This week on the Home Builder Digital Marketing Podcast, Greg and Kevin were joined by Cabe Vinson of Blue Tangerine. Cabe shares tons of valuable information on how Google My Business can boost your business today.
Cabe Vinson is an eCommerce & Search Engine Marketing professional, widely-recognized for his meticulous management of complex assignments. A paid search and SEO expert, Cabe oversees digital marketing programs of all sizes, spanning numerous verticals including home builder, apparel, B2B, health & wellness, electronics, and food & beverage. An experienced growth strategist, Cabe is passionate about delivering results, achieving client loyalty, and providing unwavering attention to the complexities of his SEM initiatives.
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Editing by: KT Maschler
Greg Bray: [00:00:00] Hello everybody. Welcome back to today's episode of the Homebuilder Digital Marketing Podcast. I'm Greg Bray with Blue Tangerine
Kevin Weitzel: and I'm Kevin Weitzel with Outhouse.
Greg Bray: We are pleased today to welcome Cabe Vinson, the director of marketing services and special projects with Blue Tangerine. One of my favorite companies.
Cabe Vinson: Thank you so much, Greg. Good to be here. Thanks for the invite.
Greg Bray: Well, we're really excited to have Cabe on the show today. Kevin, I got to tell you why. I know, Kevin, that I work with Cabe [00:01:00] All right, I'm going to be open with everybody. so everybody's clear what's going on here, but we work with such amazing people and I was like, you know what? I got to share some of this knowledge and some things are going on that I wanted to ask Cabe about. I said, we got to have him on, so thank you for letting me do that.
Kevin Weitzel: Well, you know, Greg, you usually will go into a, you know, what brought you to the home building industry, but Cabe in your case, what brought you to your industry?
Cabe Vinson: Well, let's see. How did I get to this point? I sort of got my start in e-commerce about 12 or 13 years ago, and then worked for myself for several years. Primarily doing paid search and SEO, a little mix of e-commerce and lead generation and some overall digital strategy.
Then I started at Blue Tangerine. So I think having that kind of background was a good starting point to working with home builders. So it kind of hit the ground running, working with home builders or Blue Tangerine and [00:02:00] here I am today five years later. So yeah.
Kevin Weitzel: I don't know if you listen to the podcast often enough then, because you know, the follow-up question is, tell me a secret about you that nobody else knows. Something interesting.
Some factoid, you know, do you juggle, do you inflate tires with a hand pump? I don't know. What do you do?
Cabe Vinson: Well, we were talking about it a little bit before I do like to work on bikes. I do a lot of mountain biking and I'd love to work on bikes, but Josh had tipped me off to that question, before the podcast and I did have an answer for that. So I'll stick with that one. And that is, my first job as a professional was working for the Atlanta Olympic committee. It's definitely, I would say my second favorite job to this point, but not many people know that it's so long ago that I don't have it on my LinkedIn.
Greg Bray: So what were you doing for them Cabe?
Cabe Vinson: I worked for the planning and integration department there and it was a really wonderful experience to be a part of that.
Greg Bray: No. That's [00:03:00] cool. Well, Kevin's got a little Olympic connection too.
Kevin Weitzel: Well then even you, I mean, that was what? 96
Cabe Vinson: 96.
Kevin Weitzel: I was Kenny Carpenter's alternate in 88.
Cabe Vinson: Okay. Yeah. That's going back a little bit, a little bit, a little bit earlier.
Greg Bray: So Cabe today, the reason I wanted to, to talk with you and share some of your thoughts with our listeners is I wanted to get into Google My Business. This is an area that we get a lot of questions about.
I think a lot of missed opportunities that we see when we're talking to people about it. So that's kind of our theme for today, if that's all right with you. And, for those who really don't even know what we're talking about, and we say, Google My Business, maybe give them that quick introduction of what it is and what they need to be looking for there.
Kevin Weitzel: Okay. Before you answer that, I want to make note that even though this is just focal recording, Greg was looking straight at me when he said many of you don't [00:04:00] know what this is. Normally I'd be offended but honestly, I don't know what you're talking about.
Sorry, go ahead, Cabe.
