The Ultimate Local SEO Guide for Contractors
DIY strategies for search engine optimization & increased lead generation
Contractor’s DIY Guide to Local SEO
49 SEO Tips to Generate More Leads & Traffic
This Local SEO Guide provides your home service business with tips to help you rise to the top of local searches and generate more clicks, calls, and customers.
In the age of the smartphone, online marketing has become one of the most important functions in your company.
Every contracting company must dedicate resources toward online marketing for lead generation, reputation management, branding, email marketing and referral reward programs.
Get in the game and dominate, or get crushed.
What is local SEO? Read our post about, “what local search engine optimization is and why it’s vital to your contracting company’s future.
49 Local SEO Tips for Contractors
Grow More Traffic & Generate More Leads
Tip #1 – Start using a Reputation Management system immediately.
Every future prospect of yours is going to check your reputation in Google, Yelp, and maybe elsewhere.
They will search Google for some variation of your “business name + reviews” and see what comes up.
Online reviews are one of the most important ranking factors for your website and Google Maps listing, according to the Moz Local SEO study done every two years.
Google and other search engines look for at least four things with regards to company reviews:
- quantity of reviews compared to competitors
- quality of reviews compared to competitors
- diversity of reviews across several major platforms
- the velocity of reviews (the number & frequency of reviews)
As you can see, earning quality reviews is incredibly important, so too is spreading them out on various platforms like your website, Google, Facebook, Yelp, and HomeAdvisor.
Keeping reviews coming in regularly is of top importance too.
Installing a reputation management system puts you in control of your company’s online reviews and makes the job easy.
Most reputation management systems include these features:
- connect via API or upload your new customers (preferably regularly).
- customize your campaign settings.
- drips out automated email requests for customer feedback.
- direct where you want reviews to go.
- allows for first-party reviews to be written on your website.
- includes schema markup on your site for first-party reviews and possible reviews stars in search results (rich snippets).
- allows for responding to reviews from one platform.
- scans review directories daily and alerts you to any new reviews written about your company.
- display options for testimonials on home page, testimonial page, city pages, services pages, etc.
- allows for sharing reviews with graphics on social media platforms.
Suggestion: assign someone to manage your online reviews. They will upload customers into the system regularly (if not connected by API), edit drip campaigns, respond to every review, etc.
Responding to Negative Reviews: be sure to always respond to negative reviews but never get into a pissing match no matter how wrong you think they are. Take it offline but let consumers see you’re trying to make things right.
Reply to negative reviews with something in the spirit of, “Thank you for your feedback and we’re sorry to hear that you didn’t have an excellent experience. We strive to provide 5-star service to everyone. Please contact [name] in our office at [email or phone] to see what can be done. Thank you.”
Tools: here are a few very good cloud-based Reputation Management Software Systems available on the market:
Tip #2 – Create a “Reviews” page on your website and main Menu
Display reviews, link out to review sites, and allow visitors to write reviews right onto your site.
If you use a reputation management system mentioned above it will provide with code to place on your testimonials page to do these tasks.
Your chosen software should also write aggregate reviews structured data code to this page to help with rankings and potential reviews stars (rich snippets) in search engine results pages.
Those review stars help increase click-thru rates, which creates more traffic, which creates more leads (if content and conversion are good).
You could also tag 1st-party reviews to segment them by city or service, which would enable you to display them on their applicable city and/or service pages, which may also add reviews schema to each city page.
This helps add city-specific social proof to the page and possible rich snippets in the SERPs for each of those city pages.
Videos: you should also use and insert video testimonials from your customers on your reviews, case study, and city pages of your website. Your home page could also include one or more of these.
Tools: Check out video testimonials software systems like Magnfi.com.
Tip #3 – Create a Case Studies page on your website and main Menu
Highlight large jobs.
Ask homeowners if they’d be willing to provide their comments on video after the job is done.
Take before photos.
Document the homeowners goal.
Document the process. Take photos and video, narrate in front of the scenes if possible. Hire an intern to do your videography and photography for social media and your website.
Take after photos.
Interview the homeowners on video about the results, the process, the communications, and their level of satisfaction. If there was a financial incentive, for things like solar power, then what was the before and after financial result now and into the future?
Do this for several clients, give each their own webpages linked under the main Case Studies page.
In every case, include a video testimonial from the client.
If you have multiple location /city pages, include one for each location.
Tools: Magnfi is a simple tool to get video testimonials from your customers Magnfi.com. The camera on your crews’ phones is another useful tool.
Content Marketing & Keyword Research
Don’t create a website or its content without it
Tip #4 – Get Your Keyword research right or you’re wasting time. What do consumers want?
Crazy Important Point #1: in-depth keyword and competitor research is the single most important part of creating content that will actually bring you qualified traffic and help generate leads.
Start with what you already rank for, what your customer’s top Q&As are, use competitor content gaps, and searched-for topics that match your services and whose competition difficulty aligns with your domain authority and good things will grow.
There’s a ton of local people already searching about topics in your industry.
They’re seeking information on your products and services but based on their questions, problems, needs, wants, and desires, etc.
Your mission is to find exactly what they’re searching for that’s related to your local business, then create great content for it, provide it in every format, design it for local SEO, syndicate it, and get it ranking organically in Google.
Go where the traffic is, to where the people are.
Crazy Important Keyword Point #2: you don’t create traffic, nobody does… well maybe Salma Hayek does, but the rest of us don’t create traffic online. We use tools to search and find out where it is.
You search for and choose the traffic lanes whose volume is good, and where context and search intent relates perfectly to your products, services, and/or location, etc.
