7 Invaluable Steps to Marketing a Construction Business Online.

Here’s the list:

  1. Build a responsive website
    1. Include calls-to-action, contact forms, and click-to-dials on every page of the site
    2. Make sure that your title tags and headlines include the geographic areas you serve
  2. Claim and verify your Google My Business and Bing Places listings
  3. Claim your local listings. We call these “local citations” and they will help you show up in the Google local 3-pack.
  4. Get some links from local websites
    1. Sponsor a little league team?  Get a link from their website
    2. Get links from partners and vendors.
    3. Join local organizations like the Chamber of Commerce and get links to your site.
  5. Develop a strategy for online paid advertising on Google and/or Facebook.  This strategy will differ based on your business’s particular niche and customers
  6. Develop a plan to get reviews from your customers.
  7. Prepare a plan to deal with any negative reviews.

Need some guidance on how this is all done? Read on.

1. Build a Responsive Website

A responsive website is a website that automatically adjusts itself to the dimensions of the screen that the visitor is viewing the site on.

If he is on a a massive 40-inch monitor, it occupies the entire screen.

If he is on a mobile phone, it rearranges the site so that it all fits and is legible.

Why do I need a responsive website?

It is really important to have a responsive website for a number of reasons.  To start, most people are searching on mobile phones, not desktops.  If you offer repair services, this is even more pronounced.  Let’s think about the process that a typical person goes through when she needs a garage door repaired:

Mary is on her way to the supermarket on a Saturday morning.  She tries to get her car out of the garage, but when she hits the button, the door seems to be stuck.  She needs it to be fixed fast, so she doesn’t go upstairs and boot up her computer; she takes out her phone and Googles “garage door repair guy near me.”  Google knows that she is on a cell phone and will give preference to mobile-friendly websites when picking results.  She clicks on the first result, and gets to a mobile-friendly website.  There is a little green button on the bottom of the screen with a phone icon on it, which she taps and the phone starts ringing.  In a few seconds, she is on the phone booking an appointment.

This scenario probably looks completely familiar.  If the site that she landed on weren’t responsive or mobile-friendly, it would have been hard to read and would not have had the call button at the bottom.  The odds of her actually getting in touch with the garage door repair guy would have tanked.

What is a call-to-action and why do I need them?

People only do what we tell them to do.  Advertisers have known for decades that when you tell people to “call now!” they are much more likely to do so.  If you feel like your site has about 2x more calls-to-action than it needs, you almost have enough of them.  A lot of your visitors are going to simply skim your site and they will miss some percentage of these calls to action.  The more of them you have, the more likely they are to contact you.

What is a title tag and a header tag?

The blue letters in the Google Results usually are set by the person running the website.  They are called a title tag.

rich snippets example

The header tags are all of the headlines to each section of your page.  You set them with an html markup.

It is important to include the keywords that are relevant to your business.  If you want to rank for “plumbers in Vineland, NJ” and the word “Vineland” is nowhere on your site, you’re not as likely to rank as another website that includes it in the title tags and header tags.

2. Claim and verify your Google My Business and Bing Places listings

Go to business.google.com.  Sign up.

Do the same for bingplaces.com.

Make sure that you keep an eye out for the verification postcard they send you. It is really important that you verify this listing.

3. Claim Your Local Listings

There are a lot of local directories out there.  While listing a site on 150 different sites used to help quite a bit with SEO, that’s not necessarily the case any longer.  However, it is still important that you list your website.

Your NAP is really, really important.

NAP stands for name, address, and phone number.  As I have outlined in other articles, your NAP must be consistent.

In the case of 12khz’s mailing address, there are three different formats that I’ve seen:

  1. NJ-73 North
  2. Route 73 North
  3. RT-73 North

This can be further complicated by forgetting the “North” or abbreviating it with an “N.”

Pick a format and stick with it. 

The same goes for your phone number.  Don’t list your sales department on some listings and your business cell on others.

The search engines are going to compare the NAP that you have on your site with what they are finding on other sites.  If your site does not match with all of the other listings, the search engine may not understand that they are just different formats of your information; they may think that you’ve moved.

Once you’ve established a NAP to use, start claiming your local listings.

