When done right, contractor SEO will bring you more website visitors, leads, and phone calls.
When done wrong, it will just burn a hole in your pocket.
Here’s the thing: SEO for contractors doesn’t have to be some mystical dark art. In fact, it can be downright easy when you boil it down to its components.
- Step one: find keywords.
- Step two: optimize a page on your website for those keywords.
- Step three: build links to that page until you’re #1.
Sounds easy, right?
Well, here’s the secret: it kind of is. You just have to know what you’re doing.
Today, I’m going to detail an example general contractor SEO campaign from start to finish.
I’m going to pull back the curtain on what an effective campaign actually looks like so you can see how a professional would go about ranking their client for relevant keywords, gaining traffic to their website, and getting them more leads, phone calls, and jobs.
Let’s use a real world example.
Location: Richmond, Virginia.
Services: General contracting, roofing, siding, gutters, doors, etc.
Let’s get started.
Defining Goals for Your Contractor SEO Campaign
Don’t skip this section, thinking you already know what the goal is: to get more leads.
That’s not the goal; that’s the result.
The goal is whatever gets you there.
Here’s the problem: most people pick bad goals and they don’t even know it.
Your goal isn’t to get a #1 ranking for such and such keyword.
Your goal is to get more traffic.
Why? Because more traffic = more leads.
As you’ll discover in a minute, keyword rankings can sometimes do nothing at all for your business – usually because no one is even searching for those keywords.
So, for this example, our goal isn’t to rank #1 for “general contractor in richmond va.”
Our goal is to get more traffic.
Local SEO vs. Organic SEO
People search for things in different ways. Google wants to serve all comers as best they can, so they will often serve two sets of results for keywords with local intent:
Map Pack listings and Organic listings.
Both are important. However, the process for ranking for Map Pack listings can be wildly different than that of organic listings – even though they have some things in common.
Here’s an example:
Keyword: general contractor in richmond va
The first three results are Map Pack rankings; the second three are organic listings.
But wait! What about a similar search?
Keyword: general contractor near me
This search didn’t include “richmond va” and Google decided to show results local to me.
Keeping this in mind, we can surmise two things:
- We need to optimize our website for search terms including the city.
- We need to optimize our website and business for search terms without the city.
How the heck do we do that?
Well, it’s easier than you might think.
But first, let’s figure out what kind of traffic we can expect to get from our contractor SEO efforts.
1. Keyword Research & Discovering Volume
It’s fine to throw spaghetti at a wall to see what sticks. Fun, even.
But knowing what the heck you’re trying to accomplish (and what you can expect to get out of it) works a whole lot better as a marketing strategy.
Keyword research is the start of any good contractor SEO campaign.
Here’s how we do it.
Finding Organic Keyword Volume
This research is perhaps the most important aspect of your contractor SEO strategy.
It’s not as simple as tacking a location at the end of a service.
The results will often surprise you. Some keywords you might think will get loads of results, and they get very few. Other times, you’ll come across a keyword no one is targeting, because no one thinks people search for it (but lots do).
Let’s start simple, though. We’re a general contractor in Richmond.
Sounds like a good jumping-off point.
Keyword: general contractors in richmond va
Uh-oh. Good thing we did some research – hardly anyone is searching for that keyword!
Typically, more words will mean less volume, so let’s try something else.
Keyword: general contractor richmond va
Okay, now we’re getting somewhere. Let’s go even broader.
Keyword: contractor richmond va
There we go. That’s a much better list.
This also illustrates my point about disregarding your preconceived notions about keywords and their possible volume. I never would have thought “residential contractors richmond va” would have so much more volume than “general contractors in richmond va,” but the data doesn’t lie – it does.
Are we done? No, we’re just getting started. Let’s start compiling a list of keywords.
Here’s what it looks like:
Notice we didn’t include all the keywords – specifically, we didn’t include keywords like “siding contractors richmond va,” although you can see from the previous example that a decent amount of people search for that term.
