In a previous article, we talked about why you need a well-designed logo for your local service business (e.g., painter, electrician, landscaping, house cleaning) and how to effectively apply it to your marketing materials to enhance your local presence and make your brand instantly recognizable.
If you’re ready to take a stab in creating a logo for your business, there are many online tools you can use to generate a logo that you can apply to all customer touch points.
Here are 3 popular online logo makers and how they stack up against each other:
Get started on VistaPrint or BrandCrowd by choosing from a wide range of design templates as a starting point from which you can customize the text, colors, and fonts.
LogoMix offers fewer layout options and you can begin the process by choosing a style, color, and font.
All three logo makers offer templates you can use as starting points to customize your design with their editing tools.
Brandcrowd offers the most user-friendly editor with many options to adjust text, fonts, layout, background, icon, and shapes.
Output Variety and Cost
You need the ability to download the final design files in a variety of formats and resolution so you can apply the design to different marketing materials (e.g., website, print, etc.)
You can apply the logo you have created with VistaPrint’s logo maker onto its own products at no additional cost or you can download the files, including color and black-and-white versions, icon-only versions, landscape and portrait layouts, and high-quality PDF and JPEG for $20 each.
BrandCrowd is free to use and you can purchase your logo in a standard package ($45) that includes high-resolution PNG and JPG files (for web), vector SVG, EPS and PDF files (for print), files with transparent background, and multiple logo variations.
For $39.95, you can download high-quality source files you can use for documents, business cards, and websites from LogoMix. The logos are available in multiple sizes, black & white, and transparent formats.
VistaPrint and LogoMix allow you to apply the logo you have created using their logo makers to business cards, brochures, shirts, stationery, website, promotional products, labels, stickers, etc. directly on their website so you don’t have to spend the time to download and upload the assets.
Keep in mind that printing can be tricky because the colors you see on the screen may not be the same as it comes out on paper, especially if you use different vendors. Having the same service to design and print your logo can minimize unpleasant surprises, saving you time and money.
If you plan to use different vendors, check that the file formats provided by the logo maker are accepted so you don’t get locked into a single provider.
The various online logo makers offer easy and affordable options for creating a visual identity that can help you build brand awareness in your community and attract more customers.
Your logo, when applied to various customer touch points such as website, social media, third-party review sites, and offline promotional materials – can help you deliver a consistent customer experience that’ll help you augment your local presence and build trust.
In the last few months (Summer 2019) , we’ve seen an increase in Google My Business (GMB) listing suspensions. Why? Maybe Google filters have become more stringent. Maybe Google is cracking down on spammy listings. Whatever the reason, yes, there were many spammy listings removed, but there were also many legitimate businesses affected by this crackdown. In fact, there have been so many suspensions, and reinstatement requests that Google’s incorporated a banner notifying all users of the high volume of suspended listing questions.
What’s a Suspended Listing?
First of all, what does it mean to have a suspended Google listing? There are 2 types of suspensions, a soft suspension, and a hard suspension. We are not seeing many soft suspensions anymore, but once in a while, you may. This is simply when your GMB listing is still live, but in your account it shows as suspended. However, you no longer have the ability to manage it. On the other hand, hard suspensions are much more common. In this case, your entire listing has been removed from Google and shows as suspended in your account.
In either case, when your listing is suspended, Google feels you have violated their policies in some way, and you need to try to get it reinstated.
Why was my GMB listing suspended?
If your Google My Business listing was suspended, you’ll want to ask yourself if you are following all of Google’s guidelines. The number one reason a listing is suspended is because of Google’s policy violations. Some of the most common violations include:
Your address is a P.O. Box or mailing facility
Keyword stuffing – Your business name is stuffed with keywords and not simply your business name
You are a service area business but haven’t listed yourself as a service area business
There’s already another business or multiple businesses at the address you’ve provided
Your listing has a website which is a forwarded URL
You have multiple listings for the same business within close proximity
You’ve had several recent changes to your business listing
You’ve made multiple field edits at once
Simply because you’re a “high-risk” industry which seems to many spammy listings such as Garage Door Contractors, Locksmiths, Plumbers, or other home-based, service-providing businesses
What can I do now?
Once you’ve reviewed all of Google’s policies and confirmed that none have been violated, or you’ve rectified any policy violations, you’ll need to “appeal for reinstatement”. To appeal, it’s fairly simple. You need to complete this form, https://support.google.com/business/troubleshooter/2690129?authuser=1. Once the form is completed, you’ll need to patiently wait till Google’s reviewed all your information. Once reviewed, they’ll send you a response via email with either a rejection:
Or approval of reinstatement:
Once in awhile, upon completion of the appeal for reinstatement form, Google may email you requesting proof of your business, it’s legitimacy and that you own it. In this case, depending on whether you’re a brick and mortar business or service area business, they may ask for an image showing signage of your storefront and the address or a state license or registration. Once submitted, you wait.
If you’ve waited for a few weeks and haven’t received a response from Google, the best way to reach out to Google support is via Twitter, @GoogleMyBiz.
However, simply doing the basics is no longer enough to help you stand out from a large pool of service providers in local search results.
How can you capture the attention of your potential customers… and Google?
Turns out, they’re not that different!
Google considers user behavior as a signal of relevancy and uses it as a ranking factor, so what works for your audience will work for Google too!
How do people decide that they can trust a product or service provider?
In today’s crowded marketplace, we don’t have time to compare and research every single product or service. We take a shortcut by choosing those that we recognize.
We take a recognizable brand as a shorthand that we can trust the product or service. Have you noticed that when you’re looking for a product online, you often type in a brand name instead of the generic name? (E.g., Band-Aid, not self-adhesive bandages.)
