If you are a small business that has appointments in the field or at customer locations and located in the United States then this post will be the most useful for you to keep reading.
I used lots of examples from the appliance repair industry because I know this industry the best but the same concept can be put for service companies like cleaning, landscaping, handyman, moving, painting, and many others as well.
About the Author
My name is Michael and I've been helping local business owners since 2008 to get more local traffic and business in general. Even though I transitioned myself into software business and built Scheduling Suite application to help small business owners to organize their jobs, I still built it with marketing notes in mind.
Scheduling Suite software is not just a scheduling tool. It's much more. It helps small businesses not only to organize their jobs but also optimize their business and I'll talk about it in more detail in the "Business Optimization" section.
This guidance and software analytics is the result of my personal experience in the local small business industry. I personally built 3 local companies and sold each to move on. The last company I built got to the $10K+ a month in profit in just 9 months. Everything was built from scratch and today it's one of the most successful appliance repair companies in San Francisco.
STEP #1: DO KEYWORD RESEARCH
After optimizing at least a hundred local businesses I figured out that the very first step should be the Keyword Research. You have to know what keywords your customers use when they search for your services. No matter if you're building a website or you're creating a Yelp or a Facebook page you need to build each around keywords that make sense to visitors.
Just think about it: if you need to fix a Samsung refrigerator and you see one search result is saying "The Best Local Appliance Repair Company" and another is saying “Samsung Refrigerator Repair Experts", most likely you click on "Samsung refrigerator repair" link because it's more relevant and you already know that these guys specialize in exactly what you're looking for to solve.
Actually, search engines work the same way. If your page is saying that you specialize in fixing Samsung refrigerators and someone is looking for to fix exactly this appliance and this brand then if a page is optimized the right way, search engines like Google will put you higher in search results rather than a page with more general words like "appliance repair". You just become more relevant.
So what is Keyword Research?
Keyword research impacts every step in building your local business. If you fix appliances then your company name should have "appliance repair" words in it. That way you send a strong signal of what you do to all the people who see your company name. If it was just "Bob’s Repairs" then there is no way to figure out that you fix appliances. Maybe you fix cars or you’re a handyman ... Well, you see where I'm going with this, right?
In other words, keywords are like a compass for your business marketing. They not only will tell you where to go but also will show you if you're making progress.
How Keyword Research helped me with my projects?
It helped me to save lots of time and required less effort to get results. I spent less money overall to get my business successful. As I mentioned, my last local business started generated $10K+ monthly in 9 months because I knew what online visitors needed and what keywords they used. So I optimized every asset I had with the right keywords.
First, I started generating quality targeted traffic from Google.
People who search for "Samsung refrigerator repair" most likely need to fix their Samsung refrigerator. It's just that simple. They type a key phrase "Samsung refrigerator repair" not to find the best cupcake bakery. It's more targeted and lead conversion is higher if you show the right message and look trustworthy.
Second, it helped me with the conversion rate. As I mentioned in my first point, more targeted traffic converts into calls much better. If I know what my visitors are looking for, then I can show them a better more relevant message that will answer their question.
Third, I used keywords in every social media and review-based accounts I opened. If Google has a complicated search algorithm, other websites' search engines are much simpler. And having keywords here and there would make a trick to become visible when needed. And the right keywords bring more relevant and quality traffic.
How to find the right keywords?
Well, just ask yourself: ”What words do people search for that are related to my business?”.
Start writing those words down. All words, everything that comes into your mind. Make a list of at least 15-20 key phrases.
Open Google and see what results you get on these keywords. Are those your competitors? Are they all appliance repair businesses? I'm not talking about sites like Yelp. Yelp got placed on the first page most likely on all keywords that you want to be placed too. Look at other results, are other results are companies that you can call competitors? If yes, then you're on the right track.
Then scroll to the bottom of the page and see what other terms Google suggests. Include them in your list as well.
So far you should have a good list of keywords to move on to the next step.
The final step in Keyword Research.
Open Google’s Keyword Planner, which is the most reliable source of keyword information online. The reason that this is the most reliable source is that it would give information on keywords that come directly from Google.
Enter keywords to get an idea of how much traffic you can expect if you get on the first page.
Don't forget to set a location. You want to have traffic ideas only in the area that you service. If you service the entire Bay Area then specify it in the Google tool. If you work in San Francisco only then choose the city only.
You can start grouping keywords at this step. More general keywords like "appliance repair" you can leave for your home page. Then put all the refrigerator repair keywords together, oven repair keywords, washing machine, dryer, dishwasher, etc. I hope you see where I'm going with that.
These groups will help you to organize your website pages and also will help you to organize what you offer in general.
Next, you can do more detailed research on longer keywords. Check not only "refrigerator repair" but also "Sub Zero refrigerator repair" or "refrigerator repair San Francisco".
The tool also will give you an idea if competition on a specific keyword is high or not. You can see it in the Competition columns.
