SEO for Contractors: The Ultimate Easy-to-Implement Guide
First of all, what is SEO and why does it matter to contractors? Search engine optimization (SEO) is the art of optimizing your website so that it’s found on search engine results pages by your clients who are ready to hire you for service.
For example, it’s how you get your website found on a search engine like Google by people in your city, who are ready to buy your services now, or sometime in the future. The ultimate goal is to get your website at the top of the first page of search results for key terms that you want your website to show up for.
How and when do you start seeing results? It takes a few weeks before you start to see SEO and being found in search engines kick in. You need to start with a few best practices and implementing a few changes to your website. Of course, you can go down a rabbit hole of strategies and tactics to help your website climb the ranks of Google, but the goal of this resource here is to give you some quick wins.
Specifically, we’re going to look into 5 things you can do today:
A quick aside before we dive in
“I want to be found on Google and then get to my work outside!” That’s Brian Boase, one half of the husband and wife team that operates MIL-SPEC Landscaping out of Clarksville, Tennessee.
Brian is savvy when it comes to managing his online presence—he built a great website using Weebly and MIL-SPEC has an awesome presence on Instagram. But if you’re anything like Brian, you didn’t start your contracting business so you could always sit behind a computer analyzing your website traffic.
We spoke to Brian at the GIE Expo about SEO. He was looking for some tactics he can implement himself to set him up for success, so he can get found on Google… and get outside so he can get to work!
Brian has been generous enough to let us look at his website, so for the rest of this piece, we’ll show you real examples and improvements that were made to Brian’s website. Thanks, Brian!
1. Update your page titles and meta descriptions
Updating your page titles and meta descriptions is one of the quickest wins you can have when it comes to SEO. But before we get into updating your titles and meta descriptions, let’s dive into what these things really are.
The page title is the clickable headline that you see on a search engine results page (SERP). Your page title is important for SEO because it helps search engines understand what your site is about, which will help you rank for important key terms. Just as important is the fact that the page title is often the first impression a potential searcher sees when finding your business listed on search engines.
The meta description is the short summary/description that is found below the page title on the SERP. While the keywords used in your meta description don’t directly impact your search engine ranking, a good description can encourage searchers to click through to your website. And, after all, that’s what you’re after—people visiting your website!
Let’s take a look at how Mil-SPEC’s page title and meta description on their homepage is written:
One of the first things we notice here is that the page title and meta description is not optimized for people who don’t know who they are.
Sure, if someone is searching for MIL-SPEC Landscaping, they are going to find MIL-SPEC on Google. But what about the people that aren’t familiar with their brand? What about people searching for “Landscaping services in Clarksville Tennessee.” This is where you can use your title and description to communicate with those searchers not familiar with your brand.
Your action item: Use keywords that represent your service offering and location in your all your page titles and meta descriptions. Use words that show what services you offer and where you are located. For MIL-SPEC we recommend updating the page title to focus on the term “landscaping services in Clarksville Tennessee”. The updated home page title would look like the following:
Pro tip: When crafting your title and meta description, use a free tool like this SERP Preview Tool. This tool will show you how your title and description will appear on search engines.
How to update your title and description
How you update your page titles and descriptions will vary by what website platform you use. Fortunately, no matter what platform you use, it should be quite straightforward and we’ve included links for the main DIY website builders below:
- Wix: Adding SEO Page Titles and Descriptions (Meta Tags)
- Weebly: Setting up Your Title Tags and Meta Description Best Practices
- Squarespace: Adding site and page descriptions for SEO
If you’re not using one of the above platforms, talk to your web developer and they’ll be able to help you out!
2. Review your site’s content
Written copy on your website is the key way you can communicate to search engines what your business is all about. All the content on your site should be unique to your business and properly showcase your voice and brand, but as you think about writing compelling website copy you should also be cognizant that you’ll want to include words that talk about your services and service location(s).
Before we look at an example from MIL-SPEC an important disclaimer: avoid keyword stuffing.
Just because we say want to include keywords in your website copy does not mean we should be looking to add as many keywords as we can. Keyword stuffing never comes across natural which hurts your brand and the opportunity to collect leads from website visitors and, in some cases, keyword stuffing can lead to a Google penalty.