When a website gets a high amount of brand queries (i.e., people use the brand name in their searches) compared to their competitors, Google takes it as a signal that it’s preferred over the others.
Since consumers prefer and search for brand names, Google gives them higher priority for all the terms they’re optimized for. As such, Google considers these sites to be more relevant and therefore, will rank them higher in relevant search results.
So, what can you do to build a brand for your local service business?
How To Create a Successful Brand For Your Local Service Business
First, keep in mind that establishing your brand is a long game. It’s not about making immediate sales.
The goal is to stay top of mind and position yourself as an expert. You want people to recognize your brand, remember it, and trust it. So when they need the services you provide, they’ll search for your business name.
Here’s how to build a brand that’ll capture the attention of your prospects and Google alike:
1. Choose a Unique And Memorable Business Name
If people can’t remember your business name, they won’t enter it into Google, right?
Your business name should be easy to recall and hard to misspell. For example, if you print out the website URL on a poster or say your URL on a radio ad, will your prospects be able to remember it clearly and spell it correctly?
When naming your business, also consider the names of your competitors. For example, if your business name is very similar to that of more established competitor, you’re likely to lose out on the SEO ranking.
In addition, include keywords in your brand name or URL if possible. This will not only aid recall but also signal to Google that your website is relevant to the search terms.
2. Deliver Great Services And Leverage Word Of Mouth
Providing outstanding services is the key to getting known for your expertise and building a stellar reputation that’ll benefit your business for years to come.
If you deliver great results, then your existing customers are likely to look you up online when they need your services again. Or they’d share their experience with others, who’d then search for you online. As a result, your brand queries will increase and Google will take notice.
Also, leverage the power of word of mouth by asking your happy customers to post online reviews about your business. This will increase your brand’s visibility on third-party sites, build brand recognition, and boost your credibility.
3. Create Value And Share It Everywhere
Creating value is one of the best ways to build trust and nurture relationships with your prospects and customers.
Publish relevant and helpful blog articles regularly (e.g., once a week) and don’t skimp on the promotional efforts. Share the content with your email list and on social media to build credibility while driving traffic back to your website.
You can also create videos to engage viewers and build a personal connection. It also helps you get found on YouTube and leverage the increasing popularity of video content on social media (e.g., Facebook, Instagram.)
Select topics that allow you to showcase your expertise. Focus on helping your audience solve their problems rather than talking about your services – nobody wants to watch a 5-minute infomercial!
4. Engage With Your Community
As a local service business, you can enhance your brand by building relationships with the local community online and offline.
Participate in and/or sponsor local events and take advantage of the in-person interactions to build rapport with prospects. Take photos and videos then share them on your website, email newsletter, or social media to boost your local presence.
You can also join online neighborhood communities, such as Nextdoor, in which you can participate in conversations, add value, and become a trusted resource for topics in your area of expertise.
Establishing a unique and memorable brand can help you create a virtuous cycle that drives more traffic and improves your search engine ranking.
Of course, just building a brand and driving traffic isn’t going to bring you customers. You also need to dial in your lead generation and lead nurturing strategies to progress prospects down your sales funnel.
That’s why a lead generating website is such a critical component of SEO – when you drive traffic to your website, you want to get the highest ROI by capturing visitors’ information so you can follow up and close the sale.
Here at 99 Calls, we not only help you drive high-quality traffic but also build an optimized lead generation website to optimize your conversion rate. Learn more and request a free demo here.
Is there a “right” marketing channel for promoting your local service business?
The truth is, it’s no longer enough to use just one or two marketing channels. Consumers are interacting with brands across a variety of platforms at different stages of their customer lifecycles and they expect to do the same with local service providers.
How can you be “everywhere” and meet your customers where they are?
What’s Multi-Channel Marketing?
Multi-channel marketing is the strategy of communicating and interacting with prospects and customers across a variety of channels, such as website, online ads, social media, direct mail, email, mobile app, print ads, etc.
It allows you to stay accessible to your target market and deliver your marketing message in the right place and at the right time.
Why Multi-Channel Marketing Works For Local Service Businesses
If you’re wondering whether it’s worth the effort to establish a presence on a variety of marketing channels, consider these benefits of multi-channel marketing:
More than 70% of consumers look up businesses in three or more channels before making a purchase. It’s important that prospects can find your information on the platforms of their choice.
Being present on multiple channels will allow your information to be found by more prospects.
People need to see a marketing message more than 10 times for it to have a long-term effect. Showing your ads on multiple channels increases exposure, reinforces your brand image, and helps you stay top of mind.
Different channels have different advantages. For example, digital channels can deliver personalized promotions in real-time while offline channels are effective for building brand awareness.
The Most Effective Marketing Channels For Local Service Businesses
The next question, of course, is which channels to use. Here are the marketing channels most suitable for local service professionals:
PPC ads allow you to set up highly targeted campaigns that are shown to prospects located in your service area and triggered by specific keywords in their searches. They can drive high-quality traffic that’s most likely to engage your services right away.
To optimize your PPC campaigns, you need to select the right keywords, target the right audience segment (e.g., by location, demographics, etc.), and optimize your bidding strategy.
Besides typical text ads, you can use Google Local Services Ads (LSA) to get your information shown in “position zero,” above all other paid and organic search results to capture searchers’ attention and generate more clicks.
Consumers trust online reviews as much as they trust recommendations from friends and neighbors. Establishing a positive online reputation on review sites (e.g., Yelp, Google, Facebook, Better Business Bureau) can help you attract prospects and increase conversion rate.
