What is Local SEO? The Simple Guide for Contractors
You’ve read enough articles and guides on SEO to last a lifetime, and now you’re being hammered with ‘Local SEO’. Every time a marketer or salesman throws a new term at you it feels like they’re trying to sell you another product, right?
In reality, Local SEO is the marketing strategy that’s going to sell your business to more customers. Forget buzzwords, Local SEO is the process of optimizing your online presence so that customers in your area, suburb or city go looking for your industry, it’s YOUR business that pops up.
99% of SEO articles are dryer than overcooked chicken, so we won’t make this Local SEO guide any more complicated than it needs to be.
Here’s the simplest way to explain Local SEO…
Imagine you went to the pub after the knock-off on Friday. SEO would be sitting at the table and asking your mate what his favourite beer in the world is. And Local SEO would be going up to the bar and asking your mate what his favourite beer on tap is.
Because SEO can be super broad and bring in results from all over the country (and the world). But Local SEO is limited to a smaller number of choices in a specific area, city, or suburb.
With every agency and article telling you to use SEO to grow your contractor, trade or home improvement business online, it’s easy to ignore Local SEO. Especially when you want as many new customers as you can get and limiting your business to a specific suburb seems like it would do the opposite.
In this article we’ll explain what Local SEO is, why you should care about it if you want to grow your contractor, trade or home improvement business, and leave you with the steps you need to take to get more work in your local area.
“What’s the difference between SEO and Local SEO for contractors?”
Local SEO is the process of improving your visibility on Google for local searches.
When people jump on Google and punch in their keywords, like ‘buy tools online’, that’s a search.
In the example above, someone searching for new tools to buy is looking on a national or global scale. They want to see the best tools online whether they’re available in Australia or on the other side of the world. They’re not looking for tools from a specific place, just the best place to buy tools.
A local search is the opposite.
Local searches include specific geographical triggers that tell Google you’re only looking for results in a certain place. For example, ‘buy tools Melbourne CBD’.
In this example you’ve told Google that you don’t want to be shown tools from a superstore in Japan. You only want results inside Melbourne’s CBD because that’s where you want to go and buy your tools in person.
To simplify a complex process, SEO is how you optimize your visibility on a national or global scale. Local SEO is how you optimize your visibility to appear when people go looking for your products and services in their local area.
Benefits of Local SEO for contractors
46% of ALL searches on Google are local searches.
That means almost half of all searches come from people not looking for a broad result, but chasing a business somewhere in their local area or suburb.
And 1 out of every 3 local searches results in a sale. Which makes sense – if someone adds the name of their suburb or city, it’s a good sign they’re ready to hire a contractor, trade or home improvement business in the near future.
‘Kitchen renovations’ as a keyword is pretty broad. It could be used by anyone from a kid doing an assignment for school to a marketer looking for kitchen renovation pictures for a new blog.
‘Kitchen renovations Hunter Valley’ as a keyword is more niche. It’s more likely to be used by someone who lives in the Hunter Valley, and is looking to update their tired and old kitchen.
“Does a local search look different to a regular search?”
You’ve seen the regular results before, in the form of the top 10 websites for you to choose from. But Local SEO results jump off the page in the form of a pin on a colourful Google Map.
Local SEO is a strategy used by brick-and-mortar businesses – meaning you can’t use Local SEO if you don’t have a physical shop, or you’re not a business that goes to your customer’s homes to provide a service.
When you get your Local SEO right, you make it easier for people to find you in your local area. That leads to more foot traffic to your store or showroom, and more call-outs for your service from customers in your area.
This is all possible because local search results look significantly different to regular search results (known as “organic search results” in marketing terms).
Let’s say you wanted to find a tree lopper in Bondi because an old gumtree in your yard was leaning over your house and you felt like the next big storm could bring it down. Searching for ‘tree lopper Bondi’ would trigger a local search (because you’ve used a geographical trigger) and return the following results…
The businesses above are shown in what’s known as the “snack pack”, as well as appearing on Google Maps.
And the snack pack is Google’s way of showing you the top 3 results most relevant to your search.
BUT THERE’S A CATCH…
These aren’t necessarily the best tree loppers in Bondi, or the tree loppers with the best service, or the tree loppers with the highest qualifications. Nope – they’re the 3 tree lopping businesses with the best Local SEO.
Each business in the snack pack has optimised their online presence with Local SEO strategies to make sure they have the best chance of appearing when someone has a tree that’s got to go.
$300 Lead Increase Guarantee
How your customers use Local SEO services
86% of customers use Google Maps to find local businesses – which means appearing on the map makes it easy for people to find their way to you.
And 72% of customers who did a local search end up visiting or contacting one of the businesses they find within a 5 kilometre radius.
Even if these stats don’t hit home for you, think about how you search for local businesses online. Whether it’s a restaurant or a store, do you check out the results on Google Maps and in the snack pack and make a choice from there? Or do you ignore the easy-to-find results and scroll through each organic SEO listing one by one?
Your customers always go with the easy choice, and what’s easier than seeing businesses jumping off a map?
Let’s look at the organic SEO results for the same ‘tree lopper Bondi’ search…
Instead of the easy-to-see Google Map and the clear business info in the snack pack, these results are more vague and unclear. A potential customer will have to individually click through each site and make comparisons – or they can check out the visual, helpful Local SEO results to make their search easier.
That’s why Local SEO is important.
“Should I only focus on Local SEO for my contractor website?”
Two is better than one.
That’s why optimizing for SEO AND Local SEO can help grow your contractor, trade or home improvement business.
You’ll need different optimization strategies for both SEO and Local SEO, but it pays to rank in both.
It’s 100% possible to appear in the snack pack AND the organic results for the same keyword. This gives your business twice the visibility and twice the chance of getting a valuable click from a potential client.
With 33% of clicks going to the snack pack and 40% of clicks going to the organic results, you can appear pretty much everywhere by targeting SEO and Local SEO.
How “near me” searches trigger Local SEO services
You won’t need to change the way you optimize your Local SEO for this behaviour, but it’s helpful to know that people don’t always include their location, suburb or city.
Plenty of your customers will search for their target contractor, trade or home improvement business keyword – whether that’s a plumber or an electrician or a turf layer – and include the words “near me”.
- ‘synthetic turf layer near me’
- ‘backyard tree lopper near me’
- ‘rubbish removal services near me’
“Near me” searches have grown by 900% over the past two years, showing the increasing number of local searches happening around you.
Thankfully, you don’t need to start adding ‘near me’ in your content as a keyword.
Google is pretty clever these days and takes into account where people are searching from.
So when people use a “near me” search, Google can roughly figure out where they are and provide local search results to match.
To make sure your contractor, trade or home improvement business is a Local SEO service result, focus on including a range of local keywords to help Google make a connection between a searcher’s location and your business. For example, the suburbs you work in, major landmarks around your business, zip codes you service, community mentions, etc.
Don’t go without these proven Local SEO tips
Like any form of marketing, the right strategy can unlock seriously impressive results.
As long as you know what you’re doing and can follow a step-by-step roadmap to optimize your business for Local SEO, you can start dominating the search results in your local area ASAP.
The bad news is that the roadmap would fill an entire guide all on its own…
The good news is that we’ve got that entire guide for you right here. Click below and it’s all yours.
Discover the first SEO steps you need to take on your website to get your home improvement business in front of more customers.