Uncategorized

Top White Hat SEO Strategies For Local Service Businesses

We hear this from local service business owners a lot, “where do I find clients?”

As a local service professional (e.g., painter, electrician, plumber, contractor) you need a reliable way to get in front of prospects and generate high-quality leads.

Most people start their search for a local service provider on Google, making search engine optimization (SEO) an essential marketing strategy.

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However, the rules of SEO seem to be constantly changing and it’s often quite overwhelming for small businesses.

You have probably heard stories about websites that lost all their traffic overnight when Google changed its algorithm.

You know what, don’t be that website… it’s so 2013.

How? Actually, it’s rather simple.

The websites that got “dinged” by Google were using black hat SEO tactics. They may get their five minutes of fame but when Google figured out their dirty little tricks, they lost all their traffic and SEO juice.

Don’t try to outsmart Google. Instead, play nice by using white hat SEO techniques.

 

What’s White Hat SEO?

Simply put, white hat SEO strategies are search engine optimization techniques that won’t get you into trouble with Google.

As search engine algorithms are becoming increasingly sophisticated, many black hat SEO tactics no longer work and will even get your website penalized by Google.

Unlike black hat SEO that uses questionable tactics such as keyword stuffing or buying backlinks to “trick” Google, white hat SEO techniques emphasize on creating useful content for a human audience.

White hat SEO strategies optimize website content to increase relevancy and usability while making sure it’s easy for search engines to find and index the information. It’s the best way to improve your organic search ranking for long-term results.

The question is, what SEO techniques will move the needle most for your local service business, which has unique marketing needs that can be quite different from content sites or online stores?

Even if you have done just a little research on SEO, you’d realize that there are many things you can do to optimize your website. (Too many things!)

Here’s the good news: we have put together the latest white hat SEO strategies that are proven to work for local service providers so you can get found by high-quality prospects:

4 Must-Have White Hat SEO Strategies For Local Contracting Businesses

We can’t guarantee that Google will love your website to bits but these key strategies can help optimize your content for more SEO juice:

1. Mobile + Local

A mobile-friendly website is no longer a “nice to have” for local service businesses.

Why? Consider these facts:

In addition, over half of all website traffic comes from mobile devices so you bet Google is making sure that its search results are catering to these users.

Here are a few pointers for creating a mobile-first website:

  • Use a responsive mobile-first HTML framework that allows your website to adapt its layout to different screen sizes.

  • Prioritize user experience base on a device. E.g., make sure the most important information is at the top when a page is displayed on mobile to minimize scrolling.

  • Minimize your website’s page loading speed, which is a Google ranking factor. You can do so by minimizing the number of resources to display “above-the-fold” content. This includes limiting the number of scripts, fonts, and css files, as well as optimizing images to reduce size without compromising image quality.

  • Simplify navigation to make it easy for visitors to find what they need on your website.

  • Optimize your website for mobile interactions, e.g., by allowing users to use swiping gestures to interact with the content or adding a tap-to-call button.

While mobile-friendliness is an important ranking factor, optimizing for local SEO can help attract qualified prospects with high purchase intent.

When you optimize your website for local SEO, you boost your visibility on SERPs (search engine results pages) by getting listed on the “local pack” at the top of the page.

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Here’s how to get your website found on local searches:

  • Claim your Google My Business listing and optimize your business profile.

  • Ask happy clients to post reviews on Google and Facebook.

  • Optimize the URL, title tags, headers, meta description, and content on your website to target geographic search phrases or keywords.

  • Create content with a local focus to attract visitors who live in your service area and position yourself as part of the community.

For any local service and contracting business, combining mobile-friendliness with local SEO is the winning formula.

2. User Experience (UX)

User experience refers to every aspect of how a visitor interacts with the content of a website.

When you create a website to provide a great user experience, visitors are more likely to find what they need and stick around. This helps increase dwell time, decrease bounce rate, increase page views, and ultimately improve SEO ranking.

UX is a broad topic and it touches upon everything from the information architecture to content on your website.

For the purpose of boosting SEO, start with implementing these UX improvements on your website:

  • Mobile friendliness and page load time: mobile users are notoriously impatient. If your site doesn’t load on their smartphones within seconds, they’ll click away. If they can’t find what they want quickly, they also may click away, resulting in a lower dwell time that will hurt your SEO efforts.

  • Mobile-specific features: leverage features such as tap-to-call or location services (e.g., for auto-filling forms) to encourage visitors to get in touch.

