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What separates the best remodeling websites and the mediocre ones?
If you’re like most remodelers and home service contractors, you—admittedly—have no clue. Between keeping your customers happy, managing your employees, doing payroll, and thinking about how you’re going to get all the items on your “to do” list done before the holidays, you probably haven’t had that much time to think about YOUR website, let alone the state of the remodeling industry online!
Be that as it may, your website is—without question—one of your single most important sales and marketing tools. But since 93 percent of online experiences begin with a search engine, if your website isn’t able to be found by prospective customers, it may as well not exist at all.
If you want to make this year better than last year, you need to take another look at your website and make sure it has the key componants it needs to not only be found by search engines, but to also convert the visitors into happy customers and raving fans.
The good news is, I can help. While I’m certainly no website designer, over the past year, my team and I have spent more time thinking about, optimizing, and testing websites than you’ve spent catching up on your zzz’s (seriously). I know exactly why some remodeling websites outperform others and in today’s blog post, I’m going to share with you some characteristics of a good site. Not only that, I’ll also provide you with a few easily (relatively speaking) implementable tips to make it into the best remodeling contractor website your web visitors have ever seen.
Let’s start with the idea that your website isn’t a brochure—it’s a sales rep with a built-in sales funnel. At the highest level, your goal should be to get more qualified visitors to your website, engage them with content (words and images), and use smart calls-to-action (CTAs) to get them to contact you or give you their contact information so that you can follow up in the future.
While a plumbing company might be able to get away with a website that is pretty basic—from an aesthetic perspective—a remodeling company must have a beautiful website. Sure, you need properly optimized site code and plenty of text-based content in order to rank well with the search engines, but people hire a remodeler based on the beauty and style of their work. Your website must showcase your work in a way that “closes the deal” with your visitors.
All that said, it’s not enough to have a graphically-pleasing homepage—your entire website must deliver. Recently, I saw the new James Bond movie, Skyfall. Loved it. The opening credits had this cool, artsy visual effect, and I immediately thought, “This is setting the bar pretty high; this movie better be awesome!” Luckily, it delivered (if you haven’t seen Skyfall, you should). The point is, the movie not only set up the audience for a good experience, it actually followed through (in my humble opinion, anyway). Your website should do the same thing. It should have a great design (and set the user up for a successful visit, good experience, etc.) and ensure the user stays and looks around, maybe even contacts you—looks at your gallery and considers your services, at the very least.
Characteristics of the Best Home Remodeling Websites
As I mentioned earlier, the aesthetic of a website is especially important for remodeling companies, but a great site is more than just a pretty design. If you want a complete blueprint to market your remodeling business online, check out our e-book, “The Remodeler’s Web Marketing Blueprint.” (This is a great read for the holiday season while the kids are playing or napping!)
In the meantime, here are some characteristics that make for a great remodeling website:
Fast: The average internet user will abandon a webpage that takes longer than three seconds to load. That means your remodeling website design needs to be extremely optimized—since you will need a lot of “heavy” (heavy=takes longer to load) componants like videos, photo galleries, and even interactive remodeling design planners. This gets even more crucial if you have a client portal where they can sign in to communicate with your designers.
But not only does it need to be fast from a visitor’s point of view, website speed is a ranking factor. That means if your competitors website is faster than yours, they’ll probably get more search traffic.
Mobile-friendly: Mobile web traffic now surpasses desktop web traffic. What that tells you is that your remodeling website needs to be mobile-first—i.e. designed specifically with mobile viewership in mind. That means icons that are large enough to be tapped with a finger, a seamless, intuitive navigation, and an easy-to-read font and letter size. But user experience isn’t the only reason your home improvement website design needs to be mobile-friendly—Google and other search engines now expect it with the mobile-first index.
HTTPS: When was the last time you heard of a data breach or online security hack? Probably yesterday. In fact, security is such a huge deal to consumers right now that Google has implemented an update that gives secure websites (HTTPS vs. HTTP) a boost in the search rankings. Unsecured websites will be labeled with an “Unsecure” or even “Dangerous” tab.
Now, do you think your clients would click on a huge red-flagged search result or a green “secure” one? Common sense says the green “secure one,” especially if they’re going to trust you to come into their home.
A good design: Remodeling companies have to rely on the basic elements of good website design, of course, but since the remodeling industry is all about style and appearance, it’d be pretty bad if a high-end remodeling company had an ugly, outdated site. A great design includes a pleasing, brand-consistent color scheme, large (but web-optimized) images, a font that can be easily read by your target audience, etc. Your design needs to be optimized for mobile, meaning all the elements need to look good on a mobile device. That means you need to double-check your fonts, your text sizes, and the size of your links and buttons.
Avoid these 11 website design mistakes, and you should be off to a good start.
