For small businesses like plumbing companies, organic traffic is a godsend. This is because organic traffic is FREE traffic from search engines. However, with the number of new websites popping up every day, the competition is fierce. Acquiring this kind of traffic is not easy. In order to ensure your business has a steady stream of organic visitors, your website has to be well-optimized for relevant keywords.
Plumber SEO: How to Optimize Your Plumbing Website
This local SEO guide explains the most important aspects of SEO for plumbers in a step-by-step, easily understandable manner. Let’s get started!
Planning the Website
Step 1. Perform Keyword Research
Keyword research is integral to the success of any SEO campaign. Google Keyword Planner is a great place to get started with keyword research for your plumbing website. Google Keyword Planner no longer provides exact monthly search volume data for keywords unless you are paying for a pay-per-click account so you will have to settle for less exact search volume ranges (i.e. “100-1k”) if you don’t have a paid account. Another excellent keyword research tool, KeywordTool.io is helpful for generating keyword ideas and you can then plug these keywords into Google Keyword Planner to acquire their monthly search volumes. A good thing to be aware of is that keywords with more monthly searches will be more difficult to rank but will bring in more visitors.
For a plumbing business, the primary keyword you will target will be something along the lines of “plumbers in [city]” or “[city] plumbers” or “[city] plumbing service.” These are purchase intent keywords, meaning they attract visitors who are near the bottom of the purchase funnel and ready to purchase your services.
In addition to finding purchase intent keywords, you can also use KeywordTool.io and Keyword Planner to search for keywords with research intent. Research intent keywords target visitors who may be higher up the purchase funnel and may be just beginning to become aware of your brand. Research intent keywords are ideal for optimizing your website’s blog posts. For example, “how to clear a garbage disposal clog” is a research intent keyword phrase around which a blog post could be created. Including a call-to-action with contact info at the bottom of the blog post would increase the number of contacts about your plumbing services.
Step 2. Determine the Site Hierarchy
Each page of your plumbing website site should be optimized toward one primary keyword or key phrase. If your plumbing business is located in one city, as opposed to a multi-location business, then you will want to focus on the homepage as the main page to optimize for your primary target keyword (i.e. “[City] Plumbers”).
The secondary pages include service pages, blog index, About, FAQs, and any other pages you think your customer base will be highly interested in viewing when visiting your site. A few plumbing services around which you could create service pages include:
- Emergency Plumbing Services
- Drain Repair and Clog Removal
- Bathtub Repair and Clog Removal
- Faucet Repair and Clog Removal
- Garbage Disposal Repair and Clog Removal
- Shower Repair and Clog Removal
- Sink Repair and Clog Removal
- Toilet Repair and Clog Removal
- Ejector Pump Installation and Repair
- Domestic Boiler Installation and Repair
- Grinder Pump Installation and Repair
- Lift Station Installation and Repair
If your business serves multiple areas, it is essential to create separate location pages for each area served.
Step 3. Plan the Internal Linking Structure
The website’s secondary pages should be linked internally from the main navigation at the top of every page. This will funnel ‘link juice’ (also known as authority) from the homepage to these secondary pages. If you have a multi-location business, you can include a ‘Locations’ tab in the main navigation with a dropdown that displays internal links to all of the separate Location pages.
It is a good idea for each blog page to link to one or two other blog pages on the site. This ensures that link authority and keyword relevance is spread throughout the site. However, don’t go to crazy with the number of internal links on a page as this can sometimes be seen as a spam signal by search engines.
As mentioned previously, you will use the keywords from your keyword research to optimize your website’s homepage, service pages, blog pages, and more. Here are the steps for optimizing the on-page elements of your webpage for your chosen keywords:
Step 1. Optimize the URL Structure
It is best to have short, keyword rich URLs. Use lowercase letters and dashes rather than underscores when writing URLs.
A sample service page for drain repair and clog removal might be something like:
Step 2. Optimize the Title Tag
The title tag is one of the strongest factors in search engine rankings. It should include the primary target keyword or key phrase. Title tags should be less than 65 characters in length in order to for them to display correctly in search engine results pages.
A sample format for the homepage of a plumbing business would be:
Plumbers in [Your City] | [Name of Your Business]
Step 3. Optimize the Meta Description
The meta description is a slightly longer description that provides a bit more information about the main focus of a webpage. The meta description should be less than 156 characters to ensure it displays correctly in the search engine results pages.
It should accurately summarize the content of the webpage, include the primary keyword, and end with a call-to-action (when relevant).
This meta description format works well:
[Name of Business] provides the best [plumbing services] in [your city]. Contact us today for a discount on your first service!
Step 4. Optimize the H1 Heading
The H1 heading should appear near the top of the webpage and state what the overall topic or title of the page. There should only be one H1 heading per page and it should include the primary keyword or key phrase.
A good format for a plumbing webpage H1 heading would be:
[Plumbers] in [City, State]
Step 5. Optimize the Body Content
The body copy on each page of your site should be over 400 words and be thorough in its coverage of the topic you are conveying. The homepage copy should provide background information about your business including the services offered, mention the city the business is located in, and end with a call-to-action that will spur visitors to contact you.
The primary keyword should be included in the first paragraph of the body content and variants of that keyword should appear one or two times in the rest of the copy. Be sure to include a contact form or a call-to-action (with a phone number or email address) at the bottom of each page, as this will increase the number of phone calls and email contacts you receive from people looking for your services.
Step 6. Optimize the Alt Text of Images on the Page
Images are a quality signal for search engines. Each page should include at least one image. The alternative text attribute of an image (aka “alt text” or “alt tag”) appears in the HTML of the page and is a brief description of what appears in the image. It is best to have at least one image per page with alternative text that includes the primary keyword.