Since these sites have high domain authority (aka, “Google juice”,) your listing is more likely to appear close to the top of search results while the backlink to your site will help boost your SEO.
Start by claiming your business listing and optimizing your business profile on these sites. Then, implement an online review strategy to get happy customers to post reviews and manage your online reputation.
Target prospects in your service area, establish a local presence, and build relationships with the community by using sites such as Craigslist and Nextdoor.
These platforms give you a no- or low-cost way to reach the local community. You can get in front of prospects that are searching for the particular service you provide or build trust with your target market.
Due to the different nature of these sites, they have varying guidelines. Follow the rules and develop a strategy for each platform so you can reach the right audience with the most appropriate messaging.
Platforms such as HomeAdvisors, Thumbtack, CraftJack, etc. connect local businesses with customers that are looking for service professionals in specific geographic areas.
These services vary from one vendor to another, e.g., pay-per-lead vs. monthly fee; exclusive vs. shared leads; verified vs. non-verified leads. You should select the type of service based on your needs, budget, and resources.
Email marketing is one of the most cost-effective ways to nurture customer relationships, increase credibility, stay top of mind, and build loyalty. In fact, it’s almost 40 times more effective than Facebook and Twitter combined in customer acquisition!
Sign up for an email service (don’t send email campaigns from your personal email account!) to ensure high deliverability and leverage various features such as mobile-friendly templates, automation, segmentation, and analytics to optimize your results.
Use emails to share valuable content, deliver personalized offers, and ask for reviews. Be consistent with your mailing schedule to stay top of mind and nurture relationships with your subscribers.
Since most consumers are already using social media (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram) to connect with friends and ask for recommendations, you should make it easy for prospects to look you up and interact with you on these platforms.
Set up a business page and complete your company profile. Research local keywords and use the appropriate hashtags to increase exposure to users in your service area.
While you can use PPC ads on social media to promote your services, don’t forget the “social” part! You should focus on interacting with your followers, increasing engagement, and building relationships on these platforms.
Mobile Apps and Text
More consumers are interacting with businesses and making purchases via their mobile devices. Mobile apps, messaging apps, and SMS are great ways to reach prospects and customers in real-time to deliver the right message in the right place and at the right time.
SMS messages have a 98% open rate and you can also use it to boost engagement on other channels (e.g., email.) Meanwhile, mobile apps allow you to send push notifications and leverage other mobile-specific features (e.g., geo-fencing, autofill) to improve customer experience and increase sales.
There are many offline marketing channels you can use to increase brand awareness and build relationships with your customers, such as:
Local events: boost your local presence by hosting or participating in community events. You can use the opportunity to showcase your services, build your email list, and get prospects to connect with you through other online channels so you can continue building relationships.
Direct mail: done strategically, direct mail has almost 4 times the open rate when compared to email. Choose the right kind of format that’s appropriate for your budget, offerings, and target audience. Don’t forget to write engaging copy to drive conversion.
Signage: vehicle decals, yards signs, branded apparel or products, billboards, local print ads, and posters are just some examples of signage you can use to build a local presence and increase brand awareness. Include your website URL or a QR code whenever appropriate to drive traffic to your website and capture leads.
Yellow Pages: you can claim a listing for free or pay a small fee for a highlighted listing (which is different from an ad.) The fee depends on your location and you can also get priority listing on YP’s online directory.
Keys To Multi-Channel Marketing Success
Multi-channel marketing is highly effective since you can create synergy among the different touch points to amplify results. Here’s how to make the most of your multi-channel marketing efforts:
Research about your audience to create the most effective marketing message and offers.
Choose the right channels to meet your target market where they’re at.
Be consistent with your brand image and messaging across all channels to deliver a seamless customer experience.
Integrate your campaigns across channels to increase engagement and exposure.
Use retargeting ads (e.g., on Facebook) to show specific offers to prospects who have already visited your website.
Use both online and offline channels to enhance each other for a seamless customer journey.
You should have a lead-generating website to which you can direct online traffic and capture prospects’ information. This will allow you to continue to build trust and nurture relationships through other channels (e.g., email.)
Last but not least, track your traffic source and conversion rate to see which channels yield the best results so you can focus your budget and efforts.
A: Dominating page 1 of Google by getting featured multiple times!
If you wonder whether ranking high on Google search results is important for a local service business such as plumber, electrician, housecleaning service, or landscaper – get this: 46% of all searches are local while 76% of them result in a phone call!
Getting mentioned multiple times on Google SERPs (search engine results pages) can amplify your local service business’s online presence and increase its credibility, which in turn will drive more online traffic and attract more high-quality leads.
Here’s an example:
Colonial Carpet Cleaning shows up an amazing 6-8 times on SERPs for “rug cleaning Wilmington MA” and “carpet cleaning Wilmington MA”!
The chances of this business being seen by prospects that are actively looking for carpet cleaning services and making an impression have increased greatly since it appears so many times.
So, what can you do so your business shows up multiple times on the first page of Google search results?
If you look at a local search results page, you’d notice that there are a few different sections – the local ads at the top (“carpet cleaner nearby”) the text ads, the local pack (with map and links,) and then the organic search results.
By optimizing for all these different components, you can appear multiple times on relevant local search results on Google.
Local Service Ads (LSA)
At the very top of the SERP are the Local Service Ads (LSA). It’s a pay-per-lead platform by Google for local service businesses.
These ads are shown on all devices and display key information that helps increase conversions, such as star ratings, business hours, and phone number.
Since it’s an independent product, you can run LSA alongside Google Ads without them interfering with each other’s ranking or effectiveness.