A name and address: It’s amazing how many remodeling websites fail to give a “face” to the business and/or hide their physical address. Having NAP contact information (name-address-ph, a physical address and, of course, your company’s name (in the logo, on the Homepage, in the URL, etc.) immediately establishes trust and gives your site more authority than remodelers that leave this information off their site. Of course, all of these attributes also make it easier for visitors to contact you, ask friends and neighbors about you, determine if you’re located nearby, etc.
A phone number: Having a phone number in plain text that stands out (usually at the top of the page) is proven to increase website conversion rates. Although visitors to your site probably don’t need any urgent services (unlike those going to a plumbing website, for instance), it’s still important to have a number, to make it easy for people to get in touch with you. Be accessible—if you make the user’s life easier, they are more likely to remember you and come back to your website.
An “About” page: People researching and vetting a home remodeler have a much different mindset than someone looking for a plumber or HVAC contractor. For a remodeling company, there is often little sense of urgency. Many homeowners are looking for a guide—someone to help them through, what can be a very complicated project/process (although they might not explicitly say this). If you’re the designer or architect, they’re really buying YOU. Using your site’s “About” page to introduce yourself and your company is a great way to do this.
Try to include things like:
- Services you offer (break it down into specific services—kitchen remodeling, bathroom remodeling, exterior, etc.—which can be made into separate pages)
- Experience (certifications, how long you’ve been in business, etc.)
- Any awards you’ve won (this can—and should—even be its own page)
- A picture of the staff (it gives your company more validation and can make the user feel more comfortable)
- Testimonials (this should also be its own page)
An AWESOME Photo Gallery: This is one of the most important tips I have for remodelers! When I say, “have a photo gallery on your site,” I’m not talking about having the same basic gallery used by every other remodeling company. You need to differentiate your business from the rest, so make your gallery AMAZING—both in terms of the image quality, volume, and the design of the gallery itself! You want big, beatiful, rich photographs (hire a professional photographer). You also need to make sure that your website designer optimizes each image so that it loads quickly (optimized site images lead to faster loading websites and faster loading websites rank higher on Google). Each image should have a descriptive file name and a search engine friendly “ALT” tag.
Take a look at this:
What you’re looking at in the screenshot above is the flow of visitors to a remodeling company’s website from Google. Look at the percentage of visitors that go to a “Portfolio” page (the name of the gallery pages on this particular site).
If you’re designing a kitchen remodel website (or kitchen designer, landscaping company, etc.), failing to add a photo gallery to your website is a major mistake. Having helpful content is great, but including pictures is even better. People are going to want to see past projects you’ve completed—a photo gallery will absolutely increase conversions. Luckily, most remodeling website templates include photo galleries. If your website template doesn’t, you need a new one.
It’s also a good idea to add a “Pin It” button for Pinterest to the photos and to link to the gallery from other landing pages and relevant blog posts. Which leads me to my next point…
A home remodeling blog: Do you have a home renovation blog or a remodeling project blog on your website? You should. Blogging drives business, especially if it’s something like a home improvement blog. If you want to rank well in the organic search results and establish yourself as an authority in the remodeling industry, you need to be blogging. Keep in mind that a blog is also a great way to highlight recent projects you’ve completed! Need proof that blogging drives business?
Take a look at this:
The screenshot above shows website entrances from blog posts for a high-end home remodeling website—all 149,561 of them! Collectively, these blog posts have generated over 100 high-quality leads. That’s pretty amazing when you consider the value of a typical high-end remodeling project.
Already have a home improvement blog but only update it once every month or two? You’re making me cry…well, not really—but I am laughing just a little. If you start blogging on a weekly basis or more frequently, you’ll see a lot more website traffic and more conversions (blog posts targeting long-tail keywords, which convert better).
So, if you want your website to have the best chances of both ranking and converting well, make sure it has all of these must-have features. (Remember, ranking is not the most important factor). Other characteristics that would be helpful but aren’t necessarily essential are trust symbols, such as awards and membership badges (BBB, NARI, Angie’s List, etc.) and social media buttons for Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc.
Design or Rebuild Your Home Remodeling Contractor Website Now! No More Excuses
If you own a remodeling company and you’re looking to build a new website or redo your old site, Blue Corona offers affordable web design services, and we’ve done websites for many remodeling companies. Want to get more website traffic, conversions, and sales? A great new website can make the magic happen! As the agents said in Skyfall, “There’s a lot of work to be done.” Yes, a great website will take a lot of work, but it will be worth it in the long run.
About The Author: Alanna is the Quality Assurance Manager in Blue Corona's Maryland office. When she's not triple-checking websites and content for errors and consistency, you can find her at the gym with her twin sister or urban exploring with her husband.
View more blogs by Alanna Hernandez