Why? Because when we start optimizing our website, we don’t want to muddy the waters and confuse Google. All of these keywords are highly related – they share common words and common intent. We’ll call this our first keyword group, and eventually, we’ll have a page completely dedicated to this list.
Now, we need more keyword groups.
Our fictitious business is a general contractor, but we also do stuff, right?
I wonder if people are searching for the stuff we actually do. Let’s find out.
Keyword: siding contractors richmond va
Nice. Let’s try another service.
Keyword: window contractors richmond va
Okay, cool. People are searching for specific services, too.
Now, let’s a delve a little deeper.
Keyword: kitchen remodel richmond va
Hmm. I have a sneaking suspicion there’s more to this keyword.
Let’s see if we can find more by searching for related keywords.
Okay, there we go.
See? Just by looking for related keywords, we added a ton more options, including keywords that have terms like “renovation” or “design.”
Now can you see how important keyword research is for your contractor SEO strategy?
But wait! We’re not done yet.
I bet we could reverse-engineer even more keywords by seeing what some of the top competitors are already ranking for.
Lets go back to our original keyword: “residential contractors richmond va”
Who already is ranking?
Hmm. A page from Houzz.com is currently ranking #1 for that term.
I wonder what else that page is ranking for?
Okay, that’s a lot of data. What can we take away from it?
According to the data:
- This page by itself gets roughly 450 visits per month
- If you were to pay for that traffic with Google ads, it would cost you $1.6k each month
- There are a lot more related keywords we wouldn’t have discovered by ourselves
You could do this for each of the major keywords to find tons of new opportunities. In the spirit of keeping this section under 20,000 words, we won’t do that. However, we can go ahead and compile all of our keyword groups to get a better idea of what we’re working with.
Here are our keyword groups from our four base services: general contractor, siding contractor, window contractor, and kitchen remodel.
That was a lot of work, but look at the results! Now, we know exactly which keywords to target.
Keep in mind: this was just for four base keywords. You may have ten or twenty or more.
We’re going to use this worksheet later when we actually optimize our website pages for these keywords, but before we do that, we have one more step.
Finding Local SEO Keyword Volume
Remember: everything we did above only shows half the picture. All of those keywords had the city (richmond va) in the keyword, but as we already know, that’s not all people search for.
Luckily, this step isn’t quite as intensive.
All we’re going to do is eliminate the city in our search. We’re also going to use Google’s keyword planner for this, since we can specify an exact location (ie. Richmond, Virginia).
Let’s see what that looks like:
What does this tell us?
Plenty of people are searching for services without the city name attached.
What does that mean for us?
We have to optimize for those keywords as well.
Now… how the heck do we do that?
2. Planning, Organizing, & Optimizing Your SEO Content (And Its Structure!)
Okay. We have some keywords. Now, we have to write and optimize content for those keywords.
But wait! Not so fast.
Contractor SEO can be overdone, and the results of it are pretty ugly.
You’ve probably seen it before – a website that reads more like it was written for a machine than a real human being. Will it get traffic? Maybe. But what does that matter if the traffic it does get is completely turned off by its message?
Writing for humans and writing for search engines is a balancing act. On the one hand, you want to place valuable keywords all over your page so that search engines discover them and rank you highly. On the other hand, you actually want to convince people to use your services, and an over-optimized page certainly won’t do that.
How do we walk that high-wire?
For this to make sense, let’s talk about what it means to optimize content for search engines.
Working Backwards – Understanding the Aspects of Page-Level Optimization
Search engines read the content on your website just like humans. The difference is, search engines place more emphasis on specific parts of your website’s content to help them determine what that page is about.
The three key factors to search engine rankings can be broken down like so:
In order to show up, your website’s page needs to be:
- Relevant to what someone is searching for. This one is pretty obvious.
- Authoritative on the subject, meaning other websites have linked to the specific page or the domain itself, lending credibility
- Experience means your website loads quickly and doesn’t have any technical errors.
For now, we’re going to focus on relevance, as that’s where the nitty-gritty of optimization actually comes into play. This is the technical aspect of contractor SEO.
