Ultimate Local SEO Guide for Contractors
Local marketing is one of the most powerful ways to grow your contracting business and build a solid foundation for long-term success. The search results for contractors are an incredibly competitive place. If your company isn’t the one that your ideal customers see when they search for your services online, you’re going to lose their business to the competition.
Optimizing your site for local search will help your home service business stay relevant in your service area so you don’t miss out on potential customers. But local SEO can be quite complex and understanding what to do and how to do it can be a tall order if you don’t have any marketing experience or someone on staff to handle it for you.
Table of Contents
I put this local SEO guide for contractors together to help you learn how to hyper-focus your marketing efforts on just the people that matter in your service area. This guide will give you a foundational understanding of local search engine marketing and what you need to do to improve your visibility in the local search results.
Local SEO Guide for Contractors
- Claim & Optimize Your Google Business Profile
- Put Your NAP Data on Every Page of Your Site
- Make Your Site Load as Quickly as Possible
- Optimize Every Page for the Local Algorithm
- Get Your Local Citations Squared Away
- Earn Positive Reviews From Your Customers
- Make Sure Your Website is Mobile-Friendly & Responsive
- Earn Backlinks From Local Businesses
- Regularly Check the State of Your Site’s Technical SEO
What is Local SEO?
When someone talks about or mentions SEO, they’re typically referring to traditional SEO which has the goal of improving a website’s visibility on the search engine results page (SERP) at the national level. Local SEO involves optimizing on-site and off-site signals to earn more traffic and business from local searches. That sounds like the same thing, right? Well, it is and it isn’t.
What is the difference between traditional SEO & Local SEO?
There is a great deal of overlap between traditional SEO and Local SEO. However, they are two completely different fields because what works for one does not work for the other. And if they were the same, there wouldn’t be local SEO experts like me. We’d all just be called SEO experts.
The main differences between traditional and local SEO can all be boiled down to the simple fact that Google uses a separate search algorithm to deliver the local search results. The local search algorithm gives certain ranking signals more weight than the traditional search algorithm does to help websites for local businesses, like contractors, have a better shot at ranking for searches with location-based intent.
This is why it’s so important that local contractors build and implement a local SEO strategy that prioritizes those ranking signals.
Most Important Local SEO Ranking Signals You Need to Focus on
There are well over 200 ranking signals in Google’s search algorithm that affect your website’s visibility in search. Optimizing your pages for every single one of these signals would take a full team of digital marketers months, possibly years, to complete. You probably don’t have that kind of time to spare. So, you need to focus on just the ranking factors that will move the needle the fastest.
Below are the most impactful ranking signals that your strategy should cover.
- Proximity: Google wants to prioritize the closest businesses when a user searches for something. You can’t optimize for proximity, but you can put yourself on the map
- Local Backlinks: Google wants to show the best content for a user’s search queries. Earning high-quality inbound links builds your site’s authority and tells Google that you have great content worth showing its users.
- Positive Reviews: Everyone wants to work with the best companies. Earning positive reviews makes your customers more likely to do business with you and Google more likely to show you in the local map pack.
- On-page Optimization: You can’t rank for a keyword if you aren’t targeting it. Properly optimizing your pages for local keywords will have a massive impact on your ability to rank in the local search results.
- Citations: Putting in the work to submit your NAP data to various important citation websites solidifies your presence in a specific geographic area.
These five ranking signals are weighted much heavier in the local search algorithm. Factoring them into your optimization efforts will have the biggest impact on your visibility online. You’ll drastically improve the chances of your target audience finding you in the local search results with these ranking signals factoring into your local marketing strategy.
I’ll dive into each of these ranking factors in the local SEO tips section.
How Local SEO Works
The local search algorithm is a mystery to most people because they haven’t taken the time to understand how Google ranks websites in the local search results. Knowing what Google looks for when a user does a local search will help you learn how properly optimize your local contractor website.
Certain searches tell Google that you’re looking for something nearby. When they detect a search with local intent, they’ll restrict the search radius around your detected location and look for websites with the ranking signals I outlined in the previous section. These websites will be featured in the local map pack and the SERP for that search.
