How To Get More Calls From Google My Business
An Interview with Justin Herring, Atlanta SEO
SEO can be a complicated subject for many business owners. It is a constantly changing and evolving industry, yet it is one of the most important marketing tasks any local business can partake in.
Justin Herring from Yeah! Local talks us through what it takes to get Google’s attention and get that phone ringing with customers ready to buy.
Justin and his team at Yeah! Local are one of the best SEO companies in Atlanta, and to get there, they need to deliver for their clients.
Listen in and learn from a top SEO what is working now to grow your local business.
Raw Transcript by Temi.com
Neil Howe: Hello and welcome to the show. This is your host, Neil Howe and today my special guest is Justin Herring. Now he helps small business owners increase their online visibility to generate new phone calls and ink lease revenue and they take online marketing off your to-do list and generate a daily stream of inbound calls. Now Justin Herring is the co-founder a, Yeah! Local, which is a boutique agency and Atlanta specializing in increasing revenue for their clients through online marketing. And after seeing how the SEO industry operated for years, just the new, there was a niche for small business online marketing services that actually did what they said and having been burned by SEO companies, he decided to open up his own focused on results. His philosophy is very simple. You don’t have to be the absolute best at what you do, but you do have to be the absolute best marketer. And then, yeah, local is ranked as one of the top SEO companies in Atlanta. Well, welcome to the show, Justin Herring.
Justin Herring: Hey, thanks for having me.
Neil Howe: Well, tell us a little bit more about yourself, Justin. Obviously you saw an opportunity or a problem, um, you know, within this industry and you decided to take things into your own hands and start your own company. So when did all this come about?
Justin Herring: Yeah, so, well, I had done kind of what other small business owners had done. I had, uh, you know, tried to generate leads online or get some phone calls and, uh, had hired a couple SEO agencies and you know, never really knew what was going on. And, um, so I did that for many, many years and just kind of got sick of it and then started to just learn how to do it myself. And, uh, finally started realizing, you know, exactly how to do it and how to generate leads and saw that there was kind of, there was that that was kind of missing in the, in the arena of SEO is somebody that actually did what they said and then could, you know, generate the, the business that they, they said without, you know, having long contracts and, you know, Kinda screwing people over.
Neil Howe: Right. And you know, if you’re a business owner listening to this, uh, when you think about SEO, you know, one, they’re not too sure what it means is I guess being find online for others. The difference to being found online and getting traffic to your website and actually getting calls, which is what it’s all about, right?
Justin Herring: Correct. So, yeah, it’s, um, yeah, usually they don’t really understand exactly what happened. Sometimes they do or exactly what needs to do, but a lot of this stuff that’s online kind of just touches the surface of what you got to do. And so yeah, even if you get traffic to the site or you get some people over there, then they got to worry about how to convert them in. And we helped with that as well.
Neil Howe: So you’ve been doing this for a number of years now. Uh, what kind of, this isn’t the Cs do you like to help?
Justin Herring: So we really like to help, um, businesses that have been, they’ve been operating for, you know, at least, you know, usually three plus years. It could be less if they’re already generating good revenue. Um, but usually they’ve got to have some kind of marketing budget. They’ve been spending money on SEO, they’ve got a website, they’ve got things happening in their business. They’re generating referrals, online leads, stuff like that. They just are trying to take their company to the next level. Um, what’s not usually good as people that are just starting out, they’re trying to figure out SEO or they’re trying to figure out how to grow their business. Those types of people really shouldn’t hire an SEO company right now. They should just try to grow their business organically and kind of let their website, uh, you know, get some time under its belt.
Neil Howe: So as far as the ones that you do like to have the ones that understand that they have to market their business, you and I have to spend money on marketing if they’re going to compete with those other top businesses in their area, you know, what are the main problems that they are having that you’re able to help? So,
Justin Herring: yeah, so a lot of times they will have done a, uh, a decent amount on their website or sometimes they’ll, they’ll gone and they’ve read some blogs or they’ve done some stuff and they’ve, you know, tweaked up their SEO on their website. What we usually do is we’ll take a company that’s maybe on the second, third page, fourth page, uh, end even their Google listing and we’ll take them. And basically usually within, it just depends, but usually within a month or a couple of months, um, we shoot them up to the first page and get them showing up in Google so that people can actually find them when they’re searching for those services. And so then the phone start calls start ringing and all that kind of stuff. So when a company is kind of on that second or third page, um, I’m sure you’ve heard like, where’s the best place to hide a dead dead body? It’s on the second page of Google. Well, you’re not really getting, you don’t really get any phone calls. You don’t really get anything. So you gotta be up in that top one through four spot in the local listings and then you know, organic listings to really start getting some form submissions, phone calls.
