Improving online visibility can help contractors connect with new customers. Here's how.
Generating leads is how local plumbing and drain cleaning companies stay alive. But fewer leads are coming from word-of-mouth or traditional advertising outlets nowadays, since more consumers are turning to Google to find local products and services. This means your marketing efforts need to be dedicated to improving visibility in online plumbing service searches in your local area.
Below, I highlight the essential ingredients for successfully reaching people searching for plumbing and drain cleaning services online.
Online plumbing leads are plenty
If you already know this, you might as well skip ahead. If you need convincing that investing in digital marketing can improve your visibility online, definitely stick around.
In Omaha, where we’re located, more than 1,300 online searches are done monthly for non-branded keywords, such as “plumbers Omaha.” Why is non-branded important? Because this means the person searching doesn’t have loyalty to a specific company. If they did, they’d be searching for that business by name. This means over the course of a year, there are more than 15,000 chances to capture new business in Google searches alone.
How do customers find plumbers and drain cleaners online?
There isn’t just one way that someone searching for plumbing or drain cleaning services goes about finding and deciding on who they’re going to contact. There are actually three primary routes customers can take:
- Local pack results
- Organic results
- Local business directories (such as Yelp or HomeAdvisor)
This is where we have some good and bad news. The bad news is that you can't say "I want to be one of the three featured drain cleaning businesses in the map results" and hack your way into one of those positions. The good news is that you improve your chances to appear prominently in all three by doing it right and investing in a comprehensive local marketing solution.
Let's take a look at each of these individually:
Local pack results
Maybe the most desirable of the three for a local plumbing business, the local pack is the map and three results at the top of a Google search results page. If you’re going to get a lead through this area, it’s going to be through a Google search.
Organic search results
Similar to local pack results, your website is going to help you gain leads in this area by being shown in a visible position on a Google search results page. Organic results are the plumbing websites shown below the local pack.
Local business directories
Customers can find you on business directories in two ways. The first is in the organic results section on Google. The second is by searching for plumbers or drain cleaners on the directory website itself, which is something many users will do. Rather than using a search engine, they’ll go directly to Yelp, Yellowbook, Whitepages or whichever directory they’re familiar with to do their search for a local plumber.
Improving local visibility & generating leads online
Understanding how and where customers find plumbers and drain cleaners is great, but how do you get there? The basic answer is by having an optimized, goal-oriented website and local search optimization that lets searchers and search engines know the area you serve. Let’s look at each individually.
Creating a quality website
A website that generates and converts leads is made of multiple components:
- User-Friendly Design. An easy-to-navigate layout that helps users get where they need to be not only creates a strong impression, but it also directs potential customers to calls-to-action like “Request a Quote.”
- Strong Content. Good website copy communicates authority, invokes trust, encourages action and helps consumers find your plumbing business online through geographic-specific keywords.
- Mobile Accessibility. Customers with emergency plumbing needs should be able to find your website and get in contact with you immediately through your site from a mobile device.
A quality website doesn’t just look great. There’s so much more that goes into creating an experience that results in a customer being able to find your website and take action. The skills of a web designer, web developer, SEO professional and digital copywriter are all necessary to build a website that has all of these components.
Local search optimization
A highly visible and conversion-driven local listing profile must include:
- Consistent Business Information. Listings on online business directories and your website should have the same business name, address, phone number and website (NAP+W) across the board.
- Customer Reviews. Online reviews in local directories from current and former customers are a major trust signal for people looking for a good plumber.
- Quality Photos. Attractive photos of completed jobs, of your office, and/or of your plumbing team are useful to anyone evaluating the quality of your business and attempting to choose between you and a competitor.
- Industry Directory Listings. By making your business visible on industry-specific directories, such as Angie’s List, Thumbtack, HomeAdvisor and HomeStars, you let searchers and search engines know what type of business you are, as well as how reputable your business is.
Though many of these local directory websites pull your information automatically, the listings won’t typically be optimized to provide the best results and frequently have inconsistencies in regard to address, services offered and industry. These inconsistencies diminish the chances of your plumbing business being found in local search results. That’s why optimization of the listings is so important.
Investing in a solution with lasting return
There are multiple reasons why investing in local online marketing is well worth it:
Chance to connect with new customers
Not only do you improve your chances of reaching customers outside of your current base, but you have the opportunity to become their go-to plumbing company for years to come. Though lifetime value isn’t consistent for every plumbing company, turning a new lead into a loyal customer has tremendous value.
Your investment doesn’t expire
One of the best things about investing in an online marketing solution is that you don’t lose your visibility based on a contract expiring. Though it’s not a one-time investment, nor can you keep your visibility forever, earning a spot and maintaining it with best practices can keep you on top for years to come with far less investment than paying for traditional placement year after year.
About the author: Aaron Mackel is content director for B² Interactive, a web design, SEO and search optimization firm in Omaha, Nebraska, that builds custom online marketing solutions for local, regional and national businesses.