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How Construction Companies Rank In Search

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How Construction Companies Rank In Search

SEO in the homebuilding industry requires a mix of local, on-page, off-page, and technical organic search skills to maximize your ranking potential.

The right balance of these skills and tactics for your organization depends on your:

  • Targeting (regional vs. national).
  • Business type (custom vs. tract builders).
  • Availability of resources to get the work done.
  • And growth goals.

While the above factors will help you personalize and tailor your SEO strategy to your unique needs, you need a solid foundation to build from (see what I did there?).

Here are four areas marketers in the homebuilding space should be well aware of to help your residential construction company succeed in search.

1. Required On-Site Content Areas For Homebuilders

Your site is going to have sections devoted to prospects and customers.

Here are five areas your site needs to invest the most in for SEO success:

Floorplan Or Home Plan Pages

The most popular sections of builders’ sites are typically their floorplan pages.

Most of your website investment should go into making these pages full of imagery, specification, localized pricing/features, virtual walkthroughs, FAQs, and video-based content featuring the home designer or architect.

These pages should also be optimized for mobile devices as they may not be able to easily see detailed imagery as well as you could on a desktop or tablet.

Community Or Sales Office Pages

For homebuilders, your community or sales office location pages are your gateways to showing up in local search.

These pages should have a community name, address, and phone number information.

Additionally, for tract builders, each community page should contain information about what it’s like living in the area and a gallery of your homes (with rich localized text descriptions).

Even better if you can include a map with nearby attractions, restaurants, grocery stores, and watering holes.

For custom or on your lot builders, these location pages should also have localized information about:

  • The build process.
  • Any permits needed.
  • Video testimonials from happy customers from that area.
  • A gallery of homes built in the area.
  • Frequently asked questions (with FAQ schema implemented on the page).

Featured Product Pages

Builders work with a variety of vendors and contractors throughout the build process.

These vendors make an impact on your buyer’s decision because there is an association of the quality of the vendors’ material with the buyer’s perception of the brand.

Homebuilders that have clear product information on their website can use this to their advantage in helping ensure that the buyer feels confident because they are using premium products.

These pages help both from an SEO and a sales process perspective.

Building Process

For custom homebuilders, buyers need to understand the lengthy, multi-phase process of homebuilding.

You should consider creating a timeline infographic, guide, videos, or a series of articles that describe this.

Most of this content is usually documented internally but builders who can make this public-facing (even if it’s somewhat abbreviated) will help educate and qualify buyers during the sales process.

Blog Content

Homebuilders are going to struggle from an SEO perspective without some section of their website devoted to fresh, educational content for the home buyer.

For tract or spec builders, this content should focus on the financing and selection process of the existing home.

For custom home builders, this needs to speak to a broader range of topics could include:

  • Finding land.
  • Preparing your land.
  • Financing.
  • Working with the builder.
  • Inspecting the home before moving in.
  • And much more.

2. SERP Features For Homebuilders

The high involvement and long home purchase process create several opportunities for showing up for several SERP features.

Local Pack

Homebuilders’ first steps in improving their local SEO presence should involve optimizing and verifying their Google Business Profile(s).

This should be done at the local office or branch level, and you will need to build out a profile for each (sales office or community) location.

After optimizing your GBP, you should now focus on generating 5-star reviews through a review-building program, which will further help you rise in the local SERPs.

Knowledge Pack

Each of your communities (for tract builders) or sales offices (for on-your-lot builders) can show up with an individualized knowledge pack.

The knowledge pack is chock full of location information (supplied by your Google Business Profile), user-generated Q&As, reviews (from Google and 3rd party), associated social profiles, and more.

Image Pack

The highly visual nature of new homes creates opportunities for builders to show up in image packs.

Image packs typically contain images from the builder’s website as well as reshared images from home building aggregators, YouTube, and local publications.

Along with high-quality photography, homebuilders need to invest in content distribution and PR strategy to disseminate their visual creative assets across channels.

People Also Ask

There are dozens of commonly asked questions that your team members have answered for prospects and customers about the home buying and building process.

If you have a help desk, a lot of this information can be mined from there.

In any case, your website can show up frequently within the People Also Ask (PAA) SERP feature using FAQs on your site.

Further, by implementing FAQ schema, you provide a signal to search engines and are giving your site the best shot at gaining the PAA SERP feature.

FAQ schema is relatively easy to implement depending on your CMS.

3. Off-Page SEO Opportunities

Homebuilders typically have a lot of low-hanging link building opportunities given they are well connected with vendors, partners, and organizations in the community.

