The way most Australians find a product or service – including a plumber –is to search for it online. But will your business be listed when someone types ‘plumber’ into a search engine? The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s Amanda Ogilvie spoke to Google’s Duncan McGrath about how to get your plumbing business to the top of the Google search – here’s what he said.

Consumer behaviour has fundamentally changed: search engines and smart phones

Today, 90 per cent of Australians not only go to Google to nd a business, they expect to be able to call your business directly from the result page, because they are searching on a smartphone. Imagine a busy parent arriving home one night to a flooded kitchen. They have groceries in the car, a baby on their hip and a smart phone in their pocket. They aren’t going to fire up their laptop or look for a business card; they are going to use their phone on the spot to look up an emergency plumber in their area. You want your business to be discoverable in any moment of customer intent.

Businesses using digital tools are doing better

Australian businesses that use digital tools most effectively are 1.5 times more likely to be growing revenue than those that don’t. They’re seven times more likely to be hiring, they’re eight times more likely to be exporting and they’re 14 times more likely to be innovating. A digital presence enables you to capitalise on demand driven by positive word-of-mouth recommendations, whether these come from a friend’s online status update or a conversation over co ee. Only seven per cent of recommendations originate online; the remaining 93per cent still come the old-fashioned way, in person. However, the way people act on this information has changed, and your digital presence is critical to them finding your business. 

There’s a consequence to failing to respond to this consumer behaviour, if when people go online and search for you, nothing appears. Not only do they not nd you, they do nd one of your competitors who has maximised their digital presence.

The research tells us 40 per cent of Australians will look at the location and the contact details of a competitor listing if they can’t nd the business they were specifically looking for. 

Establishing your digital business presence

There are some quick, easy, cost-effective things you can do to establish your digital business presence.

The first thing is to create a free Google My Business listing. Go to au/business and sign up for your Google My Business listing. Set up a profile by entering all your information, it only takes about fifteen minutes.

Once you’ve been verified, when someone searches for your business name and location it can appear on Google search and maps. Your phone number will be ‘click to call’ so people who see that result on their smart phone can call you direct.

Does a business still need a website?

For most businesses the answer is ‘yes’.

Having your own website allows you more control, so it can reflect your brand from top to bottom. Your website also plays a key role in establishing your legitimacy. It shows that you are a genuine business, you can be trusted, and you are professional and contactable. In the trades, trust is critical; the whole relationship is built on trust. A customer is letting you into their house, and they might not even be there.

Delivering a good customer experience online and on mobile

Using the right keywords, adding good content, and making sure all the information a customer is looking for is easily found on your website are all important.

One of the key measures for search engine optimisation (SEO) is: does the site work properly on a mobile phone? Overwhelmingly people are now using mobile phones to nd businesses, especially tradespeople.

The better the experience your mobile site can give a customer, the more likely it is that Google will show your website at the top of the organic search results. Another key point to remember: Google rewards relevance.

The Digital Garage from Google

The Digital Garage digitalgarage-au. is the one-stop shop to learn all the digital skills you need to grow your business. You learn about more than just Google products; it also covers email marketing, social media, search engine optimisation and web analytics.

Digital technology has changed consumer patterns, and people now look for products and services online. Around 60 per cent of Australian small businesses still don’t have an online presence, yet the businesses using
digital platforms effectively are doing better business. Make sure your plumbing business is ‘ findable and contactable’ online when a potential customer goes looking.

Thanks to Google’s Duncan McGrath for his expert digital advice.