Search engine optimization remains an impenetrable topic for many small business owners — but even a foundational understanding of how to optimize their web presence can yield big returns in the ultra-competitive HVAC, electrical, and plumbing industries.
We’ve all used search engines (most likely Google) to find goods and services in our communities. Restaurants. Shopping centers. Auto repair. We use the web to discover the things around us. For many homeowners, this also includes home service businesses.
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Why Is SEO Important?
When someone types “leak repair” or “air conditioning installation” into Google, Google’s algorithm finds results that are most topically and geographically relevant to them. That means that you want your business to be on page one of Google’s organic search results. It’s critical to getting your business name in front of potential customers.
SEO is particularly important for small businesses because it allows them to compete for visibility in markets where larger competitors have a dominant presence. Because search query results are based on relevance, location, authority and other factors (aside from ad spend), small businesses can be featured prominently — even more prominently than much larger companies — in Google’s organic search results.
Devising an SEO Strategy
Whether you are approaching SEO for your business website for the first time or are looking to shake up your current strategy, there are various things you can do to monitor and improve the SEO health of your website. Below, we take a look at five critical tips for boosting your search engine optimization for Google organic search results.
1. Zero in on Your Keywords
Your keywords are phrases that occur on your website that help Google determine the site’s relevance to someone’s search. For instance, let’s say your company is a plumbing business in Austin, TX.
In this case, some of your main keywords should be:
Austin Plumbing Services
Plumbers in Austin, TX
Plumbing Services in Austin, TX
These keywords should appear prominently in your website content (once or twice on each page) and be frequently used in your H1 and H2 headers. You’ll also want to experiment with niche keywords, such as “Austin Leak Repair,” “Clogged Toilets in Austin,” “Austin sink installation,” and so on to capitalize on searches where the person has a specific service in mind.
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2. Prepare to Be Crawled
Google routinely “crawls” sites to find keywords, establishes overall relevance, and cross checks the content against all other crawled sites. That means that you need fresh, well-written, original content on your website, not language that has been taken from other, well-ranking sites. Also, remember that you want your content to exist as text on your website. Many businesses make the mistake of putting important information in image files and simply posting the image on their site. Words that appear on web images are not crawled and will not contribute to your site’s relevance.
3. Brush Up Your Meta Tags
Meta tags and meta descriptions contain text that appears on the actual Google search results page. This metadata is crawled by Google just like website content is, as part of determining a website’s relevance to a user’s search. Because of this, it is important that you reinforce your keywords in both meta tags and meta titles. So, for instance, if your page is about leak repair, your meta tag for that page should read something like “Austin Leak Repair - Company Name.” Metadata that is generic, repetitive or absent can harm a site’s SEO health.
4. Submit Your Business to Directories
Your website shouldn’t be the only place on the web where your business is visible. There are various business directories around the web that Google incorporates into determining a business’ authority in the marketplace. That’s why you should take the time to ensure that your business is correctly listed on Yelp, Google+, Yellowpages.com, Local.com, Whitepages.com and so forth. Expanding your presence on these sites creates valuable backlinks to your business website and shows Google that your business is an integrated and participating part of your industry’s online ecosystem.
5. Publish Regular, Authoritative Content
If you have the resources to keep and update a blog on your website, it is highly recommended. Adding new content pages to a website can dramatically enhance its SEO health and Google tends to favor sites that are frequently updated and active. Keep your blog professional and feature brief, easy-to-understand topics that can educate or entice your customers. Blogs are also good places to share company news, upcoming events and industry accolades. Share these blog posts once they are published through your social media channels and—just like other content on your site—sprinkle relevant search keywords in your blog content.
There are a bunch of free tools you can use to start optimizing your website and improve SEO.
To learn more about SEO, we recommend The Complete Beginner’s Guide to SEO from Buffer.
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