Neil Howe: So what is the strategy behind that? If somebody is coming to you and say, you know, okay, I’ve got, I’ve got some local business but I’m really getting anything from the Internet right now. What do you do? You sit down with them and explained this all to them?
Justin Herring: Yeah, so, well usually what we’ll do is we’ll get on the phone, just ask him a couple of quick questions, kind of see what they’re trying to get found for and then what we’ll do even while we’re on the phone and we’ll kind of look and see if people are even searching online for that type of business. So sometimes businesses, there’s just not, there’s not enough searches to where it makes sense for them to spend money online or spend money on online marketing. But if there is searches and there’s stuff being searched, what we’ll do is we’ll then look at their website and kind of see, we use some software and some other stuff where we’ll go in and we’ll see what they have written as their titles and descriptions on the web pages. Uh, kind of telling what telling Google what they want to be found for. And usually that’s where they mess up is where they haven’t done enough research keyword research to find out what, what their customers are actually even searching for. And then they’re not placing those types of keywords or search terms into their website. Uh, and then along those same lines, once you do that, you’ve got to have other websites out in, on the Internet. You’ve got to have a mention. You, you got to have some kind of link to you to give you a thumbs up and Google.
Neil Howe: So break then SEO to me, what exactly incorporates all the things that you need to do and see, oh, well if we could break it down.
Justin Herring: Yeah. So there’s, it’s kind of complex. And then so there’s, there’s a layer that you just have to do and then there’s a layer that us SEOs kind of know to tweak that. You know, most people, some SEO’s know how to do certain things and others don’t. But the main things you gotta do is you’ve got to have your site optimized. Meaning you got to have the right titles, descriptions, you got to have the pages that you actually want to be found for. You’ve got to have those created. And a lot of times with local businesses will have to create location pages. So let’s say if they want to get found in Atlanta or Marietta or something, we’ll need to create a page specifically for that. So you’ve got to go into your website and make sure that those are just set up properly as far as telling Google what you want to be found for.
Justin Herring: So you’ve got to go and clean all that up. Um, and that’s something that a business owner could do. They might not do it that well, but you could do it. Um, at that point you then need to, like I said, you’ve got to go out and you’ve got to get other websites linking back over to you. And there’s different ways to do this. One would be like what we’re doing being on a podcast and then your website may link over to our website saying, hey, Justin just spoke about SEO on Neil Howe’s podcast. Or you can go out and you can write articles and try to get mentioned on other websites as well. And so those are kind of the two big things that you have to have if you’re going to rank in a competitive field. Now there’s, there’s probably another hundred smaller things that need to happen. Um, but those are the two things you’ve got to have if you really want to succeed.
Neil Howe: And when it comes to competition, and especially in a big city like Atlanta, um, do you find the, you know, a lot of the companies out there, we’ll do those first two things and it’s all about the rest that makes the difference.
Justin Herring: Yeah. So what we usually see is, um, we usually see in a, in a lot of SEO companies, they can do that. The onsite, like I was talking about the beginning, they can do that fairly well. Uh, they can kind of get in there and they, they, sometimes they do it wrong, but they do it well enough. And a lot of times the companies we talk to, they’re sitting in an okay position as far as that goes. Um, but they haven’t gone out. The part that they usually are missing is the, what we call link building where we, you got to go out and you’ve got to get mentioned because that is extremely time consuming. It’s extremely hard and it just, it takes a lot of kind of skill to get that dialed in to where you can scale it. And so that’s really where they’re usually missing it. And then just tying it all together. I mean, you can do one piece of it, but kind of putting everything together is pretty tough.