Create the content they’re asking for: solve problems, answer questions, provide how-to’s, instructions, show how you fix things, show off products, installations, video happy customers, etc.
Survey and ask your existing customers, “What’s their number one challenge when it comes to [your home service]?”
Tools: keyword research tools and online forums can help you identify the hot topics in your industry and what content your prospects and customers are looking for.
Tip #5 – Start with service+city keywords
Does your website and especially your home page use variations of your “service + city + state” keyword?
For example, most people when looking for a plumber will open Google and search “plumber (city + state).”
If that searcher was in Tampa Florida for example, they’d be searching for something like, “plumber tampa fl” or “tampa plumber.”
Other very common variations are:
- “service” + near me
- best “service” + city state
- city + “service”
- best “service” + near me
- “service” company + city + state
- best “service” company + city + state
You’ll want to be sure some of these variations are on your home page as Titles and/or H1 tags and in the body text, as well as on every single one of your service pages. Don’t overstuff them, but make room for a few.
Tip #6 – Are you missing out on over 90% of your prospects?
Most companies want to find prospects who are ready to buy. Who doesn’t?
But is everyone ready to buy right now? Nope, not even close. In fact, the majority of people are just starting out, learning, comparing, and still thinking about it.
So if you’re only looking for and engaging with people who are ready to buy right now, then you’ve already shut out the great majority of your prospects.
Are your competitors attracting quality prospects that you will never get?
If they’re producing helpful content for people in all stages of the buyer’s journey, and you’re not, then the answer is yes, you’re absolutely missing out on a ton of potential prospects.
What’s the buyer’s journey?
It’s the natural process all people go through when we’re looking for an answer, a solution, or on the path toward making a purchase.
Excluding emergencies, the buyer’s journey doesn’t start at “ready to buy.”
We all go through a natural learning and deciding process that has three identified stages:
1) Awareness stage – buyer realizes they have a desire, need, problem, or consequence of inaction.
2) Consideration stage – buyer seeks information and education on how best to solve the issue given their desires, circumstances, and/or budget.
3) Decision stage – buyer compares and analyzes various solutions and sources and then chooses one of each.
Buyers are more likely to buy from those companies that helped them learn all along the way.
People will trust the source that provided them with best and most useful information on their journey.
Buying from that company will be an easy decision. Is that your company?
For decades the marketing and advertising industry has used what’s called the AIDA marketing model to address each stage of buyer’s journey. AIDA is an acronym for:
1. Awareness – get the attention of the prospect, creating brand awareness, (ads, email, content, multimedia, press, etc.).
2. Interest – deliver great user experiences and valuable, helpful content to keep and continue their attention.
3. Desire – use brand personality and story to connect emotionally and create desire.
4. Action – include calls-to-action; visit website, landing pages, join mailing lists, click to call, follow on social media, etc.
Absolutely every business should add a fifth stage of this marketing model, which is continued action or staying connected to your customers who’ve already come to know, like, and trust your brand.
So what content should you produce for your buyers’ journeys?
1. Start with the top 10 questions & answers your company gets from prospects.
2. The top 10 questions & answers your company gets from customers.
3. The top 10 service calls you go out on and how to prevent them.
Tip #7 – What high-margin jobs do you want to do the most?
To attract those clients and rank for those jobs you need to make superior cornerstone content for those services plus multiple supporting articles and location based articles to show prospects and Google your expertise and location relationship.
What jobs do you want to avoid that consumers can do themselves? Make how-to videos for homeowners to do it themselves.
Search Google [incognito] for services you want to dominate or a keyword research tool, analyze the top results, find all related keywords, then create far superior content.
Create multiple pieces of content for the entire buyer’s journey on that topic and include a location article (favorite restaurants in [city]).
Tip #8 – Use Google Search Console & Improve What You Already Rank For
*You can get your fastest wins with increased rankings and traffic growth by improving pages that are already ranking but not yet on page one.
- Go into Google Search Console and click on “Performance.”
- Then change the time frame to measure to 12 months.
- Next, click on all four boxes to display clicks, click-thru-rate (CTR), impressions, and average position.
- Next, click on the “Pages” column heading below the chart to sort by page URLs.
Next, click on “Impressions” to sort from highest to lowest.
Examine the URLs showing and all four metrics.
What URLs can be improved to move up from current rankings of 10-40?
Click on each URL that is ranking 10-40 to see exactly what keywords they are currently ranking for.
How can you improve the page to rank better for these keywords?
How can you improve the title and meta description to improve the click-thru-rate (CTR)?
Download each report of URLs and URL keywords that warrants being worked on and improved. Click on the download icon to the right of column titles.
See the SERP for each keyword to examine the top-ranking pages you have to beat.
Optimize the content on each target page to improve rankings for the keywords they already have some ranking power for.
This is a VERY powerful process if the site already has some history in GSC and page 2+ rankings for worthy keywords.
Tip #9 – Competitor Research & Gap Analysis
Identify and research your top online competitors and discover where they’re getting most of their traffic from.
What keywords are bringing them value?
What keywords are they getting traffic from that you are not?
Find what content brings them valuable traffic then create better content on that topic, publish, share, and promote.
What websites are they getting links and traffic from that could also benefit you?
Are they writing content for other blogs and getting guest post links? Find the most desirable sites they’re getting links from based on domain strength, see what content would appeal to their base, then create content and pitch it to them.
Are they in relevant business or local directories that you’re not? Find out and then create a listing in them. Most are free.