We have a checklist of websites that you can use to do your local citations.  If you don’t have time to do it, click here and contact us.  Local citations are not expensive and are a one-time fee until you move or change your phone number.  We highly discourage you from paying a monthly fee for this service.  There are companies like Yext Superlistings that will charge you thousands of dollars over the lifetime of your business for what is essentially a couple hours of work.  Just pay it once.

4. Get Some Links From Local Websites

While some of these may coincide with the local citations from the previous section, many won’t.  If you do business with other local vendors, you should try getting links from them.  The same goes for local organizations that you are a member of, as well as others that you sponsor.  All of these links serve as further proof that you operate in the area that you say you serve and that you have an actively maintained website.

5. Develop a Strategy for Online Paid Advertising

This is a blog post in an of itself.  Frankly, it could be a college degree.  Regardless, I will try to give you a rough explanation of how you can go about it.

You are probably best off hiring a local company to do it for you

But before anything, make sure that you check out their online reviews.  Many of the companies that handle digital marketing have the following business model: focus resources on getting new leads and spend the least amount possible on actually delivering results.  As long as you have more coming in than leaving, you’re going to make money.  You can usually tell if this is the case with an organization based on the reviews that you see online.  Just Google the company and see what you find.  Don’t let any of them rope you into a long-term contract.  If you look around enough, someone will handle it for you on a month-to-month basis.

Should I advertise on Facebook or on Google?

It is next to impossible to answer this question well without knowing your business and market.  A rule of thumb is that if your customers are actively out looking for someone to provide your service, Google Adwords may be worth exploring. If your customers are not necessarily out searching for your services, you might whet their appetites by putting an ad in front of them.

examples:

If you want to get in front of Mary when she’s looking for someone to fix her garage door, Adwords is definitely worth looking into. 

If you want to get Mary to decide that she wants to redo the tile in her bathroom, showing her a picture or video of a beautiful renovation that you did through Facebook ads may do the trick.

I highly advise against doing Adwords yourself.  Remember that Adwords is an auction and as a result, a sort of competition—you can blow through a lot of money fast and not see any results if you’re going up against a bunch of seasoned professionals that know all of the tricks.

Facebook boosted posts are probably not going to help you much.  Again, FB ads are a competition just as Adwords is, and you are going up against highly trained pros that have sophisticated sales funnels.  Additionally, boosted posts are rarely targeted properly by a non-pro.

6. Develop a Plan to Get Online Reviews

People are busy.  They need a good reason to leave a review for you online.

Either you need to make them really happy or really mad if you want them to review you on their own.  Usually, the really mad people are the ones that take the time.

By offering your customers something in exchange for a review, you greatly increase the chances that your normal happy customer will leave you a review.  But where should you have them review you?

Google is the best place for them to leave your reviews.

By emailing them a link to the search results page with your snippet, they can easily leave a review for you.  The reason that this is the preferred place is that Google will show these stars and reviews before reviews from any other site.  The downside to having your customers review you here is that they have to log into their Google account; if they don’t have a Gmail account, they won’t be able to leave the reviews.

There are other places that your customers can leave you reviews

We have seen reviews from the following websites show up in our contractor clients’ search engine results:

  • Facebook
  • Yelp
  • Homeadvisor
  • Angie’s List

If your customers don’t have a gmail account, have them leave you a review in one of these places.

7. Prepare a plan to deal with any negative reviews.

Even the best contractor gets unhappy customers.  Some of them will be mad enough to leave a negative review and you need to have a plan to deal with it.

Don’t write the response with the reviewer in mind; write it with the person reading the review in mind

Your response to the review isn’t going to change the reviewer’s mind, but it will affect the way other potential customers view you.  There are a lot of posts online about the best ways to handle bad online reviews, but here are some pointers for when your construction business gets a negative review:

  1. Mention in the response that you offered to address the reviewer’s issues and give details. Did you try to finish the job the way they wanted but they wouldn’t let you?  Did you offer money back and they were still difficult?
  2. Do not, under any circumstances, become defensive or dismissive.  The readers of the review are going to judge your ability to address problems by your response.  They are going to be asking themselves if they would be happy with the response you gave the negative reviewer if they too have an issue with your work.
Online reviews are going to become more and more important in the construction business as time passes.

My own guess is that eventually, online reviews will become a bigger ranking factor than links, especially in the home services/construction industry.  Contractors and construction companies that actively build their online reputations through a solid review acquisition strategy will reap the benefits down the road.