There are 1.7% more plumbers in the United States compared to just a couple of years ago. Stats like these are great for the overall industry, but they make it much more difficult to differentiate yourself in a saturated market. Enter: SEO.
SEO is a term you’ve likely heard before, but do you know what it is, what it does, or how it could help your plumbing business? SEO, or search engine optimization, is the process by which you make your business more “findable” online by thinking about how search engines work and how potential customers search.
At Bell Media, we specialize in Search engine dominance for businesses just like yours. We understand that in order to drive growth in the plumbing industry, business owners need every possible advantage. Sometimes, the advantage takes the form of SEO.
According to Moz.com, SEO “is the practice of increasing the quantity and quality of traffic to your website through organic search engine results.”
Search engines, such as Google, provide users results when searching for keywords, topics, industries, and more. These results can include websites, blog posts, news articles, images, videos, and more. Through SEO, you can distinguish your local plumbing business from the competition. When people search for “plumbers near me,” your website can show in the top search results if you’ve embraced SEO best practices.
Because this is how most people search now, page one of Google is where you want your business to be. Seventy-five percent of people won’t search beyond page one of any search engine. Prevent potential customers and leads from going down the drain by making it easy for them to find you in a crowded marketplace.
Still not convinced? Consider the following statistics:
- 4 out of 5 customers use search to find local information.
- Google accounts for 90% of the search engine share globally. It’s where you should focus.
- 88% of customers who search for a local business, call that business within 24 hours.
- Near me” or “close by” type searches grew by more than 900% over two years.
SEO for local businesses is a big deal. How do you leverage its potential as a small-to-medium sized business or with a limited marketing team? Focus your efforts on a few key areas such as your website’s content, your online business listings, and critical elements on your website’s back end.
Creating a Great Website For Your Plumbing Business
To take advantage of everything SEO has to offer for your business, your website is the place to start. When Google scans the web for information that a user is searching for, your website’s content, meta-data, images, and similar places are where it looks first. It determines whether or not the information you’ve provided is relevant to the user’s search query.
Once Google determines your website’s relevance, it serves up the results to potential customers searching for plumbers. It’s crucial to the success of your business to not only create a website that your customers love but one that gives Google the information it needs to do its job.
Make the most of your digital real estate by:
- Making sure your website loads quickly. Slow speeds slow down your business growth opportunities.
- Including strong calls-to-action. Make sure people know what to do when they visit your site or see your website in search results.
- Highlighting emergency services. When people need a plumber, they often need one now.
- Showcasing your staff. Give people an idea of what it’s like to work with your company.
- And strengthening your website’s content. Be helpful to customers and work with Google to help it do its job.
Before you do any other marketing for your business, your website should be checked against these basic SEO best practices.
Tip 1: Your Website Must Be Lighting Fast
No offense to Andre Agassi, but image isn’t everything. Speed is. Think about what you prefer whenever you’re searching for something online. Would you prefer to receive the results instantly or wait a little while?
According to Hubspot, the first five seconds of page-load time have the highest impact on conversion rates. Open your website and time yourself. How long does it take for your homepage to load? Every second after 5 is a potential customer lost to a slow site.
If you’re anything like your customers, you want to receive search results and open a website instantly to see if it’s the right information. Anything less than a speedy site simply isn’t acceptable for users.
Google also takes into account factors such as site speed when “ranking” your site amongst similar search results.
- Do you know your website’s speed? Run a test to see how it performs.
- Could it stand some improvement? Make some adjustments or find a program that makes suggestions on how to improve.
Google empowers website and business owners to make the web a faster place to navigate. With its PageSpeed tools, developers and business owners can run tests and improve page speed with its tips and suggestions.
Page speed isn’t the only thing that impacts SEO potential. Once your customers get to your website, it should be clear what you want them to do.
Tip 2: Include Strong Call-to-Action Buttons
It isn’t enough for someone to see your content. For your plumbing business to attract customers your website content must inspire them to take action. This feature is important not only on your website’s customer-facing pages but also on the back-end.
