Local SEO Guide for Plumbers: 5 Steps to Rank Higher in Google

/Local SEO Guide for Plumbers: 5 Steps to Rank Higher in Google
Local SEO Guide for Plumbers: 5 Steps to Rank Higher in Google

The plumbing business is incredibly competitive, especially when it comes to getting your company in front of customers when they are in need of service. These days, it’s common for people who need a plumber immediately to make their first call to the top listing on Google and work their way down from there.

So, how do you make sure that your business occupies the top listing when local customers are looking for a plumber to get out to their home or business as quickly as possible?

In this article, we’ll walk through a proven 5-step process that can put your business at the top of Google’s local search rankings. But first, let’s take a look at the factors that make local SEO a necessity when it comes to advertising your plumbing services.
Plumber SEO Tips

3 Reasons Plumbing Companies Should Invest in Local SEO

Reason #1. Goodbye Yellow Pages, Hello Google

If it hasn’t happened already, Yellow Pages books are quickly becoming a relic of the past. Today, the distribution of the bulky books has dwindled to almost nothing as local searches have migrated to the web. There is, however, one similarity between online searches and paper directories; if your business isn’t listed, customers can’t find you. If you’re still having doubts about the importance of local SEO, check out these search stats from Google.

  • 20% of all search queries are for local businesses
  • 40% of all mobile searches are for local businesses
  • 50% of mobile searches for local businesses are followed by a visit, a phone call or another type of contact.
  • 97% of consumers search for local businesses online – the remaining 3% may be the last people still using the Yellow Pages

Reason #2. Free Traffic (Every Month)

High rankings that result from a successful local SEO campaign will drive people to your website at no charge. Getting hired doesn’t cost anything either. Free visitors and conversions make local SEO one of the most cost-effective ways to advertise and market your business.

Reason #3: Fast Results (in as little as 30 days)

In a local SEO campaign, you’re only competing against the plumbing companies in your geographic area. Limited competition means that your business will have an easier time moving higher in local search rankings. A second advantage is that many plumbing companies either pay no attention to optimizing for local searches or put a minimal effort toward it. The result of these factors is that a comprehensive SEO campaign can get first page visibility for your business, often within 30 days, when people search for plumbers in your local area.

Now that you know the importance of local SEO, here are the 5 steps to building a campaign that can maximize the visibility of your business for local searches and put your services in front of people at the very moment they are ready to hire a plumber.

Step 1. Find the Keywords That Will Drive Business

The keywords that will drive the most business for your company are those that are relevant to the plumbing services offered by your business. For example, keywords that describe your services might include “emergency plumbing”, “clogged drain” and “water heater repair”. After developing your list of service-related keywords, sign up for a Google AdWords account.

Setting up an account won’t obligate you to pay for any advertising, but it will give you access to the free Keyword Planner tool that is part of the AdWords platform. The benefit of the Keyword Planner is that you can enter a list of relevant search terms and the tool will provide additional ideas, as well as data on traffic generated by those keywords.

Important: There are 2 keyword categories that are used for different types of searches. One type can generate business immediately while the other may result in a sale at a later date or not at all.

1) Keywords that signal “hiring intent”

Searchers typically use keywords that signal hiring intent when they intend to take action. When people use these types of keywords, a search can be followed immediately by a visit to your website and then a phone call to hire you. The result is a sales cycle that may be completed within 1 or 2 minutes. An example of a keyword search that is likely to be followed directly by an action is “plumber new york city” – because if someone is searching for a plumber in their particular city or town, they’re most likely in the process for shopping for a plumber to hire.

Using keywords that signal hiring intent is the fastest way to start making money with your local SEO campaign. These keywords should be included in the content on your homepage, as well as the descriptions on your “Services” pages.