To set up your LSA, simply visit the LSA website, follow the online instructions, estimate the ad spend, and create your profile.
Make sure to submit your business license and insurance details for Google to verify your information. The “Google Guaranteed” badge will then be added to your ad to increase credibility and drive more traffic.
Many SERPs for local service inquiries (e.g., “near me” searches) display the search results on a map with the businesses’ locations and website links.
The local pack is shown on both desktop and mobile search results and is a very effective way for capturing the attention of high-quality leads that are ready to hire a service provider.
Star ratings and customer testimonials are particularly powerful for increasing your credibility and attracting more clicks. You can put client testimonials on your website and then use schema markup so they show up on organic Google listings.
In addition, monitor your GMB listing regularly to ensure that you’re responding to queries and comments in a timely manner. Keep in mind that anyone can update your GMB listing so log onto your dashboard regularly to make sure that the information is accurate.
Text ads are still one of the most effective ways to reach prospects that are located in your geographic area and have high purchase intent. These ads are simple and easy to create, not to mention Google is always adding new features to help advertisers optimize results.
Google has access to a tremendous amount of user data. With the help of AI-driven technologies, it’s now possible for small businesses to tap into that wealth of information.
Leverage the granular targeting options available on the Google Ads platform to help you reach the highest-quality leads. For example, you can choose targeting segments based on demographics, in-market users, custom intent, similar audiences, and remarketing.
Use Google’s automated bidding feature to optimize your bids, which uses machine-learning technologies to tailor the right bids for every single auction.
In addition, Google often introduces new ad formats to help advertisers improve results. For example, by using ad extensions (e.g., call extensions, location extensions) you can provide additional information and increase the “real estate” your ad occupies on SERPs so you can capture more attention at no additional cost.
Last but not least, optimize your ad copy to include relevant long-tail keywords and a call-to-action to drive targeted traffic.
Organic Search: On-Page SEO
While ads are becoming more prominent on SERPs, it’s not to say that organic search isn’t important. In fact, many consumers still prefer to click on organic search results instead of ads.
As more consumers are using their smartphones to search for local service providers, it’s becoming even more important to get ranked high on the first page so your link can be seen with minimum scrolling.
On-page SEO is one of the most effective ways to improve your ranking on SERPs. Here are a few things you can do:
Mobile optimization: since Google introduced mobile-first indexing, websites that are optimized for mobile devices are given priorities in search engine rankings.
Site speed: reduce load time by optimizing assets (e.g., images) and cleaning up the code.
Navigation and usability: simplify your website structure so users can find the information they need quickly and easily.
Long-tail keywords: optimize your content for long-tail keywords, which helps you rank high in relevant search results and attract visitors with high purchase intent.
Visual content: leverage the power of images and photos to increase engagement. Use alt tags with the proper keywords so search engines can index the content.
Videos: post videos on YouTube (which is another great way to get listed on the first page of Google) and then embed them onto your website.
Third-Party Review Sites and Local Directories
Many third-party sites (e.g., Yelp, Google) have high domain authority, which Google uses as a signal for trusted sources. By listing your business on these sites, you can leverage their “SEO juice” to get extra spots on the first page.
Listing on these sites also adds backlinks from high authority sites, which can help improve your website’s ranking.
Make sure to complete your profiles and include your website URL so you can increase your reach on the review sites and drive more traffic back to your website.
Online reviews, especially on your Google My Business listing, is another signal Google uses to determine ranking. A 5-star review will add credibility to your local pack listing or LSA and attract more high-quality prospects.
While it’s important to show up on Google first page so you can drive more website traffic, your website also needs to be optimized to effectively capture leads so you can turn them into customers.
That’s why here at 99 Calls, we combine the latest SEO best practices with a lead generating website to maximize your marketing ROI.
Learn more and see how we can help you dominate Google first page here.
There are many things to juggle when you’re running a local service business (e.g., painter, plumber, electrician, cleaner) and designing a logo may not be at the top of your to-do list.
However, a well-designed logo is a key component in your marketing toolkit. It helps you establish a consistent presence in the community and become instantly recognizable to prospects and customers.
Here’s what you should know when creating a logo for your local service business:
Why Should You Have a Logo?
In today’s crowded marketplace, a standout logo design can help you capture prospects’ attention while communicating your brand value and expertise effectively.
Here are some benefits of using a well-designed logo in your marketing:
Create a strong first impression: Americans are exposed to 4,000 to 10,000 ads each day and brands have just 2 seconds to pique prospects’ interest. A visually appealing logo builds brand awareness and increases brand recognition so you can stand out from your competition.
Deliver a consistent customer experience: a logo creates a sense of familiarity that builds trust and fosters customer relationships. A consistent brand presence also helps improve customer loyalty and retention for your service business.
Enhance brand recognition across customer touch points: most prospects and customers will interact with your brand online and offline. When you use a logo on the various online platforms (e.g., website, social media, online directories, review sites) and offline marketing materials, you can establish a consistent presence that builds brand awareness and reinforce your brand identity.
DIY Logo Design For Your Local Service Business
If you want to take a stab at creating your own logo, follow these steps to set a solid foundation for the design process:
Get inspiration from logos of other businesses in your industry.
Consider your ideal customers’ preferences and use design elements that speak to the target market. E.g., what represents “expert” or “trustworthiness” to them?
Make the logo clean and functional – it should be scalable, easy to reproduce, memorable, and distinctive.
Use production-friendly color options. E.g., a five-color logo may look great but the printing cost will be very high.
Consider how your business name affects the layout of the logo.
Illustrate the key benefits of your services with graphic elements.