A CTA, or call-to-action button, is something you can use to attract visitors to your website from search and convert them into customers.
CTAs can show up in search results within a meta-description, or they can be on your website and take the form of:
- Strong headlines.
- Visual cues.
- And text within website copy.
The best way to find out if your website has strong CTAs is by trial and error. Plumbing businesses, such as yours, might use the following as CTAS:
- Get a quote.
- Need emergency services?
- Contact us.
- Read more.
- Find out more.
- Schedule an appointment.
- Call us.
Strong CTAs leave little room for customers “guessing” at which action to take next. They tell the customer what to do and make it easy for them.
How do you know whether or not your CTAs are strong enough? Here are a few ways to test them out:
- Have a third-party view your website and ask them whether or not it would motivate or cause them to take action. Sometimes it’s helpful to have another pair of eyes on your site.
- Test several calls-to-action on different pages and see which one performs best. This activity is called A/B testing, and it is incredibly useful at optimizing content.
- View your site analytics to see if you can spot where customers click off from your page and evaluate whether your calls-to-action are effective.
The great thing about speaking to people online and giving them direction is that they’ll often follow through with it. Don’t be shy about telling someone to take action. That’s how you get customers.
Sometimes, you can get customers to take action quickly by highlighting specific CTAs about emergency services and other opportunities to connect with you.
Tip 3: Highlight Emergency Services
When potential customers are searching for plumbers, there’s occasionally a sense of urgency or emergency. Emergency services within the plumbing industry, such as leaks, flooding, and every problem in-between, have a short customer decision life cycle. This means that you have little time to take a customer through a lengthy or complicated sales path.
For this reason, emergency services should be featured prominently on your website or on a separate landing page. Include words that trigger quick action from your customers, such as:
- 24/7 service
- 24-hour service
- Emergency services
- Water heater leaks
- Burst pipes
- Toilet repair
Including these services prominently on your website does two things. First, it impacts SEO by including these keywords in search results. This increases the likelihood that someone who needs an emergency repair or is dealing with a significant issue can quickly find you. Secondly, including it on your website reduces user frustration and bounce rate by showing people something they might need immediately.
A common theme for SEO improvement is not only focusing on what Google wants, but also what your customer wants.
Don’t stop there. Give customers a glimpse of what it’s like to work with you so that they feel more comfortable reaching out, whether it’s an emergency or not.
Tip 4: Highlight Your Staff
Did you know that you can reverse-search images on Google? If you’ve used stock images on your website, that means a simple Google search could tell you how many other businesses are using the same photos.
You could be using the same images as competitors and not even realize it. This doesn’t help you differentiate your business in a saturated local market. Unique images provide additional optimization and visual interest to your website. Take this a step further by showcasing your employees, plumbers and technicians in action, wearing your uniforms and logos.
By featuring your staff prominently in visuals and within the website’s content, potential customers can put names with faces, giving your business a human touch and establishing a relationship with customers before the first inquiry call.
Don’t know where to start? Consider adding:
- Headshots of your team with mini-bios, featuring their experience and level of expertise. This should be on a separate “Meet the team” style page so that potential customers can feel like they’re doing their research before someone visits their home.
- Team photos in uniform or posted next to a service vehicle. Again, this instills peace of mind, even subconsciously, with potential customers who might be wary about hiring someone they don’t know.
- Somewhat staged photos of technicians performing different services, providing a visual to customers. Seeing your employees in action gives homeowners, for example, an idea of what they can expect with a service call.
Professional photographs create a strong brand for your company and give customers an idea of what it’s like to work with you. They also strengthen the variety and quality of content available on your website, which is good for SEO and for your customers.
Tip 5: Content is King
In addition to the items mentioned above, the amount of content on your website pages has a direct impact on how Google indexes it. There is no hard and fast rule which says you must have X number of words per page to perform well. But there have been several studies that show longer content (1500+ words) tends to perform well in terms of conversion and indexing on Google.