The last point I want to cover in this chapter is long-tail keywords. Long tail keywords are the search phrases that contain 3 or more words and in most cases it is much easier to get placed on the first page on keywords like “Samsung refrigerator repair San Francisco” rather than “refrigerator repair”.
If you still have questions feel free to leave a comment below.
STEP #2: BUILD SEO-FRIENDLY WEBSITE THAT CONVERTS VISITORS INTO CUSTOMERS
If you already have all of the keywords ready then you can move on to start working on your website. You can build it yourself using tools like Wix or Squarespace or you can hire a web design firm to handle this step for you. Even though it might be cheaper to hire an agency in other countries like India, I would highly recommend hiring a local website designer to help you out. It might pay it out later because having a professional who lives in a city where all of your customers live is a great benefit to build exactly what you need.
So what actually makes a website to be successful?
First, make it mobile-friendly.
Once you have a website up and running you need to take your phone and look at your website if everything looks good and if you can understand the message that you're trying to send. Go to sleep and the next day look at it again. Do you still see that message? Do you fully understand what does this website offer? If your answer is yes, then give it to your friend, your wife, even your kids. If your kids can see what it's all about then you should be good to go.
Second, it has to load fast.
If visitors are waiting for more than 4 seconds most likely they go somewhere else.
Search engines like Google also give higher chances to rank better if your site is fast. Google has a specific tool that shows how fast your site is for desktop and mobile users. You can find this tool here - Google PageSpeed Insights.
Simply enter your site URL and wait until Google tells you how it's scoring. If it's green you should be good to go but higher score is better. It also gives you a list of what steps to take to improve it so it's pretty handy.
Third, your website needs to have a strong call to action.
When you open your website do you see how you can contact the website owner? Is your form short and easy to fill out? Shorter the form is better. Always remember to build your website for the laziest person in the world. If they need to fix Samsung refrigerator you need to give them an answer right away along with a testimonial that states that indeed you're good at it. Give them options to contact you right away. Make your phone be a phone link. Make your form to be preset with the options that the page is about. Just make their life easier and you'll get more leads.
It's very important that each of your pages is optimized around the right keywords. Don't target lots of keywords on the same page. List around 3 main keywords you want each page to rank for and have them in the main HTML components.
Try to mention each keyword in page meta title, meta description, in the H1 tag, H2 tag, and H3 tag. Also, bold or link keywords in the body text. Additionally, you want to list all of your main keywords at the top of a page and in the first 100 words.
Tools like WooRank can visualize your keywords in all the tags easily. Look through each block WooRank provides and follow their suggestions to improve your website.
Please remember you can NOT have more than one H1 tag on your page. But you can have multiple H2 and H3 tags.
Also, make all your content look natural. You don’t want your page to look spammy.
To write good meta title and description you can simply refer back to Google again to see how many words other companies included. Google results title and description has limits so don’t write more words that Google can handle to show.
If you feel overwhelmed with everything that I listed above, then it's best to hire a professional to take care of it for you. On-Site SEO usually takes a long time and it's not an overnight process. What's done today you will be able to see results in 1-3 months and it's better to get it done the right way from the beginning. Otherwise, you'll need to correct everything and then wait another few months to see how it's going.
In most cases, On-Site SEO is not enough to get ranked high on Google.
To make Off-Site Optimization topic short I'm going only to mention that links are important and play the most vital role in the entire SEO process. However, I've seen many times that strong websites can outrank on lots of keywords another websites even if they have less backlinks. Backlinks are links that link to your website from other sites. It's one of the most complicated topics in SEO and I'll share more details in another post later.
If you find a website development complicated and you're not sure that you can get it right then I would suggest hiring a professional. You can look for web design companies on Yelp or hire developers on sites like UpWork.com/ or Freelancer.
STEP #3: THE MAIN RANKING FACTOR FOR GOOGLE MAP SECTION
The most important rule when you create your Google My Business profile is consistency. You want to have your profile to show the same contact and address information that your website has. Also it should match your NAP (name, address and phone number) on other websites. We’ll talk about the NAP in the next chapter.
If you see that name, address and phone number don’t match then you need to fix it ASAP because it will hurt your local rankings.
STEP #4: SEO RANKING FACTORS
NAP (name, address and phone number)
One of the most important SEO factors is NAP (name, address and phone number). You want to be registered in as many directories as possible to get a word spread across the entire web.
Most of those links will be "No Follow", which means that they don't give SEO link value. But they are important too because they tell Google that you are indeed a company that exists since there are so many directories that are pointing to your site with the same name, address and phone number.
Once you register your business, save credentials somewhere on your computer so you could log in later if your company information is changed.
Of course, you can register all accounts yourself but there are lots of companies that offer this service. The websites like Yext can help you keep your listings up to date.
