July 6, 2023

How to rank your plumbing business top of Google Maps

You’ve probably used Google Maps before. Maybe you’ve used it to navigate to a destination or perhaps you were browsing local services in your area. There are many reasons to use the app.

But what about for plumbers?

Like all local businesses, getting your plumbing company to show up on Google Maps is essential. But how do you do it and what needs to be done to rank number 1 for Google My Business?

In this blog we’re going to break down the 3 ranking factors you need to get your plumbing business to the top of Google map search, drawing on real examples and using original research to inform this guide.

What do you need to do to rank higher on Google Maps in 2023?

Here are the main steps you need to take to get your business to rank higher

  • Make sure you claim your business profile on Google Maps
  • Include as much information about your business as possible including: contact number, address, operating hours, service area, website address
  • Increase your total number of 5-star reviews (aim for at least 30) and avoid 1 or 2-star reviews where possible
  • Get your website listed in relevant plumbing and heating directories and gain backlinks (aim for a minimum of 10 backlinks). Sites such Angi, HomeAdvisor, Yelp, TrustATrader and CheckATrade are a good start.
  • Add images and updates to your Google business profile

How does Google rank your plumbing business?

Google attributes your ranking based on three key factors:

  • Relevance
  • Distance
  • Prominence

All three contribute to whether or not your business will appear for a map search. Notably, all three factors are not treated equally, rather they are stacked in a pyramid-like hierarchy.

Relevance is the first filter - For your business to show it must be relevant to the imputed search term.

Therefore a plumbing business would not show if someone were to search “electrical businesses in my area”, instead electrical companies would appear.

The next filter is distance- This is about proximity to the searcher. Google’s primary goal is to make life easy for the user.

This means Google wants to show businesses that are as close to the searcher as possible, saving individuals from having to travel further to get to the searched destination.

Finally, we have Prominence - This is the factor you have the most control over. Prominence is about Google showing the business that is most reputable and most likely to deliver a good service to the customer.

A big part of this is influenced by online reputation as this is something Google can measure.

It’s worth noting that the weighting between these factors has changed in the past.

Previously prominence had greater relevance in relation to distance than it does now. Since Google’s Vicinity update in 2021, the focus was changed so that now, even a business with very little prominence can appear on maps if it is relevant and in the right vicinity.

What makes a business prominent?

So if prominence is the factor you have the most power to influence, what do you need to do to achieve that goal?

Well, Google has provided an answer:

To improve your business's prominence you need:

  • Links pointing to your site
  • To feature in directories and articles
  • Positive reviews

All of these factors you can work on for your plumbing profile. But does following these recommendations work in practice?

To find out, we did some research, comparing the top three plumbing profiles for the search term “plumber [city]” for 8 cities in the UK.

The results were illuminating.

Jump to the results.

How plumbing businesses rank top of the map pack

To understand how plumbing businesses rank top in Google My Business, we first need to understand how Google business profiles work.

Any registered business physically operating in a given location or area will appear on Google Maps. This occurs whether the business owner alerts Google or not, but this will happen more quickly if you let Google know you’re there.

Once your business is displayed it’s important you claim it. This is the first step towards optimising your business to appear top of the map rankings.

An unclaimed business displays very little information and does not easily appear on maps. A claimed business will have much more information, such as an exact address, phone number and usually a website link.

Take this car wash business as an example.

You can see it has no distinctive business name, no phone number or contact information and has an indistinctive marker on the map. There is essentially no useful information about the business.

Compare that to Mario's Hand Car Wash, a business that has been claimed on Google and is far more distinctive with lots of relevant information such as opening times and a phone number.

Mario's business could still be improved further with a website link and updates, steps we’ll get into shortly, but overall it is far more informative and stands out.

This shows how important it is to claim your business. If you’re unsure how to claim your business, don’t worry, it’s easy to do, just follow the five steps outlined in Google’s help article.

As a plumber or heating engineer, you should also make sure you record your service area within your account. This lets Google and customers that view your profile know the region in which you operate.

You can find the steps on how to set this up via Google’s help guide.

What the data says

To understand what gets the best plumbing business to the top of Google rankings we decided to do some research.

We compared the top 3 map results for plumbing businesses in 8 cities and took a look at what they have in common, comparing how they stack up against Google’s own criteria for success.