2) Keywords that signal “research intent”

Keywords that signal research intent are used by people who are trying to learn about or are gathering information on a subject. These keywords generally sit at the long end of the sales cycle, if a sale occurs at all. For example, inquiries like “how to fix a clogged drain” would typically be used by do-it-yourselfers trying to figure out how to fix the problem on their own.

While research intent keywords will be a lower priority in your SEO campaign, they can be used as topics for blogs or for the frequently asked questions section of your website. For example, helpful blog posts like “How to Keep your Drains Clear” and “5 Things that Shouldn’t go in Your Garbage Disposal” may not result in immediate sales, but they can introduce your business to people who may become customers when they need plumbing services in the future.

Step 2. Optimizing Your Keywords

The optimization of your keywords starts in 2 key areas; your Google My Business page and the pages of your website. Your Google My Business page will be optimized to introduce your business to prospective customers when they search for the services you offer. Optimization on your website will focus first on the home page and the services pages, which are also referred to as your “core pages”. After you have optimized your core pages, you can go to work on your content pages, which may include a blog, an “About” page and an FAQ section.

Optimize Your Google My Business Page

Even if you haven’t set up a Google My Business page for your plumbing business, you have probably seen these pages when you search for restaurants, stores and service providers in your area. When people search for specific types of local businesses, a handful of them will be displayed the “Maps” results, which are a key element of Google My Business.

Being shown in the Maps section when people search for plumbing services in your area will be one of the first goals of optimizing your Google My Business page. In addition to creating a second location for people to find your business online (the first one is your website), optimizing your Google My Business page is a fast way to increase your company’s visibility within the Maps section – Getting displayed in Maps can often be done within 30 days.

Here are the steps to optimize your Google My Business page:

Claim and Verify Your Business

Optimizing for Google My Business starts with claiming and then verifying your business page. If you have been in business for a while but have yet to claim your page, enter your business name, city, state and the words “Google plus” into Google’s search box. Google will return a template for your Google My Business page with basic information including your business name, address and a button that says “Manage this page”. After clicking on that button, you’ll be taken through a couple of steps to verify your business.

If your Google My Business template hasn’t been set up, you can go to “Google+ for Business” and start building it there. After claiming and verifying your business page, you can start optimizing it.

Your Business’ Name, Address and Phone Number

Make sure that you are using the official versions of your business name, address and phone number on your Google My Business page, as well as on your website and other pages on the web. Additional web pages might include directory listings, a business page on Facebook and the online version of the Yellow Pages. Staying consistent with this information yields 3 positive results:

1) Your business location will be accurate in the Maps section
2) Listings that are consistent across the web will fully optimize your NAP
3) It will be easier for customers to find your business

Important: A local phone number (as opposed to an 800 number) shows Google and your customers that you are a local business.

Categories

Google’s guidelines for the Categories section allow you to list the services you provide but not the results of your services.

For example, your first category should be “Plumber”

In addition to the Plumber category, include any other relevant services you provide.

This list might include:

  • Heating Contractor
  • Air Conditioning Contractor
  • HVAC Repair

The Description of your Business

The description section can be used to introduce your plumbing business to potential customers as the best solution for their problem. This description should include your services, your length of time in business, qualifications, the benefits of hiring you and a call to action. To fully optimize your business description, include all of the hiring intent keywords for your plumbing services and specialties.

Here’s a sample formula for your Google My Business description: {Name of the Business} offers professional {list plumbing services} in {Your City}. {Provide some background information about your business, and why customers hire you.} Call {Phone Number} now – we’ll be there in an hour or less!

Tip: Keep your description fairly brief, about 100-200 words.

Hours

Make sure that the hours of operation posted on your Google My Business page are the same as on your website, Facebook page, directories, etc. If you offer emergency services outside of your regular hours, list that information separately.

Images

Images will draw attention to and increase engagement on your Google My Business page, so take full advantage of this option. Google allows the logo for your business, as well as multiple pictures to be shown on your page. These images could include on-the-job pictures, the exterior/interior of your business and a shot of you and your employees. For the best results use images have a sharp focus, are sized between 10KB and 5MB, and have a minimum resolution of 720px x 720px.