Utilize Structured Data, such as LocalBusiness Schema Markup
Structured Data is sometimes referred to as “machine friendly” data. It is added to the HTML of a webpage to help Google and other search engines better understand the content on that page. Structured data, such as Schema markup, helps search engines understand particular elements of a webpage’s content, such as phone numbers, addresses, reviews, and events.
If you have a business with several locations, each location’s landing page should include LocalBusiness Schema markup in the HTML to mark up content elements like the business name, address, and phone number. This will help the webpage appear higher in Local Search results for location-specific searches.
Ensure the Site is Mobile-Friendly
Google is launching a new ‘mobile-first’ index which means it will order its rankings based on the mobile version of the webpage, even for listings that are shown to desktop users. A recently created page for testing the mobile speed of a web page also indicates that Google is heavily focusing on providing search results with superior mobile experiences to its users.
With this in mind, it is important to actually look at a number of your site’s pages on a mobile device to ensure they are mobile-friendly and load quickly. You can also visit Google’s Mobile-Friendly Testing page to test your site’s pages for mobile-friendliness. The test will point out where your website’s pages may not be compatible with certain mobile devices.
Ensure the Page Speed is Fast
Reduce Crawl Errors
Eliminating crawl errors can sometimes improve the search engine visibility of a website. Crawl errors can be viewed in Google Search Console by navigating to Crawl>Crawl Errors. If web pages have been deleted or a website redesign has taken place without first redirecting old URLs, it will result in 404 errors. 301 redirecting old URLs that are resulting in 404 errors to their most relevant, live URL counterparts will ensure that the ‘link juice’ (or link authority) that the old URL collected will be passed on to the new URL.
Look over the list of 404 errors in Google Search Console and implement 301 redirects to their most relevant live URL counterparts. If you have a WordPress website, 301 redirects can be implemented with the ‘Redirection’ plugin.
Implement an XML Sitemap
To ensure that all pages on your website are crawled by search engines, include an XML sitemap for your website. An XML sitemap is a map designed for search engines to find all of the site’s most essential pages by listing them out in XML (Extensible Markup Language). If you find that certain pages are not being crawled on your site, you can resubmit your XML sitemap in Google Search Console and this sometimes fixes the issue.
Implement a Robots.txt File
Including a robots.txt file will increase the speed and efficiency of your website’s crawl by search engines. This is a text file that is used by webmasters to tell search engine crawlers which pages should and should not be crawled on the site. It typically exists on your site with a URL like ‘example.com/robots.txt.’ Disallowing pages that do not need to be crawled (e.g. login pages, disclaimers, etc.) will aid in the crawling and indexation of your site.
Claim and Optimize your Google My Business
An essential part of ranking highly in the Local Search pack is establishing a Google My Business profile. To do this, you will need to visit google.com/business and claim your Google My Business profile. There is a verification process that follows where Google will send a postcard with a PIN to the physical address of your business. You are then required to enter this PIN into your Google My Business account to verify your business.
The next step is optimizing your Google My Business profile, which means filling in as much detail about the business as possible. You will need to add your business’ logo, a complete description of your business, relevant categories, business hours, types of payment accepted, and any photos of your business and its services or products.
Acquire Citations in Online Directories
Citations in online directories are a significant ranking factor in local search listings (as opposed to organic search). The more citations the business has and the more consistent the business’ name, address, and phone number is across these listings, the higher the business listing will appear in the local search pack. Another important issue to address when optimizing for the local search pack is duplicate citations. It’s essential to remove any duplicate citations of your business when you come across them because duplicates hurt local search rankings.
Encourage Online Reviews
One of the top factors in Local Pack/Finder ranking, according to MOZ’s 2017 Local Search Ranking Factors, are review signals (review quantity, review velocity, review diversity, etc.)
You can send out an email asking for customers to check out your Google My Business page or Yelp page where they can leave a review. This will ensure you acquire reviews on a regular basis. Important Note: Be sure not to ask for reviews on Yelp as this is against their guidelines. Simply say “Check out our Yelp page” rather than “Leave a review on our Yelp page.”
Backlinks are links from other websites to your own website. Backlinks pointing to your site from trusted, authoritative websites may be the most significant factor in whether your website ranks highly in search engines. Unless it has a ‘nofollow’ attribute, a link to your site from another website will pass authority (or ‘link juice’) to your site.
By acquiring more backlinks from relevant, authoritative sites you can increase your own site’s domain authority, which will make it more likely that your site’s pages will rank highly in search engines. However, be sure to avoid acquiring links from too many low-quality, websites as this has the potential to hurt your search engine rankings.
To acquire more backlinks from other websites:
- Mention other industry-specific businesses, events, or people in your content and let them know that you have mentioned them; some will link to the piece with the mention
- Monitor your competitor’s backlinks with Open Site Explorer and replicate them
- Answer relevant queries on HARO or SourceBottle
- Acquire links by claiming listings in your local Chambers of Commerce and the Better Business Bureau
- Contact websites that you have a relationship with (your products’ manufacturers sites, associations, etc.) and ask for a link to your site
- Guest post on industry-related websites
- Submit your site to online directories that are related to your industry (make sure these are not low quality websites or they will be more likely to hurt your rankings)
- Promote your content on your social media properties; sometime people link to a piece they see on social media
Planning out your website after performing proper keyword research and following the best practices of on-page, off-page, and technical SEO will put you on the path toward a steady stream of free organic traffic. Abide by the principles presented in this SEO guide for plumbing companies and you will be well on your way to increasing your web traffic and acquiring many more customers for your business.