First, let’s look at some misconceptions.
4 Key Misunderstood Aspects of Optimization
Most people don’t really understand true contractor SEO, so when their website designer says they offer those services, they take it at face value. However, these four key misunderstood aspects of optimization are what set apart true campaigns apart.
1. Optimization occurs at the page level.
What do we mean by that?
Let’s say this is your domain name: www.joesconstruction.com.
As far as search engines go, that’s a page.
If you offered custom home building as a service and created a new page to describe it (ie. www.joesconstruction.com/custom-home-building/), that would be a separate page, and search engines will treat it as such. So, you need to optimize that page differently than your home page.
Which leads to our next point.
2. Each page should only be optimized for one keyword or keyword group.
People make this mistake all the time, optimizing their home page for every keyword under the sun, hoping it ranks well for all of them. The problem? There’s only so many technical aspects (we’ll get to these later) that you can optimize, and if you’re trying to fit 10-50 keywords into them, it’s never going to work – all you’re going to do is confuse the search engines. Instead, each keyword or keyword group should have its own dedicated page.
3. Site structure with strong interlinking is your best friend.
Optimizing your website’s structure is perhaps the most important thing you can do, as that will seep throughout your entire website, providing a cohesive hierarchy and allowing search engines to easily find pages throughout your website as you add them.
For instance: let’s say you have a page dedicated to kitchen remodeling (www.joesconstruction.com/kitchen-remodeling/)
Let’s say you’ve written tons of blog posts about kitchen remodeling. Sure, they should be listed under your “Blog” page. But shouldn’t they also be listed on your “kitchen remodeling” page?
If you’ve already set up your website structure properly, they would be.
4. You need to optimize for keywords with locations and keywords without.
Remember earlier, when we discussed the two ways people will find your website when searching on Google? You’ll either show up in the Map Pack or in organic listings – and sometimes, both. The difference is, Map Pack listings are hyper-targeted to a searcher’s location, whereas organic listings are a little less so.
For instance: someone might Google “remodelers near me.”
If you had a page dedicated to “remodelers” or “remodeling,” you’d be off to a great start.
However, what if all your pages were targeting “remodelers richmond va” instead?
That’s a problem. Why? Because now, Google only associates your website with Richmond. What if someone was searching for that keyword right outside of city limits? Google’s not going to show your website – from what it can tell, everything on it has to do with Richmond!
Not only that, but think about the experience of your users. If they clicked on your “remodeling” tab at the top and all they saw was references to Richmond, why would they want to contact you if they lived in one of the neighboring communities?
Your “base level” pages should target keywords without locations attached.
You should have separate pages targeting keywords with locations.
7 Aspects of Technical SEO at the Page Level – What it Is & How to Do It
Okay, time to get into the nitty-gritty details.
In order for search engines to know what your page is about (remember: we’re optimizing pages, not just your home page!), there are a few aspects you need to focus on. They’re listed below:
1) Title tag.
This appears at the very top of your browser. It should include your main keyword.
2) URL structure.
This is the actual address of your website page. It should include your keyword. It could look something like this: www.joesconstruction.com/siding-contractor/
3) Meta description.
This is the description you see under the listing on Google. It should also include your main keyword, as well as some copywriting or a tagline of some sort to convince people to click.
4) H1 tag.
This is a header tag – the most important one on your website. It should include your main keyword, and should appear near the top of your page.
5) H2-H5 tags.
These are more header tags. They should include secondary and tertiary keywords, or any other variations of your main keyword.
6) Image file names, titles and ALT tags.
Your file name is, well, the name of the file. You can set the title and ALT tag of the image after uploading it to your website. These should include keyword variations.
7) SCHEMA markup
This is a piece of code on every page of your website that helps search engines better understand what it is about. Typically, businesses will want to use the LocalBusiness markup. Use the code below and just insert your business details:
“name”: “Your Business Name”,
“caption”:”Your Business Name”},
“streetAddress”: “Your Street Address”,
“addressLocality”: “Your City”,
Of course, there are some other aspects such as the use of semantic keyword, keyword density, and more, but for the sake of brevity, we’ll stop here. If you optimize those seven aspects, you’re going to be further than the vast majority of websites – even those with SEO work.
