To succeed in today’s world your contractor business needs an online presence. But it’s not enough to build or buy a website and then hope people find you online; you need to optimize your site if you want to get more leads for your contracting business. Since you most likely service a small region or area, you’ll have the most success if you optimize your contractor website for local search.
SEO vs Local SEO: What’s the Difference?
SEO: Search Engine Optimization
A process to help search engines understand your relevance; what your website or business does and when to serve your website up to searchers who use specific search phrases (aka keywords) online.
Local SEO: Local Search Engine Optimization
Helping search engines understand your relevance (what your website/ business does) PLUS the geographical region that you serve.
Why Local SEO Matters for Contractors
If you own a plumbing business you definitely want people to find you when they search for “plumber” or “plumbing contractor” online. SEO can help you achieve that. But local SEO can help you show up when someone in your geographical area searches for a plumbing contractor, which is even better.
If someone is searching for a plumbing contractor in Portland, OR, search engines know that a relevant contractor is someone who services Portland, Beaverton, Tigard, and Burlington.
Search engines know not to show results for contractors who service Portland, Maine.
- 70% of searchers are looking for local information
- 54% of searchers use zip codes and city/ town names to localize results
When Local SEO Doesn’t Matter
If you sold plumbing supplies online rather than provided plumbing services, your SEO efforts would be better spent on organic search rankings -- showing up for certain search terms regardless of a specific location. Focusing on a certain geographical region when you want to find customers from all over could limit your potential reach.
For most small contractors, however, local SEO is the way to go. By focusing on local SEO, you’ll send all the right signals to the search engines to show your business to the right people -- the ones in your area. Here’s how.
#1: It Starts with Google
The first step to local SEO is to setup or claim your Google My Business listing. There are over 6 ½ billion searches made a day worldwide, and 77% of them are made with Google. So make Google your number one priority.
Google My Business lets local searchers find important information about your business, such as your name, address, phone number, hours of operation, a map, and reviews all in one convenient place.
How to do it:
- Navigate to Google My Business
- Search for your business using its name and address.
- Add or claim your business.
- Verify your page.
- Choose the right category for your business.
- Fill out your business profile completely and accurately.
- Add photographs and logos.
- Ask for reviews (more on this in a bit)
#2: Add Your Business to Directories
Google My Business is just the start - now you’ll want to be sure your business is listed in secondary search sites and directory sites, as well.
Consistency is key. Be sure you’re providing the same information on every directory you setup or claim your business. Conflicting information from one listing to the next will just confuse Google and other search engines (not to mention potential clients). Be consistent with the following information wherever it appears online:
- Business name
- Phone number
- Days/ hours of operation
- Website address
- Description (be sure it includes your key local search term, such as “Tampa, FL Drywall Contractor” or “Remodeling Contractor servicing Sacramento, CA”)
#3: Claim and Optimize Social Profiles
Did you know that YouTube is considered the second largest search engine in the world, behind Google? YouTube has more than one billion users who watch 5 billion videos a day. Facebook has twice the number of reported users: 2 billion people.
Social networks play an important role in advertising your local business. Be sure to setup or claim and optimize a business page on all of the major social networks, such as Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter.
Remember that consistency matters and use the same information for your social profiles that you did across your directories.
#4: Optimize Your Existing Site
Update your existing website pages to include the local market you service. Remember that you don’t have to go overboard and that Google hates keyword stuffing, so avoid jamming the name of your closest metro area into every inch of your site. Be methodical and smart with your optimization.
Page titles: Include your local search term in 70 characters or less. “Painting Contractor | Tempe, AZ”
Page descriptions: Include your local search term and keep it to 155 characters or less.
Create a separate contact page with your business name, address, phone number, hours of information, and a map. Write out location details to help searchers and search engines know how to find you.
If you service multiple areas/ towns/ regions, create separate pages for each on your website and optimize accordingly. Don’t just copy and paste -- you’ll run into duplicate content issues. Instead, think of each page as its own landing page created specifically for the people who live in that town or area.
#5: Get Great Reviews
Recommendations and reviews matter. The best way to get reviews on business directories and social media sites is to ask your existing and previous customers.
Send out an email to clients you’ve worked with in the past. Let them know you’ve listed your business on a directory and ask them to write a review. Link to your business page/ profile to make it easy and provide options. You may ask them to leave you a review on Google My Business, Yelp, or Facebook, for example.
Get into the habit of asking for a review from new clients, as well. Wrap up each job with a thank you email and a request for a review.
Negative reviews can sometimes happen, and it’s ok. Here’s how to handle one.
Always reply to a less-than-stellar review in a professional and courteous manner.
Reach out to the reviewer and seek to find a way to remedy the complaint.
If the issue is resolved, you can request that the review get updated or removed.
If the review is completely unfounded or incorrect, you may be able to have it removed by contacting the directory itself and flagging the review.
If the one-star review remains, bring it to the attention of your most outspoken client advocates. Send them a quick email and let them know you received a negative review on a certain directory or platform and ask if they wouldn’t mind leaving one of their positive reviews as a better reflection of your service. Most times your fans and loyal customers will jump at the chance to stand up for you and your services.
Winning the local SEO game takes some time and effort, but it can be done. It’s not enough to just optimize your existing website pages for your area. A combination of an optimized website, directory listings, and reviews is what it takes to get ahead. Ready to get to work?