Neil Howe: Right. As far as the link building part, um, because you’re, you’re a pool and then the authority of all these other sites, what’s important about getting a good link to your website?
Justin Herring: It’s really just making sure that that website has, um, is a, is an actual website. It’s a good website. It’s, it has what you would call Google juice or Google likes it. Um, it’s got, you know, a lot of blogs on it, got some traffic coming to it. And then you need to be mentioned in a blog post or on that website and an article that’s relevant to your niche. So if you’re in the health niche, it needs to be something written about, you know, you’re, and maybe a year a dentist or something and needs to be re written. The article needs to be talking about dental procedures or services or however you want to do. And then as long as those two are, are fine, usually you’re, you’re in good company at that point. Uh, you just don’t want to be getting links from just random websites. Um, and this is what you, this is where people say, oh, I had a bad SEO company or bad experiences. Cause sometimes they do stuff that’s a little easier but doesn’t, doesn’t put you in a good position.
Neil Howe: So talk to me about the authority of these links and uh, you know, what’s the difference between having one good quality link, uh, versus, you know, a hundred that are not quality?
Justin Herring: Yeah. So just to kind of give you an example. So a lot of times when we work with local businesses, their real worried about all their directory listings and all, you know, directory listings are business listings would be something like yellow pages.com or Yelp or you know, a bunch of these small directory listings that don’t really hold a lot of authority. Now you need to get those listings and those are fine. But if you get a hundred of those, those links are really not going to do a whole lot for you. But if you go out and you in, in all of a sudden CNN talks to you and they write an article about, you know, the 10 best dental practices in Atlanta and they mentioned you in a blog, well that CNN post is going to be, you know, that one length is going to outweigh all of those 100 a hundred others.
Neil Howe: So it’s really important to get there and get on these authority, uh, platforms. What’s the best way to do that?
Justin Herring: Uh, really the best way, I mean, you can network with people, like you said, you can, you can network with some of your other local businesses. Or what we do is we do a lot of email outreach where we message and an email out to the site owners of these blogs that are in these niches and we get them to agree for us to write a post or write an article. And then we mentioned the website of the client or ourselves in those blog posts. So it’s, yeah, it’s again, it’s time consuming and it’s hard.
Neil Howe: Hmm. So you’re really looking for some, some, a site that has, you know, a high domain authority as as well as relevant. Are those the two major factors?
Justin Herring: Yeah, correct. Yep. Exactly. Exactly.
Neil Howe: All right. So um, talk to me about specifically a local business because your Yeah! Local, uh, do you deal all local businesses?
Justin Herring: We, we actually have clients that are national, um, in, we can do National Seo. It’s, it’s actually sometimes even easier than doing local SEO just cause you’re, you don’t have to focus on so many little cities. But our main focus and what we like to do is local business. Um, you know, mostly service based businesses. They’re offering some kind of service usually for it to make sense for them to pay it to get good SEO done, their service needs. They usually be somewhere in the range of, you know, a onetime cost would be like $300 or above or the lifetime value of that customer. Client or patient needs to be above $300. Um, just so, cause you want to make sure that there’s obviously a good return on investment, you know, for what you’re paying for, for what you’re going to get back.
Neil Howe: Definitely. So as far as a local business, so obviously we’ve got the Google My Business, which the shows up that map three pack. Just how effective is that for, you know, driving traffic and calls to a business
Justin Herring: that’s actually the most effective, um, online property that you can have. So what we actually set up and track all calls and form submissions from Google, the Google listing in the client’s website. And what we’ve seen is about 70% of the calls come from those Google’s listings. So if you’re not in that Google local pack, you’re missing out on about 70% of the business that is coming, you know, to your type of service. And so what you want to do is, is first of all, you, obviously you got to get that listing, but once you get the listing, you then need to optimize it with everything in there. And then what most people don’t know is that those listings are tied directly with the Google maps listing. And Google actually is more, they focus more on that maps listing than they do even your Google local listing. So if you go in and you can get other websites to mention your maps link and listing, you’ll actually be able to rank higher uh, quickly as well.
Neil Howe: Wow, that’s a great tip. Certainly know what, what are the really important things about filling out your Google my business listing? Is there anything specific on there that really makes a difference?
