Google results tool bridging the gap of propane retailers, customers

October 18, 2018 By    
The decision to switch to a Google search function is based mostly on data showing the frequency with which a search engine is used. Photo: iStock.com/Erikona

The decision to switch to a Google search function is based mostly on data showing the frequency with which a search engine is used. Photo: iStock.com/Erikona

The Propane Education & Research Council (PERC) is discontinuing its Find a Propane Retailer tool and adopting a Google search function in its place.

Propane retailers have until the end of the year to claim their Google My Business listing that will be featured on Propane.com.

The well-known Find a Propane Retailer tool is retiring with good reason. The decision is mostly based on data: Google search is becoming more widely used than ever before. Research from the latest Consumer Barometer Survey shows 80 percent of consumers used a search engine when looking for information about a local business.

Tony Sattler, vice president and director of digital strategy at Swanson Russell – an agency representing PERC – says potential customers are most likely searching for a propane retailer by conducting a Google search.

Google integrated local search results into its algorithm in the United States in 2014, and local search results began appearing above the Find a Propane Retailer tool at about that time.

“When someone searched for a propane retailer, instead of seeing the Find a Propane Retailer tool as their first option in organic search, they were starting to see propane retailers and other businesses that sell propane in their Google search results,” Sattler says.

Website traffic to the Find a Propane Retailer tool has been dropping ever since, according to Sattler.

Smartphones have become indispensable shopping tools, and many people rely on them to do research and make purchases, according to a webinar produced by PERC and Swanson Russell.

The goal of PERC’s Google My Business project is to provide better results to propane retailers and potential customers alike.

“Where we all came to the ‘ah-ha’ conclusion was [when we realized] we really need to train retailers,” Sattler says. “We really need to inform retailers that the first thing they need to do is to enhance their local listings through organic search, and to use Google My Business to do that.”

The council is asking retailers to complete steps to claim their Google business listing, which is free of charge.

“The assets we developed – the guidebooks to get [retailers] started – continue to be the top downloads in PERC’s marketer catalogue,” Sattler says.

Retailers can find a variety of resources on the topic at PropaneLocalListings.com, including an on-demand recording of the webinar, frequently asked questions and guides that list step-by-step instructions to claiming and managing a local business listing using Google My Business.

Once the verification process is complete, propane retailers can manage their business’ information as it appears across Google search and maps on all devices. Potential customers will be able to access important information, including phone numbers, hours of operation, services and service areas.

In place of the Find a Propane Retailer tool, PERC is implementing a new search tool that will leverage Google’s data and will populate a map based on the zip code a potential customer entered. Through the new search tool, potential customers will only be able to search for retailers that have claimed their business.

The update to the Google search function will go into effect in January 2019, when PERC plans to launch a redesigned website.


Joelle Harms is the digital media manager at LP Gas parent company North Coast Media.

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