Local SEO 101 for Home Service Businesses: Capture Every Opportunity
This article originally appeared here.
If you’ve been searching for ‘SEO tips,’ you’ve come to the right place. When approaching digital marketing for your home service business, you’ll want to focus on local search engine optimization (SEO) to build credibility and awareness in your area, create a better customer experience, and increase qualified leads.
But before we settle into SEO best practices and how they can make you the go-to home service contractor in your area, let’s scale back to the basics.
Local SEO 101
What is search engine optimization? SEO is the practice of competing for visibility in the market on search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo. And search engines are now frequently a part of the modern home services customer journey.
81% of consumers go online before they purchase anything. Most customers conduct unbranded searches online, meaning they’re not searching for specific names or businesses. Based on the words and context of their search query, search engines will feed them a list of results ranked by a range of factors: relevance, location, authority, keywords, among others.
For your business to rank higher on Google’s Search Engine Results Page (SERP), you’ll want to leverage the following four types of SEO to optimize for those exact factors with clarity and consistency.
The Four Types of SEO
- Technical SEO: The structure of your website powers your ‘discoverability.’ It plays a critical role in how search engines rank your website. It refers to your website’s technical architecture, improving factors like user-friendliness, site speed, data collection, indexing, security, and more. Free sources like Google Site Speed help audit your website’s technical performance.
- On-page SEO: Just like it sounds, this type of SEO focuses on the factors you optimize for on your website’s consumer-facing pages like headers, image alt texts, and metadata.
- Off-page SEO: This type of SEO is all about building your website’s credibility, awareness, and authority through link and citation optimization.
- Content: Search engines thrive on content, especially when it matches their users’ search intents. You’ll want to scale quantity, but more importantly, quality, for your content to win in the rankings.
Whether you’re an SEO beginner or are looking to enhance your SEO efforts, combining all four pillars above is vital for your business to succeed in the local market.
How Your Home Service Business Can Soar With Local SEO
Now that you’ve got a grasp of what SEO encompasses, let’s dive into how it can benefit your business on a local level. Out of the 81% of people that go online before making a purchase, 25% of them are prone to select a business that’s local to them.
What does this mean for your contracting business? Rather than competing with national or international companies for top rankings on SERP, you’re competing in a smaller pool of contractors within your area. And with the right local SEO strategy in place, you can build credibility in your online and offline community to outrank your competitors. This means integrating your service area’s name within your headlines and body copy.
Remember that ranking first on a search engine doesn’t happen overnight. SEO takes a lot of effort, monitoring, and time–and we’re here to provide you with the steps to climb the search engine ladder.
How to Seize Your Local SEO
From metadata to online reviews, we’ve outlined the best methods and online tools to help you manage your local SEO efforts.
Create listings for your company and its locations (if you have multiple) on Google Business Profile (GBP) to legitimize your business in front of search engines and local customers. Make sure your Name, Address, and Phone Number (NAP) are precisely the same as they appear on your website’s footer to prevent inconsistencies.
GBP allows you to add photos, posts, services, reviews, Google Map directions, and more to strengthen your online presence and provide customers with more information about your company.
*Pro tip: Don’t be shy about the services you offer. If you specialize in plumbing and electrical, but also do kitchen and bathroom renovations, list those services to alert Google and help rank them higher on SERP.
Citations & Links
Building out your off-page SEO efforts through citation and link-building will do wonders for establishing your home service business’s credibility in the industry and visibility in the online market.
Crawlability describes the search engine’s ability to access and crawl content on each of your website pages. If your site has no crawlability issues, web crawlers can easily access all its content by following links between pages. If you have broken links or dead ends on your website, you can end up with crawlability issues, so updating your links on a timely basis is vital to ensure your content gets crawled.
Consider the following types of linking strategies.
- Citation links: Citations are branded listings for your business on local online directories like Yellow Pages, Facebook pages, review sites, mobile applications, or your local chamber of commerce sites.
- Inbound links: These links point to your website from an external website, meaning other webpages are using your business as a credible source of information, product, or service. This strategy can help boost your credibility and trustworthiness.
- Internal links: It’s what’s on the inside that counts. Internal links are hyperlinks in your content that direct to other posts or content within your website’s domain (aka your own content). Internal linking can help Google index your page, increase user engagement, and reduce bounce rate.
- Outbound links: This type of linking refers to when you hyperlink to other websites to provide your customers with more valuable information.
*Pro Tip: Build offline relationships with local newspapers, radio, and TV stations that can refer readers and listeners to your business when they need to book a home services appointment.
Aside from building out your off-page relationships to establish credibility, it’s equally important to optimize your physical web pages to ensure that your customers come back for your services, products, and content.
Optimizing your home page and creating individual local service pages is essential to get in front of search engines and your target audience. One of the best ways to improve your website’s local performance is by selecting and optimizing for the right keywords.
In the world of local SEO, keywords will be one of your greatest assets. Search engines crawl thousands of pages for content and keywords that match their users’ search intents and rank those sites accordingly.
There are two main categories for keyword intents:
- Buying Intent: This refers to when a customer is ready to make a purchase, or in your case, book a service appointment. For example, they may type ‘Plumbers in Boston.’ These keywords drive the most conversions, and you should optimize them on your homepage and service pages.
- Research Intent: This intent often implies customers are in the early stages of their purchase by searching for phrases like ‘Bathroom Ideas.’ These types of keywords are great to use in blogs, case studies, or FAQs to introduce customers to your brand for when they’re ready to book a future home service appointment.
Customers are far more likely to select companies on the first one or two pages on a search engine, so optimizing for the correct keywords and ensuring they’re localized to your specific area will help move you up the ranks on SERP.
