For companies with a strong brand, solid website and reliable customer base, few things are more frustrating than watching a competitor’s site outrank their own on search engine results pages.
To alleviate this frustration, many business owners and website managers fruitlessly spend large amounts of time and resources copying competitors’ strategies or engaging in do-it-yourself search engine optimization (SEO) efforts to improve their sites.
Even worse, some hire an SEO firm without doing the proper research. Many businesses are so blinded by the desire to have a top search engine listing that they fall for a cookie-cutter plan full of vague explanations or technical jargon.
In many cases, these businesses find that their efforts were futile in improving rank. In worse situations, some lose thousands of dollars on worthless SEO tactics.
A New Approach to SEO
The problem with these methods is that hundreds—if not thousands—of factors influence where a given site appears for a given set of keywords at a given moment. Trying to determine the mix of factors that results in success for one site or what will bring success in a certain market is a waste of time and resources that could better be spent running the construction business.
Luckily, contractors can improve a website’s search engine rank by implementing a few basic customer service tips.
While this strategy may sound contradictory, business owners looking to rank higher in search engine results should not try to rank higher. Instead, they should strive to make their website the best online authority in their respective industry.
The online audience should be the focus of SEO efforts, through honest customer service and education. When done correctly, this path offers businesses the most SEO return on investment.
To begin, contractors should examine the services section of their sites and related subpages. In an ideally optimized site, each service provided has its own page that describes the company’s approach and what makes its offering for this service different from any others in the market. For a commercial contractor website, this structure might include:
- Building expansion
- Office remodel
- Food and restaurants
- Retail shopping
- Financial institutions
- Medical offices
- Movie theaters
- Concert halls and amphitheaters
To receive the most benefit from this structure, owners and site managers must put effort into the text on each one of these pages. It’s not enough to tell the user that your firm offers these
services and display a few images of recent projects. Search engines give top rank only to sites they deem to be authorities for a service in a particular market. This is best accomplished by adding authoritative content that acts as a resource for potential customers.
Become an Online Authority
Websites that contain authoritative content generally display 1,000-2,000 words per page. This content should be 100 percent unique, meaning it is not copied from elsewhere on the same site or duplicated from a manufacturer’s website or any other site. The content also can’t be an advertisement for the business.
Creating this content is actually much simpler than it sounds. Imagine initial client conversations. You likely can think of a list of questions that nearly every prospect or new customer asks (other than “How much is this going to cost me?”). Record those questions for each service provided, with one document for each service.
Next, write descriptive answers to each question. If the short answer is “it depends,” then elaborate on the various influencing factors and the resulting impact. Write answers naturally—not for search engines—and avoid stuffing
responses with keywords.
Once these documents are complete, have a colleague read the answers and provide feedback. This individual may find that a vital question they often hear in the field is missing or that an answer could be stated more clearly.
After you receive these revisions and suggestions, reword these gathered questions into statements, which will serve as bolded subsections on the page. For example, “Do I need a permit, and how can I get one?” could be reworded, “Permits & Processes.” Finally, add this content to its respective service page.
To measure the impact of these customer-focused SEO efforts, an analytics system must be in place on the website. Google Analytics is a free and powerful option suitable for most average-sized websites. This tool monitors in real time the number of visitors who access a website from search engines. With the addition of customer-focused SEO content, the number of search engine visitors should grow within 30 to 60 days from implementation.
SEO—like many elements of marketing—requires focus and continual improvement to be successful. Once you implement new SEO content and track visitors using an analytics platform, your site is ready for the next set of improvements. Monitor where visitors are spending the least amount of time and on which pages they are exiting the site. These pages should be your next area of focus, where you should use the same approach to customer-
focused SEO to generate authoritative content.
Improving search engine rank is like exercise. It takes a sizeable amount of output before results are visible. Making a website an authoritative resource for its users is one of the best ways to rank well on search engines. It’s not quick, but in the long run, your website will be more effective in bringing in business by better serving its customers.