you’re in a noisy environment, make it a point to move to a quieter place. 

Don’ts

  • Don’t use unprofessional language
    • This should be a given, but please don’t use unprofessional language like cursing. This is a professional phone call you’re on, so you should act like it. 
  • Don’t make it complicated
    • Asking customers to text you their address or asking them to call YOU back at a more convenient time is off-putting. When you make it complicated for them to get the information they need from you, they will seek it elsewhere.
  • Don’t eat, drink, or chew gum
    •  If you were face to face with the person on the other line, would you do this right into their ears? Hopefully not. Swallow the mouthful of food or drink that’s in your mouth before picking up and take a quick break from eating for the entirety of the call.
  • Don’t use the bathroom
    • If you’re using the bathroom and get a call, please don’t answer the phone. Finish up your business and call the person right back, believe me, they’ll appreciate it. You may think you’re being discreet, but I can promise you that they know.
  • Don’t make promises you can’t keep
    • It is always best to be upfront and honest with potential and current clients. If there are things that you know aren’t possible, or are not entirely sure of, be very clear about that in the beginning. Making false promises with customers never ends well and can land you a negative review.

Business Website, digital marketing, Lead Generation, Lead Generation for Contractors, Online Appointment Booking, online marketing, online marketing costs, service contractor leads

Should I Add an Appointment Booking System to My Website?

Pros and Cons of Using Online Calendar Booking for Lead Generation Sites

by Diane Lovine

The team at 99 Calls has increasingly been asked about online calendar bookings for lead generation sites. Many service contractors are utilizing appointment scheduling software for their lead generation websites. Most often, small businesses report using appointment-setting features to allow customers to schedule free consultations.

The Cons of Adding Online Calendar Booking Features

Some home and business services contractors choose not to add this new technology to their sites. The main reasons cited are concerns that it will be too complicated to manage by their team and their customers. Often, this stems from the contractor not having technical experience or access to a web consultant or software developer. After all, a calendar for booking appointments on your website will need to sync with the calendar used by office staff so that you don’t end up overbooked. The best remedy is to purchase a calendar booking tool and have someone else manage it. Many lead generation companies now offer calendar booking as part of a service package.

Another concern expressed by contractors is that using an appointment setting feature to book an appointment for a quote is less personal than speaking directly with the customers. If you are a contractor who is available and prefers to answer the phone each time it rings, you may want to continue with the personal touch that you offer. 

The Pros of Adding Online Calendar Booking Capabilities 

Although there are a few valid concerns regarding adding this technology to websites, the pros overwhelmingly outweigh them. There are many reasons why giving customers the option to book a repeat service or an appointment for a quote makes sense.

The top reason for adding online appointment booking capability to lead sites is that it adds convenience both for contractors and their customers. Most service contractors run small businesses and the office staff is not always available to answer incoming calls. Contractors are working in the field and often can’t pause what they are doing to answer calls. The result is missed calls, which results in missed business opportunities and ultimately, lost revenue. 

Another benefit of installing an appointment calendar is that it makes businesses more accessible to potential customers during off-hours. People are often searching for home services during evenings and weekends when service businesses are closed. Providing them with the ability to book an appointment for an in-home or even over-the-phone quote is simple for them and means their search for a contractor may end with you! 

In order to keep up with today’s consumer demands, the question becomes “How” to add a calendar, rather than “Whether” to add one. Installing and maintaining online appointment scheduling programs can be expensive, so you’ll want to shop around. Some businesses report spending $199 per month on the service. With some research, you’ll be able to find a service that can work with your existing website and provide support at a fair price. 

Due to high demand from our clients, 99 Calls now offers a calendar booking feature that can be customized and added to websites. The maintenance fee of the calendar feature is just $29 per month. Click here to learn more. 

Business Website, digital marketing, Lead Generation, Lead Generation for Contractors, online marketing, online marketing costs, SEM, SEO

Why Aren’t My Clients’ Reviews Posting on Google Business Profile?

by Dipa Gandhi

Have you had your clients tell you they left a review on your business’s Google Business Profile (GBP) but when you look it’s not showing up or publishing? Many business owners and GBP managers are asking this same question daily.

We all know the importance of getting people to write and post great quality, positive reviews on your business’s GBP. You should continually encourage your happy customers to review your business. It’s understandably frustrating when you’ve provided an excellent service and a happy customer tells you they gave you a positive review, but it doesn’t show.