Does this mean you should write thousands of words on every page? No. Having more content on your website simply lets you address all possible search queries and satisfy users who search for specific words, keywords, or phrases.
At a minimum, plan on 300-400 words per page and go from there.
How many words are on your website? Find out by using a free online tool, such as this Web Page Word Counter.
If you don’t meet the minimum number of words we suggest, start there and write content for each of your website pages. Here are a couple questions to get your creative writing juices flowing:
- What would a potential customer search for that leads them there?
- What could you include to answer their questions or objections before they call to make an appointment?
It isn’t necessarily about having a certain amount of words or copy within your website content. It’s about having the right content on your website to satisfy both Google and potential customers.
In addition to long-form or wordy content, you can also add:
- white papers
- testimonials and reviews
- social media feeds
- and videos
Leveraging various types of content to help you market your business is called content marketing, and its effectiveness is clear. Content leads to more views and engagement and increased conversions.
This, however, is only one of the steps you should take to improve your SEO and Google rankings. Read how online business listings can set your plumbing business up for success.
Set-Up and Manage Your Online Business Listings
Online listings are a powerful tool in your plumbing business’s arsenal. These listings strengthen searchability and allow your business to provide essential information upfront to a potential customer.
They also allow you to carefully manage any reviews (positive and negative) that a customer says about your business. If the reviews are positive, you can look for ways to incorporate those into your marketing materials. If they’re negative, don’t delete! Address each review to show customers that you’re listening and willing to correct any mistakes.
Reviews from customers give you credibility and improve your digital reputation. Don’t shy away from them when managing your online business listings. You can also send review site links to customers as a follow-up communication in order to generate positive feedback.
Aside from reviews, why are online listings important?
They establish a foundation of trust in the online world. In a time when you’re not sure whether or not you can trust information you find online, consistent business listings help build a positive rapport with your customers before you even meet them.
Typically, filling out a local business listing requires you to input from a specific set of fields. We recommend having a single document with this information stored so that whoever fills out online listings for your business keeps it consistent across platforms.
Your local online listing document should include:
- Your business’s full name.
- Address / Addresses of all locations.
- Phone number / Phone numbers of all locations.
- Website URL.
- What business category would you likely fall under (i.e., plumbing, plumbers, home improvement, home repair).
- A 1-2 sentence description of your business.
- Any taglines you use in marketing or advertising materials.
- Links to social media profiles.
- Logos and images.
- Additional media, such as videos or other items that might be helpful to include in listings.
- Types of services you provide.
- What type of payments you accept.
- Any other unique qualifiers about your business (i.e. 25 years in business).
Google, a company that sets the tone for many of these types of listings, has best practices and other guidelines that might be helpful. Here are a few other tips for claiming and filling out your business listings, starting with the most important.
Tip 6: Claim Your Google Business Listing
Since Google has the most market share (by far) when it comes to search, the first business listing you should claim is your Google My Business listing. When you search for your business name on Google, do you see a business listing? If you do, you have the option to claim the page and manage that listing.
Otherwise, you can create a Google My Business account for free to generate a listing for your business.
When you claim or own a business via Google My Business, you’re able to add your business’s information to multiple Google properties, such as Maps, Search, and more.
Here’s how to quickly set up your listing:
- Click here to sign in to Google My Business.
- If you have a Google Account or Gmail, click next.
- Sign up with your business email domain since this is the account you will use to help manage your listing.
- Enter your business address. You can also move a marker to show someone where your business would appear on a map. If so, choose whether or not you wish for your business to be found on Google Maps.
- Most of the time, you wouldn’t serve customers at your business address, so you’ll want to list your residential or commercial service areas.
- Next, select the business category most appropriate for your company. Choose a category as specific as you can get.
- Include the phone number and website for your business.
- Click ‘Finish.’
- Verify your listing and business.