Cabe Vinson: Well, Google My Business has essentially a free business profile online and it's part of what's called a Google knowledge panel and it's actually a local knowledge panel to be specific. It has a very high level of visibility in the search results so you can see it in the top right of the search results and then the map and the map three packs. So it's a highly visible profile that you can own and manage and put a lot of good detailed information in there.
So in a nutshell, that's what a Google My Business is
Kevin Weitzel: Now, is that free? Is that something that's just a an option on Google that everybody has access to as a business owner,
Cabe Vinson: Everybody has access to it. You know, whether you're a service area business where you don't [00:05:00] have a brick and mortar location, or if you're a brick and mortar business, or in the case of a home builder, you have several communities, maybe a main office, it's free to use. There are some rumblings of Google My Business becoming a little bit more monetized, like a lot of the other aspects of the search results. But, it's free, completely free, so there's really no excuse not to use it and leverage it to its fullest capabilities.
Greg Bray: So just to connect then Cabe.
Is it safe to say that this is part of your search engine optimization strategy or activities for a company?
Cabe Vinson: Yeah. Yeah. That's sort of a foundational piece. I kind of put it in two buckets. It's Google My Business is all about discoverability and trust. So the discoverability part of it is if someone's searching for you, they're probably going to see your Google My Business. The first thing you see, it's very prominent in the [00:06:00] search results. Then also it has a strong ranking signal as well, particularly in mat three pack results. So at the top of search pages, you'll frequently see a little map with a number of pins and local businesses there.
Those are also connected to that local knowledge panel a Google My Business, and those can rank for non-branded terms. So it's a very valuable SEO tool in that regard as well. Then it houses reviews, and so it's a powerful indicator to, the search engines in terms of reviews and your reputation and your trustworthiness.
And so it's an important in that respect as well.
Kevin Weitzel: Speaking of reviews are the individual home building companies, are they empowered to control what people see as far as reviews or they have to take the good, the bad and the ugly.
[00:07:00] Cabe Vinson: They sort of have to take the good, the bad and the ugly.
You can report a review to Google if you feel like it's fraudulent, but those are typically user-generated reviews. You can invite reviews. You can send an email to someone and ask them to review your Google My Business profile or your profile. But those you can't control what's said about you.
So, that's a big piece in terms of reputation management and dealing with those reviews, whether they're positive or negative.
Greg Bray: So let's dive into reviews just a little bit more than Cabe. Since that is a part of Google My Business when someone says Google reviews, they mean Google My Business, right?
Or is there something different? That's where reviews live on Google. Is that correct?
Cabe Vinson: Well, there are a few other places where reviews can be surfaced in Google. You could have product reviews that are surfaced in the search results [00:08:00] in Google, like in a Google search result. But this, in terms of a brand review about your business, this is the place in Google.
This is the most prominent place in a Google search result where you're likely to see something like that. Now there are other review aggregators and services, but this is one of the more prominent and powerful sources of reviews in the Google.
Greg Bray: Is it possible for reviews to be out there about your business that you don't even realize are there, if you're not doing a Google My Business management process? Can reviews be there that you don't even know about?
Cabe Vinson: They can. So if you don't have a good internal process to manage those reviews or to review them or respond to them usually with a Google My Business profile, there are settings within the admin to get alerts when someone's left to review. So [00:09:00] there should be an internal process to get those alerts.
If you don't, then those can tend to slip by without getting addressed. So that's a very common occurrence that reviews will build up and they don't appear to have been addressed or looked at or responded to.
Greg Bray: So then back to Kevin's kind of comment there about taking the good, the bad and the ugly.
How do you deal with bad reviews? I know this is probably a little beyond the Google My Business specifically, but it's just one of those areas that I think, you know, a lot of us don't really think about. What do you do with a bad review?
Cabe Vinson: Well, I think first is to have a process in place and we work with a lot of clients that are just in the very beginning stages of that and just having a process in place as the first step, who's going to respond to those reviews. Who's going to monitor them? Generally with the review, I think the ultimate aim, if it's a negative review, you want to kind of move it to sort [00:10:00] of a one-on-one communication, but you respond publicly on Google My Business.