  • Website architecture: a well-organized website allows both visitors and search engines to locate information easily so Google can better index your website while visitors can find what they need.

  • Visual design: your content needs to be legible on all devices so visitors won’t get frustrated and click away. This helps increase dwell time, which signals relevance to search engines.

  • Engaging content … while text is still the best way for Google to understand a website’s content, the use of other content types (e.g., video, infographics, interactive content, etc.) can increase user engagement, improve dwell time, increase sharing, and generate more backlinks. You can use caption and image alt-text to help search engines understand the visual content.

Last but not least, your website is an important component of your lead generation strategy. Your visitors should be able to easily submit a request for quote or get in touch with you via a variety of channels (e.g., phone, text, live chat, email) to schedule an appointment.

3. Keywords

Although keywords are no longer the “be all end all” of SEO since Google’s algorithm is now sophisticated enough to take other factors such as context and usability into account, it’s still an important element for ranking high in organic search results.

However, it’s not enough to just plug along with keyword strategies from 5 years ago. Instead of catering to an “algorithm,” you need to define your keywords from the perspective of your clients (i.e., how they’d search for the kind of services that you offer.)

Here are some latest keyword strategies for optimizing your content:

  • Longtail keywords: not only does 70% of all search traffic come from longtail keywords but people using these search terms are also more ready to hire a service provider. There are many ways to research longtail keywords, such as using Google suggest or Google search console, spying on your competitors, or doing social listening.

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  • Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) keywords: LSI keywords refer to keywords or phrases that are semantically related to each other. It provides context to help Google understand your content and improve the quality of its search results. One quick way to identify LSI keywords is to run a Google search with a main keyword and scroll down to the “searches related to” section at the bottom to see similar terms that searchers use.

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4. Link Building and Online Presence

Similar to keywords, link building has been an SEO staple. However, it’s important to do so without resorting to black hat techniques.

Keep in mind that link building isn’t just about the quantity of backlinks. The quality of these backlinks matters as well. For example, the ranking signal will be much stronger if the backlinks are coming from highly relevant content on an authority site.

For local service businesses, getting listed on directories and third-party review sites is a great way to get backlinks while boosting your online presence. These directories and third-party sites tend to have high site ranks so you can leverage their SEO juice to drive traffic and improve your own ranking.

You should also optimize your social media profiles with relevant keywords and your website URL. Since social media sites have high site ranks, your profile will be more likely to be shown on search results if you include the appropriate keywords.

In addition, you can guest post on websites that provide local resources to your target service area. Include your website URL in the author bio and add a link or two to relevant content on your website (if allowed by the guideline.)

Keep in mind that getting backlinks isn’t always “the more the merrier.” You need to look out for negative SEO because having too many backlinks from sites with bad reputations could impact your ranking.

Monitor your backlinks and if you find any bad link, submit a list to Google to have the links disavowed.

 

Conclusion

As a local service business, it’s becoming increasingly important to get found on Google searches by high-quality prospects.

Having a comprehensive strategy to boost your SEO, establish a credible online presence, and capture leads on your website is essential for your long-term success.

Here at 99 Calls, we not only work to get you into top spots on SERPs by building a fully optimized mobile-friendly website but we also make sure that you’re getting listed, promoted, and reviewed so your business is ranked, found, and engaged.

Get started today – get a free consultation to see what SEO lead generation can do for your local business.

 

Uncategorized

Top 10 Lead Generation Services For Home Improvement and Remodeling Contractors

In a recent survey of home improvement professionals, the biggest challenge faced by these companies is generating leads for new business.

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Whether you have a small team or own a large company, having a constant stream of high-quality prospects is the key to maintaining a consistent cash flow and a healthy business.

The challenge is – where are your customers? What’s the best way to get in front of them when they’re looking for a home improvement contractor?

Most of today’s consumers search for local service providers online. They’d find the name of a few local contractors on Google, read some online reviews, visit their websites, and request a quote.

The key to getting found by prospects is to make sure that your website shows up on the first page of relevant local search results.

Unfortunately, many home improvement contractors fall behind in their prospecting efforts because they don’t have the time and resources to spend on online marketing.

Thankfully, there are many lead generation services to which you can outsource your marketing activities.

Some of these vendors drive traffic to your website, on which potential clients submit their inquiries.

Others use online marketing techniques to attract prospects to their platforms, on which the visitors submit project details. These vendors will then verify the leads and sell them to contractors.

