By Joe Goldstein, JobNimbus.
SEO for roofers isn’t as simple as it used to be.
SEO, or search engine optimization, is the process of ranking a website on Google for valuable keywords. When your company shows up first for searches like “commercial roofer in San Diego” or “gutter repair in Milwaukee,” it can have an enormous impact on the volume and quality of your roofing leads. As paid lead generation systems like HomeAdvisor continue to raise their rates, SEO for roofers has become a great way to keep the phone ringing without depending on those platforms.
A lot has changed with SEO over the last couple of years, and it’s not always easy to separate the good advice from the bad. If you’re ready to invest in SEO—or even if you’re still just considering the investment—make sure your SEO plan includes all of these elements.
Build Great Links
Getting links from other websites has always been one of the cornerstones of SEO, but the way Google values links has shifted over the years. Instead of trying to get a link from the biggest website you can, focus on links that are truly relevant to your business. Here’s where roofers should start:
- Suppliers. Many manufacturers, such as Owens Corning, curate directories of roofing contractors on their own websites. Make a list of all of your suppliers, and then do your research to see if any of them have directories or other link opportunities.
- Associations. National associations, like the NRCA, regional associations, like Diamond Certified, and local associations, like your local chamber of commerce, often link out to their member sites. Check to see if your profile is complete with a link to your website, or consider joining a new association.
- Complementary businesses. Real estate agents, insurance brokers, and other contractors often link out to businesses they recommend, so check your contacts’ websites or reach out and make some new allies. You can also create local guides and resources that can earn links from local businesses that aren’t ready to publicly endorse your services.
- High-quality directories. While there are many cheap directories (like “seobacklinksforall.info”) that could hurt more than they help, there are still plenty of real directories that are worth your time. Make sure you have a profile on Porch, Houzz, Yelp, Yellow Pages, MapQuest, and so on. In general, if anyone actually uses it, you’ll want a link from it.
- Sponsorship links. Sponsoring a charity or little league team is a great way to earn some very powerful links, while also supporting your community.
- Press links. While press releases don’t have the direct SEO impact that they used to, they can still be a good way to reach reporters if you have genuinely interesting news to report. You can also reach out to local news outlets directly, or use a service like HARO.
Also, be sure not to buy any links directly. A sponsorship or membership that also includes a link is generally fine since the link isn’t the primary benefit. But if you ever receive an email offering “guest post outreach” services with flat pricing for each of their sites, steer clear. Those links can easily trigger penalties from Google, which will waste all of your other SEO efforts.
Get Great Reviews
Over the last few years, reviews went from being a footnote of local SEO to one of its bigger contributing factors. Here’s how roofers can approach their reviews to maximize their SEO:
- Respond to your reviews. Responding to your good reviews helps build relationships with your customers while responding to bad ones is necessary for damage control, so learn how to respond to your online reviews.
- Don’t sweat bad reviews too much. Consumers trust businesses more if they have a few bad reviews, because that’s expected. Unless a reviewer is accusing you of something particularly terrible, spend your energy on displacing it with more good reviews.
- Make review acquisition part of the sales process. Create a step-by-step process to ask each customer for a review, and then follow up on it. You can use review handouts to help customers along, or review acquisition platforms to send automated requests by text or email. JobNimbus has automations that can help you do that, and also integrates with a couple platforms (Broadly and Podium are great).
- Incentivize employees, not customers. Want to give customers a $20 gift card for leaving a good review? Think again. If Google or Yelp catch you paying for reviews, they could remove all of your reviews. Instead, reward employees that help you earn more good reviews.
- Set up a reviews page on your website. A reviews page with testimonials, links to all of your review profiles, and a short intro for past & potential customers can help smooth out the review acquisition process. It also has the potential to rank first when someone searches for your “company name reviews,” which is a great way to guide them through the research process.
Optimizing for Engagement
SEO experts generally agree that Google uses searcher behavior to adjust search rankings. After all, if you’re ranking first but nobody is clicking on you, shouldn’t that be a sign that Google is ranking the wrong website?
As Google gets better at determining which users are real, which behaviors are relevant, and what people are looking for in a roofing website, it’s a good bet that engagement will become a stronger ranking factor over time. Here’s how to optimize for it:
- Search like a user. Search for one of your target keywords, like “flat roof installation Des Moines,” and see what users see. Are there videos, ads, or promotions that could steal a user’s attention from your website? Sometimes, adding “Free Estimates” or “Since 1979” to your title tag is all it takes to steal some of that attention back.
- Don’t annoy your visitors. Roofers love to add pop-ups, chatbots, auto-playing videos, and other widgets to their websites that are supposed to increase engagement, but actually hurt it. Remove any elements that might be annoying, make sure your site works great on mobile, and make sure your site loads in a reasonable amount of time. Learn more about how to keep visitors on your site.
