I know, as a business owner, you’re slammed. This article and 1,001 other articles are on your to-read list. However, I promise you, this will be one of the best reads to help your pet service business thrive.
Don’t believe me? Read on, I’ll show you!
Not All Search Queries Are the Same
Confused already? Let me explain.
You’re aware that your customers are online, however, how they are finding you matters most. While you might have a website, that doesn’t necessarily mean that your customers can FIND you online.
No matter which city/county you live in, there are competitors in your industry. If they’ve been building their presence online, then they are more likely to appear in a customer’s search results.
Search results are the resources that search engines like Google and Bing source for questions searched for on their engines. In SEO (search engine optimization) this is what we refer to as the SERPs (search engine results pages) - pages filled with results related to a user’s search term.
You most likely recognize the blue links associated with a search like: “dog grooming Denver.”
Those are resources search engines found on the web and are displayed then prioritized in what’s called the “organic search results”. Which brings me to my point: Not all searches are the same!
In my screenshot, I missed an extremely important element of search results due to the type of search term I used. You see, I included a city-focused keyword within my search term: Denver.
Why does this matter?
When a user searches for a city-focused term, it leads to search engines trying to pull the most relevant information for their search to the first page. In city-focused searches, this means displaying local search results. Local searches like “dog grooming Denver” will first pull up a map in your search results.
This auspicious map is often referred to as the Map-Pack or Local 3-Pack. (It’s called this because you’ll only typically see three results in the map section. You can find more listings by clicking “more places” or if you directly access the Google Maps section.). Google isn’t the only one with a Map-Pack though as this is becoming standard across search engines.
What is the Map-Pack exactly? It’s a gathering of Google My Business listings! These are businesses that have a free Google My Business (GMB) account to showcase their business in local searches and to build reviews.
Google My Business listings are your most powerful local SEO strategy. Essentially, you WANT to be in the Map-Pack since it’s the sweet spot of local organic search results.
You can get a similar search by using other keywords like “pet grooming near me” or “dog grooming services Denver.” However, your search results will most likely change with the businesses that are listed in the Map-Pack. Interesting, right?!
In fact, WHERE you are located matters in some searches. That’s because the #1 ranking signal that search engines look for when placing businesses on map results is the proximity of a business to a user.
Why Should Pet Service Businesses Own a GMB Listing?
It’s clear that entering the Map-Pack is your priority as a business owner that doesn’t want to spend a ton of money on advertising. Also, in the long-term of things, SEO is the best strategy for acquiring new customers that have a long-lasting relationship and loyalty to your brand.
Pet service businesses are unique on Google My Business. If you own a van and not a storefront, then how are you supposed to compete?
This particular scenario makes you a service area business. That means that you don’t meet up with customers at your physical location, you likely go to them. While not ideal for the whole proximity ranking factor, you can still compete with physical locations through a variety of optimization methods (which I’ll be listing below).
I’ll state this to help answer any doubts you might have about a GMB listing: You must have a GMB listing if you are to outrank and outperform your competitors. Period.
Here are some really good reasons as to why you should own a free GMB listing:
It’s free so it doesn’t hurt
It’s one of the top local SEO strategies to incorporate for your business
If you don’t have a physical location, a listing makes it easier for customers to find you
If you do have a physical location, customers can call you and find directions to your location with a couple of clicks
Your whole local SEO strategy depends on a GMB listing
You can essentially acquire long-lasting customer relationships… for free!
It builds brand credibility
Your competitors are already doing it and taking all of your customers
Those aren’t the only reasons for owning a GMB listing that’s fully optimized; they’re just a few of the laundry list of benefits.
Now, let’s talk about those GMB optimizations to get you ranking for more relevant keyword searches and to get more customers!
5 Ways to Optimize Your GMB Listing for Pet Service Businesses
1. Fill out all business information
If you already have a GMB listing, then you’re well on your way to outranking your competition and getting those sweet, sweet customers. If you don’t have a GMB listing yet, then go claim it!
When you access your GMB listing, you’ll have a myriad of sections to fill out business information. The main business information section is Info. Fill out every section possible on this page. Google is looking to rank businesses with the most complete GMB profiles. It’s a pretty granular information center. If you don’t take American Express cards, mark that you don’t.
2. Choose the Most Appropriate Business Category
Are you a pet grooming service provider or a hair salon? There is a massive difference between these business categories. One is for pets, the other for humans.
You’ll start ranking for keywords related to the primary and secondary business categories chosen for your GMB listing. These categories can be changed at any time. However, if you choose a misguided category, you’ll be ranking in the wrong industry.
Think about your customers and what they’re searching for. A pet grooming service sounds more relevant for a pet service business than a hair salon does. Plus, your primary business category matters most.
3. Add Photos Every Month
Businesses tend to make a GMB listing then forget about it; like it’s just an asset that grows by itself - that’s just not the case.
Add more photos.
Photos are a way for your business to showcase your talents, what makes your experience so unique, and directs customers’ attention to the things you want to show them. You should also include a great cover photo and logo for your business, this is for brand recognition purposes.
I suggest adding 3-5 relevant photos per month or as needed. Don’t flood your listing with hundreds of photos all at once! You’ll want to casually add photos monthly as this sends signals to Google that you’re working on improving your account often. Also, never upload blurry, duplicate, stock, or irrelevant photos, this isn’t your social media profile.
4. Create Posts Often
The majority of Google My Business listings have the option of creating posts. This is another way to communicate with your local customers, offer promotions and discounts on services, and make yourself unique in your local niche.
Depending on your primary business category, you’ll have five post types to choose from.
COVID-19: New due to the pandemic outbreak
Add Product: For businesses looking to show new products for sale
Add Update: Anything you want to update your local community about
Add Event: If you’re hosting or attending an event for your business
Add Offer: For promotions and discounts
Get creative, but try to never use stock images for any of your posts as this is a Google Policies no-no.
I suggest creating a post every week or bi-weekly to stay relevant, updated, and more engaged with your community than your competitors. It literally only takes up to 10 minutes to create an engaging post that could reflect an increase in sales using a CTA (call-to-action).
5. Build Citations to Your Website
I highly recommend that if you don’t have a website already, get one.
Building citations means adding your business’s name, address, and phone number (NAP) to business directories. Business directories are like Yelp, TripAdvisor, and Better Business Bureau to name a few. Having an accurate digital footprint with these three forms of business information will directly influence your local organic visibility. Including your website on business directories also increases your local presence and builds credibility.
Look for the top business directories and then look for directories in your exact industry/niche/locale.
These are just a few of the optimization strategies you can utilize to outrank your competitors as a pet service business. There are plenty more to go above what your competitors are doing to keep themselves relevant on Google Maps and search results. Just keep in mind that you are literally trying to engage with your local community. Be thinking about what you can be offering them to provide the most unique and best experience for their searches.
That tasty Map-Pack placement is now closer than ever before!
Author: Joseph Jones
Joseph is the Director of SEO at Beyond Blue Media. He has been in the SEO and digital marketing industries for many years, working with local and national clients. His knowledge stretches from local SEO campaigns to national link building. Joseph is most excited about connecting people with the best resources they deserve online.