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Local SEO Strategies For Plumbers And Other Trades

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Plumbers and other tradespeople are essential in modern society, yet they face one huge barrier to entering new markets: Peeling away customers from the competition.

Many homeowners have established relationships with plumbers and contractors, making breaking into certain markets difficult.

Thankfully, plumbers have ways to excel in a new market, particularly when capturing new homeowners or performing emergency services where other plumbers are unavailable.

The best sources for seizing these opportunities are Google Search, and you can improve your visibility there using local SEO.

In this guide, you’ll find tips and tactics to help plumbers, electricians, contractors, and other tradespeople and businesses break into a new market, build a customer base, and expand your brand.

Off-Site SEO Essentials

One of the biggest traffic sources for all businesses comes from ‘near me’ searches, particularly on mobile phones.

By optimizing your Google Business Profile listing and third-party directory listings, you can build your business’s exposure and increase the number of incoming calls to your business.

Google Business Profile Optimization

Your Google Business Profile shows in local search pack results and is displayed in Google Maps searches.

As a result, optimizing your Google Business Profile listing enables customers to call your business, drive to its location, or visit its website with just one click.

Screenshot from Google, July 2022

To optimize your Google Business Profile listing correctly, follow these tips and dive deeper with this guide.

  • Ensure consistent NAP information (i.e., name, address, and phone number).
  • Verify your business on Google Maps.
  • Respond to customer reviews on your profile with helpful advice or kind responses.
  • Write a description of your business and its services.
  • Use high-resolution and relevant photos to showcase your brand and company.

Local Directories

Next, you’ll want to optimize your brand’s business profile on other third-party sites that customers frequently use to find plumbers, including:

  • The Better Business Bureau.
  • Yellow Pages.
  • Angie’s List.
  • Yelp.
  • Houzz.
  • Home Advisor.
  • LinkedIn.
  • Iambuilders.com.
  • Blue Book.

While some sites like Yelp have waned over the years, these directory sites are still important business referral sources.

Some sites provide ranked lists of different businesses based on customer reviews, which can furnish social proof and trust for your business (if you get enough positive reviews).

Moz offers tools for local citation building, or you can manually claim each business yourself, following the tips above to optimize your social media presence.

Build A Social Media Presence

While engaging with customers on social media is not critical for many contractors or trades, sources like Facebook can be valuable for customers looking for special announcements, business hours, and reviews.

Build a social media page for Facebook and LinkedIn, providing high-resolution photos and clear NAP info for easy contact.

Managing Reviews

Finally, you’ll need to manage reviews on external third-party websites to build customer trust.

Generally, you should analyze each third-party site at least once a month, if not more, to see what people are saying about your business and how you can improve.

Think of reviews like personal referrals – which are already a massive source of revenue for your business.

According to one survey, 84% of customers of service businesses and tradespersons said reviews are ‘important’ or ‘very important’ in their decision-making process.

Follow these tips to manage online reviews for your plumbing business:

  • Encourage customers to leave a review after a positive service or engagement.
  • Encourage customers to leave reviews on your website and all marketing materials.
  • Respond to positive reviews.
  • Respond to negative reviews with solutions or an apology.

Don’t worry too much about negative reviews, as most customers will be equally dismayed by overtly harsh reviews.

However, responding to negative reviews with a positive service engagement could build more customer trust over time.

It also helps you show off your customer service skills.

On-Page SEO Essentials

Now that you’ve optimized your business listing on strategic third-party websites, it’s time to optimize your website for local SEO results.

Local Keyword Research

To begin, you’ll need to conduct local keyword research to see which terms drive the most qualified traffic to your website.

Open up a free Google Ads account and use the Keyword Planner tool to search for keywords in your area.

For example, if you operate in Houston, you could use “plumbers houston” as your seed keyword and filter your search for Houston, Texas, to uncover further ideas:

conduct local keyword researchScreenshot from Google Ads, July 2022

Based on this list, “plumber houston tx” and “houston plumbing services” have less competition and can be easily won in local search results.

You can also filter this list by “top of page bid” and look at the highest bids for the most commercially relevant keywords.

You can also take a competitor from your initial keyword list and plug in their URL to see which keywords they rank for.

You can add a semantic filter to adjust your results for strictly plumbing-related keywords.

Building a list of these keywordsScreenshot from Google Ads, July 2022

Building a list of these keywords will be critical for optimizing meta tags on top-level pages and developing content ideas.

Meta Tag Optimization

Now that we have our list of seed keywords, we need to apply them to our web pages.