Optimize Your Homepage
When creating or improving your homepage, select a robust, primary keyword to weave throughout the page in the following sections:
Title tag: Keep your title tag between 50 and 65 characters and include your keyword. For example, if you run a plumbing business in Boston, your title tag could be ‘Top Plumbing Services in Boston.’
Meta description: The length of this section should be between 100-150 characters and include your primary keyword. Try ending your meta description with a call to action (CTA) like ‘Call today for 20% off your plumbing consultation’ to incentivize your audience.
Headers: Make your headers strong and clear about the services you offer and use your primary keyword where you see fit. If you specialize in all the trades, include them all in the first heading.
Body copy: The remaining text on your homepage should be anywhere between 500 and 1,000 words. Use this space to engage your audience to earn their trust and establish your credibility. Do your best to use keywords that match your customer’s buying intent when describing your services and how they can help customers looking to book a home service.
Images: Include engaging and relatable images and avoid putting too much text on your image files since search engines do not crawl them. If you include images, be sure to provide alternative (Alt) text in the HTML code that describes your web page’s images for both SEO purposes and accessibility. Compress your image file sizes without degrading the image quality to enhance your website speed and overall technical SEO.
Optimize Your Service Pages
Create local landing pages for each of your branches that mention the trades your business supports through the use of relevant, niche, and local keywords. Going back to the ‘Plumbers in Boston’ example, one of your local service pages could be ‘Drain Cleaning Services in Boston.’
Your service pages help search engines crawl your website for content that matches the buying intent of their users’ search queries. The goal of your service pages should be to increase conversions, so use engaging, benefit-oriented language to inform and capture more customers.
Curate Consistent Content
Search engines track and reward websites that produce regular, relevant, and reliable content. If your team has the resources, try creating content like blogs, case studies, or Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) using research intent keywords that address topics or questions related to your core services. When you launch new content, share and promote it on your social channels to help increase pageviews. With reliable information and the right keywords, your content can lead to conversions.
Manage Online Reputation
As can be expected, most people will hire home service contractors that have favorable online reviews. Therefore, it’s critical that you celebrate your positive reviews!
Develop a review strategy that promotes positive feedback on your services and monitors your exciting and incoming reviews to help you rank higher on SERP. Use Google, Yelp, Yellow Pages, and social media sites to share your reviews and update them accordingly (users are less likely to rely on old reports).
Search engine algorithms are programmed to understand what others say about your business. So once you’ve completed a project or home service job, encourage or incentivize your customers to leave you a review to help improve your online reputation.
Now that you’re familiar with best practices for optimizing your website, learn and avoid the following SEO no-go gimmicks:
Scraped content: Poaching content from other websites and using it on your own site without their permission.
Duplicate content: Sharing copy-cat text between multiple pages on a single domain.
Keyword stuffing: Overusing a keyword in your metadata and content in an attempt to rank higher on SERP. Try using synonym keywords to get your message across.
Keyword cloaking: Programming website servers to show different content or URLs to search engines rather than human users.
These are just a few examples of SEO malpractices. When you think you’ve found an SEO loophole, think again. Search engines designed algorithms crawl websites for inconsistencies and when they do, they can penalize your website by lowering your SERP ranking or removing your site altogether.
Helpful Tools to Track Your SEO
Now you may be asking: “How do I know if my SEO efforts are working?”
Luckily, there are several insightful (and free!) tools you can use to monitor your website optimization and behavior. Many of these tools have online training courses you can take to get the most out of them. We’ve listed a few below to help you get started:
Google Analytics (GA): This free tool allows you to monitor a variety of factors impacting your website traffic: what users are searching for, where they’re coming from, top-performing pages, number of pageviews, average time spent on a page, bounce rate, goal completions (ex. appointments booked online), and much more.
Google Search Console (GSC): Also free, this resource allows you to monitor your website’s overall performance. You can track core website vitals and factors like site speed and top-ranking keywords to determine what areas are helping and harming your website.
GA and GSC are great places to start as you focus on local SEO efforts and track both customer and website behavior.
Google Site Speed: This free tool can help you improve and track your website’s technical SEO by determining what factors are affecting the speed at which your users are able to see and interact with your content.
Moz: While there is a free version available to test the waters, the paid service tracks popular keywords, associated metrics like keyword difficulty and search volume, and allows you to see how you stack up against competitors.
How Schedule Engine Can Help Your Marketing Efforts
It takes less than a second for a person to conduct a Google Search. And once they’ve searched, they’re going to want just as quick of a solution. While it can take more than two months for your local SEO efforts to produce valuable results, it’s a beneficial and long-term strategy. In the long run, it allows you to prioritize your customers, help you increase the ROI and efficiency of your advertising dollars, and build your company’s credibility within your service area.
And Schedule Engine is here to help! Our Customer Insights service can help you track booking engagement and conversions to tell the success story of your SEO and marketing efforts. Schedule Engine also lets you tailor your customer’s journey by redirecting them to specific landing pages once they’ve booked an appointment and leverage booking links and QR codes to tie your offline marketing efforts to your digital strategy. Better yet, our service won’t interfere with your existing data collection processes, ensuring you’re getting your data exactly where you want it.
Once you notice potential customers landing on your website through local SEO, team up with Schedule Engine and our suite of services. Online Scheduling, Live Voice, and Live Chat make it even easier for your customers to do business with you. Our services help you streamline your booking flows online and on the phone, connecting your customers with live industry-trained agents to provide quick and convenient solutions.
Any Hour’s team also implemented our Customer Insights dashboard, allowing them to track the number of interactions between their customers and Schedule Engine and keep an overall pulse on their Return on Investment (ROI).
BECOME AN ACCA MEMBER