Do you know how many potential customers in your area are searching for roofing companies, deck and patio builders, fence installers, kitchen and bathroom contractors and home service companies right now?
A recent study by BIA/Kelsey reveals 97 percent of consumers go online to research products and services locally. In major metro areas like Atlanta, online searches for general contractors can exceed 25,000 per month!
If these potential customers aren’t able to find your business because of poor search engine rankings, there’s no doubt you’re losing valuable business to your competitors.
For contractors, search engine optimization (SEO) is no longer a choice. It’s absolutely essential for driving a steady stream of new business.
- 80% of all local searches convert. Whether you specialize in roofing or foundational work, an average of 80% of the local searches that arrive on websites take action — complete a form or call for a quote.
- SEO has a 14.6% close rate. Outbound sourced leads (like those that you get through cold calls or other traditional methods) have a close rate of 1.7%. That means for every one client you gain with outbound marketing, SEO gets you 8.5 more.
- Content marketing generates 3X the leads as traditional advertising. Think about all of the leads your business attracts already through traditional media. For every one lead traditional advertising generates, SEO generates three.
By now you probably recognize the value of SEO. Maybe you’ve had some bad experiences making SEO produce results in the past. If so, there are probably some good reasons. Here are the top three mistakes contractors make with SEO.
#1 Mistake: Not using SEO to connect with potential customers
Some contractors (although now the minority) still believe their business can rely on word-of-mouth and that they don’t need to be found on search engines in order to be successful.
That’s a HUGE misconception.
Almost everyone has had a bad experience with a contractor in the past. Even customers who are already familiar with your business or referred to you will often research your business on Google and social media before calling. If they can’t easily find you, don’t see enough positive ratings and reviews, or find content that hurts their confidence, they’ll just keep clicking away.
Even if your business has a great reputation, a savvy competitor with better search rankings and social media presence could be hijacking potential customers from you right now — just by ranking higher and coming across better polished.
#2 Mistake: Trying to do SEO yourself
As a contractor, you’re probably pretty handy and good at figuring out how to fix things yourself. But doing your own SEO work or assigning it to one of your team members to learn and do part-time could cost you dearly.
It’s true that SEO used to be a lot easier. And so were oil changes on cars. If you could write well, had a little web design or technical experience, and purchased some good SEO tools, you could get your site ranked on Google under keywords with average to low levels of competition.
Today, however, driving site traffic through SEO is far more sophisticated. Over 70% of all internet traffic now comes from mobile devices. Google rolls out hundreds of algorithm updates each year, continually updating the rules that rank websites. And SEO relies on a multitude of signals including links, quality content, ratings and reviews, local directory listings, online maps and more. Effective SEO today is both an art and a science.
Think you or one of your colleagues have what it takes to handle your own SEO? Ask yourself the following questions:
- Without using a search engine, can you name a major Google update rolling out this year and how it will affect your business?
- Do you have the tools and technical experience required to conduct an SEO website audit? Our SEO site audits commonly reveal hundreds of technical SEO errors which violate Google’s policies and de-rank sites.
- Have you ever written an HTML sitemap? A proper sitemap can mean the difference between a page #1 or page #10 Google ranking. FYI: 95% of searchers never look past page #1.
- Can you set up, manage and optimize PPC campaigns? Understanding the search volume and cost of keywords is a critical step to developing an effective paid and/or organic search strategy.
- Do you have the tools to perform proper keyword research? Proper keyword research guides the success of any SEO and/or PPC campaign. Keywords with the highest search volume often convert poorly, while low-volume keywords often convert the best.
- Do you have the time to consistently write, publish and promote SEO-friendly content that achieves high Google rankings, generates targeted website traffic and converts visitors into leads and sales?
- Can you secure high-quality links to your website? It’s estimated that 25% of Google’s search engine rankings are based on high-quality links from other websites. Securing and maintaining these links can be time-consuming but well worth the effort.
- Is your business ranked on local directories and maps pages? Many customer searches today (especially mobile searches) are geo-targeted, meaning they’re searching for contractors within a certain mile radius from their location. At AIS Media, we utilize advanced platforms that help secure top placements on local directories.
- Are your social media profiles SEO-friendly? Search engines increasingly use ‘social signals’ to rank web pages. These signals are continually evolving. Different social media platforms provide different SEO benefits and conversion opportunities. Your social media and SEO strategies need to properly align to maximize search rankings and conversions.
The items above represent just the tip of the SEO iceberg. Keeping on top of the latest SEO trends and putting them to work is a full-time job. We know because at AIS Media, we have a full-time team of professionals focused on delivering the very best search marketing results using the most cutting-edge tools and adhering to industry best practices.
Done right, SEO is 100% worth the effort because it can generate a steady stream of high-value traffic at a zero per-click cost, 24/7/365.
#3 Mistake: Choosing the Wrong SEO Company
If you’ve decided to hire an SEO agency so you and your staff can focus on what you do best, there are a few things you should know. Hiring the right SEO agency can breathe new life into your business — providing you a steady stream of qualified leads year round.
However, hiring the wrong SEO agency could actually do your business more harm than good. Some businesses have actually been delisted from Google altogether because of black hat SEO tactics.
Here are a few of key points to look for:
- The SEO agency provides you a designated contact person to manage your account, review performance reports with you and answer your questions.
- Work with a team that sets reasonable goals, not unrealistic promises. Achieving Google page #1 organic rankings for highly competitive keywords takes time, work, cutting-edge tools and often some creativity.
- Look for real-life performance results the SEO agency has achieved for similar businesses. Not just Google page #1 rankings but also site traffic and conversions. Ideally, also a testimonial from the owner or manager. Don’t waste unnecessary time and pay an SEO team to learn on your dime.
- Ask for a proposal that outlines a clear SEO strategy based on your unique business. Ideally, they’ll already have performed a technical SEO audit to determine the type of technical work your website requires to improve rankings.
- Make sure the SEO team takes the time to understand your business’ specific goals and customer demographics. For instance, if you’re a local roofing company in Monowi, Nebraska, you don’t want to rank nationally. If you find yourself having to decline customers because your keywords are not consistent with your service, it’s not a good match.
- Ask to be introduced to the team that’s actually doing the day-to-day SEO work (it’s rarely the salesperson). What’s their educational/professional background? How long have they been with the company? Is the team U.S. based? Avoid agencies that outsource your SEO work to off-shore teams. Are they Google AdWords & Google Analytics certified? Does their position focus exclusively on search marketing or is it split between other tasks like web design/development (a red flag)?
- How long has the agency been in business and what’s their full scope of capabilities? Ideally, they’ll have worked with web design/development teams, they’ll have a proven track record developing digital marketing strategies, they’ll be well-versed with both SEO and PPC management, can create high-quality content and understand how to leverage the viral marketing power of social media to boost search rankings.
Vet your SEO agency thoroughly and make sure you can work well together long-term. Ideally, visit their office or do video conference calls to get to know them in person. After all, you’re not just looking for a standard vendor relationship; you want to team up with an agency long-term. A team that can be a true marketing partner to your business and grows with you.
Finding the right agency can be time-consuming and may require a higher budget. However, consider that you’re trusting that agency with your company’s online reputation. The increase in revenue generated by an effective search marketing program should more than pay for itself within just a few months and often deliver a 10X return on investment (ROI) the first year.
If you found this article valuable, we invite you to take advantage of a complementary SEO website analysis and digital marketing consultation from one of our experts.