Tip: You can also replace the basic Google My Business background image with a picture of your business or your logo.

Optimizing Your Website

After finishing the work on your Google My Business page, you can start optimizing the homepage and service pages on your website. These are the core pages of your website where the hiring intent keywords that you found in your research will play a major role.

Your Homepage

Optimizing your homepage starts with 2 important elements that aren’t actually seen on the page.

Title Tag

The title tag, which is also referred to as the “page title”, is shown on the web browser after the domain name of your website. The title tag is also shown as part of the blue headline when pages are listed on Google’s search results.

The title tag for your homepage should include the primary category, location and the name of your business. Here is a sample format: Plumber in {Your City} | {Business Name}. For example, if your plumbing business is in New York City and the name is “Rapid Plumbing”, your title tag might be: Plumber in NYC | Rapid Plumbing.

Tip: Try to keep your title tags at 50-65 characters.

The Meta Description

The meta description is the text that is displayed beneath the headline and URL when a web page is shown on Google’s search results. A meta description should provide information that will compel prospective customers to click on the link and visit your website. Here is a sample format for a meta description: {Name of Business} offers professional {list of plumbing services} in {Your City}. Call {Phone Number} now and we’ll get a plumber out to you within 1 hour! Here is what a meta description might look like for Rapid Plumbing: Rapid Plumbing offers professional drain clearing and HVAC repair in New York City. Call 212-XXX-XXXX now and we’ll get a plumber out to you within 1 hour!

Tip: Keep the meta description to 100-150 characters in length.

Headline

After optimizing the title tag and the meta description, the next steps deal with the content that your visitors will see on your home page. The headline on the page, which is also referred to as the “H1”, should include your primary category as part of the primary keyword for your business. Here is a sample format: {Type of Service Provided} in {City, State}. Using this format, the headline might read: HVAC Repair Services in NYC.

Content

The content on your homepage should be at least 200 words in length but you’ll get more SEO mileage with 500 to 1000 words. Make sure your content is written professionally and does have not mis-spellings or syntax errors. The information on your homepage should include these essential elements:

1) An expanded description of your business
2) Your professional background/qualifications
3) Brief descriptions of your services
4) At least one mention of your primary keyword
5) A call to action that encourages potential customers to contact you

There are additional optimization steps that you can take on your homepage, but these should be your first priority.

Optimizing Your Service Pages

Dedicating a separate page to each service you provide allows for a great deal of focused information to be presented, which will deliver the best SEO results. For example, if you provide drain cleaning, HVAC maintenance and HVAC repairs, creating a separate page for each one will work much better than consolidating all of your services on a single page. Like the content on your homepage, the text on each service page should be 500 to 1,000 words in length.

The optimization steps for each service page will be the same as those taken on the home page. However, it is vitally important that the elements on each page are unique for the best SEO results. As a reminder, these elements include:

  • Service-related keywords with hiring intent
  • Title tags that include the specific type of service
  • Meta descriptions that provide information on the specific service
  • Concise headers that describe the service
  • Detailed content about each service

Creating Content Pages

Content pages are basically everything else on your site with exception of the homepage and the service pages. Examples of content pages include a blog, an FAQ section and an “About” page. One difference between these pages and the home/services pages on your website is that the primary purpose of content pages is to provide information, rather than generating phone calls or other types of conversions like on the core pages. A second difference is that content pages will feature keywords that signal research intent as opposed to the hiring intent keywords that core pages are built on.

To get the most out of your content pages, you’ll want to find the keywords that people are using when they search for information on topics related to your plumbing services. Research intent keywords that will bring visitors to your site can be found with Google’s Keyword Planner Tool, using the same process as when you researched the hiring intent keywords for your core pages.

