33 Free SEO Tips for Contractors
Investing in SEO is one of the most impactful and powerful ways for you to grow your local contractor or home service business. Putting in the work to earn those coveted spots at the top of the search results for keywords that matter to your business will have you rolling in highly qualified traffic and leads.
However, there’s so much that you can do with search engine optimization that it can be hard to figure out what’s important, what isn’t, and what’s worth focusing on right now to improve your visibility in the local search results.
That’s why I’ve put together this list of completely free SEO tips for contractors to help you only focus on the things that matter and will move the needle for your home service business.
Free SEO Tips for Contractors and Home Service Businesses
SEO isn’t something you can do once, mark it off of your to-do list, and then forget about it forever. Dominating the local search results is worth its weight in gold.
Googling keywords to see where you rank for them is a waste of time. There are too many factors that play into what sites show up for local searches that you won’t be able to replicate what your ideal customers see when they search for your services online. You should be using a tool like ahrefs or semrush to track your keyword rankings and then doing periodic pulse checks to make sure you’re close to where you want to be. Semrush also lets you change your location to give you a good approximation of what your rankings are in different geographic areas.
I know it’s a controversial stance, but your search rankings don’t matter. Your overall visibility in search and your total inbound traffic is what’s important. Ranking first for certain keywords is all great and good, but ranking well for hundreds or thousands of keywords is what will keep your phone ringing off the hook and your sales team inundated with warm leads. Don’t get tunnel vision by focusing on a handful of keywords and lose sight of the big picture.
Your Meta Keywords tag is completely irrelevant. It has no bearing on your page’s ability to rank in the search results and Google has completely ignored this meta tag for over a decade. You should be paying absolutely zero attention to it.
While optimizing your Meta Description tag won’t help you rank higher in search, it can affect your SERP listing’s click-through rate (CTR) which is just as important. Writing a descriptive description tag that tells searchers what your page is about can grab their attention and make them more likely to click on your listing. Google will also bold your target keyword if you’ve included it in your page’s description.
Adding descriptive alt tags that include your target keyword to your images is one of the most overlooked parts of SEO. They help with your on-page optimization, help you rank for Google Image searches, help Google understand what your images are about, and it takes less than a minute per image to do.
HTTPS is used by roughly 80% of all websites. While it’s a minor ranking factor, it’s still incredibly important to provide a good user experience and build trust with your visitors. Securing your site with an SSL certificate shows your users that you care about their personal information staying private and builds your company’s credibility as a real business and not a fly-by-night company.
Google, for better or worse, will index every single URL it sees on your domain. This includes different formats of the same URL that are HTTP, HTTPS, www, non-www, trailing /, and non-trailing /. This can hurt your ability to show up in the search results if you don’t have rules in place to consolidate them into a single format.
Contrary to popular belief, domain age is not a ranking factor. Older websites don’t automatically get a boost in the search results and buying an older domain to “get an SEO boost” is a waste of your time and money. Getting a domain that is memorable or matches your company name is the way to go.
Keyword density isn’t a thing anymore. The days of having your target keyword make up a certain percentage of the on-page content are long gone. There are a couple of places where your target keyword needs to be so you can hit your on-page optimization metrics, but beyond that, it’s pretty irrelevant.
Use your target keyword and its synonyms organically throughout your content, but don’t feel like you need to say it a certain amount of times. If anything, doing the latter will make your content overoptimized which can hurt its ability to rank.
Content is meant to be read by humans, not search engines. Focus on creating great content for your users and you’ll do just fine.
Under no circumstances should you be using Google’s Disavow Tool. You will do far more harm than good to your link profile even if you think you’re getting rid of bad links. The argument could also be made that using the tool is creating an unnatural link profile which is against Google’s Webmaster Guidelines, but that’s a different conversation for another day.
The reason is that Google’s algorithm is now sophisticated enough to ignore spammy links outright including manipulative, low-quality, and purchased backlinks. You don’t even have to worry about negative SEO attacks either. There’s no legitimate reason for you, or a marketing agency, to create, update, or upload a disavow file.
There’s no link between social media engagement and search engine rankings. None. Companies that have a large following and responsive engagement to their posts on social media tend to also have great marketing on their website. One does not influence the other. You can use social media to fuel your SEO efforts, but having more followers, likes or shares on your posts, and so on will not make your pages rank higher in the search results.
Backlinks are still one of the most impactful and most weighted ranking signals in both the regular and local search algorithms. Each link you earn is another website vouching for the quality of your website and content. They’re basically popularity votes and, typically, the sites and pages with the most votes rank the highest in the search results. These votes of confidence improve your site’s authority which makes it more likely that Google will rank your pages higher for relevant searches.
If you want to rank higher in the local search results, you need to earn backlinks from other local businesses in your targeted service area. This type of link shows that you’re a part of the local community and strengthens those crucial location and proximity-based ranking signals. Not having these links will make it much harder for you to outrank your competitors. If you have pages that target different cities in your service area, you’ll need to build local links to those pages from businesses in those cities.