City/Region Business names Overall review rating No. 5 star reviews No. 1-2 star reviews No. images Last update Site backlinks
Exeter N.P.S, Nigel's plumber Exeter 4.8 63 4 47 1st Mar 19 19
BDJ Plumbing Services 4.8 23 1 13 10th Sept 20 12
Bramshaw Heating and Plumbing Ltd 4.6 62 6 29 19th June 20 58
London My London Plumbers 5 95 0 213 22nd June 23 7
Aza & Sons Services - Plumber & Gas Engineer in London 5 193 2 239 8th Dec 22 2
West London Plumbers 5 67 0 8 None 49
Cardiff RM Plumbing & Electrical Ltd - Cardiff 5 49 0 67 1st Jan 23 905
N.J Harkus Plumbing and Heating Ltd 5 624 5 40 None 127
Emergency Plumber Cardiff 247 5 152 0 132 21st Oct 22 Broken site
Norwich HGS Plumbing and Heating Norwich 4.8 256 10 4 31st May 23 42
Adam Roberts- Norwich Plumber 5 98 0 47 None 8
My Norwich Plumber 5 21 0 3 None 6
Birmingham AB Plumbing & Heating 4.8 45 2 52 9th Feb 20 155
GD Plumber Heating Gas Services Birmingham 5 48 0 156 23rd Nov 20 0
Jack The Plumber 5 79 1 3 30 Jul 22 6
Manchester Pipeworks Manchester 4.5 105 15 42 15th Jan 22 44
A A Manchester Plumbing & Heating Services 4.8 75 3 14 None 14
My Emergency Plumber 4.9 110 2 26 16th Sept 19 48
Newcastle CBD Plumbing and Property Maintenance 4.9 31 1 3 None None
N.E Heating & Plumbing Services 5 88 0 70 6th Jan 21 None
MK Robinson Plumbing & Heating Engineer 5 23 0 130 21st Jun 23 8
Edinburgh William's Plumbing 4.9 116 1 8 None 41
SD Plumbing & Heating 4.9 136 3 162 22nd Mar 23 73
Cummings Plumbing 4.9 71 1 3 None 48

The data reveals some interesting results:

5-star Google reviews are essential

The core ranking factor for a business to appear number one on Google Maps is a high number of 5-star reviews.

4 out of the 8 top-ranked plumbing businesses, had 95 five-star reviews or more. While the average review score for top 3 businesses was 4.9 stars.

Although the lowest-rated business scored 4.5, this was offset by a high total number of reviews (105) and a strong website backlink profile.

A high volume of reviews is helpful but not essential

Total review volume does appear to correlate with a higher chance of appearing in the Google Map Pack, however, it doesn’t seem to be essential. On average the businesses with the most number of reviews came 2nd.

Websites with a high number of backlinks do better

The quality of a plumber's website does have an influence on their map ranking. 11 out of the 24 businesses we assessed had a total of 40 backlinks or more. Showing that websites with strong backlinks are rewarded.

It’s also worth noting that not all backlinks are considered equal, links from high-authority websites are more valuable than low-quality websites, hence why the number of backlinks isn’t always the best indicator of website strength.

A good idea is to get your website listed in directories and listings and gain a backlink that way. This is something Google even recommends in their guide.

For more tips on how to optimise your web presence check out our article on SEO for plumbers.

Try images and updates

The value of adding regular updates and images to your map profile is inconclusive, however, as a trend, it does appear that more often than not, the businesses that add multiple images and include updates do well.

To give your plumbing company the best chance to rank well it is a good idea to add a decent selection of updates and images.

A variety of sources, including Freepik, can provide rich, downloadable stock photos related to plumbing work, that can be used for update purposes.

Even if these are not direct ranking factors they help create a better customer experience for those viewing your profile and also indirectly influence Google’s algorithm.

Other top tips

To give your plumbing and heating business the best chance to be rewarded by Google you should aim to get all the small bits right. A lot of this comes down to your website and your general web presence.

You should try working on the following.

Consistent web presence

Make sure any information on the web about your business is consistent. This means your contact information, physical address and any other relevant information should be consistent wherever it is recorded on the web. If the details in plumbing directories do not match up with your website, correct it.

Correct keyword usage

Keywords are relevant words that relate to your business and are used on your website or Maps profile. Words relating to your location and the services you offer should be included and appear on your website. However, be careful to use these words naturally, keyword stuffing could result in Google penalties.

Embed a Google Map on your website

It’s a good idea to include a Google Map imbed of your business location on your website. This helps increase the association between your website and Maps profile. This is something we do on our own website on our contacts page. If you need some help with this, Google has provided information on how to add the embed.

Custom landing pages

If you want to take things to the next level, consider setting up custom landing pages on your site covering some of the specific services you offer. For example, if you offer boiler installs, you could have a boiler install landing page.

Edit image metadata

This one is a pro tip for those who really want to optimise to the max.

The aim is to update the metadata within any images you use on your website and Maps business account so that they include relevant information such as your location and services. To do this you will need photo editing software such as Photoshop.

This article on how to edit this data provides a good guide.

How to increase good Google reviews

It’s one thing knowing what you need to do to get your company ranking on Maps but it’s another thing actually making it happen. You know Google reviews are important, but how do you get them?

The best way to get more Google reviews is to ask your customers for them. However, doing this can be time-consuming and tedious.

The good news is there is a simple way to do this at scale. With Payaca you can set up custom automations that will send out a text or email linking to your Google profile asking for a review, once a job is complete.

This will allow you to rapidly increase the number of reviews you have and boost your ranking. For a more detailed explanation of how to up your Google reviews then read our article on 6 tips to skyrocket your reviews using Payaca.

Next steps

If you're the kind of plumber who’s aiming high and want to get to the top of Google, then you’re probably ambitious about growing your business.

If that sounds like you check out some of our other content, such as this article on how to grow your plumbing business to the next level or have a look at our Youtube channel, we’ve got loads of great content on there designed to help you succeed.

Good luck!