Google judges the success of every local search on three metrics:
- Relevance – Show the most relevant results to the user’s query
- Proximity – Show the solutions that are the closest to the user
- Authority – Show the most accurate solution for the user’s problem
So, let’s say that you search for “roofing company”. Google will pull a list of websites they’ve crawled and determined are roofing companies. You won’t see any plumbers or general contractors here. This creates a list of businesses that are relevant to your query.
They’ll then filter and re-organize this list based on how close the business is to you. Google will look at your device’s location and look for the nearest roofing companies. This creates a list of businesses that are both relevant and close to you.
Google will then use its local ranking signals to re-organize the list of roofing companies from the best to the worst. You’ll then see a prioritized list of the most relevant, closest, and most authoritative businesses for your search query.
Why is local SEO so important?
Imagine that you just opened a brick-and-mortar retail shop. You have racks on racks and shelves on shelves of all the different products you sell, all expertly arranged and beautifully packaged around your store. You’ve spent months and thousands upon thousands of dollars getting your store exactly the way you want it for this very moment.
You open your doors, but no one comes in. Days, and weeks, go by and you can count the number of people that have walked through your doors on one hand. No visitors means no sales.
This is your website without local SEO.
Your ideal customers can’t do business with you if they don’t know you exist. Local businesses live, die, and thrive based on the online visibility they have in their service areas. If your target audience can’t find your business when they search for your services, you might as well not even have a website.
And that’s a shame since mobile users are one of the fastest growing segments (63% of total organic search traffic) and the most motivated to buy. Nearly 88% of people who search for a local business on a mobile device call within 24 hours and 78% of searches with local intent generate offline purchases.
There are thousands of searches for your services happening every single day. You could be losing out on dozens of qualified leads each day that you aren’t ranking at the top of the local search results. Following the tips in our local SEO guide for contractors will help you climb to the top of search and keep those leads for yourself instead of letting them go to your competitors.
Local SEO Guide for Contractors: Actionable Tips & Tactics to Grow Your Contracting Business
Want to learn about the best local marketing tactics to help your ideal customers find you when they need your services? Below are the nine top local SEO tips that will help boost your contracting company’s visibility in the local search results.
#1: Claim & Optimize Your Google Business Profile
Remember when I mentioned that your proximity to a user’s search was one of the most crucial local SEO ranking factors? Claiming and optimizing your Google Business Profile is the fastest way to tell Google where you are and what areas you serve.
If you aren’t familiar with it, your Google business listing is a free tool that can show all of the important information about your local business that your ideal customers could possibly need. You can show your phone number, physical address, what type of business you are, your hours of operation, a link to your website, and much more. And, the great thing about your listing is that the more information you fill out, the more likely you are to show up in the local pack.
Doing this will put your home services company on the map, literally, and make your website far more likely to show up on both the local map back and local search results. Businesses that don’t do this will have a very hard time getting any sort of visibility for local searches and will struggle to book new jobs.
Your Google Business Profile is also an excellent tool to make a great first impression with potential clients when they search for you by your brand name. The information you added to your listing will show up to the right of the organic search results in a Knowledge Panel. Your prospects can quickly find your phone number to get in touch with you, read reviews about your services, and read your latest posts to learn more about your services.
Takeaway: Claim your business listing on Google and fill out every field that you can. This will help your company show up in the local pack and boost your visibility in the local search results.
#2: Put Your NAP Data on Every Page of Your Site
NAP data is simply a shorthand way of saying your company’s Name, Address, and Phone number. While most websites have this info on their contact page, it needs to be on every single page of your website. The simplest way to do this is to add the NAP data to your site’s footer file so you can make one change that adds it to dozens or even hundreds of pages.
Why is your NAP data important? In a nutshell, having this info on your site confirms what’s listed on your Google Business profile and matches what’s on different citation websites. This consistency strengthens your location and proximity ranking signals. This one-two cements that you’re a legitimate local business and where you are in relation to a searcher’s location.
Having NAP data visible on your site is also great for user experience since your customers have easy access to your contact information. And the beautiful part is that it only takes a few minutes to do!