Here are two off-page opportunities to invest in.

Link Building

Homebuilders have relationships with suppliers, trade partners, vendors, contractors, realtors, customers, media, and people though out the community.

The volume of these relationships scales even more broadly when looking at national or regional homebuilders who are found in multiple locations.

Marketers for homebuilders should create a list in their CRM of potential link building opportunities and ensure there is a process to gaining a backlink from every website you have a relationship with.

Review Building

Generating positive reviews on third-party sites or Google is one of the most impactful off-page SEO opportunities for your team.

As you complete projects with buyers, you should have an automated system for outreach to encourage (happy or high Net Promoter Score) customers to leave reviews on Google, Houzz, New Home Source, and other sites that aggregate builder reviews.

If you are using your CRM to its fullest extent, you should be keeping track of the customers that left you 5-star reviews so that you can work with them in the future to build out case studies, rely on them for customer reference calls or potentially sell to them again in the future.

Along with an automated review request system, you should incentivize your sales team to encourage review building, as well.

Online reviews are worth their weight in gold, and you should be rewarding your sales team (with cash) if they are ones that pushed the customer to leave their online review.

Many review sites prohibit incentivizing your customers to leave reviews, but there are several creative ways to make it easy for them.

4. Common SEO Mistakes To Avoid

The list of common SEO mistakes is long. Here are two that builders should avoid:

Hidden Content

Larger homebuilders have more sophisticated CMS functionality that allows for more personalization and localization of content.

Though this can be useful from a UX perspective, you need to balance this with Google’s ability to crawl your site.

If you are hiding specific content from users in certain locations and if Google doesn’t have any means to crawl this hidden content, then you risk not having that content indexed in Google.

Content Deprecation Issues

The other major mistake that is more common with Tract builders is the excessive amount of content that needs to be deprecated and redirected when all the homes in a community are sold out.

New communities have the propensity to generate inbound links, to new communities, from local news and other sources when they are announced to the public.

301 redirection to a relevant category or city page will give you the best opportunity at retaining link equity built up at the URL.

Alternately, you can update the page and let the visitor know the community is sold out but that they should look at the provided list of nearby communities.

Conclusion

As you can see, there are a variety of skill sets and resources that homebuilders need to stand out in local and organic search.

As the competition in this space continues to grow, builders who have a strong local and national SEO presence, a system for generating 5-star reviews across local channels – and most importantly, a raving fan base of happy customers – are going to see the greatest success in the SERPs.

More resources:


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No Algorithmic Actions For Site Reputation Abuse Yet

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Looking up at an angle at the Google sign on the Head Office for Canada

Google’s Search Liaison, Danny Sullivan, has confirmed that the search engine hasn’t launched algorithmic actions targeting site reputation abuse.

This clarification addresses speculation within the SEO community that recent traffic drops are related to Google’s previously announced policy update.

Sullivan Says No Update Rolled Out

Lily Ray, an SEO professional, shared a screenshot on Twitter showing a significant drop in traffic for the website Groupon starting on May 6.

Ray suggested this was evidence that Google had begun rolling out algorithmic penalties for sites violating the company’s site reputation abuse policy.

However, Sullivan quickly stepped in, stating:

“We have not gone live with algorithmic actions on site reputation abuse. I well imagine when we do, we’ll be very clear about that. Publishers seeing changes and thinking it’s this — it’s not — results change all the time for all types of reasons.”

Sullivan added that when the actions are rolled out, they will only impact specific content, not entire websites.

This is an important distinction, as it suggests that even if a site has some pages manually penalized, the rest of the domain can rank normally.

Background On Google’s Site Reputation Abuse Policy

Earlier this year, Google announced a new policy to combat what it calls “site reputation abuse.”

This refers to situations where third-party content is published on authoritative domains with little oversight or involvement from the host site.

Examples include sponsored posts, advertorials, and partner content that is loosely related to or unrelated to a site’s primary purpose.

Under the new policy, Google is taking manual action against offending pages and plans to incorporate algorithmic detection.

What This Means For Publishers & SEOs

While Google hasn’t launched any algorithmic updates related to site reputation abuse, the manual actions have publishers on high alert.

Those who rely heavily on sponsored content or partner posts to drive traffic should audit their sites and remove any potential policy violations.

Sullivan’s confirmation that algorithmic changes haven’t occurred may provide temporary relief.

Additionally, his statements also serve as a reminder that significant ranking fluctuations can happen at any time due to various factors, not just specific policy rollouts.