Keep in mind, though: you still have to create great content. After all, humans are the ones who will be reading your content and giving you a call – not search engines. So keep all of these things in mind, but don’t overdo it. If you page reads like it was solely written for a machine, you’re not going to get the leads you want – no matter how high your search engine rankings are.
Creating a Lovable Website Structure For Humans – And Robots, Too!
Before we write or optimize anything, we need to put some thought into our website’s structure.
Your website’s structure dictates how humans and search engines navigate your website.
Think of it as a tree. Your home page is the trunk; all your other pages are the branches, both big and small. Those branches might have their own branches, too.
A simple visualization of this could be your website’s menu structure.
Let’s take a look at two examples:
Okay. We have some pages, and they’re pretty descriptive. All it takes is a click. This is how most website’s menus are structured.
But is there a better way?
Let’s take a look at another example:
Okay, a little different. Instead of needing to click on a “Services” page, they’re already listed – plus, there are drop-down menu for more specific services like “kitchen remodeling” and more.
You may think this is a negligible detail, but it’s not.
Click-depth is the amount of clicks it takes to get from your website’s home page to another page, and it really, really matters. Google will typically place more importance on pages that have a lower click depth, regardless of URL structure.
In the previous example, we had to click on “services” in order to get to actual service pages such as “custom homes.” It’s possible that Google would think the “services” page has more value.
In this example, we don’t have that barrier.
Not only that, but it’s easier for humans to find what they’re looking for, too.
Look: your website’s structure is how humans and search engines will find what they’re looking for. Settings things up the correct way will save you a ton of headaches down the line.
This is just one example of the correct practice.
Let’s get to work on the rest.
Planning Your Website’s General Contractor SEO Structure (Free Worksheet Included)
Before we delve deeper into actually writing or optimizing any pages, lets visualize what the final product can look like.
We’ve put together a free worksheet. Download it and follow along.
Going back to our keyword research, we found the following four keyword groups:
- residential contractor
- siding contractor
- window contractor
- kitchen remodel
Notice I’m not including the city – Richmond, Va – for the moment.
I’ll explain why in a minute.
First, lets take a look at what our site structure can look like with those plugged in:
The first thing you’ll notice is that the home page isn’t targeting any competitive keywords – it’s targeting the business name, just the way it should be. Other pages will be far, far better candidates for specific keywords; let your home page be what it was designed to be, which is a hub to all the other pages of your website.
Secondly, you can see that we’re not targeting a location anywhere on these pages. This is because it is top-level content. This content is designed to actually sell your services – not necessarily rank highly (though we still might as well optimize for those base keywords). We’ll get to some location targeting later.
You can also see the work done for the Title tags, meta descriptions, headers, and images.
This should give you a strong example of how it should be done.
Now, let’s take a look at some location targeting.
Targeting Specific Locations the Smart Way for Local SEO & Organic Results
We’ve optimized our top-level pages for base keywords – residential contractors, contractors near me, etc.
But, of course, people search with keywords including locations, too.
How do we target them without muddying up our website?
One of the best ways is by employing a secondary menu structure.
Often, this will be located in your website’s footer, like this:
Notice the bottom of the page, how there are links to each location within the service area.
We’re going to use those as hub pages to house the rest of our content related to that location.
The content in these service-area pages doesn’t have to be completely unique from the top -level content, but it should be somewhat different. All of technical SEO aspects will obviously have to be unique, because we’re targeting separate keywords for these pages.
Let’s take a look at what this can look like in practice:
Notice how the technical contractor SEO looks a little different this time. Namely, we’re targeting the location (Richmond VA) within all of our keywords. This is because these pages are hyper-targeted to that specific location.