Ideally, you would sign your name. That adds a little bit of credibility and you show some empathy. I think a part of that, well, let me back up, part of that process should be really analyzing the review first. You know, what does this mean? What happened and try to get a little bit of internal research done on it, and then having a measured response that's empathetic to that person and try to resolve that or offer to resolve.
The situation, if it's a customer service issue or maybe an issue with the new home offered to them to resolve that issue with them. So that's generally the process. Then it's not just about the negative reviews, it's, you know, responding to positive reviews as well. Really just responding to them, kind of shows that you're watching and you're listening and [00:11:00] you're intuitive, you're attentive.
You care about your customers and that's a big reputation piece and a trust piece, I think as well. So just getting a negative review is not necessarily the end of the world, but if you're able to respond to it, I think that's a powerful reputation management piece that that's often overlooked.
Kevin Weitzel: So, what you're saying is, although you want to say, Hey, Mr. Or Mrs. Customer although you think that you had a problem, the problem is actually you, you're an idiot. You want to refrain from doing that, right? You want to actually come back with something positive and, you know, drive it back to the positive side of the equation, more so than just calling them out on it.
Cabe Vinson: Yes,
Kevin Weitzel: You never know, you might've surprised me, Cabe, you might've came back and said, you know what, this day and age, it's okay to call somebody out for just being an idiot. It's all right.
Greg Bray: Kevin is going to start a new kind of reputation management service
[00:12:00] Cabe Vinson: That hits at the part of having an internal review first and responding after your blood boil and sort of settled down a little bit of that process.
Greg Bray: Yeah. That old adage, right. The customer is always right is not always technically true, but we have to make the customer feel heard. I think that's probably where I like to take it. They need to feel heard.
Cabe Vinson: If I may add just a bit more while we're talking about reviews, having a robust profile reviews are an important reputation signal, but they're also important ranking signals as well. So gathering more of those reviews and I've got a statistic that has been floating around for a year or two from Think With Google 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation.
So this is a highly visible place where you can gather reviews and really build trust with a potential client [00:13:00] or customer.
Kevin Weitzel: So, I'm part of the 12% that is suspicious of you. Like, are these employees, I mean, they're naming off like internal policies of this company, you know, and there's no way that's not an employee, but anyway, I'm just kidding.
Cabe Vinson: That I guess some people do, that would be like a black hat tactic. We, certainly would never recommend anybody do that. I think it's okay to reach out to a customer and invite them to leave a review, but I wouldn't recommend all the employees have a home builder for example, just jumping on and leaving a review and trying to get a legitimate review from somebody.
I think that's fair.
Greg Bray: Yeah, and reviews, have some great useful information to improve your business too. Right? If people are identifying legitimate issues and challenges, you've got some other opportunities to improve your process so that the next customer doesn't have the same experience and they can learn from it.
So you need to be checking them just for that [00:14:00] purpose. You know, just to get that feedback for sure. So let's take a step back because we kind of dove in deep to the review piece of Google My Business, which again, I think it's one of the reasons why folks need to pay attention, but how do you even start with this?
Like, okay, I want to get a profile. Where do you even begin as a builder?
Cabe Vinson: Well, you know, some people may already have one and they don't know about it. So Google collects a lot of information, and a lot of that comes out of a knowledge graph. So you may have a profile for, let's say, a community that you don't even know about and you'd want to claim it.
So the first thing to do is just to ensure that you don't already have a profile that's floating around and you can search for yourself in Google maps, you can search for yourself in Google. There's some tools that you can use to kind of do an audit of that. That would be the first step.
The [00:15:00] second step would be, if you wanted to create a profile, you're going to need a Google account. I think that there's some sort of administrative strategy and considerations for a home builder. Particularly someone with multiple communities. Who's going to start these profiles. Is it going to be one Google account?
How are they going to be organized? But you need a Google account and you can start a profile right through the Google My Business has a webpage and an interface where you can get started and load up information and get the verification process going. Usually it's identifying what's floating around first to see if there's something that you need to claim before creating a duplicate listing.
Kevin Weitzel: I encounter this from time to time when we send out a Matterport photographer to a builder. I hear this more often than not in a lot of our listeners, especially our marketing guru's are going to be like, who doesn't know this? But time and time again, we get it to where they say, Oh, our community is [00:16:00] new and it's showing the wrong location on the map.