Justin Herring: Well, yeah, you want to make sure, obviously you want to make sure you have the main things is you want to make sure you have the categories correct and you want to put all the categories that you could possibly rank for in there or that you could possibly even be associated with. So I think they give you now about 10 categories and you want to make sure, um, like if you’re, let’s give an example. If you’re a home repair company, you may want to put in there every single type of home repair from windows to doors too, even though it may not be what you specifically want to get found for. That may be one of the categories down at number nine or 10. So you want to list all of them because Google will let you show up for those. And then you just want to make sure that you have the correct name. And the, a lot of times I’ll see that the URL is not accurate, the domain that they’re linking back over to. Um, so those are really the main things. Now obviously you’ve got to fill out the photos and the descriptions and all that, but the, the categories, the name of your company, and then the URLs are really going to be the most effective.
Neil Howe: Hmm, great stuff. If you are a local say or you’re based in downtown Atlanta, uh, how do you show up for the whole Metro area?
Justin Herring: That is going to be, well, if you’re in Atlanta, so this is kind of how it works. So if you’re in Atlanta, you usually can show up for all areas of Atlanta. Okay? Not, I wouldn’t say Metro Atlanta, but all areas around Atlanta as far as you know, the south Atlanta and north Atlanta, those certain areas. And then the closer you are to your actual listing or the actual location, you’re going to show up more when people are searching as well. But if you’re in Atlanta and you’re trying to show up in that Google local listing for areas, let’s say like Alpharetta, okay? [inaudible]
Neil Howe: depending on what type of business you have, you may be able to show up in those local listings. But if you’re a, if you’re a brick and mortar, like let’s, again, we’ll use maybe like a dentist, okay. Where people actually come to their location, it’s going to be pretty hard for you to show up in those local listings if you’re off or if your practices in midtown Atlanta and you’re trying to show up in Alpharetta because it just doesn’t make any sense. Okay. Um, now you could create a page on your website that talks about Alpharetta and you probably could show up in those organic listings. But to show up in the Google local listings, um, it’s going to be tough for a brick and mortar business that people come to their office. Now let’s say you’re a locksmith or something or you do stuff that you travel to people’s homes or cars, then you could show up in those listings because you, you’re gonna obviously travel around Atlanta and people aren’t going to be really be coming to your office.
Neil Howe: Hmm. So, uh, I understand that, uh, for a dentist or a restaurant or something like that, that Google may understand that you want to visit something that was right there from the vicinity that you’re searching. But what if you’re looking for, or a a lawyer, um, and you don’t necessarily want to go to the one next door. Do you want to find the best one? Uh, how are you able to get them to show up?
Justin Herring: It’s still going to depend. I mean if the lawyers in Atlanta, the only thing that you can do is get them to show up for you know, best lawyer Atlanta best personal injury lawyer Atlanta. So somebody, if they’re searching for that would um, you know, you’d have to get them to show up for their location. Again, the local listing is, is a lot tougher to show up in other cities if you’re not located there. But you can actually show up in the organic, which is below those. You can show up in those organic listings. Um, if you can create location pages, if you wanted to find the best lawyer would be like best lawyer, uh, Alpharetta or best lawyer, something else.
Neil Howe: So talk to me about the, the pages and the on page for a minute because that seems to be extremely important. What do you have to have on a page in order for Google to really say, okay, this is the most relevant page I’m going to show this one?
Justin Herring: Yeah. So what you want to do is you’ve got to have, first of all, the main, the three main things you want to have in there is you’ve got to have the URL of your page needs to either be the keyword that you are trying to go after or something similar. Then the title of the page needs to be, uh, same thing. It needs to be the, it’s got to have the keyword in there. It doesn’t matter where it’s at, it’s just gotta be in there. Then in the first paragraph, you want to have your keyword in the last paragraph. You want to have your keyword and then also in the description, if you can get all, what does that one too? If you can do all four of those are all five of those. Actually you are going to have a headstart above everybody else. Now, if it’s competitive, you’re then going to at that point have to go out and get other websites mentioning that page.