Not only do you want to have your NAP data on your site, but you should also wrap it in Schema markup. What is Schema markup? It’s a standardized language of structured data that tells Google exactly what specific information means so it doesn’t have to guess. This gives contextual meaning to your content and creates semantic relationships so Google can have a better understanding of your website.
Remember the Knowledge Panels from the last section? Google can pull information from websites and use it in these sections if it’s been properly wrapped in Schema markup. It can also help your pages show up in different types of Featured Snippets. These coveted snippets are often called Position Zero since they’re located above the organic search results for certain queries.
Takeaway: Make sure you include your NAP data in your footer to ensure that it’s on every page of your site so Google
#3: Make Your Site Load as Quickly as Possible
Nobody likes slow websites. The last thing that anyone wants to do is click on a page and wait 10+ seconds for it to load. No one has that kind of patience anymore, which is why you need to focus on reducing your site load times to deliver the content your users want as quickly as possible.
People are more impatient than ever, and they expect pages to load in 2 seconds or less. They’re also far more likely to bounce back to search if it takes longer than 5 seconds to view your page. Users know that you aren’t the only fish in the sea. If you can’t give them what they want when they want it, they can find it somewhere else and it’ll most likely be on one of your competitor’s websites.
If keeping your audience happy wasn’t enough motivation to optimize your site speed, your website’s load time is a primary ranking factor. That’s right, faster websites rank higher in the search results than slow websites. This is because they fulfill Google’s goal of quickly delivering the best content for a user’s query. If your pages load quickly, your visitors are more likely to stick around, engage with your content, possibly take your desired action, and potentially share it on social media or link to it from their website.
It also plays a major role when it comes to getting your website regularly crawled and indexed. In a nutshell, search engines like Googe set aside a specific amount of time to crawl a website. Websites with slow load times may run into indexing issues since their spiders might not be able to crawl every page within that time frame.
Don’t forget, Google switched over to a mobile-first index back in 2019 which means that Google crawls the mobile version of your website for indexing and ranking. So, you need to make sure that you focus your efforts on speeding up your page load time on mobile devices first.
Takeaway: Try to get your site load time to less than 3 seconds. Users are more likely to bounce back to search and go to your competitors’ sites if your pages take forever to load.
#4: Optimize Your Page for the Local Algorithm
If you want to rank for a particular topic, you need to have a page with relevant content on your website. It’s like the famous saying:
“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” – Wayne GretzkyMichael Scott, Dunder Mifflin Paper Company
You can’t rank for keywords that you aren’t targeting. So, if you’re ever wondering why you don’t show up for a certain keyword, be sure to ask yourself if there’s a page about it on your site. If you aren’t, then you need to do some keyword research to find your target keywords.
Once you’ve found some achievable targets, you need to think about why someone would be searching for those words and phrases, create content that matches the search intent, and then optimize those pages for the local algorithm.
On-page optimization elements
- Title tag
- Meta description
- h1 tag
- Image alt text
- Body copy
However, be careful to not over-optimize the content for your target keywords and location. This can backfire and cause Google to exclude it from their index. There aren’t any hard and fast rules about how many times you should include your target keywords in your content or where they should go.
The only advice I can give is to read your content out loud. If it doesn’t sound conversational and you find yourself repeating your keywords and location, the content is overoptimized. Go back through and clean it up by using synonyms and wording phrases differently to make it sound more like a natural conversation.
Takeaway: If you want to rank for a certain topic, you need to have a page that targets those keywords. Be sure to optimize the page for your location and include your city and state throughout the body copy, but don’t go overboard.
#5: Get Your Local Citations Squared Away
Local citations used to be a lot more important than they are today. However, that doesn’t mean you can completely ignore them. Your citations are a foundational building block of your company’s presence in the local search results. More specifically, you’ll need them if you want to show up in the local map pack.
What are local citations? Local citations are any mention of your company’s name, address, and phone number on other websites online. Typically, they’re ones like Google, Facebook, Yelp, HomeAdvisor, Angi, Foursquare, or any other site that’s hyper-relevant for your industry.