Here are some more tips for these pages:
- Use the location page as a hub for all location-related content. This is going to be important later as we add different types of content to it. All of the Richmond-targeted content should be either on this page, or linked to from this page.
- Create separate menus that house all location-specific pages. These menus can be placed in the sidebars of the location pages, letting visitors (and search engines!) see all pages related to that location.
- Use different photos for these pages. And make sure they’re targeted to the location-specific keywords.
- Only target locations on location-specific pages. All other top-level pages should target base keywords without the locations. We don’t want to confuse Google.
- Link back to top level pages frequently within location-specific pages. Example: within the body of a post for “kitchen remodeling in Richmond,” place links back to the top level page for that service ie. kitchen remodeling.
- House related blogs on relevant location-specific pages. While our blogs won’t be location specific, they’re still highly relevant to topics discussed in these pages, and should be placed there, too.
- Copy this structure for each of the location you service. There are likely many cities and towns within your service area. Copy this structure to create pages for each one.
- Place a location menu linking to all of your location-specific hub pages (ie, the location themselves) somewhere on your site. The footer is a great, unobtrusive place for this.
These hyper-targeted pages are a gold mine for your contractor SEO efforts. When done right, they drive tons of traffic. Copy this exact structure for all the locations within your service area and reap the rewards.
Going Further – Blogging to Generate Traffic, Authority, and Relevance
Let’s face it. Most small business blogs suck.
While blogging can be a great way to increase your website’s metrics, most people go about it the wrong way, leading to frustration, wasted time, and a clutter-filled website.
Here’s the right way to blog.
Use blogs as supporting resources – not entry pages.
An “entry page” is how someone arrives on your website. For instance, we’ve talked a lot about optimizing specific pages for local keywords. In the example above, we had the following page: www.yourbusinessname.com/richmond-va/residential-contractor/. That’s the page we’re actually trying to rank, because we’ve already discovered a keyword group that has plenty of search volume. That’s an entry page.
Blogs should be supporting resources for those entry pages, not entry pages themselves.
Let me explain.
Here’s a typical blog you might find on a local business website:
“How to Choose a Residential Contractor in Richmond, Va in 3 Easy Steps.”
What’s the problem with that?
Well… we already have a page targeting that keyword: residential contractor richmond va.
It’s located here: www.yourbusinessname.com/richmond-va/residential-contractor/
We’ve already optimized for it.
Why would we want to compete against ourselves?
Or, worse yet, confuse Google as to which page should rank higher?
Blogs are supportive assets. They’re designed to better sell your services – not generate traffic by themselves (though they’ll sometimes do that, too).
A better article would be:
“3 Easy Steps to Choosing a Great Residential Contractor.”
Naturally, this blog would be placed on your Blog page, where all your other blog posts are kept.
Where else should it be placed?
On your page targeting residential contractor richmond va (www.yourbusinessname.com/richmond-va/residential-contractor/)!
Why? Because it’s showing even more relevance to your topic.
You can (and should) link to articles on your website in more than just one place, and by linking to articles about a topic that’s relevant to the keyword we’re trying to rank for, we build even more relevance for that page (not to mention provide a better user experience).
You should write blog posts based on your services. Like so:
Top-level page: Residential Contractor
- Blog post: “How to Choose the Best Residential Contractor”
- Blog post: “5 Qualities that Make a Great Residential Contractor”
- Blog post: “What to Look Out for When Choosing Your Next Residential Contractor”
Why? All of these posts are building relevance. They’re supporting the pages we actually want to rank for – not competing with them.
First, write blogs that people actually want to read, and then place them where search engines want to see them.
Use blogs to build location-specific relevance.
This is one of our favorite ways to positively influence Map Pack rankings.
It’s simple, and it makes a ton of sense.
Remember our location hub page from before? (www.yourbusinessname.com/richmond-va/)
How do we make that page as relevant as possible to the location it’s targeting?
Write and post blogs about events, locations, museums, restaurants, and more related to that location, and link to them from your location hub page.