We don't know how to change that. Is that something that somebody wanting to get in touch with you, can have you help them out with that? Is that a service that you would provide or is that something so simple where you just say, here's what you do? You open this up, you check that box, you do this, done.
Cabe Vinson: Yeah. Unfortunately it's not very simple. So, that's a very common occurrence where a location has the wrong address, or maybe an address has changed for a model home. So generally you can make submissions or a suggested edit to Google about locations and sometimes those will stick, but oftentimes you have to claim ownership of a room to make that change.
So if you have ownership of that profile, then it's pretty easy to make that change in the ad. Then you can edit that information, but oftentimes there may be a profile that no one knows how to get access to because it had a different Google login. So it's something we [00:17:00] frequently troubleshoot with clients hunting down those profiles that have incorrect information and how to access them.
You know, it can be a real headache once things kind of get disorganized in that way,
Greg Bray: You know Cabe, you talked a little bit about the strategy of just creating accounts and I think that sounds kind of like, what do I need a strategy for creating accounts. How many times have you seen where the marketing coordinator or whoever, made this thing under their own Google login or their own Gmail account, and now they're no longer with the company or whatever? It's not a company owned account that runs this thing. I think that's what you're trying to get at. Right? When we talk about account strategies and things like that is, which account are we gonna use?
Who's gonna own that account. Where does that password live? So that everybody can find it when they need it. Some of those things. Am I understanding correctly where you're going with that idea.
Cabe Vinson: Yeah, that's exactly right. You know, sometimes an [00:18:00] agency may create an account and they own that login and maybe they don't give it to you.
So basically somebody high up in the company needs to know about that login, needs to have one, and it needs to be consistent amongst all of those profiles. So that's a big piece of that. We may encounter, you know, work with a client many years ago that there was an agency that created a bunch of profiles and we had a really hard time getting ownership of those cause they created those with a different Google account. I think there was five or six or seven different Google accounts associated with all these different profiles. So yeah, that's sort of that administrative strategy piece that kinda needs to be in place in the beginning. You know, a lot of businesses that have multi locations they can do some bulk set up as well.
So, you know, every location doesn't necessarily need to be set up individually. There's there's ways to streamline that a little [00:19:00] bit, depending on the business.
Greg Bray: So that's a great segue. Let's talk about multiple locations because a builder with multiple communities and different sales offices, those are things that you want all of those communities to be on the map, right.
This is a way to help control their placement on the map and where they show up. So what are your recommendations for multiple locations, especially when you're talking about sales offices for a builder with different communities.
Cabe Vinson: Yeah. So if they have a sales office or a model home that has a physical address that has a phone number, that can have some regular business hours and that can have a real life person, that office, should have a Google My Business profile.
And those are really powerful signals that you can cultivate. That's a pretty powerful sort of SEO digital [00:20:00] footprint. If you're a home builder and you've got 10 or 20 communities and you have verified Google My Business profiles for each community, those could rank for a lot of different keywords.
If you have communities and different little metro areas or cities, those can all rank for non-brand terms in those map, three pack areas and so super mission critical. Then you can load up fresh images. You can make posts to those profiles and you're encouraging people to interact with those profiles.
So you're really getting that sort of sales process started right there on that Google My Business profile. So mission critical, definitely. There are a lot of home builders that struggle with getting those profiles verified or up and running for some of the communities. If there was an office, and has, like I said, hours and a phone number and a physical address, it's a great thing to do for sure.
Kevin Weitzel: All right. I am not [00:21:00] plugging Blue Tangerine on this. I'm not, but Homebuilder X, they have their website through some other podunk company out in, I don't know, Tupelo, Mississippi.
Sorry about any web builders in Tupelo, Mississippi. If there are any, they have websites in Mississippi. No, I'm just kidding. Just kidding. Anyway they hired some company, they have like a lackluster website, they don't have in their budget to redo their website. Is that a service that they can reach out to Blue Tangerine for, to have that specificity, that small project taken care of?
That might be more of a question for Greg, but just out of curiosity, cause sometimes people don't necessarily need to reinvent the entire box, even if they should, but sometimes they just want that portion taken care of.
Cabe Vinson: Do you mean a Google My Business profile specificly?