This blog will help explain why Google decides to publish some reviews and not others. For a refresher on the importance of Google reviews, refer to Part 1 of Google reviews blog series, https://blog.99calls.com/2022/04/01/importance-of-reviews-on-google-profile/). Here is a quick recap: Reviews on your GBP not only make your business stand out more, but also helps your GBP rank higher, add to a positive consumer experience, gain trust, and increase conversions. So when you have clients tell you they’re leaving or trying to leave a review for your business but it’s not showing up, it can be very concerning, and trust me, the SEO team at 99 Calls has also experienced this, so we can relate to your situation.

Google has strict algorithms in place to vet all the reviews. The purpose of this is to show search users true and factual reviews and block fake reviews. Unfortunately, sometimes good, legitimate reviews can accidentally get weeded out with the bad ones.

Some common reasons your clients’ reviews may not be showing up are:

  • Your business offers Wi-Fi that customers connect to and you’ve logged into your Google My Business account from this Wi-Fi.
  • The review contains a URL or phone number that is considered to be a form of solicitation or advertising.
  • The review contains a word Google doesn’t like, such as profanity, racial terms, hateful content, or offensive content.
  • You hired an SEO company to post reviews for you.
  • You have an onsite review station (iPad, computer etc.) at your location.
  • The user who left the review is located nowhere near you or has never physically visited your location.
  • Offering a reward or discount to a customer for leaving a positive review.

For more information from Google on restricted or prohibited content in reviews, refer to this link, https://support.google.com/contributionpolicy/answer/7400114#zippy=.

The next time your clients ask you why their reviews aren’t showing up even though they’re leaving them, check with them to make sure none of the above requirements are being violated. It is possible they are not following Google’s review policies.

Business Website, Carpet Cleaning Leads, cleaning business leads, Commercial Cleaning Leads, digital marketing, Lead Generation, Lead Generation for Contractors, online marketing, SEO

How to Gain High Quality Reviews on Your Google Business Profile

Part 2 in the Series: Importance of Building High Quality Reviews on GBP

by Diane Lovine and Dipa Gandhi

We’ve learned the importance of having lots of high quality reviews on your business profile. More and more, business owners need to build a high volume of  positive reviews to help them rank online and stand out among their competitors. Reviews can make or break a business. 

The challenge is getting your customers to leave positive reviews on your site. 

Unhappy customers are ten times more likely to leave negative reviews about a business than highly satisfied customers are to leave positive reviews. How can businesses motivate happy customers to leave positive reviews for them?

Ask on the Spot

  1. Service businesses can equip their field agents with tablets that can be used to prompt customers to log onto their Google or Yelp account to leave a review on the spot once each job is complete. When customers are asked to leave a review sometime in the future, they often forget and it becomes inconvenient.
  1. Some businesses choose to hand out their business card after the job is complete with a QR code that takes customers directly to their Google Business Profile (GBP) link, or any other review site, to write a review. Providing a QR code is a quick and easy way for customers to leave a review.  

Make it Simple

  1. Some lead companies now offer comprehensive solutions for reputation management and can set you up on a system that automatically sends links to Google upon completion of each job. This is often a free or inexpensive add-on service as part of a business services package.
  1. Whether you pay a service that sends links to your customers or you send a link yourself manually, the name of the game is to make it as simple as possible for your customers to access your listings and provide a positive review. 
  1. Any time you can reduce the time spent looking for a citation or website to leave a review and eliminate the possibility of leaving a review to the wrong business, you’re increasing your chances of building more reviews. 

Follow Up

  1. It’s OK to send an email reminder a day or two after a job well done if you find that the customer has not left you a review. You might send another after a week or so. If you still don’t get a response, drop it for now. Persistence is great, but the last thing you want is to be a nuisance.
  1. Follow up in 8-12 months again with a nurturing email or a promotion to stay top of mind with your customer. You want them to remember you when it’s time to have more work done. This gives you an opportunity to win their business again and another chance to build your online reputation. Lead generation companies often provide database remarketing and lead nurturing as a part of their total business growth package. Ask your 99 Calls rep for more information if this sounds interesting to you.