You don’t have to spend a ton of time on these. We’re not actually trying to get traffic to these pages; rather, we’re trying to influence search engines into thinking our location hub is highly-specific to that location.
Each blog post should be 200-400 words.
Write 5-10 about popular places, events, or other businesses within that location.
Link to them on your location hub page.
Repeat the process for each location within your service area.
If you only do one type of blogging, this is the one to do.
It does wonder for your Map Pack rankings.
3. SEO for Contractors: Building Authority the Right Way
So far, we’ve talked about finding relevant keywords people are actually searching for and planning, organizing, and optimizing pages to rank for those keywords. Now, it’s time to start talking about building authority – the third step for great keyword rankings.
Again, contractor SEO can be broken down into two aspects: local and organic. Similarly to how the optimization process is different for each of those, so is the process for building authority.
Lets start with local contractor SEO.
Building a Strong Local Business Profile
Remember how we talked about the difference between Map Pack listings and organic listings when it comes to contractor SEO?
Building a strong local business profile is how you show up in the Map Pack.
How do we build a strong local profile?
The optimization efforts we did before help a great deal, but it’s not enough.
We need to build authority. Here’s how.
Note: your NAP stands for your business name, address, and phone number. It should not be changed. When going through these steps, make sure you list your NAP exactly the same every single time and you do not deviate from it.
1. Optimize Your Google Business Profile
Most contractors don’t pay as much attention to their Google Business Profile as they should. Google allows you to display a wealth of information about your business.
- Categories: Start specific, go general. Don’t try to stuff irrelevant categories. It does more harm than good. For a list of all categories, Google “google business categories 2022.”
- Service area: Start with the city in which you’re located, and then spread out. Google allows counties, too. List as many as are relevant to you.
- Description: You have 750 characters to work with. Use them all.
- Products: Do you sell them? If so, fill it out.
- Services: Your selected categories will automatically show up as services. However, you can provide more. If “kitchen remodeler” is your primary category, you can add custom categories beneath it such as “cabinets” and “countertops,” along with descriptions.
- Images: Your logo and cover image are first. Put some care into this – people will see them when your Google Business Profile shows up in Google. “At work” photos are for when you’re on the job. “Team photos” are of, well, you and your team. “Identity photos” can be of signage on trucks or vans, office signage, business cards, etc. Don’t skip this step.
- Calls: You can activate call tracking to better understand how well your profile is working for you.
- Reviews: If you have customers, text a few at a time and ask them to leave a review. If you don’t, ask family or friends to leave a review commenting on your good qualities, mentioning you by name instead of the company. Reviews are a ranking factor – the more you have, the better.
By simply taking the time to fill out your profile completely, you can get much more value out of it – and much, much better rankings to boot! Don’t skip this step.
Here are some other things to keep in mind:
Utilize posts to keep your profile up to date.
Google allows you to write posts to keep your profile fresh. These include offers, what’s new, and event options. The “what’s new” option in particular is a great all-purpose function: you can post links to pages on your website, new blog posts, updates about your company, and more. Get in the habit of utilizing this function at least once a week. Later in this article, we’ll tell you how you can automate this task.
Google gives you a free website. Why not use it?
Google will collect all the information you’ve put into your Google Business Profile and display it on a free website. To enable this, all you have to do is click on the “Website” tab in your Google Business Profile, then click the blue button that says “Publish.”
All the work you’ve put into your profile will be displayed here, along with your core business details: your name, address, and phone number (or NAP).
You can even add additional links back to your website, giving you a quick SEO boost.
2. Submit Your Business to Data Aggregators
Data aggregators are companies that collect business information and distribute it to hundreds or thousands of websites. Certain directories only accept business information that comes directly from data aggregators. Furthermore, using data aggregators can save you dozens of hours of legwork directly submitting your business information to directories.
Here are four data aggregators you can submit your business to today:
Different aggregators allow you to submit different levels of detail about your business. Exhaust all options, submitting your logo, business categories, social media links, business photos, hours of operation, and any other details when applicable.