Avoid using clip art and trendy looks.
There are many online “DIY” logo design tools you can use to create your logo. When selecting a logo maker, consider its usability, variety of templates and design elements, customer support, downloadable file formats, and the availability of other branding tools (e.g., business card template.)
Here are some of the top online logo design services:
Vistaprint Logo Maker – https://www.vistaprint.com/logoMakerService: choose from a variety of general logos and then customize as you wish for only $20.00. Of course, Vistaprint will try to upsell other products, but if you want business cards, letterhead, or even shirts, or pens, this is a one-stop shop.
LogoMix – https://www.logomix.com/step1: similar to Vistaprint, LogoMix offers a large variety of semi-customizable logos for $39.95, though they often have promotions to lower this price. And like Vistaprint you can get your new logo printed on all kinds of merchandise.
BrandCrowd – https://www.brandcrowd.com/: for more variety, have a look at BrandCrowd. BrandCrowd lets you design logos online starting at $45, or if you wait a day or two, you may get an email for a discounted rate.
DesignCrowd – https://www.designcrowd.com/: get a custom designed logo starting at $109. If you know what you want and willing to pay for it then consider DesignCrowd for that custom design.
FreeLogoDesign: choose from a variety of logo templates and create your logo with its user-friendly editor. The free plan gives you a 200×200 pixel transparent PNG file and for $49, you’ll get high-resolution files (PNG and JPG), a resizable SVG file, the ability to update and re-download, and the option to add on a social media kit.Image source
Canva: use your own graphic elements, choose from its range of logo templates, or design from scratch with the easy-to-use, drag-and-drop interface. The entire process is free if you use your own images and graphic elements. Otherwise, use Canva’s free elements or access the premium graphics for just $1. You can download the design in popular file formats or invite others to collaborate with you on the platform.
Tailor Brands: streamline your branding process with this comprehensive toolbox. Besides logo design, you also have access to business card tool, branded business deck, presentation template, and more. The Basic plan costs $3.99 per month and Standard plan is $9.99 per month. If you cancel the subscription, you still keep the rights to the assets.Image source
99designs : create a “contest” and choose from a variety of concepts submitted by multiple designers. You’ll then provide feedback and hone your favorites before choosing a winner. The Basic package starts at $299 and you’ll get production-ready files for your other branding projects.
How To Apply Your Logo To Your Marketing Materials
A logo is a “visual shorthand” that helps enhance your local presence and make your brand instantly recognizable to clients and prospects.
Here’re how you can leverage your logo to reinforce a consistent brand image and promote your local service business:
Put the logo on your online properties, such as website, email newsletters, and mobile app. Use the logo design (e.g., color palette, font) to inform the look and feel of these customer touch points.
Use the logo as the avatar and/or cover photo for your company’s social media profiles, e.g., Facebook business page or YouTube channel, to build a consistent omnichannel presence.
Upload the logo to your online directory listings and profiles on third-party review sites (e.g., Yelp, Google, BBB) to increase brand recognition.
Put the logo on t-shirts and have your employees wear them when they’re on the job. This will not only make them your “walking billboards” but also reinforce a sense of professionalism.
Create items such as magnets, pens, mugs, etc. with your logo and contact information to give to your customers.
Apply the logo on decal or vinyl wrap for your vehicles to augment your brand’s local presence wherever you go.
A well-designed logo is a key component in your branding and marketing strategy. It helps you stand out from your competition and attract the right clients to your business.
When used in all the customer touch points, a logo helps you bridge your online and offline presence, stay top of mind, and reinforce relationships with your market.
Don’t forget to leverage the brand recognition you have built up to drive traffic to your website and capture prospect information with an optimized lead-generating website so you can follow up and close the sale.
As a local service business (e.g., painter, plumber, electrician, landscaper), you may wonder how you should focus your marketing resources to get more leads and generate more sales.
You probably know by now that most people search online for… pretty much anything! In fact, 97% of consumers go online to find a local business.
SEO marketing isn’t news but here comes the plot twist – voice search!
Did you know that 58% of consumers have used voice search (e.g., Alexa, Siri, Google Home) to find local business information within the last year while 46% of voice search users look for a local business daily?
Not to mention, an increasing number of consumers are using mobile devices to look up local businesses and voice searches now account for 20% of all mobile searches.
In order to get your local service business found by high-quality prospects that are ready to hire a professional like you, it’s becoming more important to get featured in voice search results.
The biggest challenge, however, is that voice searches only deliver the top ranking results. Businesses that can get to “position zero” in relevant search results have a much better chance of being mentioned in voice searches.
It’s, therefore, more important than ever to get your SEO ducks in a row so your website gets top rankings in relevant local search results.
Here’s what you can do to move the needle for your local SEO ranking:
1. Format Your Content For Featured Snippets
Google’s featured snippets (or answer boxes) are prominently displayed in “position zero” of SERPs and used as answers in many voice searches.
To format your content so it’s shown as featured snippets, you should use the appropriate header tags, include relevant long-tail keywords in the headers, use lists or short paragraphs of text, and put data in tables.
Also, keep the content for featured snippets concise – the most common length is just 40 – 50 words long.
2. Create Content Based On Commonly Asked Questions
Consumers’ search habits have evolved dramatically since the days when users would type a bunch of keywords into a search box.
Today, searchers typically ask the voice assistance a question – just like they would to another human being. Therefore, your content should be written conversationally based on natural language questions.
Research how your ideal customers phrase their queries and identify the long-tail keywords they’d use when asking questions related to your topic of expertise and the services you provide.