To help you find a lead generation service that’s best for your business, we have put together a shortlist of 10 vendors. Some of them offer pay-per-lead or pay-per-call services while others focus on using online marketing techniques to drive high-quality prospects to your website:

Exclusive Leads

Lead Verification

Lead Source(s)

Modernize​.com

Yes, with selected programs

Yes

Prospects submit requests on vendor’s website

Home​Advisor​.com

No

Yes

Web form and third-party data sources

First​Impression​.com

Depends on service package

Yes

Depends on type of service

Leadstream by Web.com

Yes

Yes

Prospects visit contractor’s website

Networx.com

No

Yes

Prospects submit requests on vendor’s website

Home​Improvement​Leads​.com

No

Yes

Prospects request quotes on vendor’s website

Remodeling​.com

Yes, vendor offers shared, exclusive, and branded-exclusive leads

Yes

Prospects submit requests on vendor’s website

Leads-force​.com

Yes

Yes

Prospects visit contractor’s landing page

CraftJack.com

No

Yes

Prospects submit projects on vendor’s website

99calls.com

Yes

Yes

Prospects visit contractor’s website

Figure 1: How each lead generation service handles lead generation, verification, and distribution

Finding the Right Lead Generation Service For Your Home Improvement and Remodeling Business

There are a few things to look out for when selecting a vendor to make sure you’re getting the right lead generation service for your contracting business:

Lead Distribution System

Some services send you shared leads while others offer exclusive leads. To decide which type is best for your business, you need to understand how they work.

Shared leads are sold to multiple contractors. Some vendors limit the numbers of contractors that each lead is sold to.

When you buy shared leads, you’d likely be competing against a few other contractors. The chances of winning a client will be lower and you may even get into a bidding war that could lower your profit margin.

If you’re rapidly expanding and/or have the resources to pitch new clients, you can take advantage of the lower cost-per-lead of shared leads.

On the other hand, when you purchase exclusive leads, you’re the only contractor getting the prospect’s information. The competition is lower and you’re more likely to close the deal.

If you’re relatively new in business or don’t have a lot of time and resources for client acquisition, getting exclusive leads is often more cost-effective even though the per-lead cost is typically higher.

Lead Source(s)

Lead source refers to where a lead is collected from, e.g., online ads, organic search results, online directories, third-party review sites, referral, or offline promotions.

If you use a lead generation service that drives traffic to your website, review the analytics and see which lead sources are sending you the highest-quality prospects so you can focus your resources on them.

If you use pay-per-lead or pay-per-call services, you should experiment with a few and see which one sends you the highest quality leads. These services generate leads using different methods (e.g., some use PPC and SEO techniques while others maintain an internal database) and their sources vary.

Lead Verification System

Any reputable lead generation service should have a lead verification system to ensure that the leads they send to you are ready to hire a home improvement contractor.

Vendors should be transparent about how they verify their leads. Here are some examples:

  • Requiring website visitors to fill out a web form with details about their home improvement projects.
  • Contacting the prospects to ensure that the information is accurate.
  • Ensuring that the prospects are located in your service area before passing the leads to you.
  • Screening the leads to make sure that they meet your criteria before setting up a sales call on your behalf.
  • Setting up a website or landing page for your business with an effective lead capture system (e.g., web form and/or dedicated phone number) and driving highly targeted traffic to it.

In the case where a lead vendor has prospects call you directly, find out how to dispute a lead. Often direct leads are recorded and reported. This allows you and the lead vendor to post-qualify a lead and generally bad leads should be credited.

Pricing Structure and Cost Per Lead

Some vendors charge per lead or per call while others offer packages for a flat monthly fee.

If you want to have leads sent to you on a consistent basis, monthly packages can help you better control your budget.

On the other hand, if you only need to purchase leads once in a while, getting them on a per-lead or per-call basis is likely to be more cost-efficient.

Understanding the pricing structure, cost-per-lead, and your conversion rate will provide you with the necessary information to select the right service package so you can purchase the appropriate number of leads.