The verification step is the final (and an important) step in claiming your Google My Business Listing. You may have to work with someone who is authorized to claim your business or request access to the page if someone else owns the listing.
Google wants to work with companies it can verify and trust, so establishing your presence on Google My Business can help you rank higher in search results.
Do you know how to build credibility and trust? It comes down to one word: consistency.
Tip 7: Name, Address and Phone Number (NAP) Consistency
One of the reasons we recommend a single document to house all information about your business is because of something called NAP Consistency. NAP Consistency is the accuracy of a location-based business’s Name, Address, and Phone Number.
No matter what type of business listing you claim, contact information, or NAP, should be consistent mainly due to its impact on SEO.
Google places a high emphasis on trust when working with local businesses. If the information you provide is inaccurate or incomplete, it might “trust” your business less, thus impacting search.
In addition to keeping a document with accurate information at all times, you should also search for your business name and variations online to see if there are inaccuracies found online.
There are many reasons why such inaccuracies could occur, but mostly because of human error and the shifting landscape of the plumbing industry.
You might have moved business addresses or have multiple phone numbers. These situations are quite common. Get ahead of any faulty business listings by conducting this search and taking action. Continue to search your business name every six months or so in order to find any misleading information that might exist online.
Now that you’ve claimed your Google My Business listing and created a record of all the important business information, you can begin leveraging your presence on other sites, such as Yelp or Angie’s List.
Tip 8: Create a Yelp Account
If you’ve visited a business or managed a business in the last 10 years, then it’s likely you’re familiar with Yelp. But do you know how managing your business listing on Yelp can help your business?
When you claim your business page on Yelp, they provide you with a suite of free tools to help you get the most out of your listing. They also created an e-book that shows business owners how to showcase their business through the platform.
To create and manage your Yelp business listing, you must:
- Search for your business to make sure it’s not already listed.
- If your business is not yet listed, click ‘Add your business to Yelp’.
- Enter your business information in the provided fields. Please note that you will need to confirm the email address you provide to complete your business submission.
- Click ‘Add business.’
Once you’ve created or claimed your business listing, you can:
- Read and respond to reviews.
- Optimize your business listing to include the items from your document.
- View customer analytics from the platform.
Creating or claiming listings on sites such as Yelp and Angie’s List gives your business more opportunities to get found in search, as results from these pages can often rank higher.
Tip 9: Create an Angie's List Account
Like Yelp, Angie’s List is a site where customers and users can read and publish reviews of local businesses. Unlike other platforms, however, Angie’s List focuses primarily on home services, making it essential for plumbers and plumbing contractors to have some kind of presence on the site.
In addition to reviews, it also provides these businesses with tools and services to increase their exposure (and ultimately help with SEO). Within the Angie’s List Business Center, companies and owners can manage their listings.
Get started by filling out your contact information, including business details, to claim your business and follow the account set-up process.
Angie’s List offers options for advertising and promoting your business, as well as highlighting services during both peak or off-season. According to them, “An estimated $10 billion to $15 billion in transactions occur between our members and service providers annually.”
To capitalize on this potential business, claim your listings and ensure accurate information is there. As people search for your company on Google, other listings, such as this one, will populate results and confirm whether your business is reputable.
One thing many business owners fail to consider is the potential impact social media has on Google search results for businesses like theirs.
Tip 10: Set-Up and Optimize a Facebook Business Account
Did you know that your social media presence can have a direct impact on SEO? A well-developed and maintained Facebook Business Page could help you pull in prospects to learn more about your business, through search, and convert them into customers.
Here are a few suggestions for making the most of your Facebook Business Page:
- Choose the right name and @username for your business and keep it as close as possible to your actual business name.
- Your @username becomes your Facebook URL and should closely mirror your website URL.
- Fill out all sections of your Facebook page’s profile, paying special attention to the ‘About Us’ section.
- Use keywords and potential search terms throughout your business page. This content is pulled into Google and taken into consideration when ranking your business.