Are they in the news and getting valuable news agency links and traffic? Even if they’re not, you should be creating occasional news releases for their valuable links, traffic, and branding.
The tools to use to find you competitors’ traffic, keywords, and backlinks are the same as those in the keyword research list above, Ubbersuggest, Ahrefs, and SEM Rush provide access to this data. We use Ahrefs.
Tip #10 – You must have a mobile-first and responsive website
More than half of all Internet traffic now comes through mobile devices; mostly smartphones.
If you don’t have a website that looks great on mobile, then you’ve already lost about half of your potential prospects. That’s a piss-poor starting spot wouldn’t you say?
Google now crawls your website with mobile first-indexing. If your site isn’t ready for mobile, your rankings will start slipping or disappear altogether.
Websites today must be what’s called “responsive.”
A “responsive” themed website will automatically adjust the content to fit any size mobile phones, tablet, notebook, or desktop screen.
We use and recommend a WordPress website with the responsive Divi theme from Elegant Themes installed. We’re also fans of Thrive Themes.
There are many great responsive WordPress themes to choose from, both free and paid.
Important: just because a responsive website will automatically fit any size screen doesn’t mean it will look good on any device.
In fact, the web developer needs to create each page of the site and examine it in mobile, tablet, and desktop modes to make adjustments to things like image, title, and text sizes, margins, padding and other settings in order to make sure the page looks great on all devices.
Settings for many elements will likely be different for each device type.
For more detaled information on creating a powerhouse mobile-first website that works 24/7 to generate business for you, see our Contractor Web Design Services.
Tip #11 – Install SSL/TLS Certificate
Google prefers and encourages an SSL certificate be installed on all websites today.
If you look up at the address bar of this website you’ll see the address begins with HTTPS instead of just HTTP.
The HTTPS means that the site is protected and secured using Transport Layer Security protocol (TLS), which means it encrypts all information sent through website forms, payment gateways, etc. to ensure it’s not intercepted or mofified by another party without being detected.
Installing what’s known as an SSL Certificate will provide your site with that TLS security and then ask your hosting company to force all versions of your site to redirect to the HTTPS protected version.
If you do not have an SSL certificate installed on your website then any visitor that’s using Google’s Chrome browser will receive a warning page that your site is not secure before they get to your site.
You’re likely to lose most all of those visitors and you’re also risking your users data being intercepted and/or manipulated by other parties who most likely have bad intentions.
Contact your website hosting company to either use a free SSL certificate or to purchase a SSL certificate for your domain.
Install the free Really Simple SSL plugin as a backup to force all versions to https. This helps make sure that users of the Internet Explorer and Chrome browsers do not get a “site is NOT secure” warning message.
Tip #12 – Test all URL versions of your site
Type in all four variations of your website address and make sure they all point to the proper SSL version of your site.
If these are not all pointing to a secure version of your site, either with the www or without, then you need to contact your web hosting company, inform them, and ask them to correct it. Changes will usually take up to 24 hours to take effect.
You can edit your .htaccess file to place these redirects to your https secure version, but if you are not familiar with working on the .htaccess file you should avoid it since you can damage your website if you screw up the coding in the file.
Tip #13 – Connect Google Search Console (GSC)
If you’re not already using GSC then it needs to be at the top of your “get-it-done list.”
Google Search Console (GSC) is a FREE online tool and is like having a high-tech mechanic monitoring your site for problems while also showing valuable information about your site and the search traffic it gets.
GSC identifies the organic traffic on your website and shows which search queries you’re getting traffic from, and what pages are getting seen, clicked on, and attracting traffic.
GSC provides each page’s average ranking position and click-thru-rate (CTR).
See how much of your traffic is coming from mobile, tablets, and desktops.
You submit your sitemap through Google Search Console.
GSC will report if it finds any warnings or errors on any of your site’s sitemap or URLs for indexing, mobile usability, and more.
GSC is where you’ll submit new pages and posts for indexing or tell Google when you’ve edited content and ask them to examine it again.
GSC is where you’ll see if your site has been penalized with a manual action or if Google finds security issues with your site.
To install GSC go to https://search.google.com/search-console/about and setup a new GSC account, then add your website URL as a new property.
Use the “domain property” installation, this will monitor all versions, www, non-www, http, and https.
You will have to create a TXT file to the site’s root domain to prove you have ownership of the site (or admin access anyways).
Once the verification file is uploaded, you can go back to GSC, and click on the property to then verify it.
See previous step #8 on how to use GSC information to analyze and edit your content, keywords, and improve rankings, CTR, and traffic.
Tip #14 – Connect Google Analytics using Tag Manager
Google Analytics (GA) helps you see how users are interacting with your website.
Google Analytics tracks the traffic from all sources, including your Google ads (after connecting ads account with analytics account).
GA allows you to set goals and add values to those goals so you can track advertising funnels and conversion rates.
GA connected with Google Ads allows you to “retarget visitors of your website” with ads on various platforms. Retargeting usually provides the best ROI of any online ad.
GA tracks and displays where traffic is coming from, where it’s going, what the bounce rate of each page is, how long a visitor stays on a page and per session, are they converting into clicks, forms, opt-ins, or sales, and so much more.
Google Tag Manager (GTM) makes it easier to create and deploy most of what you would want tracked in GA.
Goals such as calls, form submissions, URL views, and so much more can be easily setup in GTM and then tracked in Google Analytics under Events.
You can even deploy your GA code using GTM and an all pages trigger.