Here are the pricing structures of some of the vendors on our list:

Cost Per Lead

Notes

Modernize​.com

Depends on program and service area, ranging from $20-$60 per shared lead

Offers pay-per-lead and subscription programs based on service type and territory

Home​Advisor​.com

$45-$75/shared lead

Plus $28.99/month

First​Impression​.com

Varies based on service

GetStarted​.Web.com​/Leadstream

Varies based on package

Networx.com

$30-$70/shared lead

Home​Improvement​Leads​.com

Depends on program and service area, ranging from $20-$60 per shared lead

Offers pay-per-lead and subscription programs based on service type and territory

Remodeling​.com

Varies based on package

CraftJack​.com

Ranges from $5 – $70 per lead based on service category

Lead-Force​.com

Varies based on service

99calls.com

$39 per exclusive lead after intro period

Intro offer: $199 setup and $99/month for first 10 months of unlimited leads

Figure 2: Pricing structure comparison

Top 10 Lead Generation Services For Home Improvement and Remodeling Contractors

Selecting the right lead generation service can help you get the appropriate amount of qualified leads at a cost that will maximize your ROI.

To increase your profits, you’ll need to understand how the service works, the pricing structure, and the pros and cons of each model.

Here’s a quick overview of the vendors on our top 10 list:

1. Modernize

Cost per home improvement lead: Depending on the service package and location, typically $20-$60 per shared lead.

Lead distribution system: Leads are shared by up to four contractors with a national average of 1.2. The vendor also offers subscription programs that distribute a blend of exclusive and shared leads.

Lead source: The vendor uses online advertising and SEO techniques to drive traffic to its website, on which prospects submit requests.

Lead Verification System: Prospects’ information is verified in real time as they fill out the requests for quotes on the website.

Pros:

  • Prospects have to fill out a detailed web form to get a quote. The leads are verified and sent to contractors in real-time.
  • The vendor is the largest private home improvement leads provider in the US. It has access to a large amount of data for analytics to help improve results.

Cons:

  • Getting shared leads means you have to compete with other contractors.
  • The subscription model for exclusive leads can increase your cost.

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1Source: Better Business Bureau

2. HomeAdvisor

Cost per home improvement lead: $45-$75 per lead, plus $28.99/month.

Lead distribution system: Leads are shared by several contractors.

Lead source: The vendor drives traffic to its website using online marketing techniques. It also leverages third-party data sources.

Lead Verification System: Prospects submit a request on the vendor’s website.

Pros:

  • The vendor is the oldest contractor-matching service with a large user base.

  • It has a strong online presence.

  • It offers a user-friendly interface.

Cons:

  • Shared lead means you’ll be competing with other contractors and you may have to buy more leads to win enough businesses.

  • The refund policy isn’t the most satisfactory so you have to carefully manage your profile, e.g., turning off the paid leads feature if you can’t accommodate new clients to avoid paying for leads that you can’t use.

Reviews:

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1Source: Better Business Bureau

3. First Impression

Pricing structure: Varies based on the type of service.

Lead distribution system: Depends on the type of service.

Lead source: The vendor uses targeted media buying and search engine marketing techniques to drive traffic to your website or landing page.

Lead Verification System: The vendor uses pre-qualifying questions on web form or phone to validate leads.

Pros:

  • The vendor uses a data validation and leads scoring software to ensure the quality of the prospects.
  • The vendor offers pay-per-call leads so you can have the opportunity to talk to a prospect before paying for a lead.

Cons:

  • The full-service approach may be more expensive than other pay-per-lead services.

Reviews:

1Source: Better Business Bureau

4. Leadstream by Web.com

Pricing structure: Depends on service package.

Lead distribution system: Exclusive leads generated from your website.

Lead source: The vendor drives traffic to your website using SEO techniques.

Lead Verification System: The lead verification system on your website (e.g., a web form for requesting a quote.)

Pros:

  • The vendor uses highly-targeted local SEO techniques to attract people looking for a contractor in your area to your website.
  • The vendor tracks each click and every call so you can analyze the data and fine-tune your campaigns.

Cons:

  • You may not get the intended results if your website isn’t set up properly for capturing leads.

Reviews:

1

1

Source: Leadstream Website

5. Networx

Cost per home improvement lead: $30-$70 per shared lead.

Lead distribution system: Leads are shared by 1 to 4 contractors.

Lead source: The vendor uses online advertising and SEO tactics to drive traffic to its websites, on which prospects fill out a detailed request and are shown profiles of contractors.

Pros:

  • You can set up a custom profile with photos and reviews to showcase your services.

  • The vendor has gotten positive reviews on providing personalized services.

Cons:

  • You’ll be competing with other contractors for the same leads.

Reviews:

1

1

Source: Better Business Bureau

6. Home Improvement Leads

Cost per home improvement lead: Depending on your service area, cost ranges from $20-$60 per shared lead.