A good starting point here is to think about the questions people ask you about plumbing. For example, if people have asked you about the kinds of things that jam a garbage disposal, there’s a good chance other people are trying to figure that out as well. If the Planner Tool shows that people are searching for “things that jam a garbage disposal”, you have a topic that you can write about in your content pages.

Where should information-based pages be hosted on your website?

Creating a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) section for your website provides the opportunity to share your knowledge, build credibility and introduce your business to people who may become customers when they have a plumbing problem. For the best SEO results, create a main page that lists your frequently asked questions and then link each question to the answer, which will reside on a separate page. The rule of thumb here is for your answers to be at least 100 words, but they can go up to 1000 words if that’s what it takes for a full explanation.

You can also host information-based content on your website with a blog. Like your FAQ page, a blog provides a platform to showcase your expertise and the consistent posting of new material will give your SEO campaign a boost. Our recommendation for blog posts is a minimum of 300 words, but feel free to writes thousands of words if the subject calls for it.

Important: Your content pages should also be optimized with unique title tags, meta descriptions, headers and well-written content that incorporates your research intent keywords.

Step 3. Getting Citations and Building Links

With the optimization of your website and Google My Business page done (at least for now), it’s time to widen your net and start moving up in local search rankings. In this step, you’ll start building your number of citations and links.

Citations

Citations are defined as listings of your business’ Name, Address and Phone number (NAP) on other websites. Before starting this process, make sure that you have included your NAP on the contact page and the footer of each page on your site. Next, confirm that the NAP on your website matches exactly with the NAP on your Google My Business page.

Once you have confirmed that your NAP is consistent on your website and your local page, you can start applying for listings in various directories. There are 3 main categories of directories:

1. General and National Business Directories

Examples of major general and national business directories include bizjournals.com, angieslist.com and citysearch.com. We also recommend that you set up a business page on Facebook.

2. Directories That are Specific to Plumbing

Examples of industry-specific directories for plumbers include elocalplumbers.com, mapplumber.com and myzipplumbers.com. There are many plumber-specific directories that offer listings for free – we recommend focusing on these first. If you’re going for citations on paid directories, set up Google Analytics to track your referral traffic and conversions from those sites to make sure that they are cost-effective.

3. Local Directories

Get your business listed in local directories in your area as well. Your local Chamber of Commerce website will list businesses in your area and the online version of your local newspaper probably has a directory of local businesses as well.

Links

Google pays a lot of attention to links (also known as inbound links), that originate on other websites and point to pages on your site. The importance of each inbound link as measured by Google’s ranking algorithm depends on where they originate. Generally speaking, links from legitimate sites like directories will play a key role in your SEO effort, but links from authority sites like CNN.com or high profile websites in your industry can really give your rankings a pop.

So, how can you increase the number of links to your website?

Directories

With directories, the process is the same as getting citations – just submit your NAP to national, local and plumbing industry directories. Directories with links make it easy for potential customers to get in touch with you, so you might be helping your SEO efforts and attracting new customers at the same time.

Offline Relationships

There’s a good chance that many of your friends, associates and colleagues have websites too. Check to see whether there are mutually beneficial relationships where websites can be linked for cross-referrals. Your memberships in associations, local event sponsorships and participation with charities may also provide link building opportunities.

See Who is Linking to Your Competitors

Using a tool like the Moz Open Site Explorer, you can discover the websites that are linking to your competitors and see if you can get the same links for your web pages. These insights can help to expand your linking profiles with new directories or give you ideas for linking opportunities with authority and plumbing industry-related sites.

There are more link-building strategies, but these tips can give you a jumpstart on building a solid portfolio of inbound links.

Step 4. Reviews

People often trust reviews from third parties more than what companies say about themselves. This makes getting positive reviews an important factor in attracting customers as well as in your SEO efforts.