FAQ

Will Google’s future algorithmic actions impact entire websites or specific content?

When Google eventually rolls out algorithmic actions for site reputation abuse, these actions will target specific content rather than the entire website.

This means that if certain pages are found to be in violation, only those pages will be affected, allowing other parts of the site to continue ranking normally.

What should publishers and SEOs do in light of Google’s site reputation abuse policy?

Publishers and SEO professionals should audit their sites to identify and remove any content that may violate Google’s site reputation abuse policy.

This includes sponsored posts and partner content that doesn’t align with the site’s primary purpose. Taking these steps can mitigate the risk of manual penalties from Google.

What is the context of the recent traffic drops seen in the SEO community?

Google claims the recent drops for coupon sites aren’t linked to any algorithmic actions for site reputation abuse. Traffic fluctuations can occur for various reasons and aren’t always linked to a specific algorithm update.


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WP Rocket WordPress Plugin Now Optimizes LCP Core Web Vitals Metric

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WP Rocket WordPress Plugin Now Optimizes LCP Core Web Vitals Metric

WP Rocket, the WordPress page speed performance plugin, just announced the release of a new version that will help publishers optimize for Largest Contentful Paint (LCP), an important Core Web Vitals metric.

Large Contentful Paint (LCP)

LCP is a page speed metric that’s designed to show how fast it takes for a user to perceive that the page is loaded and read to be interacted with. This metric measures the time it takes for the main content elements has fully loaded. This gives an idea of how usable a webpage is. The faster the LCP the better the user experience will be.

WP Rocket 3.16

WP Rocket is a caching plugin that helps a site perform faster. The way page caching generally works is that the website will store frequently accessed webpages and resources so that when someone visits the page the website doesn’t have to fetch the data from the database, which takes time, but instead will serve the webpage from the cache. This is super important when a website has a lot of site visitors because that can use a lot of server resources to fetch and build the same website over and over for every visitor.

The lastest version of WP Rocket (3.16) now contains Automatic LCP optimization, which means that it will optimize the on-page elements from the main content so that they are served first thereby raising the LCP scores and providing a better user experience.

Because it’s automatic there’s really nothing to fiddle around with or fine tune.

According to WP Rocket:

  • Automatic LCP Optimization: Optimizes the Largest Contentful Paint, a critical metric for website speed, automatically enhancing overall PageSpeed scores.
  • Smart Management of Above-the-Fold Images: Automatically detects and prioritizes critical above-the-fold images, loading them immediately to improve user experience and performance metrics.

All new functionalities operate seamlessly in the background, requiring no direct intervention from the user. Upon installing or upgrading to WP Rocket 3.16, these optimizations are automatically enabled, though customization options remain accessible for those who prefer manual control.”

Read the official announcement:

WP Rocket 3.16: Improving LCP and PageSpeed Score Automatically

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Optimizing Interaction To Next Paint: A Step-By-Step Guide

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Optimizing Interaction To Next Paint: A Step-By-Step Guide

This post was sponsored by DebugBear. The opinions expressed in this article are the sponsor’s own.

Keeping your website fast is important for user experience and SEO.

The Core Web Vitals initiative by Google provides a set of metrics to help you understand the performance of your website.

The three Core Web Vitals metrics are:

This post focuses on the recently introduced INP metric and what you can do to improve it.

How Is Interaction To Next Paint Measured?

INP measures how quickly your website responds to user interactions – for example, a click on a button. More specifically, INP measures the time in milliseconds between the user input and when the browser has finished processing the interaction and is ready to display any visual updates on the page.

Your website needs to complete this process in under 200 milliseconds to get a “Good” score. Values over half a second are considered “Poor”. A poor score in a Core Web Vitals metric can negatively impact your search engine rankings.

Google collects INP data from real visitors on your website as part of the Chrome User Experience Report (CrUX). This CrUX data is what ultimately impacts rankings.

Image created by DebugBear, May 2024

How To Identify & Fix Slow INP Times

The factors causing poor Interaction to Next Paint can often be complex and hard to figure out. Follow this step-by-step guide to understand slow interactions on your website and find potential optimizations.

1. How To Identify A Page With Slow INP Times

Different pages on your website will have different Core Web Vitals scores. So you need to identify a slow page and then investigate what’s causing it to be slow.

Using Google Search Console

One easy way to check your INP scores is using the Core Web Vitals section in Google Search Console, which reports data based on the Google CrUX data we’ve discussed before.