Kevin Weitzel: To build a profile, to get help them with a strategy on creating it, et cetera?
Cabe Vinson: Absolutely. Absolutely. So we kinda meet homebuilders where they are in terms of their internal staffing or evolution with this sort of thing. So some [00:22:00] may need us to kind of come in and get those profiles up and running and assist with the verification process. Whereas some already have that and somebody may already have someone internally that's managing those.
So we'll help, you know, consult on how to better optimize those. There is inherently a piece of the setup that's pretty closely tied to the office of the location on the ground. I mean, there are ways to verify things remotely. Oftentimes there's a mail pen or I might need to coordinate with somebody in that office to do a video verification with Google, if we're having problems with mailed pen verification.
So there is some onus on the home builder to get things up and running, but we can usually help with the the lion's share of that.
Greg Bray: So Cabe I've heard some people express concerns about the idea that, well, our sales office is in the [00:23:00] garage of the model home, and eventually the goal is to sell this.
It might be the last home sold in the community, but we're going to sell the model too, and it's no longer going to be our office at that point. When we close out, does that come into play with setting up profiles for those locations?
Cabe Vinson: It does. Sometimes if that model does not have those sort of requisite pieces, then you'd have a really hard time getting it verified to begin with.
So if you don't have regular hours or an actual physical address or phone number, then you're going to have a problem getting that verified. If you have those pieces and even if that model home is going to be sold, if you are able to claim or create a Google My Business profile or claim an existing one for that location, that's just floating around, you can later move that location. You can merge it to a new one. You can know you can move it, you can close it down. So you have lots of [00:24:00] options there. I think in the scenario, where maybe the model home would be sold in a matter of weeks or a month there is a significant hassle factor of getting that verified.
There may be some scenarios where you just take a pass on that, but in most cases, we try to get those locations verified. Then once there's a change there, once it's sold, then there's steps to take then as well. That's another piece that I think a lot of home builders don't do a good job with is what happens to these profiles, when a community is sold.
Or an office moves and those profiles are still floating around. So there's a whole strategy component to dealing with those as well when something's changed or closed or sold.
Greg Bray: Are there other common mistakes that you see a builders making was or missed opportunities?
Maybe they're not mistakes, but there's missed opportunities.
Cabe Vinson: I think the most [00:25:00] common things that we see, are just profiles that aren't filled out a lot of times, really basic things. So a business category that's incorrect or just scanned imagery, not, not images of the sample interior, exterior images profiles that don't really have any responses to reviews.
So having a full, robust profile with hours, a phone number, up to date images, the craig business category. Those kinds of basics are where we see a lot of people just need to get started with that. Those would be the most common. The other common piece is, these profiles are sort of an extension of the website and it's important to link those profiles to the right web pages.
So we see a lot of Google My Business profiles for community [00:26:00] that linked back to the homepage, as opposed to the community page on the website where there's a map that matches the Google My Business profile. So there's a lot of pieces there in terms of linking up your on page content and having the correct links from the Google My Business page to your website.
Greg Bray: So is that then a one-time project to get all that kind of set up and get everything lined up and there linking properly and everything's filled out, or is there things that need to go? And then we talked about reviews, of course, reviews are probably ongoing, but are there other things that are ongoing besides a review management?
Once you get this set up?
Cabe Vinson: There are there should be. So there's the review management piece, and now you can also post on these profiles. I don't know that there's any evidence yet that posting is going to be a a ranking factor or is a ranking factor, but it is a way to encourage more engagement and communicate with your audience.
You [00:27:00] have a grand opening or you have some news to share. You can post that on the Google My Business profile in the same way that you might post that on your Facebook page. So that's a valuable piece. There's features, Google My Business is constantly evolving, and so there's new fields. There's new ways to optimize a profile or new things to add. So I think they need to be actively managed and watched and optimized in that way. So yes, it is sort of a one-time getting it up and running, but it's certainly not something to forget about.
Kevin Weitzel: You bring up a good point with the evolutionary process that goes along with the Google My Business. Do you have a crystal ball and could kind of give us a hint at what you think might be coming down the pike for who Google My Business and how home builders could capitalize on that in advance?
