In 2012, Blue Corona built a piece of software that analyzes websites from an online marketing perspective. Immediately, we wondered, “wouldn’t it be awesome to use the software to analyze every single website from a particular industry and review the metrics and characteristics of the highest ranking sites?” The collective answer was, “YES!” So, in 2013 we sent our software to crawl the web and analyze thousands of websites from a variety of industries. One of our first targets was the remodeling industry.
Why Remodeling Companies?
Why the interest in remodeling companies? A couple reasons. First, like all home service industries, remodeling companies have a lot of potential to generate leads and sales from the web. Think about it. In the past, when someone was considering remodeling their home, they drove down to the local grocery store or Barnes & Noble and bought a bunch of remodeling magazines—Home & Design, Country Living, etc. Today, many design build magazines have gone out of business—largely because consumers have turned to the web. To find the kitchen style that defines you, simply fire up your laptop or tablet and head to Google and/or Pinterest.
Savvy remodeling companies saw this trend coming and have created enticing web content designed to attract and engage prospects early in the buy-cycle, build a relationship with them, and nurture them to the eventual sale. Second, it’s an industry full of business owners that have not made the shift to the web (lots of people we can help and guide). Finally, it’s an industry where we’ve had considerable success. We’ve forgotten more about remodeler SEO than most online marketing companies will ever know!
Turning Analysis into Action
Although our SEO analysis of the remodeling industry ended up being much more work than we originally imagined, it was worth it. Not only did we use the data to help our existing remodeling clients outperform their competition, but we also used it to create The Remodeler’s Web Marketing Blueprint, an awesome e-book that provides remodelers with a repeatable formula that can use to get more leads and sales from the web.
In this blog post, I’m going to provide you with 5 SEO tips you can use to improve your remodeling website’s search rankings.
Tip #1: Get an Audit of Your Website
Most home service companies and contractors do not have a clearly defined online marketing strategy, and remodelers are no different. Since your website is the centerpiece of your web marketing strategy, a logical first step in creating an online marketing strategy is to get a remodeler SEO audit. The typical audit will include a business intake (to determine goals and key metrics), a comprehensive review of your website’s code, structure, content (text, images, videos, etc.), and your overall presence online. It should also include keyword research and an analysis of your key competitors and a review of your local market as a whole.
If you want to rank well on Google, you have to invest in awesome content. But, the world’s best content placed on a poorly coded and structured website is a complete and utter waste. Along the same lines, the typical high-end remodeling company can expect their website to convert between 2.5-3.5% of qualified visitors (web visitors within their geographic service area) into leads. If, through an audit, you determine that you’re getting 500 or more visitors within your service area to your website, but your website is converting only 1% of them into leads, you need to temporarily shift your attention away from SEO and to conversion rate optimization.
Tip #2: Don’t Use Keyword Rankings to Measure Success
Most SEO companies emphasize keyword rankings as the primary measure of SEO success and this is a mistake. The first problem with focusing on keyword rankings as a measure of success is that Google personalizes the search results based on your IP address, your past search history and click-through data, and much more. The rankings you or your SEO company see are typically NOT the same as what your average prospect sees. Another problem is that keyword rankings fluctuate—sometimes you’ll notice your rankings changing throughout the day. These changes typically have nothing to do with the work your SEO company is or is not doing. They are the result of Google testing and fine-tuning the quality of their search engine results pages (SERPs).
Instead of focusing on keyword rankings, focus on metrics like:
Traffic from organic search terms (excluding your company name)
Leads from organic search (phone and web leads)
Sales and revenue from organic search
You can go broke trying to rank for “remodeling companies your city” while a competitor generates thousands of visitors and dozens of leads and sales by generating traffic from several dozen less competitive niche keywords. Find a good SEO company—one that understands business as well as they understand web marketing—and then TRUST their judgement. Playing DIY SEO guy will infuriate your SEO partner and result in less than fantastic results.
It’s okay to monitor keyword rankings, but don’t obsess over them or use them as your primary measure of SEO success.
Tip #3: Select Your SEO Budget Based on Business Objectives
In my experience, most remodelers have no concept about how to determine the right budget for SEO. It’s understandable though because most SEO companies are clueless as well! The typical remodeler asks, “what do you charge for your SEO services?” The typical SEO company tries to assess what you’re willing to pay and then position a package slightly above or below that number. Both approaches are flawed.
The dictionary isn’t the only place business comes before SEO. Wait… is “SEO” even in the dictionary? Does anyone even use dictionaries anymore? Maybe it’s time I came up with a new saying? I digress.
The right way to determine your SEO budget is to:
Identify your business goal
Identify your key business and SEO metrics
Evaluate the competitive landscape
Everything above is typically done as part of a remodeler SEO audit. One of the outputs of everything above is an SEO strategy and implementation plan. The implementation plan should be based on actual, observed business metrics and take into account your expectations as the client. It’s virtually impossible to connect an SEO campaign to the outputs that matter (leads, sales, revenue, etc.) when key business metrics haven’t been identified because no one is tracking them.
In the absence of observed business metrics, the plan should use intelligent assumptions. Those assumptions must be carefully monitored and replaced by actual numbers as the data is collected.
Tip #4: Think Like a Publisher
The remodeling companies with the highest ranking websites think and act like publishers. You need to build a library of ideas and information that inspires your prospects and helps them make better decisions. For example, web-savvy remodelers have far more pages on their websites than their competitors. Creating website content and pages takes time and/or costs money, but they’ve made this investment because they know that Google doesn’t rank websites per se. Google ranks website PAGES.
Think of each page on your website is an opportunity to rank for a specific set of closely related keyword phrases. Let’s say you’re a remodeling company specializing in custom bathrooms and kitchens and in-law suites. Instead of having a single “Services” webpage that lists custom bathrooms, kitchens, and in-law suites in a bulleted format, create an individual page for each service. Google ranks website pages based on relevance and authority. Including too many topics on a single website page has the potential to dilute the emphasis on certain individual keyword phrases or topics.
You also want to think about your typical prospect’s buy-cycle. Someone considering a new kitchen might start by researching various styles. It would be great if you had a blog post on the topic—complete with some amazing photographs of your work. If you do a good job of optimizing your blog post and promoting it to various social media websites, you can use it to engage prospects very early in the research phase. The advantage of doing this is that you can become their guide throughout the process. This builds trust and establishes authority. Do it well and you’re a shoe-in for the job when they are ready to pull the trigger.
Conclusion & Takeaways
Remodeling companies have a huge opportunity to use the web to generate more leads and sales. The web is one of the first places people go when they’re starting to think about remodeling their home. Our team has analyzed and reviewed more than 4,000 remodeling websites and we’ve found that only a tiny fraction are taking anywhere close to full advantage of their website(s). Over the next 2-3 years, this will almost certainly change. As more remodelers discover the return on investment from the web, things are bound to get far more competitive. This is why it’s so important for business owners to take action now (especially those with limited marketing budgets).
If you’re in the remodeling business or a media company focused on the remodeling industry and you would like to learn more about our analysis, drop us a line.
About The Author: Ben Landers is the President and CEO of Blue Corona, a data-driven, inbound internet marketing company. Submit an inquiry to book Ben to speak at your next conference or event.
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“Blue Corona's expertise in search engine optimization is directly responsible for driving the increase in monthly visits to our web site, producing many telephone inquiries and visits to our showroom. ”