Initiate A Process

  1. Be sure to request and store your customers’ information including name, email, address and cell phone number. Once each job is complete, send an email explaining that reviews are much appreciated an very helpful and include the GBP review link. Customers may prefer to leave a review on a different site such as Yelp or Facebook which is also great. Keep in mind timing is key. You want to be sure to send the email within a day or 2 after the job is complete so the customers initial reaction to the completed job is still fresh in their mind and is transmitted to the review accurately.
  1. Along with sending an email, you may be able to save your customers even more time by offering to provide a template of a review to eliminate additional steps of trying to figure out what to write. This would also ensure the customer leaves a quality review, with content and the type of service provided rather than just a star rating.

Challenge Your Employees

Another creative way of gaining reviews is to offer incentives to your field agents. Gamefy it by offering a prize for the employees who get the most  customer reviews. You don’t want to directly offer your customers incentives to leave a review on GBP as it is against Google’s policies, but an incentive for your field agent might achieve the same goal without violating Google’s policies.

No matter what method you use to gain reviews, your ultimate goal is to gain those positive reviews on a frequent basis to build trust, increasing rankings and ultimately get more leads. The key is to make it quick and simple for your customers.

Want a refresher on why it’s important to get reviews on your Google Business Profile?Refer to the blog from April on the Importance of Reviews on your Google Business Profile.

Business Website, digital marketing, Lead Generation, Lead Generation for Contractors, online marketing, SEM, SEO, service contractor leads, Uncategorized

Multiple Business Websites: Harmful or Beneficial?

by Diane Lovine and Danielle Giarrusso

What is the impact of having more than one website?

Does it increase your visibility online? Does it confuse your customers?

There is conflicting information about whether using a multiple domain strategy (having two or more websites) will hurt or help a business. Often, the information is based on assumptions about the content and setup of the sites. Here are the facts:

Some lead generation companies say that a second site is a bad idea. Here are some of the arguments that have been made against having multiple websites:

1.   “Having multiple websites produces duplicate content (a big no-no for Google rankings).”

Having two sites with very similar content (or the same content) is definitely harmful. You will almost surely suffer losses in your rankings for both sites.

However, if you have a lead generation site with entirely different content than your branded site, pages from each site have the potential to rank highly, which improves your odds for a more expansive online presence.

2.   “Promoting multiple websites will confuse your customers.”

When people search for the services you provide on Google, they don’t know about you. A lead generation site is built to rank highly and present you as an option to them. Most branded sites don’t rank as highly as lead generation sites but are useful to your customers who are looking YOU up online.

Once you get that lead (probably through your lead site) and establish contact with the customer, you’ll hand out your business card which will take them to your direct phone number and branded site moving forward.

3.  “Using multiple websites will divide your results, weakening your rankings.”

It is true that having one authoritative presence online is ideal. But if your one presence is minuscule, it pays to make a bigger splash. The 99 Calls team builds sites that rank for a variety of keywords in multiple locations, almost always outranking a business’ primary website. The expectation is that your lead site will rank higher over time, and your original site will stay the same.

Other instances when a second site is warranted include having multiple small offices within a state or region and having multiple products or services that aren’t quite related. In these cases, having a targeted site for each circumstance makes sense.

A second (and third or more) site would be beneficial when targeting various geographic locations if you have a physical address for each location. If this is the case, having a “microsite” for each satellite office is beneficial. Google loves to show businesses that are extremely local to the searcher.

A second site is also beneficial if you promote multiple unrelated services. For example, if you are a licensed remodeling contractor and you sell real estate on the side, it makes sense to separate those services into two sites so that you can better target each service.

4.   “Promoting 2 sites for the same business will cause you to compete against yourself.”

If you have the same headings or are promoting the same keywords in the same location on two different sites, you are probably competing with yourself.

Would you rather compete against yourself or your competitors? Adding a lead site gives you the potential to dominate the first page of Google, knocking a competitor back to page 2!

5.   “Having two websites will get you in trouble with Google.”

Not quite. Multiple listings in the same town for the same business is definitely problematic though! 

If you build listings, especially a Google Business Profile that use the same address or phone number for the same business, you are putting your online presence in jeopardy. You can only have one Google Business Profile in a given geographic location.

The bottom line:

If your primary website is not generating enough leads, hiring a reputable lead generation company that uses a second site for leads can be a smart strategy for growth.

A multiple domain marketing strategy is more expensive, but if the ROI is high, you are maximizing your marketing budget and your potential to optimize your lead volume! You may own a larger slice of the first-page real estate on Google and enjoy more inbound leads as a result.

99 Calls has been selected as a Google Partner and utilizes a unique SEO strategy to get businesses highly ranked in their local areas for the services they offer.