For example, you can survey your customers, read social media posts, and look at customer reviews to find out the relevant key phrases to incorporate into your website content.
3. Increase Prominence With Online Reviews
Getting listed on Google’s local pack and having favorable star ratings gives you a better chance of being featured in voice search results.
Claim your listings in online directories and ask customers to rate your business on third-party review sites (e.g., Yelp, BBB) to increase your business’s prominence. In addition, boost your credibility and improve your SEO by getting your business mentioned in the local press or publications.
Don’t leave your online reputation up to chance – manage it proactively by optimizing your online profiles, responding to comments or reviews, and implementing an online review strategy to get more good reviews.
4. Optimize Your Website For Mobile SEO
Since Google has implemented mobile-first indexing, websites optimized for mobile user experience tend to get ranked higher in search results.
To improve mobile SEO, you should use a responsive website template, optimize all the assets, remove unnecessary images, and reduce site load time. Also, ensure that all the content is legible on the small screen and keep your content concise since most mobile users want to get quick answers while on the go.
In addition, you can leverage mobile-specific features, such as tap-to-call, location services or geo-fencing, and autofill to further streamline user experience while making it easy for prospects to get in touch with you.
5. Include Local Information
To increase the relevance of your content, incorporate local information, keywords, and verbiage to signal proximity to search engines so your website will more likely be featured in voice search results (e.g., when users ask questions such as “[ service ] near me.”
Insert local key terms into the title and meta description tags and use long-tail keywords to delineate the content topically and geographically. Put the local keywords as close to the beginning of a tag as possible to avoid it being truncated in search results.
Keep your website fresh by publishing timely local content. For example, a landscaper can create blog posts on topics related to the local weather conditions and how it affects plants.
If you’re sponsoring or participating in local events, publish a write-up on your blog. You can also piggyback on local news events and share insights related to your area of expertise.
6. Keep Your Content Focused and Simple
Piling on keywords is no longer the best way to get ranked in search results. Instead, focus on a small list of keywords that’d make the most impact on your ranking.
You should also understand the search intent of your ideal customers so you can target search terms that are not only relevant but also match the searchers’ customer journey.
In addition, you can append modifiers to common keywords associated with your services (e.g., “best plumber in [ city ]” or “top electricians in [ town ]”) to match the way many consumers phrase their queries.
The popularity of voice searches presents a great opportunity for local businesses that can rank high in search engine results.
The key is to stay current with the latest SEO best practices so you can consistently improve your website, content, and online presence to get the top rankings in relevant search results.
Also, ensure that your website is set up to turn the online traffic into leads so you can maximize the ROI of your marketing budget.
Sounds like a lot of work? We get it.
That’s why here at 99 Calls, we stay up-to-date with the latest in Local SEO marketing and Local PPC advertising so you can focus on servicing your clients and doing what you do best.
We help local service area businesses, not only get found online by high-quality prospects but also ensure that they have a highly-optimized and mobile-responsive lead generating a website to maximize conversion rates.
As a local service provider (e.g., plumber, contractor, electrician, landscaping service) you may find it rather challenging to keep up with the many changes that Google has recently introduced to both its advertising platform and search algorithms.
With limited time and resources for SEO marketing and PPC advertising, what should you do to make the most of your budget?
What are the most impactful tactics you can use to move the needle?
Google has developed many new features to support local businesses and help them get found by potential clients. It’s therefore important to understand the latest SEO and PPC trends so you can stay competitive and stand out from your competition in 2019 and beyond:
1. Optimize Website For Mobile Users
As more and more consumers are searching for local businesses on their smartphones, your website needs to be optimized for mobile devices.
In fact, 88% of consumers that search for local products or services on a mobile device call or visit a business within 24 hours. In addition, Google’s mobile-first indexing gives higher ranking to mobile-optimized websites in search engine results.
To boost your website’s mobile SEO, use a mobile-responsive template, remove interstitial popups, reduce page load time, optimize all assets (e.g., images,) improve the content’s legibility, use HTML 5 for video and animation (instead of Flash), and leverage mobile-specific features such as tap-to-call to enhance user experience.
Since voice searches only present the top entries, it has become even more important to create content that will rank high in relevant search engine results.
To increase the chances of getting found on voice searches, you should create content based on commonly asked questions, write your copy conversationally, position and format the content to signal relevance (e.g., by using header tags and bullet points) keep the content concise, use long-tail keywords, and include local information or keywords.
3. Create Content Based On Google’s E-A-T Guidelines
Local service businesses can improve their E-A-T by publishing unique high-quality relevant information. You can also leverage relevant user-generated content to signal credibility and share personal experience or success stories to position yourself as the subject matter expert.
In addition, you can increase the trustworthiness of your website by getting listed and rated on third-party review sites, such as BBB (Better Business Bureau) and Yelp. You should also invest in your site’s technical security, e.g., by installing an SSL certificate and including trust seals on transaction pages.
4. Leverage AI-Driven Features To Optimize ROI
AI-driven technologies, such as machine learning and natural language processing, are used by many PPC platforms (e.g., Google and Facebook) to analyze user data and help advertisers optimize ad spend.
Thankfully, most of these platforms are doing the work for you so you don’t have to worry about parsing through an endless stream of data or purchasing expensive technologies.
For example, you can optimize conversion rates and ROAS (return on ad spend) with Google’s automated bidding feature, which adjusts the bids automatically based on real-time data. You can also leverage Responsive Search Ads (RSAs), which use machine learning technologies to optimize ad copy by showing contextual content and increasing the reach of your ads.
Customer experience will become an increasingly important factor that affects consumers’ decision-making process. In fact, 86% of consumers are willing to pay more for better customer experience.