- Include the same phone number and address as your other business listings.
- Publish regular and consistent updates, letting people know more information about your business.
- Include a logo that matches other listings on your website and create a compelling cover image.
While Facebook is free to use, it should never serve as a substitute for a strong website. Your website is “owned content,” whereas Facebook and other social networks could be considered rented space. Rather than having a Facebook page take the place of your website, it should serve as a complement, or as Search Engine Journal describes it, as a micro-site that highlights your brand.
Other types of social media sites, such as LinkedIn and Twitter, can show up in search results for your business. If you have a presence on any one of these sites, ensure that the information shared in any bio sections or “About Me” sections coordinate and affirm one another for added benefit to SEO.
Continue to post updates, but make sure you share content from your website across multiple platforms, always leading traffic back to your home base.
Optimize Your Website for Ongoing SEO Success
You have a great website, and you’ve updated your business listings on sites such as Google My Business, Yelp, and Angie’s List. Now, you’re updating your social media accounts a few times per week with relevant information. How can you continue to pull in interested customers to your website over time?
Focus on optimizing the content on your site. In turn, this helps you rank higher on Google and provides information that’s relevant to your customers.
You do this by:
- Writing clear and keyword-based page titles.
- Creating meta tags.
- Placing strategic search phrases on pages.
- Continuous testing and measuring of your website traffic and conversions.
Websites aren’t something you create once, or “set and forget.” They require ongoing maintenance, modification of keywords, and regularly updated website content.
One way to help facilitate these constant updates is to add a blog to your website. Plumbing blogs, featuring topics such as DIY repairs or saving money on your water bill, can be effective at generating traffic to your site.
But there are a few other steps to take in the meantime.
Tip 11: Create Website Page Titles
When we say page titles, what we mean is the line of text you see when Google results are delivered to you. Since they’re shorter, like book titles, they provide a quick and concise description of a linked page.
Even though these pages are short, it’s important to optimize them for search engine optimization. The purpose of these titles is to get a potential plumbing customer to click through and check out your website. It should include keywords, and it must urge someone to take action.
According to Yoast, page titles have a direct correlation to how “relevant” Google thinks your page is.
Ideally, page titles should be around 50 to 60 characters in length for them to show up properly on Google search results. Write titles so that they can work with meta descriptions to further drive traffic to the appropriate pages on your site.
Tip 12: Write Meta Descriptions
Meta descriptions are snippets of about 155 characters that summarize what a website is about. Longer than titles, they provide a sample of what content a user potentially sees and these meta descriptions are what you see on Google under the page title on your listing.
“What content would I find when I click through to your website?”
This is the question to ask when creating meta descriptions. Meta descriptions provide a glimpse into the website that ultimately prompts people to click through on Google.
If they aren’t written correctly or aren’t available at all via your website, potential customers might overlook your website or services. Meta descriptions are there to make people want to click.
Here are a few ideas on how to make the most of this little snippet:
- Keep it brief. Ensure that meta descriptions for your website pages are between 120-155 characters, so it shows up on Google properly and in its entirety.
- Use active voice rather than passive voice. Grammarly offers a primer on the differences between active and passive writing.
- Include a strong CTA. Refer back to Tip 2 above as a refresher on why calls-to-action are important.
- Use search keywords whenever possible. Doing this helps you show up in search.
- Always ensure that your meta description matches what’s on the page. Google appreciates when it can trust that websites are what they say they are.
- Embrace uniqueness. Don’t simply copy and paste something you’ve used for other pages. Create something 100% original every time.
Some WordPress plugins, such as Yoast, can often help you when creating meta descriptions by providing a grading system, showing you how effective your summary is.
Titles and meta descriptions help when optimizing your website pages for search engines, but the structure of each website page is just as important.
Tip 13: Create Header Tags
Header tags, or H tags, are a way for Google to organize the information available on your website. Think of them as a way to sort information and content – much like an outline that you provide to search engines.
