For Plumbers and HVAC companies the need for being geographically focussed on search engines is vital for receiving quality traffic in your working region.
Local SEO for Plumbers involves optimizing your website and online properties to make it easier for nearby customers to discover your business.
Strangely, with SEO being just under 40 years old, it comes as a surprise that so many plumber and HVAC companies fail to see the enormous benefits a sound local SEO system can provide, or they see it as a complex task, which is best to be left alone.
Hopefully, I will do a good job in this short article to both explain why it is important, and how we undertake the process to get you ranking at the top os the SERP (search engine results page) for the best keywords.
So firstly, let’s cover why
all plumbing and HVAC companies across the UK should be focussing on Local SEO.
1. Death of offline
With 97% of consumers searching for local businesses online, and 46% of all Google searches being for local businesses – it should come to no surprise that likes of yellow pages are something of a distant past.
2. It’s extremely cost-effective
Unlike SEM (search engine marketing), SEO costs nothing for clicks and website traffic. With 70-80% choosing to ignore paid advertising on search engines, by placing a focus on organic search, you guarantee more traffic when you begin to hit the first page. Not only this, but 80% of local searchers convert, and It is likely to be even higher for Plumber and HVAC related searches, as these are most often ‘hiring intent’ searches, rather than ‘research intent’ searches.
3. Don’t settle for second
Hilarious joke: “Where should you bury something that you don’t want people to hide?”
Answer “On the second page”
The fact that 75% of users only look at first-page results, there is a reason why we state that ‘you may as well not exist if you’re not on the first page’. But then the next step is striving for the holy grail, which is referred to as the ‘3 pack’. This makes up for 33% of all clicks and allows you to be instantly seen by users when they search for locally based businesses.
To give you an idea, here is the 3 pack for ‘plumber in Salisbury’. They appear just below Google ads, and above all other websites, not the first page.
4.Validating your business
If you are hitting the first page on numerous keywords, and have a reasonable website you instantly gain validation and respect.
To put it in perspective, if you’re suddenly faced with an issue of a burst pipe, and head to Google to type in “emergency plumber near me” or better still “plumber for a burst pipe in x” you almost certainly will only look at the first page. But even if you do venture to the second, and third page how much confidence do you have in that local business, compared to those on the first page? I imagine the answer is not a lot, especially given that the search is Local, and so there is less of a difficulty in ranking on the first page, than highly competitive normal SEO.
Although there is a constant cross over, I’m going to break our process down into 4 different categories.
- Analysis and planning
- Technical SEO
- OFF page SEO
- ON page SEO
1. Analysis and planning
This involves keyword research, website analysis, competitor analysis, report, and content planning.
Keyword research is one of the main foundations of SEO, and it hasn’t changed much over the years. Through using keyword research tools, you can begin to workout keywords and search terms that are relevant, and most commonly used for your Plumbing and HVAC services. But where we begin to set you apart, is through finding those search terms and keywords which are undiscovered by most of the competition, yet still receive significant searches.
This is where competitor analysis is also introduced, as we can start to work out what is commonly used, what they may be looking past, and what is working well for them which will also work for you. If done correctly your competitor can be one of your main assets!
Once we have a list of the best possible keywords, we can start to plan out fresh content for both ON and OFF page SEO.
After implementing these keywords, we can then begin to provide the likes of baseline rank reports to show progress, make use of Google analytics snippets which will show us how users are interacting with your website, and install google webmaster tools, to help us measure site search traffic and performance.
2. Technical SEO
Technical SEO refers to website and server optimisations that help search engine bots crawl and index your site more effectively. In layman’s terms, this is basically making sure that your site is readable for search engines, not just for humans. It is not enough just to publish great content about plumbing and HVAC, that content has to be complemented with good technical SEO. This will then allow search engines like Google to rank you high for the relevant keywords and search terms.
Technical SEO is mainly broken down into three sections:
Performance is all in regards to website speed. As Google is always trying to offer the best experience, if your site is slow, then Google is unlikely to give it a high ranking. When looking at performance, it is vital to make sure that your site is mobile-friendly, since Google introduced its mobile-friendly first initiative.
