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SEO FOR CONTRACTORS AN INTRODUCTION TO SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION (SEO) BY JIYAN NAGHSHINEH WEI, BUILDZOOM CO-FOUNDER Introduction 2 For many years, reliable contractors grew their business through word-of-mouth (WOM). The most productive form of marketing involved keeping your clients happy with fine craftsmanship and top-notch customer service. In the past decade however, things have changed considerably. Today, nearly 200 million Americans go online each day to search for information. Nearly half of these people are looking for information about a product or service they are thinking about purchasing (aka you). For home improvement contractors, this represents a tremendous opportunity and a tremendous risk. Every day, thousands potential customers are looking for the services you offer. If you can figure out how to connect with this vast population, your business might take off. At the same time, there are also people who are researching your business and it only takes one bad review from an angry customer to scare them off. There are plenty of consultants and businesses that promise you ”Page 1” results. Regardless of whether or not they can deliver on their promise, one thing is certain: their business is based on your lack of knowledge. After all, if you knew how search engine optimization (SEO) actually worked, you wouldn’t need to pay the exorbitant fees many of them charge. Search engines want to show good results to people and there are many things about your business that would equate to good results if you knew how to approach your Website properly. It’s not rocket science. In fact, it’s a lot easier than most of the things you have been doing for years. It just requires time, patience and a basic understanding of how search engines work. Let’s get started. SEO for Contractors. © 2012 BuildZoom. How search engines work 3 Search engines serve an important role in society: to help anybody find information about anything. The emergence of search engines has created an entire industry (SEO). SEO is particularly important for the remodeling and construction industry because search has become the most popular way for consumers to find home improvement professionals. To better understand SEO, we must first understand how search engines work and fortunately, it’s not that complicated. In general, search engines work in three phases: Collection Analysis Results 1. Collection– During this phase, a search engine spider (aka crawler) will visit your Website, collect everything on it and bring it back to the search engine. Search engines love content. The more content they see, the more they are able to understand what a Website is about. They will look at pictures you’ve uploaded, stuff you have written about your company like the services you provide and even the links on your site. SEO for Contractors. © 2012 BuildZoom. How search engines work 4 2. Analysis – Once the crawler has gathered everything from your site and brought it back to the search engine, your content is then analyzed so that the search engine can understand what your site is about. Kitchen remodeling Bathroom remodeling Your site Rhode Island All the different pieces of content on your site represent “signals” to the search engine. If you uploaded pictures of a bathroom remodel you completed, the search engine learns something; if the “contact” page on your site shows that you’re located in Rhode Island, the search engine learns something. 3. Results – Once a search engine has determined what your site is about, they need to make a determination of where to show our site on the results page. They do this by determining the “authority” of your site. This is a very important point that we will discuss in more depth later on. For now, let’s just say that the “authority” of your site is really just the search engine’s conclusion about how legitimate you are and determines where you will show up for a particular search request. That’s it – search engines aren’t as complex as you may have imagined. SEO for Contractors. © 2012 BuildZoom. How SEO works 5 SEO is focused on helping your site perform better in search. SEO is typically broken down into two areas: on-page SEO and off-page SEO. On- page SEO Off-page SEO On-page SEO focuses on managing (or optimizing) the content on your site to make sure that search engines receive the right “signals” so they can draw the right conclusions about your site. Common on-page SEO tactics include optimizing the textual content on your site; adding or revising the meta tags throughout your site; and updating the architecture of your site. On-page SEO looks at how to optimize for Phase 1 (collection) and Phase 2 (analysis) in the search engine process. Off-page SEO is focused on impacting Phase 3 (results) in the search engine process by increasing the authority of your site to help you rank higher than other sites that are similar to yours. There are a wide variety of off-page SEO tactics but they are all focused on doing one thing: building links. The more links that point to your site, the more authority your site will have. The more authority your site has, the higher it will rank. The higher it ranks, the more business you will get. SEO for Contractors. © 2012 BuildZoom. On-page SEO 6 Your Website represents a wide variety of things: It represents who you are as a business, the services you offer, the projects you have completed in the past and more. About you Projects Services The goal of on-page SEO should be to make sure that each of these sections is optimized to give you the best chance to show up when someone is searching for something that relates to your business. For example, let’s say you are a contractor in Rhode Island who focuses on bathroom and kitchen remodeling. Some of the main goals of your on-page SEO efforts should be to make sure that you are communicating that: You are a Rhode Island Remodeling Contractor You offer bathroom remodeling services in Rhode Island You offer kitchen remodeling services in Rhode Island To help better explain how this is done, let’s take a closer look at one page in a contractor’s Website to illustrate the different elements you should optimize. SEO for Contractors. © 2012 BuildZoom. On-page SEO 7 The URL – Make sure the page contains a descriptive URL that explains the service you offer. The Header – The header , or H1 tag, helps explain what the section of the page is about. It should concisely explain the service that is offered. The Body - This is the meat of the page: the section that explains what the service is and who it is for. It’s also an important place to use key terms that a prospective customer might search for. In addition to the three on-page elements referenced above, there are two important elements that should be part of your on-page optimization efforts: The Page Title – This is a meta tag that briefly explains what the page is about. It doesn’t appear on the page however it is an importance piece of information used by search engines and impacts what is shown on a search engine results page. The Description Tag – The description tag explains (in more depth) what the page is about. Like the page title, it’s a valuable signal for search engines. SEO for Contractors. © 2012 BuildZoom. Off-page SEO 8 To help explain off-page SEO, consider the first five results for a search of “Rhode Island” AND “Bathroom Remodeling.” As you can see by the text in bold, all of the results contain words that match the search query. In other words, all of these pages have been properly optimized. The variable that determines how they are ranked is their “authority.” SEO for Contractors. © 2012 BuildZoom. Off-page SEO 9 Authority is determined by a fairly sophisticated algorithm that looks at many different variables. Fortunately, there is one variable that is far more important than any of the others: links. Both the quantity and quality of links to your site is the single most influential factor that will determine where your site is ranked by search engines. Now before you go and start trying to collect links, keep in mind that the source of the link is very important. Consider the following examples (in which authority is depicted by the size of the circle): Linking site Linking Site 2 site Site 1 Linking Linking site site Even though Site 1 has more inbound links than Site 2, the fact that Site 2 is linked to from a high authority domain means that it has more overall authority. In other words, one link from a high authority domain can be more valuable than multiple links from low authority domains. In fact, there are even some domains that can penalize your site if they link to your site so its important to think about how you build links. Link building is a very in-depth subject and will be covered in an upcoming guide. SEO for Contractors. © 2012 BuildZoom. Conclusion 10 Sound like a lot of work? Stop and think for a moment how much time and energy you have put into your business. How long has it taken you to build a reputation for yourself in your community? How many hours have you put into planning and executing remodeling projects for your clients? The goal of any search engine is to provide the searcher with the best possible result. If you are the best contractor in Rhode Island (or wherever you are), then the good news is that a search engine would be delighted to show your Website if someone is searching for “the best contractor in Rhode Island.” In other words, you’ve already done most of the work. Compared to what you have already accomplished, SEO should be easy. About BuildZoom We believe that a contractor’s greatest marketing tool should be the quality of their work. We help remodeling and construction professionals grow their businesses by providing them with the tools and knowledge needed to take control of their own marketing. On BuildZoom, contractors can access a variety of free tools to help them showcase their business and their work. Sign-up today! SEO for Contractors. © 2012 BuildZoom.
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