3. Submit Your Business to Structured Citations
Structured citations are places where your business name, address, and phone number (NAP) appear in a listing format. You’re probably already familiar with some of these.
According to BrightLocal, these are the top 35 citations in the USA.
|maps.apple.com||Domain authority: 100|
|google.com||Domain authority: 100|
|facebook.com||Domain authority: 96|
|bing.com||Domain authority: 93|
|yelp.com||Domain authority: 93|
|local.yahoo.com||Domain authority: 93|
|foursquare.com||Domain authority: 92|
|bbb.org||Domain authority: 91|
|mapquest.com||Domain authority: 89|
|yellowpages.com||Domain authority: 87|
|here.com||Domain authority: 86|
|city-data.com||Domain authority: 85|
|manta.com||Domain authority: 81|
|tomtom.com||Domain authority: 78|
|merchantcircle.com||Domain authority: 77|
|nextdoor.com||Domain authority: 77|
|angi.com||Domain authority: 76|
|justlanded.com||Domain authority: 76|
|citysearch.com||Domain authority: 75|
|superpages.com||Domain authority: 69|
|company.com||Domain authority: 68|
|us.kompass.com||Domain authority: 66|
|local.com||Domain authority: 66|
|elocal.com||Domain authority: 66|
|brownbook.net||Domain authority: 61|
|storeboard.com||Domain authority: 61|
|chamberofcommerce.com||Domain authority: 60|
|infobel.com||Domain authority: 59|
|spoke.com||Domain authority: 59|
|yellowbook.com||Domain authority: 58|
|hotfrog.com||Domain authority: 58|
|insiderpages.com||Domain authority: 57|
|yellowbot.com||Domain authority: 57|
|botw.org||Domain authority: 56|
|ezlocal.com||Domain authority: 56|
4. Build Unstructured Citations for an SEO Boost
While not as immediately obvious, unstructured citations can be just as powerful as their structured counterparts. They still reference key details about your business – your NAP – but don’t group those details together.
Typically, unstructured citations are harder to come by. Not to worry – here are three easy sources to start getting unstructured citations for yourself today.
- Press releases. These are great sources for unstructured citations. Services like PRNewsWire can distribute your release to hundreds of outlets.
- Web 2.0 properties. Back in the day, these were used to farm cheap, spammy links. Today, they’re great sources of unstructured citations. You can post articles on sites like Medium or HubPages for free, including your business information and Google Map for bonus effect. Just be sure not to spam – you’ll quickly get removed.
- Community organizations. The local Chamber of Commerce or Moose Lodge website likely lists other businesses associated with them. If you have any local affiliations, check their website to see if you’re listed. If you’re not, just ask to be.
Unstructured citations help round out your online entity – and build links, too!
5. Build as Many Social Profiles As You Can
How many social media platforms is your business currently on?
Likely, the answer is “not enough.”
Of course, you’d be hard-pressed to give every platform the attention it deserves. That’s okay. Simply being on the platform is a benefit in and of itself. Backlinks, remember?
Here’s 35 social media platforms you can get on right now:
Fill out your profile completely. These profiles are great sources for backlinks and unstructured citations, both of which strengthen your online entity and your contractor SEO efforts.
All of these things go hand-in-hand to create a well-rounded, authoritative local business profile. Sure, it’s time-consuming and tedious, but it’s absolutely necessary to your contractor local SEO efforts. Ignore this at your own peril.
Linking Building for Organic Contractor Search Engine Optimization
We’ve talked about Map Pack rankings. This is how we rank for keywords without locations.
Now, lets talk about how to build authority to our organic listings.
Remember: our organic listings are the pages we’ve built that do locations.
It’s a common misconception about SEO for contractors that links should always point back to the website’s home page. This is because most website try to optimize their home page for every keyword under the sun (and we’ve already talked about why that doesn’t work).
We need to focus building links to the individual pages that we actually want to rank.
In general, if all optimization efforts are roughly equal, Google is going to prefer the page that has the most authority (aka the most backlinks pointing to it).
