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.
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:
94% of users search for local information on their mobile devices.
78% of location-based mobile searches lead to an offline purchase.
70% of mobile searchers call a business directly from their mobile search results.
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.
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.
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.
- 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.
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.
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.
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