Four out of five consumers look for local businesses on search engines.
Put another way: if you're not using search engines, you're missing out on 80% of all consumers. Ouch.
To keep acquiring new customers, it’s crucial that you establish yourself as a presence on search engines. Here, we share the necessities of what plumbers like you need to know to help more customers find out about your business.
Spoiler alert: the forward momentum of meeting more customers online will start to move the needle only when you start ranking higher in organic, not paid, results on search engines.
What Is Plumber SEO?
Plumber SEO is what you need to learn to show up on search result pages (like Google) for your potential customers when they search for a local plumbing expert.
Types of search results
There are two kinds of search results.
The first kind is paid, or pay-per-click. Obviously, paid search results cost money. You should buy ads to the degree you can afford them, but not pile up your marketing eggs in just the “paid” basket. It’s strange that in plumbing, expensive paid search ads are a mainstay as a line item in the marketing budget despite unpredictable revenue. However, there are smarter ways to allocate that money than exclusively throwing it at paid ads.
The second kind of search result is called “organic.” Organic search results are free to you, but ranking on that first page is difficult. There are billions of pages on the internet. Google generally shows the top 10 for a particular search, favoring results by location—page 1 where you need to be. For most search terms in the home services industry, you’ll be competing locally and should focus on outranking your neighbors. Local results oftentimes show in the organic section. High rankings here are based on proximity to searcher, positive reviews, and Google My Business profiles completely filled out.
Note that search results that can drive plumber SEO are organic (and local), not paid. The key to a successful business of the future is meeting more of your potential customers of all ages online.
Plumber SEO matters because . . .
A big piece of being there for your customers in this day and age is setting up shop online. Here are some reasons you should prioritize SEO as a plumber:
- It generates leads and wins you more customers. It’s where most people vet who they do business with. It shows you’re competitive in the space, attuned to your customers’ needs, and savvy about what you do.
- Word of mouth is not a business growth strategy. Word of mouth is huge for a professional business, but since it’s impossible to control when (or if) the leads will come, it’s an unpredictable customer acquisition strategy at best. Organic search volumes, on the other hand, tend to hold steady over time.
- It shows customers that you’re ready and willing to work with them. If you’re able to meet more of your customers where they are, when they need you, they will associate warm fuzzies with your name or business. From this, you also build loyalty and positive reviews and earn repeat customers (always cheaper to acquire than new customers).
- It’s cheaper than maxing out your marketing budget to pay for ads. Ads alone won't work to sustain the life of your business. Keeping costs down will rely on running a lean operation and diversifying the way you acquire customers. Search engines like Google make it seem like ads are the surefire way to keep customers coming in, because they’re watching their own bottom line.
If you want to learn the nitty-gritty (and even get technical) about SEO and why it works, Moz’s The Beginner’s Guide to SEO is a helpful guide to read.
But since that might keep you away from remodeling that multimillion-dollar bathroom, we’ve rounded up the plumber SEO must-haves for you.
7 Ways Your Plumbing Business Can Meet More Customers Through Local SEO
There are loads of ways to allow more customers to find you online, but it’s all too easy to get stuck on where to place your focus.
Here, we’ve gotten down to brass tacks for those of you out there that are still pretty green when it comes to SEO. Do these seven right, and you’ll be set with a solid foundation.
1. Google my business account
Sign up for a Google My Business account, or claim your business through Google if it already exists. Here’s a guide on diving deeper into SEO on the local level through Google My Business, if you’d like to learn more about the technical side of SEO. Keep the address and main phone number up to date so it’s crystal clear how you can be contacted.
Why Google My Business? For any small or local business nowadays, Google My Business is a prerequisite for doing business online. But this is especially important for plumbers for the following reasons:
- Google My Business results are high on the page on local searches. If you're starting from scratch, it can take months for your newly created website to rank well in organic search. Google My Business is a quick entry point to visibility in local search results.
- Google My Business provides a form of social proof from the search. Checking out the star rating at a glance or the number of reviews weighs heavily in an online customer’s decision about who to work with. For your business, it’s advisable to seek honest, balanced reviews from your customers, as many as you can get. Google now dings business owners who offer incentives to customers in exchange for reviews, stating “reviews are only valuable when they are honest and unbiased.”
Sign up for a Yelp account, or claim your business through Yelp if it already exists. Like Google My Business, do prioritize keeping your Yelp profile updated in real time like you would your own website.
Other markers of relevancy are key here, too, for users of Yelp: reviews of your business (and photos with those reviews), check-ins, a comprehensive list of services your plumbing business offers, and responsiveness to reviews, even negative.
- Because Yelp as an entity ranks highly in local search results. Yelp optimized their platform as Google and other search engines were rising in influence, and because of that, Yelp mastered the SEO game early and became a hub for reviews. And Yelp knows small businesses inside and out. Now, they can pass off those search ranking gains to businesses hosting profiles on yelp.com.
3. Facebook for Business
Sign up for a Facebook Business account, or claim your business through Facebook if it already exists. Need tips to improve your Facebook page for SEO? The approach is similar to Yelp and Google My Business and involves filling out your profile fully and updating it frequently.
Why Facebook for Business?
- Customers seek help where they already spend lots of time — Facebook. You never know when your name could come up as a recommendation in a neighborhood Facebook page. Avoid the scramble to join the conversation and exchange information when you receive that notification. Instead, allow them to pop over to your Facebook profile to get contact information, a list of services, reviews, and lively Q&As.
- Facebook is important for plumbing because it’s part of how to rank well in search results. Your Facebook page, when set up well, can rank for the company brand name, and, bonus — it’s a way to claim more spots on the top page, beyond just your own website.