Keep this in mind when we talk about some link-building tactics.
Another common misconception is that you need hundreds of thousands of links.
If you can even get dozens of links quickly and easily, they’re going to be trash – and could actually do more harm than good.
Here’s the dirty little secret: one good link can move that needle.
The problem is, it’s hard to even get one good link.
Luckily for you, we have some good options you can try.
3 Link-Building Tactics That Actually Work
We’re going to talk about contractor link building tactics that actually work. You know, stuff a non-SEO professional could actually do on their own.
Sure, it takes a ton of work. But all good things do, right?
Let’s get started.
1. Reach out to local businesses.
Almost no one does this, and I don’t know why.
You likely already have relationships with local businesses in your area.
Most likely, you know other subcontractors. There’s probably a few restaurants you frequent. I bet if you thought hard enough, you could think of other businesses you have a relationship with.
Reach out to them. Ask if they would like to include a link to your website – in turn, offer to include a link to theirs.
Remember those location hub pages we built? Wouldn’t that be a great candidate to house a few links to other businesses (while also building relevance to your area)?
It takes some work, but this should be your go-to tactic to build relevant, hyper-local links.
Send out a couple dozen emails. Talk to the owners you know personally.
Not everyone is going to agree.
But remember: one good link is hard to come by.
This will likely get you a handful, almost immediately.
2. Reach out to similar businesses (with a great offer).
This is perhaps your best option, though it requires considerable more work.
For this example, we’re a contractor in Richmond, Va.
If I were building links for this website, I would contact contractors in another state, somewhere far away – lets say Orlando, Florida, for this example.
We don’t compete… but we could definitely help each other.
The pitch is simple: I’ll offer to write a blog posts (with links pointing back to my website’s pages, of course) for the other contractor to post on their website. In exchange, they can do the same to place on my website. The result? We both get a piece of blog content for free, as well as a targeted and highly relevant backlink.
You’ll have to send dozens of cold outreach emails. Be prepared to only get a response rate of 5-15% – and a lower percentage of that will actually follow through. Building links isn’t easy.
You’re trading time for these links, but I promise, these links are more valuable.
3. Reach out to local and national associations.
Are you a member of the Better Business Bureau?
How about your local Chamber of Commerce?
Are you a preferred contractor for a specific product?
Would your web designer link to the website they’ve built?
Are you a member of any other associations?
Get creative with this. There are links right under your nose; you just have to sniff them out. Think about all of your memberships, associations, and vendors. Most likely, they have places on their website where they link to members. Reach out to them to see if you can get on that list. Sometimes, all it takes is an email.
Here’s what almost no one will tell you: most links are trash.
All of those structured citations we built? Google doesn’t really care about them.
All of those social profiles? Yeah, Google doesn’t really care about them, either.
Do they help? Sure. But by themselves, they won’t move the needle.
These links will. If you use these three tactics and manage to get a handful of links out of it, count yourself as a winner. Good links are hard to come by. They take work to build.
Here’s the thing: the work pays off.
This is what an SEO campaign for contractors looks like.
This article ended up being longer than I intended it to be.
The truth is, SEO for contractors is complex. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution. That being said, there are still principles to follow. I described those principals earlier, but let’s take a look at them:
- Step one: find keywords.
- Step two: optimize a page on your website for those keywords.
- Step three: build links to that page until you’re #1.
Almost 7,000 words later, we’ve described the intricacies of those three aspects pretty well.
Even after this insanely long article, there are things we haven’t covered.
You don’t need to know everything.
Like everything else, the basics will get you 90% of the way to success.
If you’re doing this on your own, don’t try to over complicate things.
Don’t beat yourself over the head about keyword density, semantic keywords, over-optimized header tags, and more.
Don’t pay $100 for someone to build 1,000 links to your website overnight.
Find keywords that have volume.
Use our guide to build and optimize pages targeting those keywords.
Reach out to local businesses to build links to those pages.
Contractor SEO really is that simple.
If you have questions, leave a comment below.
You can even add a link back to your website :)