Having your NAP data listed on these larger, more trusted websites helps strengthen your location and proximity signals for local search queries. While it isn’t going to rocket you to the top of the search results, it will help your Google Business Profile show up in the Local Pack.
Leveraging your citations is a strategy that’s called Barnacle SEO. What’s Barnacle SEO? It’s when a smaller website attaches itself to a larger one to take advantage of its larger audience, traffic, and rankings. This can passively enhance the smaller website’s visibility to help it earn traffic and leads it wouldn’t have been able to get otherwise.
These larger websites typically rank very well in search and you can be included on list pages like “the 10 best roofing contractors in Plano, TX”. It could take you years for your business to get the same level of visibility.
Your customers don’t always use Google to find a contractor in their area. They might even use Google to bypass the search results altogether and go straight to these larger websites. By being where your target customers already are, you drastically improve the likelihood that they’ll discover your brand.
Takeaway: Either manually submit your company’s NAP data to the important citation websites for your industry or hire someone to do it for you. This will prove to Google that you’re a legitimate local business and you are where you say you are.
#6: Earn Positive Reviews From Your Customers
Having a lot of great reviews for your business is an excellent form of social proof that builds trust with your ideal customers. They’re more likely to do business with you if there’s evidence that you know what you’re doing.
Think about when you shop for a new product, or when you’re trying to find a plumber to fix that old busted water heater. You’re going to look at their reviews. There’s no way around it. You want to know that you’re giving money to someone that can solve your problem.
Reading about what other people have experienced plays a major role in the buying process for 98% of consumers. So much so that nearly 88% of people trust online reviews as much or more than personal recommendations from friends and family.
Not only do reviews help you earn more customers, but they’re also a weighted ranking factor in Google’s local search algorithm. Google uses a company’s reviews the same way that people do. If a company has good reviews, it’s more likely to show up in the search results and local map pack. If it has bad reviews, it’s less likely.
Google wants to return the best businesses in their search results and a bad review score is a sign that there’s something rotten going on behind the scenes. If your company has a bad score, you should definitely focus on building out a reputation management strategy to improve your overall rating and quickly respond to any bad reviews that come in.
One thing to bear in mind is that Google also keeps a close eye on your review velocity or the rate at which you earn new reviews. If you go from getting zero reviews to having a large spike of reviews, and then back to no reviews, Google is going to look into whether or not those reviews are real.
So, don’t buy a batch of fake reviews to artificially inflate your score. Google will see it, remove them, and possibly probably penalize you for trying to game the system.
Takeaway: Build out an automated reputation management system and ask your customers to give you reviews. This will build trust with your prospects and help you rank higher for local searches.
#7: Make Sure Your Website is Mobile-Friendly & Responsive
Over 60% of all web traffic comes from mobile devices and Google has been pushing site owners to design their websites for mobile first for almost a decade now. They released an algorithm, affectionately named Mobilegeddon, back in 2015 that incentivized having mobile-friendly websites with priority placement in the SERP. This was further cemented in late 2020 when Google went to a full mobile-first index for all websites.
And not only that, 67% of users are more likely to buy from a business that has a mobile-friendly website. Now, most new websites are built with responsive web design and adapt to the visitor’s device, regardless of what size device they’re browsing on. However, there are still plenty of contractor websites out there that haven’t made the jump yet.
If that wasn’t enough to motivate you, it’s just plain good for user experience and happy customers are converting customers. Providing an easy and seamless shopping experience is what this is all about. People know what they want and if your site is difficult to use or hard to navigate, they’ll look for a different site with a better user experience. Your loss will be your competitors’ gain.
The majority of your traffic is going to come from mobile devices. In some cases, it can be up to, or more than, 80% of your total traffic. Give the people what they want or they’ll get it from somewhere else.
Takeaway: Design for mobile first and make sure that you have a seamless shopping experience from the first to the last click. Using WordPress and a lightweight, easy-to-use page builder like Beaver Builder is an excellent way to be mobile-friendly straight out of the box with almost zero extra work.
#8: Earn Backlinks From Local Businesses
There’s no avoiding it. Backlinks are the most weighted ranking factor in both the local and traditional search algorithms. Earning high-quality backlinks is the best way to build your website’s authority signals.