Go to Google Tag Manager, setup an account, connect it to your Google Analytics Unique Account ID, and create an all pages trigger for your first tag. Install that tag on your site, test, and now you’re ready to create additional tags.
Common Tracking Tags to Create in Google Tag Manager (GTM):
Google Analytics – All pages
Clicks to call
Scroll down percentage of URL
Important: Google does NOT recommend using GTM to deploy Schema markup using Structured Data. That code should be placed directly on the website.
Tip #15 – Perform Mobile-friendly and Page Speed Tests
Your website needs to be mobile-friendly. You can test it using Google’s mobile friendly test.
If your website is not mobile-friendly, you’re losing more than half of your potential prospects, so you need a new website like yesterday.
Your website also needs to be fast.
People are impatient, if the web page they clicked on takes more than a couple of seconds to start loading, they’ll hit the back button and go somewhere else.
If you’re running Google or Facebook ads and have slow landing page loading times then it’s hurting your Quality Scores, ad location, effectiveness, and return on investment.
It’s costing you money.
Google has also made it crystal clear that page loading speed is critical to ranking well.
All sorts of factors can effect page speed.
The most common culprits are large image files.
Images should first be sized to how big you need it, then compressed to reduce file size.
After images there’s all kinds of other common issues such as
- Slow hosting servers
- Caching issues
- and much more
There’s several measurements of page speed, two of the most important are “time to first byte,” which is how long it takes to start loading, and “page load time,” which is the total time to load the whole page.
Time-to-first-byte is when the user sees the page begin to load, statistics show this needs to be less than two seconds.
Some of the issues discovered in these tests are created by the theme and plugins being used. You may be able to replace some plugins, but unless you custom code your site, you won’t be able to get rid of all issues.
Note that Google also has a speed testing tool but it does NOT test the actual loading speed of the site but rather it audits the page performance using Lighthouse technology and Chrome UX data.
Google’s tool uses and displays data from two sources; lab data, which is a simulated load of the page in a fixed environment, and field data, which is the real-world actual page test and its historical data. You can read more about it here.
The metric that matters most in Google’s Page Speed Testing Tool is the First Contentful Paint (FCP), which measures the time it takes for the user to see the start of the page loading.
Tips on how to speed up a web page:
- re-size and optimize images
- reduce image file sizes (plugins)
- simplify your design (less images, sliders, animation, etc.)
- improve server response time (better hosting)
- use a content delivery network (CDN) like Cloudflare
- reduce or remove redirects
- install browser caching plugin (WP Rocket)
- install a lazy loading plugin that loads content as the user scrolls.
Our Favorite WordPress Plugins that help speed up your website:
Free alternatives to WP Rocket are:
A3 Lazy Load [free]
WP Fastest Cache (cache, minify, etc.)
W3 Total Cache (cache, minify, etc.)
WP Smush (images)
WP Optimize (database)
Tip #16 – Create or claim & optimize your Google My Business (GMB) listing.
Your business listing in Google Maps is one of the most valuable pieces of real estate you can have, and it’s FREE!
Google Maps contains all of the business listings from the FREE Google My Business (GMB) directory.
It’s at the top of every local services search in Google, just below the ads.
If you show up in those top 3 map listings, your phone rings.
Is your business listed in Google Maps? If so, do you have ownership control of it?
Is the GMB listing highly optimized to help it rank high in local searches relevant to your services?
Go to Google Maps and search for your exact business name and city. Does your business come up?
If you see your business but aren’t sure if you have control of it, go to https://www.google.com/business/ and sign in with your main business Google account (or whichever one you think might be the manager/owner of the account).
If you’re taken to your GMB account management panel then you’re all good.
If you’re not taken there, then either that’s not the right Google account or you don’t have control of it. Do you have another Google account to try?
If you still can’t figure out if you have access and control of your GMB account, then contact GMB for support.
They stopped phone support in late 2019, early 2020.
Once you have ownership control over your verified listing you’ll need to optimize it and post to it regularly in order to try and get it ranking in the top three “local pack” listings for every local business search.
For details on powering up your Google My Business listing, see our Free Guide: How to optimize your Google Maps, Yelp, and Bing Places listings.
Tip #17 – Get Google Guaranteed Verified – Local Service Ads (LSA)
The Google Guaranteed program can help you generate leads quickly plus it seems to be required to compete in voice searches.
Google’s Local service Ads (LSA) are pay-per-lead ads (PPL). These are different than regular Google ads where you’re used to paying-per-click (PPC).
The program is only for some home services, and is slowly rolling out in selected cities at first.
For the consumer, the service work done by Google Guaranteed contractors is insured by Google for up to $2,000.
Google pre-screens your home services business for biz license, insurance, claims against you, contractor’s license, employees, etc.
Once approved, you’re eligible to run Local Service Ads (LSA), which are at the very top of local services searches, and get about 14% of all clicks.
The consumer searches for a home service in their city, the top three boxes (pictured above) are Google Guaranteed Local Service Ads (LSA).
The consumer can click on them and get the ability to contact you plus see a short snapshot of your business and its customer reviews. The short bio page also includes a Google statement that your business has been screened and approved for the GG program.
A bonus by-product of getting Google Guaranteed, is that your company will stand a better chance of appearing in voice search results, according to current voice research data.
More than 20 percent of searches are done by voice today.
Typing is being replaced by speaking commands into your smartphone or smart home device.
So how do you help give your company a chance to be the one that comes back when they say “Hey Google, who’s the best [home service] company in [their city]?”
To date, when people do a voice search on Google Assistant for a local home services company, the search results appear to include only the pre-screened service companies that go through the verification process with Google Guaranteed, HomeAdvisor, or Porch.
