By Karen Hamilton
As of today’s date, if you Google Vancouver plumbers, you will find 3,690,000 search results. If you put quotation marks around that, to search the exact phrase, you will still get 17,500 search results.
So if you’re a contractor who doesn’t want to get hidden online among millions – or even tens of thousands – of your competitors, consider the following tips on the art and science of Search Engine Optimization (or SEO, for short).
A lot of contractors don’t give much thought to SEO, which means they risk being ignored by the 59 per cent of consumers who use Google every month to find local businesses. You can hire a specialist to tweak your site for SEO but with a basic understanding, you’ll be able to do some simple things for yourself, for free, that will improve your search ranking and ultimately bring in more business.
Keywords: think like your customers
Since it’s people who use search engines, search engines try to match the words humans use (a.k.a. keywords) to the content found on your website. Think like your customer and imagine what words they’re using to search for someone like you, and then make sure the “stuff” on your website contains lots of those words. Your domain name, for example, should be relevant to your business (i.e., JackThePlumber.ca). The title bar should have a relevant description (i.e., JackThePlumber – Best Plumber in Toronto). And if you have a blog or post articles on your website, keywords should figure in those as well. Just make sure not to include useless, random articles jammed with keywords that no one wants to read once they do find them, which brings us to our next point . . .
Content: make it useful, make it interesting
Search engines like to see your website is growing and frequently updated with new, good content. Post photos and descriptions of jobs you’ve completed. Write a regular blog with stories about the construction site, best practices, or what customers should look out for when hiring people in your trade. Headlines count. Come up with ones that use your keywords but aren’t boring. One trick is to do what’s recommend on the website, CopyBlogger.com and write headlines that are equal parts relevant and engaging. The more intriguing your headline, the better the odds are that someone will share a link to the article, which brings us to our next point . . . .
Links: Work Your Network
Search engines treat every link that comes into your site as a referral, a vote of confidence, an argument for why your website should be higher up in the search rankings than someone else. When some people hear this they go crazy and try to get links from anywhere and everywhere. Google is clever(ish) enough to see through that. A smarter way is to get links from places where your audience actually travels and might be inclined to click on over to your website. I’m talking about places like YellowPages.ca, websites of subtrades, suppliers, or real estate agents, and social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
There’s a ton of good information on SEO on the web. (A good place to start is on SearchEngineLand.com.) But if you want to cut to the chase and see an example of SEO done right, Google Plumbers Vancouver (or Moosejaw or Ottawa) and check out the site of whoever comes up at the top. Obviously they’re doing something right.
Karen Hamilton is part of the team at Hammerati. Hammerati is a professional network exclusively for the construction industry.