Although a lot of you may NOT be contractors, I have noticed time and again from working with clients AND from just hanging around on the internet that contractors and other tradesmen are some of the people that can benefit most from online marketing. Sadly, I think they are also some of the folks who utilize the marketing method the LEAST! As such I want to do a quick write-up that will give you skilled tradesmen who run your own biz a little bit of insight into how to use the internet to get yourselves more clients.
Local SEO: The Key For Contractors Online
As a contractor, you have no desire to showcase your website to people who live on the other side of the country (unless they’re going to pay you a mint to go there) so having a website may seem a little silly as it is available to EVERYONE nationwide. Fortunately, Google is really smart: and if you utilize just a few simple tools well you’ll be able to really stand apart from the crowd just by showing up locally in search engine results. So here’s the deal:
When you search for a contractor, google (or really any other search engine) knows that you’re looking for someone local. Even though there may be a huge construction company 5 hours away from you with great SEO, it won’t help you much because you want a contractor to fix your broken deck or a leaky roof that’s nearby and has good reviews online, or at least a website that points to your general location. That’s where the local search results come in.
They look something like this:
I’m sure you’ve seen them before. If you search anything on your phone that would be local such as restaurants, grocery stores, auto parts stores…really anything that you want to walk or drive to, Google will give you a local search box just like that. Your goal as a contractor will be to get onto this list.
but how does one get onto such a list? Fortunately, It’s not nearly as difficult as you think. The first goal is for you to build yourself a website if you haven’t already. If you’re looking to do this, sites like WordPress (www.wordpress.org) bluehost (www.bluehost.com) and squarespace (www.squarespace) all offer fairly simple solutions. Just choose which one makes the most sense to you. If you’re concerned about building a site yourself from scratch, Folks like myself and many on elance (www.elance.com) offer site building services for between $500- $5,000 depending on the size and complexity of the site.
Once the site is up and running, the net step is to make sure that your page-speed is up to snuff. To do this, head over to Google’s page-speed tester which can be found here (https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/) and type in the URL of your website’s homepage. The page-speed insights software will “crawl” or run a check on your entire website and find any pieces of software or files that make your site load slowly. Your results will look something like this:
yours may be better than this, or it may be worse. And That’s OK! What I’m going to run through now is a few of the common issues, and how to fix them.
“Optimize Images to increase page speed”
This is probably the most common issue, especially for contractors who are going to have a BOAT LOAD of images on their site of recent builds, completed homes and projects, and pictures of their vehicle fleet and their team. This all of these images, it can be very, VERY daunting to make sure that you aren’t slowing down your page.
“But wait, What does that mean?”
So when you upload a picture to your website, it has a specific size. As a contractor, you may have bought a fairly nice robust camera to take pictures of your jobs, or you might just be using your phone. Either way, these cameras are made to take high quality images. These high quality images take up a LOT of space on a hard drive. That’s why if you have a bunch of family photos on your hard drive from vacations and whatever else it takes up a ton of space. Fortunately, the solution is really simple! We just need to compress these images so that Google likes how they load a little better.
There are a few options on how to do this. I’ll walk through them below:
Pictures On The Site Already: WPsmush
If your pictures are already loaded on the site (which is why they would prompt this message from the page-speed tool) then you’ll want to use a WordPress plugin like WpSmush. (https://wordpress.org/plugins/wp-smushit/) This program will install right to your WordPress site and allow you to compress images on the page with just one click. It literally couldn’t be easier.
Pictures To Be Uploaded: Compresspng
If you’re looking to upload these pictures onto the site, then I would recommend using a website like www.compresspng.com, which is a really simple way to compress images without losing any image quality. To do this, simply upload the pictures to the site, follow the prompts, download the new, compressed image, and then upload that smaller image to your site. I find that compressing reduces the size of my images somewhere between 65 and 98% depending on where the image comes from.
This can sound a little intimidating, especially with the laundry list of file names that will show up afterward. This is all stuff that helps code-heads know where to super-optimize a site that may be ENORMOUS, but isn’t something that you need to harp on, especially since your site is probably only 4-6 page entity with a few style sheets (css sheets) being used. So how do we fix it? There’s a plugin for that!
Enter W3 Total Cache
BEWARE however, you are treading into some fairly serious development territory when doing something of this nature, and you should ABSOLUTELY make a backup of your site before you even install the plugin. If you don’t know how to backup your site, call a developer or have a tech-savvy friend help you make one so that you don’t end up with a broken site after messing with this. W3 Total Cache DOES have the ability to make your site crash, so you should definitely be patient, and take your time while using it. And as I stated before: BACK UP YOUR SITE!
Now, onto its use: W3 Total Cache has a fairly simple user interface that can be very helpful when trying to minify all of the associated style sheets your website will undoubtedly have. These items will be dealt with in the “General Settings” portion of the W3 Total Cache Plugin.
From here, there’s a section that says “Minify” just like what google is asking for! The best and simplest setting to start with are as such:
From here, save your settings. It will now prompt you to purge your cache on your site. This is important as it will remove any of the old CSS junk that your database might be holding (your database is the place where your website lives online)
Once this is complete, go ahead and re-run your website through page-speed test and see how she fares!
Your Page is UP to Speed: Now What?
Creating a Google business page
Google business pages are essentially the storefront for your business on google. If you’re looking to be listed on the google local business page listings this is essentially step 2. (Pagespeed being step one. You will NEVER rank with a slow loading page) Creating a business page takes a little bit of time, but not much more skill than it takes to create and maintain a Facebook page. So let’s dive in.
First, Go to Google My Business (https://www.google.com/business/)
From here, go through the prompts and fill in all the pertinent information. Its PIVOTAL that you give an address where you can receive mail. this is how Google will send you your confirmation mailer which will activate your new google business space. Once this page is all filled out, and activated, you’ll be eligible as a listing for keywords related to your business. It’s literally that simple.
Creating a Facebook Business Page
Facebook business pages are very useful as a large demographic of facebook users are home owners, and there are also other businesses on there constantly who also need services. This can open up many venues, and a lot of contractors use facebook almost exclusively as their online marketing channel. It’s an excellent place to find home owners, business owners, and essentially anyone who is looking to buy online.
The first step to making some money using facebook is of course creating a facebook business page. To do so log into your facebook account ( or make one if oyu don’t have one already!) and then scroll down on the left sidebar to the “Pages” Section. You’ll see a spot that says “Create Page” at the bottom of the listing of the pages you have. Click on that. From there just like the google business page you just want to follow the prompts to create a facebook business page. It really is that simple! If you have a facebook profile you already use, promote the page by telling your friends and family about it in a status update with the “share” link on the page. Be sure to update the facebook page with pictures and special promotions. We’ll get to streamlining that in a minute.