So whether or not you’re going to run LSA or Google Ads, go get your home services company Google Guaranteed to be eligible to show up in the results for an ever-growing voice searches.
Where do VOICE platforms get local business data?
Google's Voice Assistant
Provides Home Service Companies Approved by Google Guaranteed, HomeAdvisor, and Porch
Business information is provided by yext and Yelp
Apple Homepod & Apple Maps
Business data is provided by Apple Maps, Yext, and Yelp.
Tip #18 – Optimize Your Yelp Listing Regularly
Yelp is a go-to site for many consumers to check out customer reviews on local businesses they’re considering doing business with.
In addition to that, Yelp has teamed up with Yext to provide local business data to Amazon Alexa for voice activated searches.
It’s also common for listings in Yelp or other business directories to be a top organic search result in Google.
So it’s important to have an optimized Yelp listing.
The same goes for the dozens of other important online business directory listings (a.k.a. citations).
Optimize your Yelp listing:
- be sure your business name, address, phone (NAP) matches exactly what’s on your website, Google My Business, Bing Places and other directories! As stated already, it will hurt your ranking ability if it’s not.
- do NOT use a call-tracking number (it creates a NAP conflict which will hurt your rankings – see Tip#10).
- write keyword optimized business specialties, company history, and owner biography descriptions.
- upload optimized and geo-tagged photos and continue to drip these each and every month.
- ask customers to upload photos on Yelp and “check-in” to Yelp when visiting your office location.
- be sure to include all categories and services that you offer.
- be sure to complete all information that pertains to your business; payment methods, operating days and hours, holiday dates you’re closed, parking, if WiFi is offered, handicap access, etc.
- suggest other businesses that you truly recommend and ask them to do the same for you within Yelp.
Important: DO NOT ask for Yelp reviews! Yelp does not allow you to ask customers for reviews, it’s against their Terms of Service. But by asking your customers to upload photos and check-in on Yelp when at your location, you’ll get some natural reviews.
Tip #19 – Create, Claim, and Optimize A Bing Places Listing
Bing is Microsoft’s search engine and they too display a map of nearby businesses for local searches in their app.
Bing Places for Business is their directory of free business listings.
You can sync your Bing Places listing to your Google My Business listing so that once your Bing listing is setup and synced, you only have to update the GMB listing and it autofills to your Bing Places listing (for images, descriptions, etc.).
Tip #20 – Create or Claim & Your Apple Maps Listing
If your contracting business has a physical commercial location or showroom (not your home) then you should make sure it’s listed in Apple Maps.
There’s a ton of people with iPhones and when they search in the Apple Maps app on their phone for your kind of business, you want to make sure you’ll show up.
Tip #21 – Make sure your business name, address, and phone (NAP) match exactly!
It’s incredibly important that your business name, address, and phone number match exactly on your website, Google My Business, Yelp, Bing Places, Apple Maps, and all other business directories.
Incomplete, inaccurate, and inconsistent NAP data is the #1 reason why websites and directory listings DO NOT RANK well in search results pages.
If there are conflicts in your NAP data on your website and these business directories then you’ve confused Google and others and they just drop your listing from appearing high in searches, if at all.
If your company has moved, changed its name or telephone number then the odds are very high that you have NAP conflicts and these are hurting your ability to rank well and generate more traffic and leads.
Every business should run a “Citation Audit” before investing any time, money, and energy into your website or optimizing business directories because the efforts will have a hard time bearing fruit as long as those NAP conflicts remain.
NAP conflicts must be cleaned up, and it needs to be done manually one-by-one in each directory. It’s a labor-intensive and time-consuming process but worth it’s weight in gold to help enable your business and website rank better in local searches.
Beware the automated “citation cleanup” services because every directory has different methods for suggesting edits and listing formats.
We are not fans of companies like Yext, that hold your listings hostage and if you stop paying they withdraw them.
Tip #22 – Build More Citations / Business Directory Listings
The jargon can get confusing but basically a citation is any mention of your business name, address, and phone number on another third-party website.
These are most commonly structured citations such as business directories that list local companies.
There are also unstructured citations such as photo and video sharing sites, social media platforms, embedded data in images and video, etc.
Run a citation report on your company to ensure business name, address, and phone are accurate across all platforms. You can use Moz’s free service to get an i
Run a citation report on your top competitors to see how many they have and more importantly which citations your top competitors have.
Then be sure your contracting company is or gets listed in the biggest ones (like Yelp, GMB, Bing Places, Home Advisor, Houzz, Angie’s List, etc.).
There are four giant data aggregators that sell and share data with thousands of business directories. You need to make sure you’re listed correctly in each of them also. They are:
Local directories like your chamber of commerce are also highly valuable.
In addition, finding directories that are relevant to your specific industry are also highly valuable and can give you and edge over your competitors. See the Moz Guide to Citations by Business Category.
Tip #23 – Download & Run Screaming Frog SEO Spider Tool (FREE)
This great tool will allow you to crawl your website and do a technical SEO audit to identify and begin fixing all issues discovered.
There are several tutorial videos on YouTube that walk you through how best to use this great tool.
The free version is packed with features with allows you to crawl up to 500 URLs per site.
The paid version has added features and allows integration with Google Search Console, Google Analytics, and Ahrefs for additional data, research, and analysis.