Cabe Vinson: Well, I would focus on where [00:28:00] Google My Businesses is right now in 2020 and 2021 is that it has really changed.
There's a lot more features with Google My Business, but going forward, it is already just in the last year, become a much stronger ranking factor for showing up in the maps. So I think that that would be the big takeaway that I would want a home builder to understand is that this is a very important ranking factor and it's only going to strengthen.
The other thing is there is some rumblings and stuff, some beta testing of some monetization of those local knowledge panels. I would want to stay up to date. and if there's maybe an opportunity to leverage some paid services with those as well, or just stay on top of what's happening there.
I would expect Google My Business to continue to be an incredibly strong [00:29:00] reputational management piece from builders and a really important ranking factor going into 2021.
Kevin Weitzel: I'm just going to make the you know, the knuckle dragger assumption that when you say that there is potential for monetization to Google, that it's not these odd ball out of the blue calls, I get from somebody with horrible English that says that my Google My Business is about to be pulled from the internet.
I shouldn't have to pay them any money for that.
Cabe Vinson: Hopefully not, If you get one of those calls, please feel free to reach out to me.
Kevin Weitzel: I get them three to five times a week.
Cabe Vinson: Oh my gosh. Yeah. Here's another important piece about Google My Business. Google is increasingly looking for ways to monetize the search results.
So, you know, Google ads and paid ads have sort of expanded their reach on page one of the search results. So being able to leverage these free areas in highly visible [00:30:00] areas to be visible on page one. Mission critical going forward. As long as Google My Business is free, as long as you can optimize your profile on your website to rank in those, you know, map three packs, that's a win for a home builder. Particularly with the level of monetization that's been going on over the last several years.
Greg Bray: I'm just going to say Kevin, there may be something in your profile that needs to be pulled from the internet. I don't know. I'm just saying, maybe that's why you're getting all those calls.
Kevin Weitzel: There's stuff that is out in public on my LinkedIn, on my Facebook. You're absolutely a hundred percent on point.
Greg Bray: Oh man. I love you, Kevin. Cabe I just, I wanted to point out too, when you talk about critical or showing up in map searches, I think we want to recognize that that map searches are also happening a lot on the phone, as far as related to driving directions and folks looking for new [00:31:00] home community near me. When they're driving around back when people used to drive around and visit new home communities. You remember back in the day. We're not just talking about people sitting at their desktop computer doing a map search when we talk about that. So I think it is critical to show up on those maps for sure.
Cabe Vinson: Yes. Yeah.
Greg Bray: Well, Cabe, we really appreciate your time today.
You've shared a lot. Just a couple more questions before we kind of wrap up. If somebody, they're like, Oh, this is great, but I don't know what to do next. What's like the first thing if they just want to go do one thing to say, what do I do with Google My Business?
What's the first thing they need to go do.
Cabe Vinson: First thing they need to go do is just find out where their existing profile or profiles are and just get that level of sort of administrative detail out of the way. Then, if it looks like a confusing mess, maybe it's an opportunity to reach [00:32:00] out to someone who can help with that situation and get things moving and kind of identify where that starting point really is.
Is it getting things verified or is it starting from scratch or are there duplicate listings floating around? That would be the first part is doing that investigative effort, I think
Greg Bray: All right. Awesome. Well, is there any last piece of advice that you'd like to share today Cabe? Your chance to impart wisdom upon the masses or at least the three people that are listening?
Cabe Vinson: So I would just say to set aside resources. Make Google My Business sort of a foundational piece of your SEO strategy and your overall digital marketing strategy in 2021. That would be the takeaway advice for today.
Greg Bray: Terrific.
Well, thanks again so much. If people want to learn more and connect with you, what's the best way for them to get in touch.
Cabe Vinson: Well, they can reach out to me on LinkedIn, but [00:33:00] probably my email is probably where I'm most responsive. So you can reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org and I'd be happy to engage with anybody that needs some help with Google My Business.
Greg Bray: Well, thanks again, Cabe We really appreciate it.
Thank you everybody for listening today to the Home Builder Digital Marketing Podcast. I'm Greg Bray with Blue Tangerine
Kevin Weitzel: and I'm Kevin Weitzel with Outhouse. Thank you.