- Give users a reason to keep clicking. If users only visit one page of your website before leaving, that’s a wasted opportunity. Make sure you always have another special to offer, another article to read, or another step for them to take.
- Switch to HTTPS. If your web address still begins with HTTP, it’s worth making the switch. Google Chrome displays HTTP websites as insecure, which is all many users need to see to trust a site a little bit less, even if they don’t fully understand the details. At the very least, install Cloudflare’s free SSL.
- Build your social reputation. While having a large and engaged Facebook or Instagram audience might not be a direct ranking factor, it can still help amplify your other SEO efforts. When users share your content, click through to your site, or leave more reviews because of your social campaigns, those are all good signals that you’re a real brand with a real reputation.
Publishing In-depth Content
Over the last few years, Google’s understanding of content has grown by leaps and bounds. While there are lots of ways to approach content creation and publishing for roofers, here are a few general rules you should keep in mind:
- Create separate pages for everything. Every product and service you offer should have its own page on your website, and don’t be afraid to get granular. Dedicating a whole page to shingle roofs allows you to talk about the benefits of shingle systems, your preferred brands, and your recommendations for people considering shingle roofs. It’s a great way to demonstrate your perspective and expertise, both to users and Google.
- If search results are the same, intent is the same. If the search results for “roof installation near me” and “roof replacement near me” are basically the same for you, then you don’t need to create two separate pages. Use Google Trends to see which is the dominant term in your area, and then go for it.
- Publish niche informational content. Articles like “5 reasons you need a roof replacement” have been done to death, so focus on smaller opportunities. Publishing content like “should gutters match your fascia or your roof?” or “cedar shake vs. hardie shake” shows a greater depth of knowledge, has a better chance of ranking and earning links, and provides more value to everyone.
- Optimize your content. Learning how to effectively use keywords, how to structure your content, and how to support it with internal links and on-page signals is still important. Moz’s On Page Ranking Factors guide is a good place to start.
Keep Your Data Straight
While it’s a slightly smaller factor than it was a couple of years ago, data consistency can still help improve your rankings, especially when it comes to ranking your Google My Business local listing. Here are a few tips for keeping that data straight and how to get the most out of it:
- Keep track of your business profiles. Set up a spreadsheet for all of your business’s Yelp, Houzz, and other profiles. Each entry should have a login and password for quick access, as well as how your company name, address, phone number, website, and other critical information is listed on each site. Then, work to fix any bad info you find.
- Use structured data on your site. Structured data tells Google exactly what all of that business info on your site, such as “8am-5pm M-F,” is supposed to mean. Structured data is a big topic, but you can use this schema generator to create a basic set of code to add to your site. Be sure to select “Local Business,” followed by “RoofingContractor” as your local business type.
Using Google My Business
Google has been aggressively developing Google My Business as a platform over the last couple of years, adding features like posts, reservation systems for hotels, and a Q&A system. Some even believe they could start adding more paid features or turning free features into paid ones.
No matter how that works out, it’s clear that Google wants businesses to spend more time using their Google My Business features, which means they’ll probably provide some direct or indirect SEO benefits. Here is what we recommend for roofers:
- Make sure your profile is 100% complete. If Google gives you a blank field, you’ll generally want to fill it out. Make sure you’ve added any relevant additional categories (like “skylight contractor” or “gutter cleaning service,”) and add a bunch of photos as well.
- Respond to your reviews. Remember, it’s best to respond to all of your reviews, both good and bad.
- Answer any questions. If customers have left any questions about your business, make sure you answer them before someone else does. You can also log in from another account and leave your own questions.
- Try Google Posts. While our first test of using Google posts with a roofer didn’t show much of an impact, Google is changing how posts work all the time. Right now, the main place that posts show up is on branded searches, like “Jim’s Roofing,” so it’s a great place to put special offers and seasonal promotions.
Become a Google Guaranteed Roofer
You’ve probably seen Google local services ads in search results, whether you know it or not. These tiny ads typically show up at the very top of the screen for some kinds of local services and look a lot like local listings, which means they receive more clicks than regular ads.
While there are some serious downsides to these ads, there is always a chance that they could start displacing more local results, so it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Google Assistant and Google Home search for local roofers also return results from Google Guaranteed results, so you’ll want to be Google Guaranteed if you want to capture those. Here’s how that process works.
Keep Doing What You Do Best
If there is a common thread to all of this, it’s that Google wants you to be as good of a company offline as you are online. Making customers happy, installing quality equipment, supporting local charities, and building industry connections would all still be worthwhile even if you didn’t have a website. Just make sure your online presence reflects what you’re doing offline and you’ll be off to a great start.
Joe Goldstein is the Director of SEO & Operations for Contractor Calls, a web design, SEO, and online marketing agency that works with plumbers, roofers, cleaning companies, and other home service businesses.
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Original article source: JobNimbus