PPC ads and SEO copy need to be audience-centric rather than keyword-focused. For instance, audience targeting (e.g., by geographic location) will take priority while search intent will be used as a factor to help deliver the most relevant information to searchers.
Customer-centric targeting also gives you the opportunity to go beyond just making a one-time sale. You can also cultivate brand awareness and build brand affinity to stay top of mind – which will help you not only increase conversion rate but also improve client retention and boost customer lifetime value.
6. Don’t Overlook the Basics
Text ads are still one of the most effective formats in PPC advertising. However, one size doesn’t fit all when you’re using today’s sophisticated segmentation technologies, which allows you to deliver a highly personalized experience.
Create copy and tailor the CTAs of your text ads to speak to each audience segment (e.g., based on specific search terms or location) in order to deliver a coherent and highly relevant user experience that will help optimize ROI.
In addition, if you’re using responsive search ads (RSAs), make sure that all the headlines and descriptions can work well together regardless of how they’re combined to avoid a disjointed experience.
For most businesses, Facebook and Google Display Network offer the greatest reach for remarketing campaigns. Just like any other PPC campaign, your ad creative should be aligned with the objective (e.g., drive conversion, build brand awareness) the users’ previous interaction with your business (e.g., the content of a page they have seen) and the landing page content to get the best results.
For example, for a visitor who has read about a particular service on your website, your ad should mention the same offering. This can help increase your conversion rate by delivering a coherent user experience.
8. Leverage New Features
PPC advertising platforms, especially Google and Facebook, are constantly rolling out new features to help advertisers generate more engagement from their ads.
Stay current with the latest ad formats and audience targeting options so you can increase the effectiveness of your ads.
In particular, ad extensions work well for local businesses. They allow you to include additional links, such as location extensions, call extensions, and site link extensions (e.g., to highlight your services) while increasing the real estate your ad occupies on the search results page without additional cost.
Google has been creating more opportunities and offering more features for local business to get ranked favorably in search results.
You can gain more exposure to local searchers who are looking for your services by getting your ad onto “position zero,” which is above the regular text ads and organic search results.
For example, by claiming your Google My Business listing, your information can be displayed in the “local pack” at the top of search result pages. You can also place Local Services Ads (LSAs), which is Google’s pay-per-lead advertising platform for local businesses. It will put your ad at the very top of relevant search results, above other text ads and the local pack.
Optimizing for local searches is the key to getting found by prospects looking for your services and generating more high-quality leads.
Besides getting your business ranked high on local search results and driving traffic, you also need to ensure that your website is set up to capture leads and generate sales. Otherwise, your SEO and PPC efforts will be all for naught.
That’s why here at 99 Calls, we not only help you rank high in search engine results with a mobile-optimized website and by getting listed on key review sites but also set up a lead generating website that’ll help increase your conversion rate.
Given that the economy has been expanding for a while, many experts predict that there will be a contraction in the not-too-distant future.
In fact, nearly half of U.S. CFOs believe that the nation’s economy will head into recession by the end of 2019 and 82 percent believe that a recession will have begun by the end of 2020.
As a local service provider, the health of your business is largely dependent on the economy. For example, when consumers have less disposable income, they put home improvement projects or non-urgent repairs on hold (duct tape, anyone?).
In order to ride out the next recession, you need to plan to survive and prepare to grow. There are opportunities during recessions if you set your business up for success.
Here’s what you can do to recession-proof your local service business:
1. Focus On Cash Flow
Cash flow is king and also one of the biggest concerns that keep business owners up at night.
Don’t wait till money gets tight before you scramble to improve your cash flow. Start implementing strategies that’ll help you increase cash flow now and make them part of your operating procedures:
Sell or retire excess and obsolete equipment.
Require a deposit to be made on large projects that take longer to complete or require you to outlay more cash.
For some B2B customers that can’t enter into a contract with an initial deposit, negotiate payment terms so you get paid in installments as work is being completed.
Incentivize your customers to pay quickly by offering a discount or penalizing late payment.
Consider a subscription model if your services are recurring in nature (e.g., landscaping, housecleaning).
Review your loans to see if you can renegotiate interest rates.
2. Cut Expenses
Increasing revenue is important but so is managing your expenses – which are the two sides of the same coin when it comes to your profit margin.
Make it a habit to review your expenses regularly so you’re not spending money on products and services that you no longer need. The better you’re at managing expenses, the less pressure you’ll be under during lean times. Here are a few tips:
Evaluate your operating costs such as staffing, rent, and utilities to see where you can trim the fat.
Adjust vehicle expenses – e.g., by using vehicles that consume less fuel.
Monitor supply cost and renegotiate when necessary.
Keep an eye on the advertising expenses to make sure you’re spending your budget wisely and optimizing the ROI.
Keep an eye on your insurance rate and insurance requirements so you can shop around for the best deal.
3. Minimize Fixed Cost
Overhead cost can be a big burden when business is slow and every penny spent can impact your bottom line.
Look for opportunities to minimize your fixed costs while turning as much spending into variable costs as possible so if you aren’t generating revenue, you don’t have to pay for the expenses. For example:
Review all your recurring expenses to see if they’re necessary or priced reasonably.
Brainstorm with your employees – they can offer different perspectives that could help you cut unnecessary spending.
Consider cloud-services (e.g., for bookkeeping, invoicing, scheduling, etc.), which allow you to purchase as much capacity as you need without paying a big upfront investment.
4. Plan For Different Scenarios
While you shouldn’t be pessimistic about the future, you should also make plans for various scenarios that could impact the financial health of your business so you can put the necessary measures in place to mitigate the impact. For example:
Expect more customers to pay their bills much later or fail to pay them at all.