Neil Howe: So, um, really if you are trying to go after one specific keywords, you need to create one specific page
Justin Herring: for that keyword. Does that mean if you’re to do that? This is what I run into. A lot of people think that think that you have to create a page for every single keyword. So the way that Google works now is you can, your basically your pages ranked for kind of topics or even your blog posts, they ranked for kind of topics. So if, if you’re trying to rank for, let’s just say like you’re trying to rank for, we’ve tried to, you know, show up for Google business reviews. Okay, we’ll Google understands when you, when you write an article or page about Google business reviews, they understand that every single term that has to do with Google business reviews potentially could, that page would be about, okay, so you really just want to pick the main keyword that you’re trying to go after and then kind of sprinkle in some other terms that would go along with that on that page. And you only really have to create one page per topic and Google figuring out, you know, what it’s all about. And have you ranked for multiple search terms.
Neil Howe: Very good. Uh, so when creating that page, obviously if you’re going to be writing a lot about that topic has got to be a fairly long page. Is that what works best?
Justin Herring: It just depends. Um, it can be, obviously if you’re writing an article or a blog post, you want it to be a little bit longer. We’ve, we’ve actually tested in and, and around 1300 words is really the sweet spot. And if you’re writing a page, like a service page or some kind of location page, you can get away with about 500 words and you should be okay. You just want obviously talk about, you know, talk about your topic enough to where Google understands what it is. And then obviously you still want to be able, you got conversion factors in there where you want to make sure that people want to move forward with contacting you.
Neil Howe: Very good. All right, Justin. Well, let’s talk about some of the misconceptions around the SEO industry. Uh, what is it that you hear from some of the clients that say you contact or have contacted you? You know, what misconceptions did you have about SEO?
Justin Herring: Well, they, a lot of them, most of the clients that we have worked with an SEO company before, and a lot of times what they do is they, you know, when you first start out, you think that all SEO companies are created equal and so you’ll just hire the cheapest one and they’ll do a good enough job. So what happens is they hired the cheap SEO company, pay him some money, and then usually six months later there’s not any results and something’s messed up. So then they think that every SEO company does the same thing, and so they get a bad taste in their mouth. Um, and so what happens is, you know, they usually come to us and we’ll tell them what’s right, right or wrong. And, uh, you know, a lot of times they’re trying to do stuff on their own and they’re messing it up or the other companies messed it up and we’ve got to go in and clean it up. And so, you know, what you want to do is just make sure that if you’re starting SEO or doing SEO, just don’t hire the cheapest company. Make sure that they have all the bases covered. They you can kind of tell you know what they’re talking about or you’ve done some research. Uh, because there, there definitely is companies out there that just charge a small amount and they really know that they’re only going to have you for, you know, three, four, five, six months.
Neil Howe: So what’s the expectation as far as seeing results from SEO?
Justin Herring: And this is a tough question because it’s going to, every single website and company is going to be different. So you know, if a website and a company have been around for 20 years and they’ve had their domain name for 20 years, it’s kind of just like anything else. When a company has been around for 20 years, usually it’s a good company and they’re trusted, you know, cause they’ve been around so long. Well the same thing. Google looks at it the same way. If that domain has been around for a long time and that website’s been around for a long, long time, it’s a lot easier to get them to show up usually within like a month or a month or two. Do you get in that top, you know, one, two, three spot. Then if a company comes to us who’s only been in business for six months or a year and they just put up their website, that’s usually depending on what’s happening, that usually is something where you’re like, that’s going to take at least six months. So the factors are, and then anything in between, you know, you gotta you just gotta look at what’s going on with the website,
Neil Howe: right. So really, you know, it isn’t an investment because once you have everything set up, um, you know, it continues getting calls and traffic to your business and it builds a on that traffic as well to keep you there. So it’s just a case of sticking with it until you start seeing those results. I think a lot of companies tend to quit if they don’t see results, but if that magic three month mark, continue to see a lot of that.