With MIL-SPEC we want to target terms like “landscaping services” and include their location, Clarksville, Tennessee. So keeping those terms in mind, the fact that we want to avoid keyword stuffing, and that we want to properly represent MIL-SPEC’s voice, tone, and brand, what updates can we make?
Going through their homepage, there is no actual mention of the team servicing Clarksville. I found this section halfway down the home page where we can update some content:
This section, halfway down the home page, has a great call to action for website visitors to get in touch with MIL-SPEC and follow them on social media. How can we add some of our target keywords while maintaining the friendly voice and tone that MIL-SPEC has?
My recommendation is to change this sentence:
Call us, email us, text us, and join our adventures on social media.
To this sentence:
Keep up to date with the MIL-SPEC landscaping team and our adventures as we work in and around the great community of Clarksville, Tennessee. Call us, email us, text us, or follow us on social media.
Additionally, a good best practice is to include your contact information in the footer throughout your website. There are a couple benefits here. On the SEO side, this provides good context to search engines about your location. On the user experience side, it gives website visitors what they expect in terms of where they can find contact location.
Your action item: Review your website content. If you feel there are places where you aren’t communicating your services and location, add some context to your web copy.
3. Update image alt text
While Google is getting pretty good at understanding what is on a page, it can’t “read” the content of an image without a bit of help. The image alt text is used to describe an image on a page and can help search engines properly index an image.
When we looked at MIL-SPEC’s site, we found a lot of the images had alt text that simply said “picture.” An easy fix here is to give these images a more descriptive alt text.
Your action item: Update alt image tags with good descriptions of each photo. You want your alt text to be descriptive, but not contain any spammy attempts at keyword stuffing.
Here is an example photo from MIL-SPEC’s gallery:
Before alt image text: Picture
Recommended alt image text: MIL-SPEC Landscaping services before and after photo of a rock garden
How to update your image alt tags:
Like titles and descriptions, how you update your image tags will vary depending on the website platform you use. We’ve included documentation from Squarespace, Wix, and Weebly below:
4. Claim your Google My Business listing
If we want to work effectively and efficiently on your SEO efforts, we need to know what will have the biggest impact. Fortunately, every year, Moz publishes their local search engine ranking factors—basically, what factors impact how local businesses (like contractors) are found on Google.
Both the 2017 and 2018 reports highlight the importance of claiming your Google My Business Page (GMB). In fact, the 2018 report highlights Google My Business Signals as the most important factor to rank in the Google Local Pack and the fourth most important signal for localized organic rankings.
Your action item: If you haven’t already claimed your Google My Business profile, make sure you do! Not sure where to begin? We have a handy resource on Jobber Academy that will walk you step-by-step through the process.
If you’ve already claimed your business listing and you’re ready to take your GMB pages to the next level, check out the following video for some great tips on how to continue to use your GMB page for the most results. (The 2:10 mark is when the video really begins to focus on GMB)
This video was originally posted over at the Moz Blog in one of their awesome Whiteboard Friday videos and we also want to send a big shout out to Darren Shaw of Whitespark who shares awesome knowledge in the SEO space.
5. Build citations
Speaking of Darren from Whitespark, we teamed up with Darren last year for a webinar here at Jobber Academy. Darren talked us through an important topic and one of the foundations of local SEO: local citations. Local citations let Google know that you are a reputable business.
What is a local citation?
A local citation is any mention of your business online. These mentions usually include your business name, address, and phone number, which are often referred to as NAP (name, address, phone). Citations may also include other information including your zip code, state, and website.
Citations can be categorized in one of two ways: structured and unstructured citations.
Structured citations are listings on business directories. These include listings on sites like Yelp, Yellow Pages, and Angie’s List.
Unstructured citations are mentions of your business on websites that aren’t business listings. Examples can include online media stories or reviews, blog posts, and more.
Your action item: Get started by building structured citations in places that you aren’t listed. Looking for the best places? Whitespark has a list of the best citations for contractors. Head to that link, select your country, and you’ll see the list of where to focus your citation building efforts.
If you’re ready to learn a bit more about citations, check out the full webinar replay:
Search engine optimization can seem daunting at first and we hope this resource has helped demystify the world of SEO. Start by following the 80/20 rule when getting started and implement the advice we’ve listed above. And once you’ve implemented these changes, then you can feel comfortable researching other SEO strategies, tactics, and advice.