4. Local Business Directories
Get listed in your choice local business directories because you’ll meet a variety of customers looking for either industry-specific people to work with, or businesses specific to a location. This is the new Yellow Pages.
Why local business directories?
- It’s more of a level playing field than gaming search engine algorithms. It’s a tried-and-true method that can keep customers coming in at a trickle.
- Diversify the sources of your customers. There still are older audiences out there who need plumbing work, use their computers to search for plumbers in directories, and prefer working with a hyperlocal expert over a big corporation.
5. Pay-per-click Ads for emergency Work
You don’t need us to tell you that pay-per-click (PPC) is table stakes for the plumbing industry in particular. Paid results dominate the top rankings on searches for plumbers, no matter where you work. If you need to brush up on best practices, check out this guide to getting started.
Why pay-per-click (especially for emergency work)?
- PPC makes for very expensive marketing budgets, but it is a necessary evil. It’s become rampant through the plumbing industry, and to be in the game, you have to participate to some degree. However: we advocate for it to be a piece of the pie, but NOT the lion’s share of the marketing budget.
- Pouring a little more targeted effort into PPC for emergency work will pay off. Because PPC dominates the searches for plumbers (usually organic results get only a piddly few spots on the first page), bidding for keywords like “emergency plumbing work,” “emergency plumber near me today,” and “plumber for work today near me” can connect you to leads that need you and are immediately ready to buy. Getting in at the start of Google’s new local services ads may also be a good leg-up for your business in a new type of ad. Here are 20 examples of effective plumber ads to get you started.
6. A great Mobile customer Experience
More and more of your customers (if not most) are reaching you from mobile devices. Meet your customers where they are to aid them in their time of need, which means you’ll get more phone calls from leads.
Why make mobile a great customer experience?
- Optimizing your website for mobile users will meet more of your customers where they need you. How many customers do you think contact you from their desk at work versus when they’re in their basement, realizing their toilet is flooding? Make it easy for your customers to be on the go and get through to you.
- Accessibility is everything in an instant-connect world. Leaving messages/contact us emails in unmonitored inboxes is outdated at this point. It is not a good customer experience. Instead, you may, for example, consider meeting more customers on a chat window on your website or in Facebook Messenger.
As a home-services business owner, you can use CallRail's Lead Center to connect with leads more reliably and make more sales through push notifications, start conversations instantly, and, most importantly, leave fewer leads hanging.
7. Track PPC keywords on an ongoing basis to make IMPROVEMENTS
Make reviewing your marketing spend and analyzing results a part of your weekly (yes, weekly) activities. Go back through and review the data, keywords, and results of these marketing activities to learn what is working and what’s not.
Here’s what to look for in weekly checks:
What PPC keywords are driving the most leads from your various customer sources above. Continue investing in those that are working well (and ditch those that aren’t). The sooner you shed underperforming keywords, the sooner you bring laser focus to those truly driving a positive return on investment.
From the PPC keywords that are doing well, identify new variations of those successful keywords to go after or review customer calls for new trends. CallRail’s automated PPC keyword-tracking and call-recording technologies can surface common keyword phrases and suggest related keywords to bid for without you needing to slog through hours of call footage manually.
Ensure tracking from all sources is intact. Are you utilizing dynamic number insertion on your various website landing pages to track exactly which leads responded to which messages? If not, doing so will level-up your lead tracking.
Watch trends over time from customer sources. Make reports for your employees to review monthly to hold yourself accountable, and transparently share with your organization where the best leads are coming from. Adapt your systems to following up from leads based on “lead scoring”, to prioritize who deserves follow-up first. Rally the team around turnaround times to calls.
Get More from Your Plumber SEO with CallRail Call Tracking
If your head is overrun with ideas and more than a little panic about how you will get this all done, rest a little easier. CallRail can help.
CallRail makes it possible to do the following:
- Keep better track of and prioritize leads from your new customer acquisition sources with Call and now Form Tracking. You’ll know with precision which ad, keyword, or promotion caused that customer to contact you.
- Maximize opportunities to connect with new leads. Through call menus and call flows, you can be sure the leads you should be talking to sooner have a great experience and actually connect with you via our new Lead Center, even if you’re out in the field.
- Keep a lean team focused on the leads in order of priority. A lean team requires fewer people and less hiring and training of receptionists and ensures costs stay down. CallRail can route calls and bump up potentially high-value customers in the line based on how they interact with call menus.
- Track everything back to the bottom line, without the data-crunchers. Never again suffer from the nagging question of how many customers resulted from that holiday print ad. CallRail’s dashboards pull data together in an actionable way, so you don’t have to be a spreadsheet nerd to surface those insights yourself.
Bottom line: A constant flow of qualified leads and new customers is vital to growing your plumbing business, especially in project-based work (roofing, plumbing, moving), where ongoing contracts are few and far between.
Try CallRail free, and finally start making the most of your marketing dollars. You’ll gain insight into which tactics actually are working and which aren't.
Launch Your Plumber SEO to Win More Future Customers Online
After all that, you should expect to see your business rising in the search rankings for a heck of a lot less money than the guys in the ads slots are, and in a holistic, business-future-proofing way. We’re going for sustainable growth here, which equates to a gradual investment over time.
To reiterate: make sure to keep your business listings current and up to date with accurate phone numbers, addresses, and hours of operation, and with CallRail in your tool belt, maybe it’s time to splurge on a good mobile headset to field calls while you’re knee-deep in a septic tank.