SEO For Contractors: The Step by Step Guide

by Corey Philip
January 12, 2019

Learning objective: After reading this post and watching all the videos (the videos provide more details than the writing) you will have a complete understanding of what you should be doing to capture organic google traffic from searches that will convert into leads.

As you’ll see, search engine optimization (SEO), is focused on providing relevant information to user.

What Is SEO & How It Has Changed For Contractors


SEO is the process of getting to the top of the organic rankings for a search in a search engine.

Just a few years ago, when I first started my contracting company( 2012), top rankings in a google search were a gold mine for service contractors.  The organic Google rankings were shown ‘above the fold’ and were noticeably different than the ads; more users would avoid the ads and go right for organic rankings.  

But things have changed. Here’s How

  • Ads Dominate The Top Of Search Results.  Currently when a user searches something, the majority of visible results are going to be paid Ads.  Google runs more Pay-Per-Click ads at the top of the page than ever before, and then are less distinguishable from the organic results.  In some of the larger trades such as HVAC & plumbing, Google lead ads are displayed along with adwords
  • Google local maps.  You’ve certainly noticed the Google Map Pack which displays local search results and an engaging map with reviews.  This map is placed near the top of the search results page and further pushes the SEO Results down. Jump to: section on Google Local.
  • Shorter Search Queries: Search users have grown accustomed to google providing location relevant information.  Unknowingly, they know that they do not need to type out location information with keywords such as ‘service + My City’.
  • Internet Consume Less Content.  Short attention spans.  Swipe and skim. Content bombardement.  Internet users spend less time consuming individual pieces of content online.  As a contractor, not only is it harder to create a great piece of content that gets traffic, but it is harder to turn the finders into leads.
  • Users are taking their searches off of search engines.  Each year more and more users go to platforms like Homeadvisor, Thumbtack, Yelp, or Angieslist to find a contractor.

Realistic Expectations About Doing SEO as A Contractor


With the current trends in SEO as I indicate above, one thing I need to make clear, is that SEO is no pot of gold.  I say that as many contractors I chat with have the misconception that you do some magical SEO tricks and ‘poof’ you get top rankings and business poors in for free.  As you’ll see, that is not is the case. There are no magic tricks. And nothing happens quickly.

You might wonder “is it even worth it to do SEO?”  

To answer that, your have to understand there’s Basically 3 Types of SEO.  They are;

  1. Google Local
  2. Website Optimization.
  3. Organic Rankings Through Content Marketing

As a contractor you should focus on Google Local (this is currently the best free marketing).  Also make sure your website is optimized at lead make sure your on-site seo technicals are up to snuff.

From there, focus on content marketing, but not for the purpose of Organic rankings.  Make your content for real customers and to establish your position as an expert… let the organic rankings be a byproduct.

Ultimately for quicker business, with more scalability, you would be better served focusing your efforts on Google Ads, or Facebook Ads.

Before we get into it, you need to know that;

SEO is About Content Not Keywords or Searches


Publish great content, build reviews; and Google will show it!,

Forget about keywords.  Seriously. I see way too many contractors worry about ‘keywords’.  Just think about what your customers would type in to find you and be sure to include those words, and maybe locations on your page.  

Do not over do your keyword usage!  Write your content normally for a person.  

Also your site and usability matter:

What Can Google Tell About Your Site & Content


Google makes it very clear that they want to show the best content up top.  But how does Google know what content is good. There are a few factors their robots and algorithms can pick up easily.  Such as;

Dwell Time.  This is the time a user spends on your page before returning to a Google page.  The longer a user ‘dwells’ on your page the more valuable the page is.

Page Speed.  In a time of dwindling attention spans, and instant information, the faster a page loads, the more a user will appreciate it.  Google has explicitly said that page speed is a ranking factor.

Mobile Usability.  Over 63% of searches are done from a mobile device.  Subsequently google wants to make sure the pages they send users to are super mobile friendly.  Google crawlers and determine a pages’ mobile friendly-ness based on the size and shape of objects on the page.

Winning At Google Local


Ah Google local and the mappack that appears at the top of search results.  It is a very important place to be, particularly as the map occupies coveted space in the search engine results above the fold and is also highly engaging showing reviews and a call now button.   

Getting ranked in Google Local is largely a factor of your reviews, and also to a smaller degree, the content you publish on your Google local wall.  When it comes to reviews, quantity and star ratings are not the only thing that matters.  Reviews from established reviewers, such as Google Local Guides are weighted more heavily.  Another factor, likely considered by Google’s algorithm is the review velocity — the rate at which you get reviews.  Google is all about natural organic growth and signals from legitimate people.  If the velocity of reviews looks unnatural, such as a sudden spike in reviews over a week when you asked all your friends and family for them, the reviews likely would not be weighted as heavily as those that develop in a natural, consistent pattern.

If you’re not already building your reviews on Google Local; start now.  You might want to consider an automated program that contacts your customers by email and text message sequence.  Alternately (or sequentially) you could incentive your technicians to ask for reviews by offer a little bonus whenever a review mentions their name.

