I’m reading this book called Win the Game of Googleopoly. It’s a how-to guide to SEO (and more) for business owners and marketers. Author Sean Bradley explains how to create a search engine optimization (SEO) strategy that will get your company’s listing on Page One of organic search results. And when it comes to Internet search results, anything less than that substantially diminishes your chance of being noticed.
Today, online is where people spend their time. That was true 10 years ago, but it’s a far more powerful fact today in the age of the smartphone. One recent survey found that the average user picks up his or her device 85 times a day. Anything you want to know and anything you dreamed of knowing is stored in some database somewhere. Get the online keywords right, and you’re there.
All About Google
Bradley’s book makes the point that there may be various search engines out there—Yahoo, Bing, AOL—but no one much uses them compared with Google. Google is what matters. What do people do when they’re looking for someone to perform a home improvement job?
They key some words into Google.
Reviews remain important. But whether or not anyone searching actually sees them is far more important. Angie’s List is available to searchers who are members of Angie’s List, which is less than 1 percent of the U.S. population. And whether you are or you aren’t a member of Angie’s, if you need a new roof, a quote for having your basement finished, or a faucet replaced, you’ll type words to that effect into Google.
Page One Dominance
For contractors, Page One of Google is where the action is. The golden spot to be is in the top three. If you’re there, and consumers are looking, the phone will ring.
What Googleopoly tells you is what you have to do to get there. It can be summarized in a word: content. The Google search engine continuously re-indexes information, so the more you post, the likelier you are to land on Page One.
In home improvement, you add content in three ways: videos, reviews, and blogs. And we post project pictures, pictures of our guys, and pictures of our clients. Right now our company is making a whole series of short, two-to-three-minute videos, narrated by our owner. One topic, for instance, is what ice-and-water shield is and how to install it. Smartphones make video easy. Online is our medium of choice because if homeowners are there, and we’re on Page One, they’ll find us. Chances are they’re doing to make a decision about which company to call, based on those Page One results. Clicks “all but disappear if your listing is not on the first page,” according to Houston marketer DMN3. Searchers have to be desperate to go to Page Two.
We could spend money on a direct-mail campaign or buy into a trade show. In either case, it would be a matter of chance whether or not we’d find the homeowner who’s looking for a contractor. Online, they’re looking.
Of course you can place yourself on Page One by buying pay-per-click ads. But according to one study, “PPC accounts for just 6 percent of total search clicks.”
People know those are ads, and they don’t want to be sold.
Tell the Truth, the Whole Truth
So if you’re on Page One, it becomes a question of whether or not consumers will call you. They may click through to your site, but then decide against calling.
Your site needs to be truthful. Call-to-action ads—Buy Three Windows, Get One Free!—turn many away. If people have clicked through to your site, they’re looking for someone to work on their house, not necessarily because they want to be sold something. They’re looking for someone authentic who has product knowledge and installation credentials (shown via photos, for instance). Searchers want facts. They want to know about your expertise. The classes you’ve taken and the certifications you hold all speak to that.
The topical engages searchers. Toward the end of January, for example, we had a big snowstorm blow through our area. As the media madness started to ramp up, we posted an article on Facebook about how to prepare your house for a storm.
Humor wins friends. Last week, for instance, after months of buzz about the Powerball lottery, we posted a picture of a dog shaking water from its coat. The caption: You didn’t win the lottery. Shake it off. Everybody’s a winner with K&B Home Remodelers.
Send in the Drones
Many contractors still see marketing as a cause-and-effect universe. Place an ad, the phone rings. Man a home show booth, the phone rings.
Online doesn’t work that way. As the Duct Tape Marketing site points out, inbound marketing as a crock-pot strategy rather than a microwave strategy. That is, you’ll get a tasty meal of inbound traffic and leads if you’re willing to put in all the ingredients, turn on the crock-pot, and wait.
This year our company will be investing in a drone. The reason is that it’s the best way to get pictures of our projects. Not only do we want to dominate Page One, we want to ensure that whoever is visiting our site is prompted to pick up the phone and call.
A recent book makes the point that if your business isn’t on the first page of Google's organic search results, it doesn’t exist—for anyone online, at least (which is pretty much everyone)