Crawlability and indexation are basically about making it as easy and simple for the bots to crawl your site. As Google is only willing to spend so much time and money working out what it is your site is addressing, what it should rank and where it should rank it.
There are many ways we can enhance your crawl ability and indexing performance. Such as making sure your Robot.txt is installed and up to date, putting XML sitemaps in order and implement the correct Google webmaster tools, making sure internal link structuring is correct, header tags optimization and making sure keyword URL mapping is in order. This will basically allow us to have control over what Google bots crawl, and the internal ranking they provide for your plumbing and HVAC pages. It also provides a clear index for Google bots to understand what they are crawling.
3. ON Page SEO
On page SEO refers to both the content and the HTML source code of the page that can be optimised.
HTML source code sounds both complex and boring. It is actually not as complex as it sounds, and some may even argue that it’s not as boring as it sounds. To give you a quick idea, it basically the code that bots “read” to figure out how to display a web page’s contents. We can optimise the code by altering the:
- Title tags (as seen above)
- meta description (as seen above)
- the H1 heading tag (main headers, which help to index and are vital for stating the subject area on the page)
- Internal link structuring (an internal link is one that points to another page on the same website. They help to establish link hierarchy and spread ranking power around your Plumbing and or HVAC website.
- Image alt tags (the tag tells the search engine what the image is about)
In regards to the actual content used – the aim should be to have each webpage addressing specific issues and keywords. This will all be based on the analysis and planning, around keywords and competitors.
It is also important to remember, that the aim is not only to make your website content optimised for search engine engines alone, but also for the user as well, because at the end of the day, that’s who your customers are (not the google bots). But as Google and other search engines are focussed towards offering the most appropriate and quality webpages – by sticking to their guidelines the user experience is usually pretty good.
4. OFF page SEO
Off page SEO, in the most basic terms is how Google tells what other people think of your site. It can be broken, by link activities and non-link activities.
Building up backlinks to a webpage is the equivalent of votes in Google’s eyes. However, the volume is not always the most simple way to rank highly, as Google places importance on ‘authority’. The more ‘authoritative’ and important Google thinks a site is, the more ‘authority’ it passes over to your website, and thus the higher you will be appearing on SERP’s.
This is also the same for relevance – if a local plumber blog linked your burst pipe plumbing blog, it will have far more influence in pushing you up the SERP than if a national cooking blog linked to the article. Although it is unlikely that a local plumber blog will exist, you get the point. The more relevant the better and in the case of location based businesses, the more local the better.
Social bookmarking is also a type of linking, in that it is a way for search engines to determine the popularity of a website. Every time an individual bookmarks a webpage, it acts as an exceptional one-way link from the view of search engines.
Although links are a crucial element to Local SEO, non-link related OFF page activities are equally as crucial, especially for location-based businesses. Such as NAP (name, address, phone number) citations, brand mentions, and GMB (Google my business).
NAP citations are one of the most important OFF page ranking factors for local SEO businesses. The most common examples of sites that carry out NAP citations are directories. However, as with links, anything which is relevant and has high authority will have a great influence on your website ranking.
Listing and optimising your business on GMB is the most important factor when trying to get into the 3 pack (complete listing are 29% more likely to attract purchases). Once this is done correctly, the NAP citation will help to push you up into the 3 pack.
Brand mentions are preferable if they can be linked, however, Google still rewards non-linked brand mentions. The best way to get mentioned is through article and blog writing – and the good thing about this is that you can usually get a link rather than just a brand name citation.
So the first steps will need to be a thorough profile listing for your GMB. Once this is completed we can start article, blog, and classified writing and promotion. This will be followed by local backlinks, citations, and social bookmarking which will carry relevance and authority.
This is by no means everything in local SEO. However, for plumbing and HVAC websites, we believe this is a detailed process that will allow you to be ranking at the top of the 1st page, and 3 pack in no time. We will work with a Kaizen approach, so along the way, we will look to tweak and iterate the process, both from our learning and so it fits with the latest Google algorithm changes.