Focus on Google My Business Reviews

Considering that many of your customers will see your Google My Business page before they see anything else related to your business, it makes sense to gather reviews on this page first. Positive reviews on your Google My Business page will help in 2 ways; your local page will rank higher for searches and a bunch of great reviews can provide powerful persuasion that you’re the best plumber in town.

How to Get Great Reviews

First of all, providing excellent service will make getting great reviews a lot easier. Once you have delivered a great service experience, you need to ask your customers to provide reviews of your business. To make getting great reviews as easy as possible, email a “review request” to happy customers with a link to the review section on your Google My Business page.

To get that link, enter a search that has the name of your business followed by “Google My Business”. Your Google My Business page will show at the top of the results. You can check this out by searching for our profile page. Just enter: Main Street ROI Google My Business. After running the search for your profile, copy that URL from the search results, and include it in every email that requests a customer’s review. You’ll send people to that page and ask them to click the “Write a Review” button.

Here’s some sample wording for this type of email: “We recently provided plumbing services at your residence on Main St. If you have a minute, we would appreciate your feedback on our services. Many of our customers find us via Google – perhaps you did too. Would you please take a minute to post a review on Google? Simply click here {Link to Google My Business profile} and click “write a review.” Thanks in advance!”

We recommend that our clients get in the habit of sending out request-for-review emails to all of their happy customers. That way, a steady stream of positive reviews get posted on their Google My Business pages, with results that include a growing number of customers and high rankings in local searches.

Step 5. Tracking your Results

Once you have completed your initial SEO work, you’ll want to track your results, which can continually improve the performance of your campaigns. There are 3 core metrics in your campaign that should be tracked.

Rankings

Tracking your page rankings can reveal a range of insights on your campaign, including keyword performance, impressions and the number of people that clicked through to your site. To track your page rankings, have your webmaster install the Google Search Console, formerly known as Google Webmaster Tools. Use the tool to check your page rankings once or twice per month.

For automatic and comprehensive tracking, you can use the paid tracking tool from RankRanger.com. The RankRanger tool delivers automatically updated ranking reports for your SEO campaigns across multiple keywords, tracks your Google My Business rankings and your website rankings. We use the RankRanger tool when we track rankings for our clients.

Traffic

The next aspect of your campaign that needs to be tracked is the traffic being driven to your website and the pages on your site that it’s going to. In addition to the traffic that is coming in you’ll want to track where it is coming from.

Google Analytics provides comprehensive tracking and should be installed on every page of your website to monitor your traffic. Installation of the platform is straightforward, but you may prefer that your webmaster does the work, especially if you have a large website.

Our recommendation is your traffic metrics should be reviewed on a monthly basis to find long-term trends, see how your SEO traffic is growing and determine where improvements can be made.

Conversions

Conversions are the specific actions you want prospective customers to take while they are on your website. For plumbers, one of the most common conversions is a phone call for service, so you’ll definitely want to track the phone calls that are coming in and how many of them result in service calls. Google Analytics can track phone calls and conversions, which can reveal the services that are bringing in the most customers, as well the pages with the highest and lowest conversion ratios.

Ready to Get Started?

Committing to building a solid local SEO campaign can be one of the best investments you can make in your plumbing business. For the best results, follow each step of the process to its completion before moving on.

To review, the 5 steps to building a successful local SEO campaign are:

1) Keyword research – Defining hiring and research intent keywords
2) Keyword optimization – On and off your site
3) Citations and Links – Spreading your net and growing your target market
4) Reviews – Make getting positive reviews a habit
5) Tracking – Stay with what is working and improve areas that are lagging

Following these steps will put your local SEO campaign on solid footing. You can then build on that foundation to get higher rankings for your web pages, more traffic to your website and more customers for your plumbing business!

Want help with SEO?

At Main Street ROI, we specialize in helping plumbers attract local customers who are searching for services on Google. If you’d like help with your local SEO campaigns, contact us for a free quote.

Click here to request a Free SEO Quote