You’re keen for more local customers but you’re not sure where to get started. Most Local SEO articles seem to overload you with info and end up leaving you more confused.
We’re not going to hit you with a ‘143 Local SEO Tips’ style article. Great SEO is about doing the basics right, so use the following 5 Local SEO tips to improve your visibility for local searches and get more customers in and around your postcode.
No matter what trade you work in, there’s something you share with all contractors – competition.
As a contractor your survival depends on finding quality leads and turning them into paying customers. But with so much competition you’re constantly fighting an uphill battle.
The solution? Local SEO.
If you work in Sydney it would feel nice to rank when someone searches for home improvement help in Sydney, but with over 4 million residents and thousands of competing businesses, you’ll have your work cut out for you.
Instead, you can use Local SEO to start ranking for specific areas and suburbs. It’s easier to rank in North Sydney, Bondi, or Parramatta rather than the city of Sydney as a whole. And when you’re ranking in specific suburbs there’s less competition – which is great for your business.
Of course, nailing your Local SEO isn’t easy (otherwise everyone would be doing it).
If you want to get more work from local customers, we’ve put together a list of the 5 most crucial Local SEO strategies you need to get on top of.
“What is Local SEO?”
Local SEO is the process of improving your visibility in local searches.
Almost half of ALL Google searches are for local businesses. For example ‘Gold Coast Turf Layer’ or ‘Perth Kitchen Tiler’. These searches are crucial for your trade business because they reduce your competition (a customer on the Gold Coast doesn’t want a turf laying business from Cairns) and help you become a sought-after business in your area.
OK, ready to bring in more local customers? Here are 5 Local SEO tips for contractors you’ll need to nail.
Best Local SEO Tips for Contractors
Local SEO Tip #1 – Get your Google My Business (GMB) listing up and running
Whether you recognized it or not, you’ve seen the power of a GMB before.
Let’s say you run a trade business in Cairns but you’ve locked yourself out of your house after a night out, and since you don’t feel like throwing a rock through the nearest window you plan to call an after-hours locksmith instead.
If you jumped on Google (which 93% of people do when they need to find a home improvement or trade business) and searched for ‘after hours locksmith Cairns’ you’d be met with this result…
You’ve got the regular organic results on the left if you feel like scrolling through and clicking on each link. But since over 52% of all traffic comes from smartphones, odds are you’re holding your mobile as you stand outside your locked house and it’s hard enough to see everything on the screen in the dark.
You know what jumps off the page though?
That HUGE business listing on the right hand side of the screen.
That result is easy to read.
You can see their business name – Eddie Williams Locksmiths, a nice photo of their shopfront, and you can see 88 reviews from satisfied customers, plus a phone number that will start ringing from your phone the second you click it. Since all the info you need is right in front of you, there’s a pretty good chance you’d give that business a buzz and be inside your house within the hour.
That result is a GMB listing.
Most importantly, it’s not a sign that the GMB you’re seeing is the best locksmith in Cairns, but that their Local SEO is on point.
Your first and MOST important Local SEO step is to get your own GMB up and running.
So when people in your local area have problems around the home and punch in specific keywords it’s YOUR business that is triggered by those keywords and appears as the one GMB result on the page.
Your GMB puts you on the map
Not every local search result will show one single GMB listing.
The majority will display an easy-to-navigate Google Map with bright red pins dropped onto nearby businesses. In fact, 93% of local searches will trigger the snack pack (which you can see below).
For the same search for a Cairns locksmith, you might see this Local SEO result…
With this result you’ve got a few options. If you don’t fancy Eddie Williams Locksmiths you can see a couple of other options, and even cross-reference where those businesses are located on the map to make sure you’re not stranded outside for hours.
If this looks like a convenient way to search for local businesses…it is.
And it’s only possible with a GMB listing.
“How do I get my GMB up and running?”
Every business is entitled to a FREE Google My Business listing, you just have to claim and verify your own. Here’s the simple step-by-step guide:
- Create and verify your GMB (you’ll need to provide a physical address so Google can send a postcard with your unique verification code)
- Fill out your business info and add your relevant categories and services (make sure it’s 100% accurate)
- Encourage your customers to leave reviews
Easy as 1-2-3.
Even if your GMB doesn’t appear as the sole result for certain keywords, getting your GMB up and running means you can appear on Google Maps, which helps local customers find you.
Tradies: Don’t Invest a Dollar in Digital Marketing Until You Read This!
Local SEO Tip #2 – Start building positive reviews online
We mentioned encouraging your customers to provide reviews in the previous step but it’s such an important factor for Local SEO that we’ll go over it in a little more detail.
Local SEO uses an entirely different set of ranking factors to traditional SEO, so you’ll need to change up your approach if you’re already doing SEO on your site. Luckily, one of the most important ranking factors for Local SEO is easy to get – reviews.
Google uses reviews on your GMB to learn more about your trustworthiness.
If they see a ton of happy reviews, they’ll trust you more and reward you with higher rankings. Keep in mind, everything you do for your business – whether it’s your website or your GMB – should be about putting your customer’s needs first…and reviews do exactly that.
63% of people check Google for reviews before they contact a trade business, so if you don’t have reviews up and ready for them, you’ll lose their trust (and their business).
“How do I earn online reviews for my business?”
If you never ask, you’ll never get.