Have a process in place and be proactive about collecting for late payments, particularly from B2B customers. Squeaky wheels get oiled until the oil runs out – be the first in line to get paid!
Plan to readjust your expenses and staffing. For example, you may choose to move to a smaller space and let go of some employees. You should identify the best team members who are pulling their weight and make an effort to keep them.
Put away some money every month. Businesses should have at least 6 months of operating cash in the bank to help ride out any rough patch.
Consider putting your business up for sale while the market is strong if you’re thinking of retiring in the next five years.
5. Start Marketing Now
When the recession hits, lead volume will decrease and competition will increase. As more service providers will be competing on price, you need to stand out by offering something in addition to great pricing. Start differentiating your business now by carving out a unique positioning.
Online marketing, such as SEO and content marketing, often takes a few months to gain traction. Don’t wait until your leads dry up before scrambling to figure out how to market your business!
Start trying out different marketing methods. Get leads from multiple channels and learn how to generate the best results now while cash is less scarce.
Keep in mind that marketing helps you stay on your prospects’ radar and build trust with them. It’s an investment that’ll pay off in the long run, so take on this upfront cost while you have the cash.
Here are a few things you should be doing right away:
Establish an online presence and increase credibility with high-quality marketing materials, such as a lead-generating website and videos.
Optimize your website content and use online ads to help you get found by prospects, drive traffic to your website, and improve your SEO.
Get great customer reviews on third-party review sites and social media, such as Google, Facebook, Yelp, and the Better Business Bureau (BBB).
Grow your email list with high-quality prospects and existing customers so you can stay top of mind and cultivate trust.
Experiment with local email marketing and text message marketing. These strategies require low initial investment and can yield high ROI when done right. To increase their effectiveness, start building your list now to accumulate thousands of local contacts that’ll keep you busy over a year or two so you can ride out the recession.
“The darkest hour is just before dawn.” During a recession, competitors that don’t make the cut go out of business. When the economy emerges from a recession, service providers that survive can expect faster growth and more profits thanks to an increase in demand and less competition.
If you set yourself up to ride out the recession, you can bank on making the most of the recovery!
This means you need to be marketing and stay top on mind during a recession. Keep in mind that the number of leads will decline in a recession and you can eliminate high fixed cost SEO by using a pay-per-lead, performance-based marketing service to keep your spending in check.
Start now and set yourself up for success. Once things slow down, it could be too late to pick up the momentum. Check out 99 Calls see how our exclusive lead generation can help your local service area business grow.
99 Calls agrees that there are lots of ineffective SEO companies out there.
But we vigorously disagree that all low-cost companies are bad, or scams, and that all high priced companies are good.
We have heard many stories about small businesses being burned by high-cost SEO companies, and marketing companies in general.
However, 99 Calls has been very successful in promoting local service businesses online at low cost.
To understand how low-cost SEO can succeed and high priced SEO can fail, assume that it takes significant effort and time for SEO to succeed.
Effort is in the hands of people.
If the average person must put in 100 hours of effort to achieve a positive result, how can one do this work in 25 hours?
If the person doing the work is above average then, this is totally possible.
Research has shown that above average workers can outperform mediocre workers by a factor of 10 to 1.
So let’s look at above average personnel doing 100 hours of work in only 25 hours. How can they do that work in even less time?
Even in SEO, many tasks are relatively the same across different customers.
With a programmer behind the scenes, an SEO company can automate repetitive tasks.
Posting a photo or article to a website, and social media?
One can login to each site separately and upload and post content and then send the customer an email to confirm the work was done.
Or our above average performer can do it in half the time by using software to automatically post content on the website and social media and send a confirmation email.
With sufficient automation, human effort is cut in half again.
Our above average SEO person is doing 100 hours of work in 12.5 hours.
Strategically, when cost is a concern, one will lean towards keeping things simple and streamlined.
Simple is economical.
Ferraris are fancy and cool, but Hondas are affordable, practical, and economical and both provide transportation just as well.
In fact, the Honda actually does a better job at transportation since it can hold 4+ passengers, get better gas mileage with lower maintenance costs.
The point being that with SEO and lead generation, many fancy and complicated things do not matter, or worse, have a negative impact on ROI.
Why pay for a fancy website for a new plumbing company with fancy video and appointment scheduling and elaborate graphics, when a relatively simple website will rank just as well or perhaps better.
Fancy sites load slower and Google likes fast sites.
High price SEO companies often excel at creating fancy websites, which helps justify a higher price but doesn’t result in higher rankings or more customers.
Assuming the high priced SEO company is billing for a fancy website and other non-essential features, let’s also assume that a more economical SEO company could produce a simple yet effective website in half the time.
This brings the 100 hours down to 6.25 hours.
What does this mean in cost?
Let’s say a high priced SEO company charges $100/hr, whether you know it or not, and probably not, being most companies like to charge by project than hourly.
They’ll charge $10K to do this project.
So how much does the SEO company with the above average performer using automation and focusing on essentials need to charge?
Well, they only need 6.25 hours and only need to charge $625.
Heck, they may even need to pay their above average personnel a bit more so it may cost $950.
Big difference between $950 and $10,000.
High priced SEO companies may be high priced because they are inefficient (or have high-cost salespeople, but that’s a different topic).
And a low priced SEO company may just happen to be highly efficient and cost-effective.
We’ve all heard “you get what you pay for”.
And we’ve all heard “a fool and their money are soon parted”.
In SEO, it can be hard to know which case applies.