Essentially you’re looking for the issues that plague most sites and are hurting your site’s ability to rank well in search engines, such as:
- view and analyze URL structure (see more on this subject in Tip #14)
- identify large pages (1mb+)
- blocked resources by your robots.txt file
- broken links and server errors (404 code errors)
- redirect chains (more than one redirect for a URL)
- missing pages titles, heading tags (H1, H2, H3), meta descriptions, image Alt text, etc.
- duplicate pages titles, heading tags (H1, H2, H3), meta descriptions, image Alt text, etc.
- too long or too short pages titles, heading tags (H1, H2, H3), meta descriptions, image Alt text, etc.
- and more
Also, are those page titles and meta descriptions crafted with good sales copy? Do they make the searcher want to click and learn more?
High click-through rates (CTR) help increase rankings. Your pages titles and meta descriptions can make or break your success
Tip #24 – Install the Yoast SEO plugin on your website
This powerful and FREE WordPress plugin is used by millions of websites and is considered the gold standard for making your site search engine friendly.
This plugin does many things and begins by creating essential files for your website like a robots.txt and sitemap files.
The Yoast plugin will also make it easy to create a template for site-wide title and meta description display settings for pages and posts.
At the page or post editing level, the Yoast SEO plugin also allows you to provide alternative page titles and meta descriptions to show in search results pages, both is which are important not only to SEO but also used as copywriting factors to entice people to click on your title and page descriptions.
Also at the page and post editing level, you can use the Yoast settings to mark pages like thank you pages as “no-index” so that page is not indexed in Google and other search engines and as “no-follow” so those same search engines do not follow the links on the page either.
See Tip #22 for more on why you might want to no-index some of your URLs.
You can easily set canonicals URLs for pages that you’d like Google to ignore and use another page as the URL for the same topic.
The Yoast SEO plugin will create your sitemap pages and master sitemps_index.xml page to submit to Google Search Console. It will also write a very basic robots.txt file if you instruct it to in the “tools” editing section.
The Accounts tab in Yoast allows you to input your social media page URLs and Open Graph data to your pages, which provides the featured image, title, and description to your social media posts when you share a page or post from your website onto Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest.
Note: We actually prefer not filling in these social URLs or company info here and instead use an Open Graph specific plugin that does this for more social media platforms.
The Yoast SEO plugin can also be used to place schema markup and structured data code to the pages on your site, though we prefer to block this and use the more detailed WP Structured Data Code or Schema app plugins for this, especially for plumbers, electricians, solar companies, and other contractor specialties.
*Important – be sure on the Yoast search appearance page and media tab that the “Redirect attachment URLs to the attachment itself?” is set to YES. Otherwise search bots will crawl and index all attachments as their own URLs, which can cause a huge spike in indexed URLs, which in turn can cause Google Panda penalties.
Tip #25 – Be sure your website has a Robots.txt file
This file talks to the web robots that Google, Bing, and other search engines send to your site to crawl and discover what pages, URLs, content, and links you have on your site.
The robots.txt file tells these web bots which pages to crawl and more importantly which ones to avoid.
You can run a simple test to see if your site has this file by typing into the address bar your website address followed by /robots.txt.
If you get an empty file or a 404 error code then you need to create a robots.txt file and place it in your root public directory.
A basic robots.txt file might look like this:
This example is telling all web bots (by using the asterisk wild card) to avoid the WordPress login page, /wp-admin/.
Your should include a Disallow: /name-of-page/ command for every page or file that you don’t want the bots to crawl, such as thank you pages, shopping carts, checkout pages, search pages, search results pages, downloadable PDFs, duplicate content, split-testing pages, etc.
Examine each page and URL on your site (using your sitemap as a guide or crawl the site with Screaming Frog) and examine each folder and individual URL for possibly Disallowing it from web bots.
It’s good practice to place a Disallow command for the following folders:
If you have a members or e-commerce section of your site you will also want to include at least:
Also include the full URL of your sitemap(s) like this:
Using the Yoast SEO plugin on your site will auto-create a basic robots.txt file and you will have to edit it via the file manager in cPanel or through an FTP connection.
Either create or edit the robots.txt file within the Yoast plugin setting or use a plain text editor to create one and then upload it to your root /public_html/ directory (do NOT use MS Word or any word processing program because they may write additional code to the file).
Once it’s completed, you can test the robots.txt file within Google Search Console to ensure Google sees it as a valid file.
Tip #26 – Be sure your website has an XML Sitemap!
An XML sitemap is essential for every website. It lists all of the important pages and posts for Google and other search engines to find and crawl and know when they were last updated, even if they’re not in your menus or have internal or external links to them.
There should be separate XML sitemaps for:
Since your images and videos will be inserted into your pages and posts Yoast recommends leaving out sitemaps for these URLs. An exception to this would be if you were a videographer or photographer.
The Yoast SEO plugin makes it easy to create sitemaps.
The Yoast Search Appearnace menu section allows you to set indexing options for all content types.
The following content and taxonomies sections should be set to NO for “Show posts in search results” and “Date in Snippet Box:”
Don’t block Categories if you’re using 301 redirect on /category pages to create content silos.
The following individual pages should be set to “No index, no follow.:”
Thank you pages
Media and Attachment URLs should be set to YES, redirect attachment URLs to the attachment itself?
You can see your site’s sitemap by typing in your web address followed by /sitemap_index.xml or /sitemap.xml.
You submit and test your sitemap, discover any errors, and see what pages are indexed using Google Search Console.
Duplicate content pages or products should have a canonical URL, which tells Google and others that a different page is the preferred version of this one.
Tip #27 – Use A WEBSITE URL Structure That Makes Sense
If you’re setting up a new website or about to have a new website built, then use good structure that will help in search engines.