Don’t be afraid to ask customers for a review. The best time to ask them is right after you’ve finished your service (as they’ll be stoked at what a great job you’ve done).
A simple “hey, if you’re happy with the work I’ve done it would mean a lot if you left a review for me on Google so I can keep helping out other people like you”.
As a bonus tip, make sure to reply to each review on your GMB listing – even negative ones!
This will show future customers that you listen to feedback and don’t just shut up shop when someone isn’t happy with your work.
Local SEO Tip #3 – Get your business listed in multiple contractor directories
Google is the #1 way people find local tradespeople and contractors…but it’s not the only way.
Your customers love online directories because they include all the specific tradies in one easy to find spot. If someone wants a local carpenter to come in and build a pergola they can jump on a directory like the Yellow Pages and compare all their options without having to jump from site to site.
Popping your business in relevant directories (you don’t want to be in a directory for ‘Quit Smoking Hypnotists’ if you build patios) is great for two reasons:
- More places for people to find your business
- More ways for Google to see you’re trustworthy
It’s an absolute win-win.
As you list your business in relevant directories you give yourself more chances of connecting with new customers, and Google uses these directory mentions (known as “citations”) to gauge your trustworthiness.
If they see you listed in all the right places, they’ll boost your Local SEO and show you for more keywords.
“How do I make a local listing?”
Relevance trumps quantity, so aim to submit your contracting business to sites set-up for trade services. Here are a few of our favourites to get you started.
Keen for more contractor directories? Access EIGHTY (yep, 80) business listing sites to supercharge your Local SEO.
Local SEO Tip #4 – Nail your NAP
We know what you’re thinking – “not ANOTHER marketing acronym!”.
We hear you, but this is one that’s easy to remember and is the difference between ranking when your customers search in your area, suburb or city…or being invisible.
NAP stands for your:
- Name of the business
- Address of the business
- Phone number of the business
You’ll be asked to enter your NAP when you set up your GMB, and that’s what Google will consider to be the accurate version of your NAP.
“Why does Google care whether my NAP is accurate or not?”
Google is always looking for clues about the trustworthiness and quality of your business. The more positive signs they see, the more your Local SEO improves. But if they see discrepancies or things that confuse them, your Local SEO suffers.
It may sound simple, but Google will compare the NAP from your GMB against every other reference to your business online. Remember how we told you to publish your business on relevant directories?
Each directory will also require you to list your NAP.
If you list your NAP EXACTLY the same as it’s listed on your GMB, it’s easy for Google to trust that you’re a real business, helping local customers, and deserving of rankings.
But if your NAP is listed differently on a couple of directories, Google will start to worry that you’re not legit (because a legit business would have the same NAP everywhere it’s published). And when Google spots a red flag like this, your Local SEO takes a nosedive.
We’re not talking about massive mistakes either. Something as small as one number in the wrong place in your phone number can be a red flag to Google. If this happens, don’t be surprised if your GMB stops appearing when people look for local businesses in your niche.
Spelling also matters. If you write the word ‘street’ in your GMB’s NAP, you can’t abbreviate it to “st” in one of your directories or alarm bells will go off for Google. It seems like a minor change, but it’s one that can make or break your Local SEO.
In short, enter your NAP carefully on your GMB, then use that EXACT NAP everywhere else online.
Tradies: Don’t Invest a Dollar in Digital Marketing Until You Read This!
Local SEO Tip #5 – Target local keywords
One of the most important features of strong Local SEO is using local keywords.
Since your customers search for products and services using the names of specific suburbs, towns, areas or landmarks, you should include those same keywords across your online presence.
Let’s start with your website…
Don’t throw these keywords in randomly and expect results. Instead, be strategic with where you use them. The most important places to include local keywords are:
- Title Tags
- Meta Descriptions
- Headlines (H1, H2 etc)
- Your content
- Your URLs (where possible)
This list is best used when you’re creating local content, for example a blog to help customers in your area. Let’s say you wrote an article called ‘5 ways to protect your Cairns home against cyclone damage’. You’d be able to optimize that article using local keywords so when Cairns residents went online looking for help, they’d find your article and be able to hire you to clear their gutters or remove dangerous trees.
Or, let’s say you wrote an article called ‘How to find the best emergency plumber in Perth’. This is another article you can fill with local keywords so that when Perth residents run into a blocked toilet or burst water pipe, they’re more likely to find your article online and hire you to help solve their problem.
You should also create location pages to boost your Local SEO
If you’re like most trade business owners you service multiple locations.
You can create individual location pages to make sure customers in each location can find you. For example, let’s say you offer services in Sydney. You could create location pages for North Sydney, Western Sydney, and the Blue Mountains.
Depending on your Local SEO goals and budget, you could niche down more and split Western Sydney into major areas like Penrith, Blacktown, and Parramatta.
Each of your location pages will need 100% unique content, packed with relevant location keywords so Google and your customers know you really do work in the area, you understand the area, and you can help customers in the area.
“How can I improve my local SEO quickly?”
Whether you’re dealing with tools or marketing tips, everything becomes easier the more you get used to it.
Local SEO uses different optimization strategies to SEO, but both require you to approach your online presence with discipline and a little marketing know-how.
Or, if you value your free time and you’re keen to get the increase in leads and customers without the hassle of doing it all yourself, partner with an SEO agency for proven local SEO strategies and fast results.
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