By default, page URLs are grouped into URL groups that cover many different pages. Be careful here – not all pages might have the problem that Google is reporting. Instead, click on each URL group to see if URL-specific data is available for some pages and then focus on those.

1716368164 358 Optimizing Interaction To Next Paint A Step By Step GuideScreenshot of Google Search Console, May 2024

Using A Real-User Monitoring (RUM) Service

Google won’t report Core Web Vitals data for every page on your website, and it only provides the raw measurements without any details to help you understand and fix the issues. To get that you can use a real-user monitoring tool like DebugBear.

Real-user monitoring works by installing an analytics snippet on your website that measures how fast your website is for your visitors. Once that’s set up you’ll have access to an Interaction to Next Paint dashboard like this:

1716368164 404 Optimizing Interaction To Next Paint A Step By Step GuideScreenshot of the DebugBear Interaction to Next Paint dashboard, May 2024

You can identify pages you want to optimize in the list, hover over the URL, and click the funnel icon to look at data for that specific page only.

1716368164 975 Optimizing Interaction To Next Paint A Step By Step GuideImage created by DebugBear, May 2024

2. Figure Out What Element Interactions Are Slow

Different visitors on the same page will have different experiences. A lot of that depends on how they interact with the page: if they click on a background image there’s no risk of the page suddenly freezing, but if they click on a button that starts some heavy processing then that’s more likely. And users in that second scenario will experience much higher INP.

To help with that, RUM data provides a breakdown of what page elements users interacted with and how big the interaction delays were.

1716368164 348 Optimizing Interaction To Next Paint A Step By Step GuideScreenshot of the DebugBear INP Elements view, May 2024

The screenshot above shows different INP interactions sorted by how frequent these user interactions are. To make optimizations as easy as possible you’ll want to focus on a slow interaction that affects many users.

In DebugBear, you can click on the page element to add it to your filters and continue your investigation.

3. Identify What INP Component Contributes The Most To Slow Interactions

INP delays can be broken down into three different components:

  • Input Delay: Background code that blocks the interaction from being processed.
  • Processing Time: The time spent directly handling the interaction.
  • Presentation Delay: Displaying the visual updates to the screen.

You should focus on which INP component is the biggest contributor to the slow INP time, and ensure you keep that in mind during your investigation.

1716368164 193 Optimizing Interaction To Next Paint A Step By Step GuideScreenshot of the DebugBear INP Components, May 2024

In this scenario, Processing Time is the biggest contributor to the slow INP time for the set of pages you’re looking at, but you need to dig deeper to understand why.

High processing time indicates that there is code intercepting the user interaction and running slow performing code. If instead you saw a high input delay, that suggests that there are background tasks blocking the interaction from being processed, for example due to third-party scripts.

4. Check Which Scripts Are Contributing To Slow INP

Sometimes browsers report specific scripts that are contributing to a slow interaction. Your website likely contains both first-party and third-party scripts, both of which can contribute to slow INP times.

A RUM tool like DebugBear can collect and surface this data. The main thing you want to look at is whether you mostly see your own website code or code from third parties.

1716368164 369 Optimizing Interaction To Next Paint A Step By Step GuideScreenshot of the INP Primary Script Domain Grouping in DebugBear, May 2024

Tip: When you see a script, or source code function marked as “N/A”, this can indicate that the script comes from a different origin and has additional security restrictions that prevent RUM tools from capturing more detailed information.

This now begins to tell a story: it appears that analytics/third-party scripts are the biggest contributors to the slow INP times.

5. Identify Why Those Scripts Are Running

At this point, you now have a strong suspicion that most of the INP delay, at least on the pages and elements you’re looking at, is due to third-party scripts. But how can you tell whether those are general tracking scripts or if they actually have a role in handling the interaction?

DebugBear offers a breakdown that helps see why the code is running, called the INP Primary Script Invoker breakdown. That’s a bit of a mouthful – multiple different scripts can be involved in slowing down an interaction, and here you just see the biggest contributor. The “Invoker” is just a value that the browser reports about what caused this code to run.

1716368165 263 Optimizing Interaction To Next Paint A Step By Step GuideScreenshot of the INP Primary Script Invoker Grouping in DebugBear, May 2024

The following invoker names are examples of page-wide event handlers:

  • onclick
  • onmousedown
  • onpointerup

You can see those a lot in the screenshot above, which tells you that the analytics script is tracking clicks anywhere on the page.