Lead distribution system: Leads shared by up to four contractors with a national average of 1.5.

Lead source: The vendor uses online marketing methods (e.g., paid ads, SEO, etc.) to drive traffic to its website, on which prospects submit requests.

Lead Verification System: Prospects’ information is verified in real time as they fill out the request for quotes on the vendor’s website.

Seems to be affiliated with Modernize.com.

Pros:

  • You can set up filters to receive only leads that match a pre-determined set of criteria, such as territory, trade, type of service, etc.
  • You can set the number of leads you want to get per week to help control your budget.
  • You can manage leads with the vendor’s online lead management tool, which sends you prospect information in real time.

Cons:

  • Sharing leads means you’ll compete with other contractors.

  • Quality of the leads may vary.

Reviews:

1

1

1

Source: Google reviews

7. Remodeling.com

Cost per home improvement lead: Varies based on your choice of lead type.

Lead distribution system: The vendor offers shared, exclusive, and branded-exclusive leads.

Lead source: The vendor drives traffic to your website, on which prospects submit their requests for quotes.

Lead Verification System: The lead verification system on your website (e.g., a web form for requesting quotes.)

Pros:

  • You have full control of your campaign from the dashboard. E.g., creating or pausing campaigns, adjusting bid, or fine-tuning targeting.
  • The vendor offers different types of leads and bidding techniques (e.g., pay per call, lead, or click.)
  • You can utilize the vendor’s platform for invoicing and payment processing.

Cons:

  • The full-service model could be more expensive than other pay-per-lead websites.

Reviews:

No review is available at the time of publication.

8. Lead-Force.com

Cost per home improvement lead: Varies based type of service.

Lead distribution system: Exclusive leads generated from your website.

Lead source: The vendor drives traffic to a landing page using online marketing and mobile search call technologies.

Lead Verification System: The vendor offers data capture, filtering, and delivery as part of the service.

Pros:

  • The vendor verifies all the leads with its SMS Text Verification Platform prior to delivery.
  • The vendor uses demographic, behavioral, geographic, and psychographic targeting to attract high-quality leads.
  • Mobile search call platform helps you capture prospects that are searching for contractors on their mobile devices.

Cons:

  • The full-service model could be more expensive than other pay-per-lead websites.

Reviews:

No review is available at the time of publication.

9. CraftJack

Cost per home improvement lead: $5-$70 per shared lead, depending on specific category.

Lead distribution system: Leads shared by up to four contractors.

Lead source: Prospects submit a request on the vendor’s website.

Lead Verification System: When prospects submit their requests on the vendor’s platform, the automated system calls them to verify their information.

Pros:

  • You can use the vendor’s lead management tool to keep track of prospects and receive text or email alerts on new leads.

  • It’s easy to request a credit through the lead management tool if you receive a bad lead.

Cons:

  • Getting shared leads means competition will be relatively high.

Reviews:

1

1

1

Source: Better Business Bureau

10. 99 Calls

Pricing structure: $199 setup fee. $99 per month for the first 10 months to get unlimited leads. $39 per exclusive lead after the intro period.

Lead distribution system: Exclusive leads.

Lead source: The vendor uses local SEO to promote your business so it appears at the top of search engine results and gets found by high-quality prospects that are looking for a home improvement contractor in your local area.

Pros:

  • You get exclusive leads that are looking for home improvement contractors in your area.

  • You get a website optimized to rank high in organic searches, boosting your SEO and generating long-term results.

  • Your company will be listed on prominent directories. These profiles, along with a Facebook business page, will be properly set up for you so you can promote special offers to attract potential clients.

  • The vendor’s packages guarantee a minimum number of leads per month or your bill is prorated.

  • Packages include monthly reporting to help you track results and maximize ROI.

Reviews:

1

1

Source: Better Business Bureau

Also see:
Google reviews for 99 Calls
Facebook reviews for 99 Calls

Conclusion

Home improvement is a multi-billion dollar industry that’s trending to grow in the foreseeable future.

This translates into many business opportunities for home improvement and remodeling contractors who have the ability to generate high-quality leads and close the sales.

Besides lead generation, make sure you have the rest of your sales funnel dialed in so you can turn prospects into clients.

Of course, don’t forget to deliver high-quality work and provide outstanding customer service so you can get recurring business, referrals, and 5-star reviews from your happy clients.