Setup your website URL structure by topic and sub-topics to help users and search engines better understand your website.
*Use short URL’s. Studies show short URLs rank better.
Display relevant blog posts on each service page using a post carousel.
Display city relevant testimonials on each service and city page.
WARNING: changing site structure without using 301 redirects for every affected URL will harm your search appearance, traffic, conversions, leads, and sales.
If you change the structure without a 301 redirect then the old page and post URLs won’t exist and will produce a 404 Not Found error from search engines, links, and direct searches. BEFORE you do anything you have to map all existing URLs to new planned URLs then apply a 301 redirect to every existing URL that will be affected when you make the structural transition.
Tip #28 – Create A City Page for Every Service Area City
If you want your website to rank in Google for cities outside of your location city, then you have to create a location or city page for each one of those locations.
Each city page should have it’s own unique content on it.
Creating one page and then duplicating it but just replacing the city names is old school and when Google finds it they will choose one of the duplicates as the primary and ignore the rest (by applying a canonical URL), resulting in perhaps one city page having the ability to rank in search but none of the others.
So each location page should be unique, state your services with the city name in the heading tag, like “Solar Installations in [city name]” and “Solar repairs in [city name].
If you’re a plumber, it’s “water heater repair in [city name],” etc.
Create unique versions for each location page.
Heading tags with your services + city name
Paragraph or two about the city, it’s history, population, colleges, trade schools, annual events, and points of interest.
Survey your employees for each person’s favorite spots in each city in your service area.
What’s their favorite:
Create a list on each city page of all your favorite places for that city and make each one link to the Google Maps URL of that business or location. This provides the user more info and a map to each place and it also provides “location signals” to Google that your page and it’s content is related to that area.
Create a Google Map using your business Google account, and create map directions to each of those same favorite places from your business address in Google.
You can only apply five direction locations per map so make two maps of five each and then embed them onto your city page.
The embedded maps help send “location signals” to Google.
Tip #29 – Setup Topical Silos / Clusters for SEO Power
For new websites of those about to be built, if you want added SEO ranking power you can setup a content silo structure to keep everything about one topic or service in the same silo and interlink them together.
Some people call them topical content clusters, silos, etc.
This can be a very powerful ranking structure but only if you have a lot of services that you will continue to add future content about.
There are many ways you can setup a content silo but a simple setup would be to use the WordPress permalink structure of:
And keep all related topical content and future blog posts using the proper category.
You can go one step further by placing a 301 redirect on the category URL to its main topical content page.
You can add a sidebar menu to this main content silo page to show all related posts (child silo pages).
WARNING: changing site structure without using 301 redirects for every affected URL will harm your search appearance, traffic, conversions, leads, and sales.
If you change the structure without a 301 redirect then the old page and post URLs won’t exist and will produce a 404 Not Found error from search engines, links, and direct searches. BEFORE you do anything you have to map all existing URLs to new planned URLs then apply a 301 redirect to every existing URL that will be affected when you make the structural transition.
Tip #31 – Internal Linking: Link from Page to Page In A Topic
When you create a main topical page (silo page) like a service page, and then supporting articles (child silo pages) related to that main topic, you need to link them together using anchor text that’s about the topic it’s linking to.
Keep all of the links within the same silo.
Good internal linking does three things:
1. if any article gets lots of links to it, the “authority” or power from that will pass to all pages within the silo.
2. it helps google-bot and other robots crawl and understand the topical silo better.
3. it helps the user move around easily to learn more about that topic.
4. it helps with search rankings.
Tip #32 – Insert Business Name, Adress, Phone (NAP) in Footer
Be sure to use the same consistent business name, address, and phone as in you Google Maps listing in the footer of every page of your website.
Make the phone number click -to-call.
To prevent scrapers and robots from grabbing your email address and sending you junk mail, it’s best to hide the company email address in an image and/or text message such as “Send us a message” that has a mailto: command.
Tip #33 – Embed Your Google Map in Footer
This is especially useful if people and vendors search for directions to your location.
The map also sends a clear relationship signal to Google that this website is the same as the company in that Google My Business listing.
Go to Google Maps, search for your business, click on it, click on the share button, then click on embed a map, copy that html and paste it into the code of your footer.
Tip #34 – Embed A Contact Us Form in Footer
Make it easy for people who made it all the way to the end of a page to contact you now.
Tip #35 – Create Branded Social Media Accounts
Create or claim your local business profiles on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.
Do this to protect your brand name, for syndicating your blog content, engagement with your community, and to send social ranking signals to your website and GMB, and for future advertising possibilities.
Embed icons and links to your branded social accounts in the footer of your website.
Tip #36 – Syndicate Blog Content Thru Social Media
When you post new images or articles to your website, syndicate that same content through your branded social media accounts.
Post the entire content or edit into into many pieces and posts. Provide excerpts and links to your site.
Create custom graphics for each platform. Create videos or slideshow videos from the content.
Also syndicate your blog content through email marketing to your existing customers and prospect lists.
Get the legal pages linked to in the footer along with links to your key topical pages and most recent posts.
There are online templates and WordPress privacy plugins available. Seeking legal advice from an expert in online privacy laws and having them write these pages should also be considered.
Tip #38 – Use Schema Markup & Structured Data JSON-LD code
This is a machine language agreed upon by Google, Bing, and Yahoo that web developers and SEOs can use to help better identify the business, products, services, and content on website pages and posts.
Schema markup speaks to the search engine machine robots that crawl our websites in a language that they understand.