In contrast, if you saw invoker names like these that would indicate event handlers for a specific element on the page:

  • .load_more.onclick
  • #logo.onclick

6. Review Specific Page Views

A lot of the data you’ve seen so far is aggregated. It’s now time to look at the individual INP events, to form a definitive conclusion about what’s causing slow INP in this example.

Real user monitoring tools like DebugBear generally offer a way to review specific user experiences. For example, you can see what browser they used, how big their screen is, and what element led to the slowest interaction.

1716368165 545 Optimizing Interaction To Next Paint A Step By Step GuideScreenshot of a Page View in DebugBear Real User Monitoring, May 2024

As mentioned before, multiple scripts can contribute to overall slow INP. The INP Scripts section shows you the scripts that were run during the INP interaction:

1716368165 981 Optimizing Interaction To Next Paint A Step By Step GuideScreenshot of the DebugBear INP script breakdown, May 2024

You can review each of these scripts in more detail to understand why they run and what’s causing them to take longer to finish.

7. Use The DevTools Profiler For More Information

Real user monitoring tools have access to a lot of data, but for performance and security reasons they can access nowhere near all the available data. That’s why it’s a good idea to also use Chrome DevTools to measure your page performance.

To debug INP in DevTools you can measure how the browser processes one of the slow interactions you’ve identified before. DevTools then shows you exactly how the browser is spending its time handling the interaction.

1716368165 526 Optimizing Interaction To Next Paint A Step By Step GuideScreenshot of a performance profile in Chrome DevTools, May 2024

How You Might Resolve This Issue

In this example, you or your development team could resolve this issue by:

  • Working with the third-party script provider to optimize their script.
  • Removing the script if it is not essential to the website, or finding an alternative provider.
  • Adjusting how your own code interacts with the script

How To Investigate High Input Delay

In the previous example most of the INP time was spent running code in response to the interaction. But often the browser is already busy running other code when a user interaction happens. When investigating the INP components you’ll then see a high input delay value.

This can happen for various reasons, for example:

  • The user interacted with the website while it was still loading.
  • A scheduled task is running on the page, for example an ongoing animation.
  • The page is loading and rendering new content.

To understand what’s happening, you can review the invoker name and the INP scripts section of individual user experiences.

1716368165 86 Optimizing Interaction To Next Paint A Step By Step GuideScreenshot of the INP Component breakdown within DebugBear, May 2024

In this screenshot, you can see that a timer is running code that coincides with the start of a user interaction.

The script can be opened to reveal the exact code that is run:

1716368165 114 Optimizing Interaction To Next Paint A Step By Step GuideScreenshot of INP script details in DebugBear, May 2024

The source code shown in the previous screenshot comes from a third-party user tracking script that is running on the page.

At this stage, you and your development team can continue with the INP workflow presented earlier in this article. For example, debugging with browser DevTools or contacting the third-party provider for support.

How To Investigate High Presentation Delay

Presentation delay tends to be more difficult to debug than input delay or processing time. Often it’s caused by browser behavior rather than a specific script. But as before, you still start by identifying a specific page and a specific interaction.

You can see an example interaction with high presentation delay here:

1716368165 665 Optimizing Interaction To Next Paint A Step By Step GuideScreenshot of the an interaction with high presentation delay, May 2024

You see that this happens when the user enters text into a form field. In this example, many visitors pasted large amounts of text that the browser had to process.

Here the fix was to delay the processing, show a “Waiting…” message to the user, and then complete the processing later on. You can see how the INP score improves from May 3:

1716368165 845 Optimizing Interaction To Next Paint A Step By Step GuideScreenshot of an Interaction to Next Paint timeline in DebugBear, May 2024

Get The Data You Need To Improve Interaction To Next Paint

Setting up real user monitoring helps you understand how users experience your website and what you can do to improve it. Try DebugBear now by signing up for a free 14-day trial.

1716368165 494 Optimizing Interaction To Next Paint A Step By Step GuideScreenshot of the DebugBear Core Web Vitals dashboard, May 2024

Google’s CrUX data is aggregated over a 28-day period, which means that it’ll take a while before you notice a regression. With real-user monitoring you can see the impact of website changes right away and get alerted automatically when there’s a big change.

DebugBear monitors lab data, CrUX data, and real user data. That way you have all the data you need to optimize your Core Web Vitals in one place.

This article has been sponsored by DebugBear, and the views presented herein represent the sponsor’s perspective.

Ready to start optimizing your website? Sign up for DebugBear and get the data you need to deliver great user experiences.


Image Credits

Featured Image: Image by Redesign.co. Used with permission.

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