There are a ton of different ways that you can earn those coveted local backlinks. Look into sponsoring local Little League teams, charity or networking events, running a training event or seminar, or anything along those lines. These events and partnerships usually have a backlink to your domain associated with them.
Use the Backlink Gap tool in semrush to find backlinks your competitors have and you don’t. You’ll be able to build a solid list of linking opportunities to pursue from these reports. If these websites are already linking to your competitors, it’s also likely that you could also get a backlink from them as well. This won’t help you outrank them, but it will help level the playing field.
Claiming your Google Business Profile will quite literally put your business on the map. These free listings have all the information your customers need to learn more about you and Google will use that same information in a variety of ways to increase your visibility in the local search results if it’s been properly optimized.
Don’t try to use a fake address or virtual office as the physical address on your Google Business Profile. Google knows all of the ways that marketers have tried to game the system in the past. They know what’s a real address and what isn’t. Trying to pass one of those off as your location can cause your listing to disappear from the SERP.
Make sure to have your NAP data (name, address, and phone number) visible on your website and that it matches what you’re using on your Google Business Profile. It’s also important to make sure that matches what you have listed for your citations as well.
Local citations are mentions of your NAP data on other websites around the internet. They can be included on websites like HomeAdvisor, Houzz, Angi, Yelp, and so on. Having your NAP data on these sites helps prove to Google that you’re an actual, legitimate business at your physical address. They aren’t weighted as heavily as they once were, but they’re still a foundational ranking signal in the local search algorithm.
The words that people use when they leave reviews on your Google Business Profile can be important. Having these words and phrases in user-generated content (i.e. reviews) can boost your company’s visibility in organic search for those particular terms.
Your local citations don’t have to be an exact character for character match. Discrepancies like “Street” being abbreviated as “St”, or vice versa, won’t hurt your ability to show up in the local map pack. Google is smart enough to understand that they’re saying the same thing. The rest of your address does need to match since Google is expecting to see the same information.
There’s a lot of overlap between traditional SEO and local SEO, but they aren’t the same thing. Google even has a second search algorithm specifically built for local businesses that value ranking signals differently to help these businesses show up for searches with local intent. You’re going to have a hard time ranking for these searches if you use traditional SEO tactics on a local website.
Don’t focus all of your link-building efforts on one or two pages. Having a high percentage of your total links centered on a small number of pages looks unnatural and could cause Google to penalize your website for manipulative link-building tactics. You need to earn links to deep pages on your website, not just your homepage and important service pages.
You can put a price tag on what your SEO traffic is “worth” by looking at the Traffic Cost figure in semrush’s Domain Analysis report. This value is basically what it would cost you to pay for the same amount of organic traffic by running PPC campaigns for those keywords in Google Ads.
Google can’t crawl pages it can’t see. Submitting your sitemap to Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools will help search engines discover your content and add it to their index.
There are plenty of articles out there saying that you need to have a certain number of words in your content for Google to pay attention to it. That’s nonsense. Your content should be however long it needs to be for you to accurately explain it to your readers. If you only need 500 words, use 500 words. Adding an extra 1,000 words, or more, of fluff to hit some arbitrary metric is only going to exhaust your readers.
Your website needs to look and function flawlessly on mobile devices for two main reasons. Google switched over to a mobile-first index back in 2019. This means that when they crawl your website to discover and index new content, they’re only looking at the mobile version as if they were on a smartphone. Secondly, nearly 63% of Google searches were made on mobile devices, and it isn’t uncommon for contractors and home service businesses to see 70% or more of their traffic coming from mobile devices.
Don’t stuff keywords in your URLs thinking that it’s going to help you rank higher. It isn’t. It’ll most likely get you penalized. Write brief and descriptive URLs that include your target keyword and can be easily read by people.
If you’re changing your URLs for whatever reason (site migration, fixing keyword stuffing, etc.), be sure to use 301 redirects to point the old URLs to their new location. Moving a page’s content without a redirect in place will create a 404 error for the original page and leave all of the ranking signals you’ve built for that page behind making Google think that page has “disappeared”. 301 redirects prevent that from happening.
“Content” is more than blog articles. It can be anything from a video to podcasts and social media updates. Content is anything that you spent time creating to provide value to your ideal customers. Some pieces of content work better in different media. Trying branching out from writing yet another blog article into creating something new. You might be surprised by the results.
Long content doesn’t rank better just because it’s long. These articles are normally just flat out better than others because of the amount of time that went into researching, writing, editing, and re-writing the content before it was published. Don’t focus on writing long content. Focus on creating high-quality content. That’s what Google and your customers want to see.
Creating multiple pages that use the exact same copy except for the target keyword or the city name isn’t a content marketing strategy. This opens your site up to duplicate content filters that will prevent those pages from ranking well in the search results to the point that they might as well not exist. Even if the content is relevant and valuable across multiple pages, take the time to rewrite it, put a new spin on it, and make it unique.