What are backlinks? Backlinks, or inbound links, are when someone enjoys your website or content enough to create a hyperlink that goes from their website to a page on yours. Google’s entire search algorithm, going all the way back to the very beginning, was built on the idea that websites that have a lot of high-quality links are better than those that only have a few backlinks.
This makes each backlink you earn act like a little vote of confidence in your content or your website. The more votes you have, the more authoritative your content is perceived to be and the higher Google will want to rank it in the search results.
However, you’ll need to get backlinks from businesses in your local area if you want to rank well in the local search results. The best way to go about earning these is to get involved in your local community. Sponsor a Little League team, host a local meetup, sponsor a charity event like a 5k Fun Run, write guest blogs, or something where the likelihood of you earning a link is a part of the deal. You can even make connections at local networking events and brainstorm ways to create content that provides value to their customers so you can earn a backlink from their websites.
I won’t lie to you. Earning backlinks is hard, time-consuming, and it’s difficult to attribute a clear ROI to them. Not only that, it’s an advanced SEO tactic that is usually out of reach for most small businesses that don’t have any experience doing it. But this is exactly why you should do it because your competitors going to avoid it for as long as they can. They’re going to focus on other easier marketing efforts that produce short-term results while you play the long game.
Takeaway: Earning high-quality, relevant backlinks from other local businesses boosts your website’s authority signals and helps you rank higher in the local search results.
#9: Regularly Check the State of Your Site’s Technical SEO
Technical SEO is a subset of search engine optimization that’s large enough to be considered its own field of study. But don’t panic, I’m not doing a deep dive. Most of what I’m about to cover just boils down to good housekeeping to keep your website in good working order and stay on Google’s good side.
What is technical SEO? Technical SEO focus on how your website is coded, built, and organized to help search engine spider bots quickly crawl, index, and render it.
We’ve already covered some of this earlier in the improving your site speed section because as we now know, faster load times help search engine spiders crawl our websites. But, how do we get those spiders to crawl our sites in the first place? By submitting your sitemap to Google and Bing.
Your sitemap is basically a list of every important page on your domain. If you’re using WordPress, you can find your sitemap by going to yourdomain.com/sitemap.xml or yourdomain.com/sitemap_index.xml if you’re using the Yoast or Rank Math plugins. Make sure that you submit your sitemap, and that the search engine has crawled and indexed your pages.
You’ll also want to get an SEO tool subscription like ahrefs or Semrush to monitor the overall SEO health of your website. Both services provide a wide range of tools and features that are an invaluable part of any search marketer’s toolkit. These tools crawl your website and give you detailed reports on the number of broken links you have, critical code/formatting errors, detailed internal link structure, information on your inbound links and search rankings, and much, much more.
Your website is constantly having more content added to it. Not everything is going to be done perfectly. Having access to these SEO reports can help you keep your site’s technical SEO squared away so you rank higher in the search results.
Takeaway: Keep a close eye on your website’s technical SEO by spinning up a Semrush or ahrefs account. The reports these tools generate will help you keep your site’s code clean and optimized to improve your presence in the SERP.
That does it for our local SEO guide for contractors. If you’re trying to earn more organic traffic to grow your home service business, these local SEO tips will help your website start climbing the rankings.
Keep in mind that this isn’t an exhaustive list. Google’s search algorithm is constantly changing and new local search strategies may pop up that are more impactful than what we’ve covered. However, you’ll still be in better shape than most local businesses if you follow the steps outlined in this guide.
To summarize, these are the most important ways to improve your visibility in local search:
- Claim & optimize your Google Business Profile
- Put your NAP data on every page of your site
- Make your site load as quickly as possible
- Optimize every page for the local search algorithm
- Get your local citations squared away
- Earn positive reviews from your customers
- Make sure your site is mobile friendly & responsive
- Earn backlinks from local businesses
- Regularly check the state of your site’s technical SEO
If you’re still having trouble showing up for keywords that are important to your contracting business, drop us a line by leaving a comment below or getting in touch to talk to our local search experts.