Justin Herring: Yeah. Yeah. So we, I mean, we even wrote a blog post about this, so everybody wants, you know, a quick fix and everybody wants clients tomorrow and you know, we do too. You know, but the issue is you can’t just go in there and do a hundred things and you know, throw up all the SEO possible in think the Google, all of a sudden it’s a good just going to think, oh let’s get them ranked because they just did a bunch of stuff and so they must be good and we’ll get them to show up. Because what happens is if you do too much too fast, Google kind of puts you into a little penalty box and then you’re sitting around waiting a little bit longer. So what usually happens, and, and we’ve seen this actually in it changes month over month, but you know, right now we’re seeing where it’s usually taken about three to four months to really start seeing some good benefits. And then, and then it just, the longer that you do it, the more that you get into the realm of, nobody’s going to be able to compete with you, you’re going to start showing up more and more phone calls. And so a lot of times that people, they get to that three fourth month and they just think nothing’s happening. And it may be that fifth month that all of a sudden, you know, the spicket breaks and the phone calls just start flowing in. Hmm.
Neil Howe: All right. Justin will talk to me about some of the clients that you have had great success with, you know, kind of issues were they having when they came to, you know, uh, how were you able to help them and ultimately what was the outcome? What big difference did it make to their business?
Justin Herring: Yeah, so, uh, I mean we have a wide range of, of clients, but we have gone and usually again, what will happen is they come to us, they’ve worked with another SEO company. They’re just not getting results. We’ll go in, we’ll see. I see that they’re holding their website is just completely messed up, not optimized correctly. Little things are just way off. And so what we usually do is we’ll go in, like I’ve had, uh, several dental where we’ve gone in, we’ve tweaked up the titles and descriptions. We started, you know, writing blog posts. We got their Google, my business listing fixed up and we’ve done this for several of them. Were there, the ranking and the, you know, one, two, three for hundreds of terms and we’ve increased their revenues in, basically their return on investment has been over 2000% from SEO. I know that seems crazy, but it’s easily done when you do it.
Justin Herring: Right. Um, and then we have other clients, you know, we had one client where a, they’re an online magazine where, um, they have, you know, they, they came in and they were getting about 7,000 people to their website a month. And, uh, we changed up some things. They’re now getting over 120,000 visits a month within was, it’s been about nine months. Um, so, you know, it’s, it just depends on the company. But I mean, we’ve got podiatrists, we’ve got veterinarians, dog walkers, and all of them are in the top, you know, one, two, three position and generate phone calls. I actually had a veterinarian call me the other day and said, we’ve got to, we have to pull back for just a second because their business is exploding too much and they’ve, they’ve got a hire another vet.
Neil Howe: So, hmm. You know, things like that. Great problem to have, isn’t it? Yes. Yes. Well, congratulations on that. I mean, like I said at this art is all about the bottom line. It’s all about getting those calls come in to the business. That’s what these business owners are always looking for and there’s plenty of people searching on the Internet to make that happen. So Justin, if somebody wants to reach out to you, uh, to have a look at their site in their business, what is the best way for them to get in touch with you?
Justin Herring: Uh, they can just go to our website. It’s, yeah-local.com or just reach out to us, give us a phone call at (404) 539-6068. Those are going to be the two easiest ways to get in touch quickly.
Neil Howe: Okay, so unwell, Justin, I really appreciate it. You’ve given us a, a lot of helpful information today, but you do have a resource on your website as well. You have written a book where you really outline a lot of these things that we talked about today and more, uh, tell us a little bit about that book before we go.
Justin Herring: Yeah. So, uh, decided to write a book because what happens is a lot of the online articles and blogs is it just kind of a bunch of regurgitated stuff that people have never tested. So what we saw was there’s a lot of stuff online that actually doesn’t work or doesn’t need to, you don’t need to do. Um, and so we test everything. And so what I did is I just ended up writing a book, uh, about a lot of this stuff that we do that we know works. And so if people go in and they read that book, I mean, they potentially could do SEO themselves. Again, it’s takes a lot of time and effort and learning things, but it’ll put them on the right track as far as what to look for if they’re going to hire an agency.
Neil Howe: Yeah. Excellent. Great stuff. And that is “The Ultimate No Fluff Take You By The Hand, Step By Step Guide To Dominate With SEO”, and you can get that as a free download if you go to yeah-local.com
Neil Howe: Well, Justin Herring, thank you very much for being my guest on expert profiles Atlanta today. I really enjoyed it.
Justin Herring: All right, thanks Neil.
Neil Howe: And to our listening audience, if you like what you hear, hit that like button and share and we’ll see you next time on the show.
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