The other factor is you Google wall content.  Be sure to make regular updates to your Google wall with pictures, taking about your services, projects, customers and employees.  Pictures are a major factor here as there is some indication that Google uses image meta data to determine location relevance.

Like with anything else you do, it is important to benchmark your results.  That has been tricky with local mappack SEO but in the video I show a nifty little tool that can do just that!

Website Optimization


Even if you just have a one page website (which I think is a simple and effective solution), you should make sure that the content structured in a way that search engines can digest it easily.

In the video above we cover:

  • [0:45] Page Speed
  • [1:00] My Favorite WordPress Plugin for SEO
  • [1:30] Page Formatting Over View
  • [1:50] Meta Title & Description
  • [4:01] Heading Tags & Formatting
  • [4:27] How To Organize Headings On Page
  • [5:45] Keeping Your Headings Natural
  • [6:00] Common Heading Tag Problem
  • [6:58] Image optimization

A Quick Word on Doorway Pages


What exactly is a door way page though?  According to Google; “Doorways are sites or pages created to rank highly for specific search queries”.

Contractors across all trades (or their marketing hires) have used doorway pages in an attempt to capture long tail keyword searches and then funnel users off to other parts of their website.  If you’ve spent any time browsing contractor websites you’ve certainly ran across door way pages.  They look like the same page rehashed with slightly different images and keyword texts.  They clearly add little value to the user experience.

As Google wants to reward user experience, these pages should be avoided.

Instead create one good service area page showing your service area and mentioning that communities you handle.  If you really want to invest time in long tail, local, keyword optimization your best bet is to create an informative blog post detailing a project that you did in a specific city.  This would give you the opportunity to mention the local as you need to discuss local building codes and permitting procedures.  For example you might do a blog post titled:

Project Overview: Window Replacements In Raleigh NC on a 100 Year Old Home

Organic Rankings through Content Marketing


Achieving organic rankings takes a long time and may never happen.

That’s why I suggest instead focusing on content marketing.  A few good pieces of content involving the company, your story, and differentiation points are vital for all contractors in the sales process.

Longer pieces of thorough content are good for ranking in Google.

In this video we cover:

  • [0:35] It is Worth a Concerted Effort at Organic Rankings
  • [2:00] Why Create Content
  • [2:37] Common Misconceptions Among Contractors (about Content Marketing)
  • [3:10] Problems With The Traffic From SEO Rankings
  • [3:50] Why I Focus On Google Ads & Facebook Ads Over Organic Rankings
  • [4:23] Content Creation Ideas For Contractors
  • [4:30] The Easiest Blog Post You Can Create Weekly & Use For Email Marketing
  • [5:44] How Your FAQ’s Can Be Turned Into Valuable Content So You Don’t Have To Repeat Yourself.
  • [6:40] Explainer Videos Instead of Blog Posts
  • [7:00] Employee Profiles as Content
  • [7:20] Comprehensive Guide Blog Posts For Top Rankings

Off Site SEO


Off site SEO as a contractor is daunting, frustrating, and somewhat ‘mystical’.  Here I break it down!

  • [0:23] Why I don’t Focus on Off Site SEO [and suggest you don’t either]
  • [0:44] What Are Backlinks and Why They Matter (or don’t)
  • [1:43] Link Opportunities Contractors Should Take advantage of
  • [2:30] What Are Citations (NAP) and Why They Matter
  • [3:40] Consistency Matters For NAP
  • [4:45] How Reviews are Used as a Ranking Factor

How To Check The Results of an SEO Agency (and spy on your competitors).


As you’ve seen, SEO for contractors isn’t rocket science, but you may consider hiring an agency to help with some of the technical on-page stuff, or do some content marketing.  In this video I cover how you can check their results.

Create A Top Ranking Local Page [Framework]

Forget about 'door way pages', high quality pages with content that keeps users engaged, can pull in worthwhile sales.

This framework and training series covers specifically the content that works, how to create it, and how to format the page for maximum success.

This framework is now part of The Market Domination Method; a full circle marketing and sales training.  Yes, it is paid.  No, it doesn't cost an arm & a leg.  Learn more here.

Going Forward With SEO As a Contractor

By now you should have an excellent understand how to get more business from searches no matter what trade your in.  It’s important to remember that SEO in 2019 is about user-friendliness, and that there is no ‘pot of gold’ in SEO.  If you’re ready to start or improve your SEO, don’t sweat it.  Just work in this order;

  1. Optimize Google Local & Build Reviews
  2. Optimize Your Page
  3. Create & Publish Awesome Content

Thank You & Updates Coming Soon:

Thank you everyone for the feedback.  Based on the questions there are a few sections I plan to add and address soon;

Search Console: This provides insight into issues that Google sees with your site as well as the exposure your are getting.

My Business Insights: Data on how your business performs in Google Local.

Localized Content Ideas: In other words more ways to stick location based keywords your website.

About the author

Corey Philip

Corey Philip is a small business owner / investor with a focus on home service businesses.

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