Having this machine language properly executed on your webpages will give you a rankings edge over most of your local competitors.
There is structured data code to help better identify:
Your Local Business
Some Professions (plumber, solar, roofing, etc.)
Your name, address, phone (NAP)
Your business contact information
Your social media URLs
An optimized description of your business
Your opening days and hours
Writing this code can be pretty daunting and tricky for the average person.
Most Structured Data WordPress plugins we have tested do a terrible job of writing this code, causing more rankings harm than good.
We recommend using the paid Schema App for the most accurate and always updated structured data code.
You can also use Google’s Structured Data Helper tool to give it a try yourself.
You can test the structured data code of a page or snipped of code at Google’s Free Structured Data Testing Tool.
Important: do NOT use Google Tag Manager to deploy your structured data code. Google has advised against this common practice.
Tip #39 – Include lots of Calls to Actions (CTA)
You’re in business right? Let people know it!
The point of it all is to get people to engage and take action whether that is phone calls, collecting emails, video clicks and watch-time, getting likes and shares to social media, and more.
Make it easy for people to take action and contact you.
Give them options to contact you; phone, email, and forms.
Make your phone number a click-to-call on mobile devices.
Include CTA buttons and links to opt-in to your email list, download a free guide, etc.
Tip #40 – Include A Biography & Profile Image in WordPress
Be sure the WordPress account that will be posting articles to your blog shows you, your business, or your managers as the content writer.
In the users section of those WordPress accounts, write in a short biography and upload a profile picture / gravatar.
This bio will display at the bottom of each website post whose authorship is attributed to it.
Google has stated that the blog post biography is important.
Repeated good quality content from the same author begins to establish that author’s expertise on the subject to Google.
Expertise, Authority, Trustworthiness (EAT) are official Google Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines.
Be sure your biography is optimized and completed.
Tip #41 – Encourage Comments & Engagement
Comments and engagements from your visitors can help you improve your site, services, products, and content.
They’re also “engagement signals” as seen by Google and other search engines and help improve search rankings.
End your posts, podcasts, and videos with a call-to-action for readers, listeners, and viewers to leave a comment and engage with you.
What do they think about_____?
How would they do_____?
What has been their experience with _____?
You get the message.
Tip #42 – Recommended WordPress Plugins
WP Rocket (caching+)
Updraft Plus Premium
Tip #43 – SEO Tools
These are the tools we use in our daily practice:
Google Search Console
Google Tag Manager
Screaming Frog Crawler
Tip #44 – Start A/B Split-Testing for Better Conversions
Now that your website is all dialed-in, it’s time to test different variations of its most important pages to see if different, headlines, button colors, or other variables will make a difference in how many people convert the call-to-action on that page.
That’s called A/B split-testing variations of the same page.
This is especially important for all landing pages for your advertisements.
The page must have a call-to-action on it that can be measured, click-to-call, form submission, download, etc.
You setup those goals in Google Analytics or Tag Manager.
Your WordPress theme may provide split-testing capabilities within the same page or post. This makes it super-easy to run tests and measure the results.
Google Optimize and Google Analytics can help you setup and measure your A/B split-URL testing campaigns.
You can split-test one or more features on a page or post or you can test two entirely different pages. Google Optimize and Analytics makes it easy to setup.
It’s best to make just one change at a time and measure the results.
Visitors will randomly receive one page version or the other, then the system will measure which version produces more visitors into leads based on the goals you’ve setup in Google Analytics or Tag Manager.
Tip #47 – Interview With Local Business Owners [Podcasts]
Identify business podcasts about your local area and inquire about becoming a guest.
Search Google for:
[your location] podcast
[your location] podcasts
This is a great way to earn valuable links from other local websites to yours, and build brand within the community.
Once you get the hang of it, consider going one step further and start your own podcast for your business. You can now interview other local business owners and grow your brand and local links that bring traffic, leads, and website rankings value.
Have each podcast transcribed and edited as a blog post with some art and now you have two media versions of that content and a bigger audience to share it with.
Syndicate each episode through each your social media accounts with links back to its source on your website.
Tip #48 – Website Maintenance & Security
WordPress and your website theme and plugins provide updates quite often. To the point where there are updates to one or more nearly daily. These updates are important for the proper operation and security of the software and must be managed on a constant basis.
Site security is incredibly important. Two-step authentication, strong passwords, a firewall, daily backups, offsite backups, and high-quality, 24/7 technical support are absolutely essential ingredients to keeping your site up, operating, and protected by the ever-increasing daily attacks on websites today.
Maintenance and posting content additions.
Use a staging site to test the installing of any new plugins, or to test and identify the cause of conflicts after theme or plugin updates or changes.
We use iThemes Security as well as good, secure hosting, and daily backups both on-site and off.
Tip #49 – Scan Analytics regularly for spam traffic bots
Non-human bots hit your website everyday, most are harmless and performing a useful task of some sort.
Others are scraping your site for email addresses, and other data.
Still others, spambots, can send a lot of traffic to your site for malicious reasons.
Be sure to check the box in Google Analytics admin view settings to “exclude all hits from known bots and spiders.” See image above.
To screen for spambot traffic use Google Analytics – Acquisition – All Traffic – Source/Medium to scan for spambots. Looks for unusual activity – weird referral source, user counts, bounce rate, session duration, etc/
- make a list of suspects
- research the names of suspects
- create filters to screen out traffic in GA
- block bots in the robots.txt file
- ask hosting company to block traffic from the list of bots
- be sure you have protection from DDOS attacks