Search engine optimization – better know as SEO – is one of the hottest marketing buzzwords in the last decade. Despite its popularity, SEO is still a mystery for many people, including a lot of contractors. While SEO is a complex topic, our high-level overview will help contractors learn how they can use SEO to increase leads and get more jobs.
Understanding the Search Process
Before you can optimize your website for search engines, it’s important to understand how search engines work. A customer will type keywords into a search engine to find something they need, for example “water damage cleanup”.
That search engine searches millions or even billions of web pages for those search terms. It then ranks those web pages based upon a bunch of different criteria. Finally, it returns a list of results to the customer. And yes, all of this happens in less than a second.
What Is Search Engine Optimization
Search engine optimization is the process of optimizing your website content to improve your non-paid, organic placement in search results. Simply put, you are tweaking your website to ensure it appears near the top of the search results for specific search terms.
A comprehensive SEO strategy will take a number of different factors into consideration, including how search engines work, the specific keywords entered, and even their audience. Additionally, SEO involves optimizing your website to improve its relevance for specific keywords. This may require editing or expanding existing content, creating new content, and improving the way your website is coded.
Why You Need SEO
As with any marketing or advertising strategy, search engine optimization is about driving leads and getting more customers. While some customer may open up a phone book, get your direct mail pieces, or see your truck or van on the road, they are much more likely to do a search when they need a water damage contractor or biohazard cleanup service.
It’s faster, easier, and more convenient for customers to type a few keywords into their phone. In less than a second, they have thousands of results sorted by relevance to their search terms. If you don’t have an SEO strategy, you are probably missing out on valuable leads.
What Search Engines Are Looking For
The goal of every search engine is to provide the best website results for the given search keywords. They use a number of factors to rank the relevancy of those search results. Some of the key things that you can control are:
Obviously, your content has to fit with the search topic. Search engines look at the headings and text on your page, the page title and description, and the overall structure of your website content.
Search engines also want to make sure you are an authority on the topic. They evaluate how many websites are linking back to your content. They also evaluate the authority of those sites.
Your site also needs to perform. Search engines don’t want their users to have to wait too long for your website to load. It also shouldn’t have any major technical errors.
Another factor search engines evaluate is the user experience. Your site should have a clean design, be easy to navigate, and not look spammy or phishy.
How Contractors Can Improve Their SEO
Part of improving your SEO is to understand the keywords your customers are searching for and your competitors are ranking for. Once you know what keywords are working, you can start targeting them with your own content.
Use tools like Moz Keyword Explorer, Ahrefs, and SEMRush to research keywords relevant to your industry. These tools offer some information for free, but you may need to purchase a subscription to access all of their keyword research tools. Compare how you rank with your competition for specific keywords and identify places where you can make improvements.
Review Your Site Structure
It’s easy to overlook the importance of how you name directories and files on your website. While you may think it’s just a bunch of slashes and dashes, search engines actually use the structure of your URL for SEO purposes. Also called the ‘path’, think of the URL like a roadmap. Name and structure your content so search engines can easily understand how the content is related. You should use keywords in your URL structure as well.
Improve Your Existing Content
Now that you know what keywords you should be targeting, revise your existing content to include those keywords. Avoid overusing keywords, as this can negatively impact your search ranking. Ideally, a keyword density of 1% to 3% is perfect – that means you should use your keyword one to three times for every one hundred words. Every page should have a primary keyword and then one or two related keywords.
Use Keywords in Your Content
Use the keywords you are trying to rank for in your content. Specifically, you want to make sure the keyword appears in the page title and description. These fields are indexed by search engines and are displayed in the search results. Also, include your keywords in headings within your content. Create an outline for your content using heading tags. The title should be in an H1 tag with subsequent content in H2, H3, and H4 tags. This makes it easier for search engines to evaluate and rank your content. It’s easier for your customers to read your articles easier this way, too.
Keep Adding New Content
While static brochure websites were the norm years ago, search engines are looking for new and updated content today. Creating and posting regularly to a blog is one way to increase content. Another way is to add more subpages. If you do fire damage restoration, add subpages about specific types of smoke and fire cleanup, like kitchen smoke damage. When you’re out of content ideas, do a new keyword analysis and start the whole process over.
Avoid SEO Shortcuts
If you do a search for SEO tips, you will come across a few thousand articles with tricks to instantly improving your search engine optimization. Google and other search engines strive to return the most valuable results to their users. While these shortcuts may boost your search ranking in the short term, they are likely to hurt you in the long run.
Search engines will catch on to what you’re doing sooner than later. Before you know it, your search ranking has fallen and you’ve got to start all over. Instead of trying to shortcut the system, you’ll waste less time and be more successful if you play the smarter long game from the start.
SEO is a Long Term Strategy
There are no shortcuts to search engine optimization. If you plan to do your own SEO, understand you can’t just set it and forget it. You will need to constantly stay engaged. Search engines are constantly optimizing their search algorithms to provide the highest quality results for the searcher. You will need to adjust your tactics over time as search engines evolve.
Options to managing your own SEO strategy are hiring a marketing agency, SEO company, or lead generation service. An agency or SEO company will manage your marketing efforts and stay up to date on SEO tactics. They will likely bill you per hour and may charge a retainer. A lead generation service, like 33 Mile Radius, will also use SEO but will only bill you per valid lead.
Search Engine Optimization is Here to Stay
No matter whether you do your own SEO or outsource it, search engine optimization will continue to play an increasingly important role in getting more disaster mitigation, restoration, and home services leads in the future.
If you aren’t ready to put in the effort a comprehensive SEO strategy takes, consider using our exclusive lead generation system instead. We send each lead exclusively to one partner and only bill you on valid leads. Learn more about our water damage, fire restoration, mold remediation, plumbing, biohazard cleanup, and carpet cleaning leads or call 1-888-594-8381 for more details.