I suggest building the most important accounts like Yelp, Facebook, Google My Business, Twitter, Instagram yourself or hire someone who can help you out. These are the most valuable accounts and you want to build them so later you can use each as a marketing channel to get customers. Each source I listed above can bring you hundreds if not thousands of monthly visitors. So spend some time and optimize each.
Again, you don’t have to do it yourself and you don’t have to do it all at once.
Reviews are huge today. Based on Moz research it’s #3 factor in local SEO. To find what are the most valuable sites to have reviews on, find a successful competitor of yours and type this competitor name plus a word “reviews”.
Then you can make a list of the websites you want to have reviews on. In the United States Yelp is huge when it comes to local businesses. But you want to be very careful with this site.
In my personal experience, it was the most powerful source to get more customers. People that go to Yelp search for the best businesses, not the cheapest. And this is what I liked the most.
I wanted to keep my services be highly rated and I also wanted to charge enough to keep my business profitable and successful.
If you make good money then you can spend a bit more time with a customer to build a relationship that will help to get more repetitive clientele.
Relationship is key to success.
Happy customers will come back. So charging more means having more time to build a relationship and more repetitive customers. People are willing to spend more to have a better experience.
If you want to learn more about Yelp you can read it here.
If your business primary source is Yelp then check how you’re doing compared to your competitors. Do you have good ratings? In most cases, people would trust a 5-rated company with 25 reviews rather than a 4-rated company with 75 reviews. I also personally noticed that getting above 100 reviews I start to get more traffic but you want to stay as close to a 5-star company as possible.
I also noticed that even one 1-star review can make a huge impact on traffic from Yelp. If you get a 1-star review get rid of it as soon as it’s only possible. Offer money back or try to negotiate. Do whatever it takes but you need to make this review disappear.
There always be manipulators, so you need to find a way to deal with that too.
Just remember: at the beginning make your primary focus to get as many positive reviews as possible. And you want to have 5-star reviews only.
Last point: ask for reviews! It’s OK and it’s important to ask. Make it a part of your responsibilities.
STEP #5: OPTIMIZATION
If you already have some business and a business that you run has constant clients then I suggest you start doing business optimization.
First, check where you get the most customers. If your website is the primary source then check your Google Analytics and Google Webmaster accounts. This way you can see how much traffic comes from Google, Bing, Yahoo!, Yelp, Facebook and any other channels.
If you don’t have these accounts set up yet, I strongly suggest getting it done ASAP. I love these tools and I spend some time every other day to learn more about what type of traffic my website gets.
If you don’t know how to do it, you can find tutorials on YouTube.
Second, you can start optimizing jobs that you already have. I grew my business so fast because I knew what type of jobs I wanted and what was bringing me the most money.
I also was doing tests by moving my business address around a city to see what type of jobs I get the most by zip code.
Google and Yelp are so location focused and it’s that granular as a zip code radius.
So first I registered my company in one neighborhood and started looking at what appliances come the most and what brands were the most popular in that area.
There are areas with high-end appliance brands like Sub Zero, Wolf, Asko; and also there are areas with regular appliances like Kenmore and Whirlpool.
So I started grouping appliances and brands together with my invoices and I got a clear picture of what appliances I needed to focus on, what brands were the best for my team and also where it was getting the most profitable.
Unlike you, I didn’t have a tool that would break it down for me so I had to build simple apps and I also was doing a lot of manual work. The scheduling software I was using didn’t have the ability to visualize this. None of them could ...
So I decided to build it to help other companies to get this granular break down so you can optimize your business and have true ROI data.
By starting using Scheduling Suite you can get all the details even in one month. Moreover, Scheduling Suite is FREE!
One of my case studies was - I opened a new location and started optimizing it as a new business. I started a few advertisements on specific appliances+brands. After I ran a report with my tools I saw exactly how much I got on those brands and appliances and I could calculate my true Return On Investment with zero guesses.
It looked very powerful to me and you can get this analytics power too by registering a free account with Scheduling Suite today.
STEP BY STEP TO DO LIST
(LESS WORDS MORE ACTION)
Step #1 - Keyword Research
Use Google search to find your competitors then open Google’s Keyword Planner and paste your competitor URL to get the keyword ideas. Don’t forget to specify your service location. Then remove your competitor URL and start playing with words until you have a strong list.
Step #2 - Build an SEO-Friendly Website
Step #3 - Create Google My Business Account
This step is very important and you want to have everything be consistent with your website and 3rd party sites like Yelp. Have the same NAP (name, address and phone number). It's very important.
Step #4 - Get NAP Listings and Excellent Reviews
Just use sites like Yext to get your listings to be up to date.
Also, the biggest take-away is “get as many 5-star reviews as possible”. It’s huge! You want to build your clientele instead of getting new customers all the time. It’s like a snowball. Happier your customers are - more repetitive clients you’ll get.
What technique do you use to make your local business be successful?
What do you think about my first point to start with keywords?
Do you think I missed something important in this article?
Do you want me to cover something in more detail?
Let me know by leaving a comment below right now!