If you own a service based business, and you have a local target market, then take it from someone who has over 20 years of experience doing SEO for over 17,500 clients – try your absolute best to get to the #1 result on Google My Business (GMB), which gets displayed above Google’s organic search listings.
I’ve learned that sharing apocryphal stories to drive home a truly beneficial point has remarkable success. As such, indulge me five minutes of your time by reading the below story that I stitched together based on actual events that transpired at work, and see how simple adjustments in your marketing efforts can make a significant difference in generating targeted leads for your business! Enjoy…
A Call I Received From a Life Insurance Agent
It was a Wednesday evening in the summer of 2008. I looked at my computer’s clock and it was 7:17P, and right then I heard the phone ring. Everyone had gone home for the day, and I was by myself. I read the caller ID, and it was local to my area code. Even though my office hours are from 9A to 6P, I felt I should take the call instead of letting voicemail pick it up. I answered the phone; it was an Armenian woman who spoke with a broken English accent. She inquired about building a website for her business. I asked her what line of work she’s in, and she said “life insurance agent.” I inquired as to how long she’s been in business – she said “almost three years.” I asked her why she needed a website now, when she apparently hasn’t needed one for the past three years. She said, “my clients say I should put the most asked questions directly on my site, so they not call me with questions all the time for simple things.” So naturally, being that I’m always wanting to learn how others market their businesses, I asked her how she’s been getting those clients – she said, “Google.”
Her response intrigued me! I had been optimizing websites for Yahoo! before Google ever launched in 1998 (formerly incorporated my business in 2003). In all that time since Google’s inception, I had never received a call from someone who was getting any sort of traction in Google without a website, even from what at that time was called Google Maps (now called Google My Business). If you wanted to rank on any search engine, you needed to have a website. This woman didn’t have a website. So I asked her how many calls she gets from Google when she doesn’t even have a site. She said “sometimes 12 or 13 calls in a day especially when someone known in the community dies, but most days 3 to 4 calls.” There was about 2 minutes of silence. I wasn’t sure if this woman was wasting my time, or if she was real. Although none for anyone from Glendale, I had optimized life insurance sites before; they would get about 3 to 4 sales calls per week; she said per day!
So I followed up with another question. I asked her if she has an office. She said “no, I work from condo.” I didn’t know what to make of this, because I take pride in my work. I always believed 3 to 4 leads per week, which is what my clients in her industry were getting on average, is excellent. In fact, other clients of mine that are Realtors, attorneys, CPAs, and financial advisors – all service based local businesses – had never exceeded 10 leads in a week strictly from Google. These are big ticket items, so my clients were quite happy with my services since I had them on the first page of Google’s organic SERPs, but what this woman said blew away any type of results I had ever achieved for my service based clients who target their leads locally.
So I dug deeper. I asked her if I wanted to bring her up on Google what should I type. She said, “life insurance agent Glendale.” So I Googled exactly that – lo and behold – she was the #1 listing on Google Maps (now GMB), and she didn’t even have a site! Every top 3 listing I had seen up until that day had a site. She had 17 reviews, she had her condo address listed as her business address, and her phone number was a Glendale area code custom phone number. For the business name, she had put “Life Insurance Agent Glendale” – which is obviously not her business name, and for the description, she had “Life insurance agent in Glendale, call me for all your life insurance needs. I will be your life insurance agent.” All that work I had done. All those one-way backlinks, on-site optimization, registrar details, listing in directories, adding fresh unique content, and I was beaten by someone who knew nothing about SEO.
Humble Pie Pays
It takes humility to admit what we think we know just isn’t so. I thanked her for her honesty, and I congratulated her on what she had accomplished, even if she never anticipated the results. I sent her the quote for building her a site, and never heard back from her about building that site, but she inadvertently contributed tremendously to my business and to the bottom line of so many of my clients over the years. Being #1 on GMB for relevant keywords can have so much more traffic than being #1 in organic SERPs. Obviously, a lot has changed with Google’s algo since then, but the info she freely provided was pretty darn awesome.
In the summer of 2008, I learned that service based local businesses can generate amazing amount of leads from being in the top spot of Google Maps without having to rely on a website, and without needing to be part of Google’s organic SERPs!
We have all learned over the years that Google Maps (now GMB) is impressive for generating local leads, but up until 2008, I believed that the organic SERPs (search engine results pages) is the only consistent way of getting massive amounts of organic leads for a fraction of the cost of paid ads. Remember, Google Maps wasn’t as popular then, and many businesses never even completed their profiles, because even the name suggested that this was about maps, not about local businesses; which is why Google eventually changed the name from Google Maps to Google My Business – in order for businesses to take it seriously.
I hope you enjoyed this story:) If you own a service based business, and you need to generate targeted local leads, let’s meet virtually to discuss how my local SEO services can benefit you, and your firm. Thanks for reading, and God bless!