The Yellow Pages don’t cut it anymore. Consumers use search engines, not telephone books, to find contractors, remodelers and other service firms in the construction industry. Therefore, search engine optimization (SEO) is required to rank high in search engine results pages, driving website traffic and, ultimately, sales. This is modern-day marketing warfare.
According to Google, 97 percent of consumers search for local businesses online, and 73 percent of all online activity is related to local content. To win the local “search war,” you need a properly “localized” website, using SEO techniques geared toward your geographic location.
On-Page SEO Techniques
On-page SEO elements—those elements that are part of the website itself—include meta coding, URL structure and redirects and landing pages for keywords.
The most fundamental on-page SEO technique is meta tag coding, which includes meta descriptions, image tags and title tags. Meta descriptions are descriptions of the content specific to each page, and are approximately 160 characters in length including spaces. These descriptions should include local keywords where applicable, such as city and state.
Image tags, otherwise known as alt tags, are the file names, image titles, or descriptions for images contained on your website.
Page titles, or title tags, are displayed in search engine results pages as the title of the relevant page on your website. The meta description appears below these tags in the search engine. Title tags are the descriptive words at the top of the browser window. Often, a given website has only the company name or website address in the title tag. Don’t make this mistake. Try to include local keywords, such as city and state, and keywords about your type of business in your page titles.
Ideal Web address structures (otherwise known as URL), use the base domain name along with simple keywords or keyword phrases. These will also help improve your search ranking.
One frequently neglected SEO technique is setting up URL redirects. Anyone typing in “yourdomain.com” should be automatically redirected to www.yourdomain.com. This is called a 301 permanent redirect. If you do not have a 301 in place to redirect potential visitors who do not type “www” as part of your Web address, your site is not optimized for search engines or general discoverability.
Consider also establishing a dedicated landing page on your website for each location and service. A separate landing page for each location and service gives you higher search authority than having all of your locations and services listed on one page on your site.
Off-Page SEO Techniques
Off-page SEO techniques—those that do not directly involve elements of pages on your website—account for a majority of search authority, and link building is one of the most critical aspects of off-page SEO. Your Google+ Local business page, the number and quality of reviews your business has, pay-per-click advertising and the number of links from other sites to your site will all impact your ranking in search engine results pages.
Also known as Google Places, Google+ Local allows you to create a profile for your business. The first and most important step in off-page SEO techniques is claiming your local listing on Google+ Local, and doing so is free. By claiming your local listing, you are improving your chances of showing up in Google’s search results. When creating your profile, make sure to fill it out completely. Profiles that rank as 100-percent complete also have a higher probability to appear in local search results.
The number and quality of reviews your business receives on review sites comprise one of the most important local search ranking factors. You can receive reviews from a variety of sources. Some of the most relevant and important review sites for the construction industry include Google+ Local, Yelp and Angie’s List.
Review sites such as Yelp and Angie’s List have a high search authority. Often searches for local services will yield results with sites such as these in top positions. Therefore, it is important for your construction company to be listed on these sites and get positive reviews.
How can you get more positive reviews? First, provide great customer service 100 percent of the time. It is also important to have profiles established on review sites to increase the likelihood that customers will leave you a review. Additionally, consider adding links to your review-site profiles on your website to encourage customers to write a review.
If your business is not getting the search traffic it needs, then paying for Google AdWords is a good option. The initial setup involves choosing the geographic location where your ads will show up and deciding on a campaign budget. You will need to provide a strategized list of keywords and ad copy and decide how much you want to pay for the clicks on your ads. The more you’re willing to pay for a click, the better chance your ad will be displayed in the top positions on a Google search. You will be charged only for clicks on your ads, not for the number of people who see them. A successful pay-per-click campaign efficiently reaches your target market and gets them to click on your ads within the constraints of your budget.
Citations, otherwise known as “mentions” of your business’s name and address on other web pages, influence your search rankings because most search engines rank websites based on how many links there are to that site. Citations can come from a variety of sources, including review sites, blogs, directories and other websites. Local blogs and industry-specific blogs are particularly useful for local search results.
The Bottom Line
A properly localized website will help construction firms increase their search authority, a priority due to consumer preference for using search engines to find information. Using a combination of on-page and off-page techniques can increase your search authority and help you win the local search war.