H1, or Heading 1, should be the most important title or phrase on your website page. This is how Google searches and classifies information, first and foremost. A helpful way to think of H1 is that there should only be “one.”
From there, divide your website content accordingly into H2, H3, and so on. Much like a signpost, they give the reader an idea of what to expect when reading the content on your page.
They also provide Google a way to “read” your website’s content and give results to anyone using search.
Historically, these headers were a requirement for SEO. In order to rank, you must embrace the use of proper headings. Now, Google (as well as the people who search) focus primarily on the quality of content served. This means that you should use headings to improve the quality of any web page or document.
When using something like WordPress, headings are provided to you automatically. You simply choose which ones are appropriate for your site’s pages. If you are formatting the content in a Word or Google document before you upload, check to make sure everything is formatted with the proper headers before you copy and paste or import it.
User experience can impact SEO, which is why header tags, images, and other website elements need to be carefully considered.
Tip 14: Compress all of your Website Images
As we mentioned in Tip 1,, website speed is paramount to SEO success. Loading times impact customer perceptions and, if taking too long, can affect where you rank on search engines.
Compressing the images on your website is one way to improve your website loading speed.
When talking about image sizes for a website, there are specific elements to take into account, such as:
- Physical size
- File size
- And file type
Here’s a helpful tip: resize any images you wish to be displayed on your website before you upload. WordPress will automatically provide the image in multiple sizes upon upload, but the file size might still be too large. That’s where you should manually adjust so the sizing is appropriate for your web page.
The best part? You don’t need expensive photo editing tools or a graphic designer to resize images for your website. By Googling “free image resizing,” you can find multiple options for quickly getting the proper image sizes to optimize loading times.
Tip 15: Build Local Services Pages on your Website
Your business offers a variety of services to customers, but if those customers don’t hear or know about those services, how much growth can your business realistically anticipate?
Rather than consolidating your website into as few pages as possible, build pages that showcase each service and local area in which you do your business.
Doing this enables search engines to rank your website for each service you offer, increasing the chance that a customer finds you.
When creating pages for each service or locality, consider the following:
- Each page allows you to feature reviews and testimonials specific to that service.
- Each page speaks to the customer’s needs and helps them navigate their search results and website more easily.
- Each page helps separate you from your competition – something crucial in the home services industry, where there are multiple search results for plumbers in a specific zip code.
Think about the services you offer and how you would communicate that offering to customers. Now, you’re on your way to a stronger SEO strategy.
It Pays for Plumbers to have an SEO Strategy
Throughout our explanation of SEO’s importance, we hope one thing has become clear, SEO is just as much about your customers as it is about search engines. If a customer becomes frustrated that they can’t find the information they need, something’s broken. Indeed, Google takes into account customer experience and tries to improve UX by serving its users results most helpful and relevant to their search queries.
We’ve shown you how to:
- Create a great website.
- Claim your online business listings.
- And optimize your website.
All of these elements come together to create SEO – search engine optimization – for your business. But don’t forget about your customers and what they need.
Within the plumbing industry, you know there’s a big difference between a true professional and someone who turns a wrench. SEO gives you a chance to show that difference to potential customers.
No matter if you service residential or commercial properties, the world needs plumbers. It’s your mission to make sure customers can find you and that their search experience is seamless.
Indeed, the way you show up on search impacts the bottom line. There is a lot of work to getting it just right, and sometimes it can take weeks or months before you see an uptick in website visitors.
Don’t get discouraged. Your digital presence works for you 24/7, ensuring that you’re always in the right place at the right time and serving content that matters to your customers. Optimize your digital presence and improve your SEO in order to see its effectiveness.
It’s time to make every season “busy season” by embracing the power of search for your business.
Do you have any other questions about the power and potential of SEO? We’ll show you how to dominate search results and increase sales and customer conversions. Contact us now to hear more and connect with one of our home service marketing specialists.