The first area will be your homepage, where you can customize the title tag to include your brand name and a seed keyword, such as “Matt’s Plumbing Company | Plumbers Houston.”

You will need to optimize the metadata on each page with relevant keyword data to make pages more likely to rank for search results.

This metadata will include:

  • Title Tag/H1: The primary keyword related to a page and the page’s topic. Title tags must be between 50-60 characters, or titles will be truncated in SERPs (search engine results page).
  • Meta Description: A brief description of your webpage, which includes your seed keyword and a call-to-action to read or find out more. Meta descriptions are ideally between 145–160 characters.
  • Header Tags: The subtopics or dividing headers across each page. Each header should include a relevant long-tail keyword.
  • URLs: URLs should retain a simple structure with your site name followed by the name of the title of the webpage.
  • Keyword Usage: Seed keywords should be used in the webpage’s introduction and 1–5% throughout the text document.

Local Schema

While local keyword research will certainly help Google or Bing index your website for local search results, nothing is guaranteed.

To help search engines index your website properly, use schema markup on web pages to properly label and index them.

While schema markup can be complicated, Google’s Structured Data Tool simplifies the task.

Insert your URL and add the appropriate schema markup to ensure each page on your website is properly indexed by Google.

Some common schema markup data that will apply to your plumbing business include:

  • Geo.
  • Type.
  • Opening Hours.
  • Telephone.
  • Address.
  • Review.
  • Price.

See our Complete Guide to Local Schema for more useful tips.

Mobile Responsiveness

Another big component of local search is mobile search.

Many local searches for your business will be conducted via smartphones, so you can’t ignore the importance of mobile.

Thankfully, most modern CMS options come with responsive web design.

However, to ensure your website runs smoothly on mobile, consider the following tips:

  • Compress all images.
  • Reduce clicks and leverage scrolling.
  • Keep webpages short and simple.
  • Insert click-to-call buttons and icons.
  • Limit the amount of JavaScript.
  • Avoid large videos (leverage YouTube instead!)

Site Speed Optimization

Fortunately, by optimizing for mobile, you’ll also be optimizing for page speed.

To increase page speeds, consider the following tips:

  • Minify CSS.
  • Enable file compression.
  • Use browser caching.
  • Clean up redirects.

You should still identify page speed issues using Google’s Page Speed Insights for more helpful information.

Creating Consistent NAP

As a final tip for this section, it’s crucial to ensure that all contact information (name, address, phone number = NAP) and branding are consistent across all your pages.

For example, inserting a click-to-call button and your address in the top corner of each page (or the footer) will ensure customers can contact you whenever they’re ready.

Content Essentials

With your website in place and ready to rock, it’s time to build landing pages for your most important services and service regions.

Service Pages

Ideally, your UX should retain very simple navigation, with your target keyword (such as “Plumbers Houston”) and all auxiliary services as secondary or service pages.

These pages could include services, such as:

  • Emergency Plumbing.
  • Toilet Repairs.
  • Pipe Leaks.
  • Garbage Disposal Repair.
  • Water Heater Services.
  • Sewage.
  • Drain Cleaning.
  • Gas Piping.

These should all be located under a general Plumbing Services top-navigation page where users can explore different services, find out pricing, repair specifics, etc.

Regional Pages

Another important consideration for plumbers and contractors is whether your business serves a large metro area or different locations.

For example, if you provide plumbing services to most of New York City, you could create regional pages for Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens with a list of various services.

Furthermore, if there is enough keyword volume to warrant those pages, you could create regional pages for neighborhoods in New York, such as the Upper East Side, Upper West Side, and SoHo.

These pages may also rank for ‘near me’ searches in those neighborhoods.

Creating A Blog

Finally, you could also consider starting a blog if you feel it will give you a leg up on the competition.

Blogs provide several benefits for local businesses, including plumbers, such as:

  • Providing customers with easy DIY tips and repairs.
  • Separating your brand from other plumbers as a local authority.
  • Providing you with engaging content to share on your social channels.
  • Ranking for long-tail keywords relevant to your business to drive traffic.

You can also consider sharing DIY and tutorial videos on platforms like YouTube, which link back to your website.

Video content is highly shareable and easy to consume, giving your business much-needed exposure.

Link Building Strategies

While we discussed ways to drive traffic from third-party websites, link building can be an exceptionally useful tool in your arsenal to give your business a leg-up on the competition.

Link building – whether it’s using rel=follow or nofollow links – directs qualified traffic to your site and customers to your business.

If you don’t have the money to spend on a tool like Ahrefs, here are some free local link building tips to help you drive traffic to your website:

  • Reach out to newspapers in your town that list local contractors and ask for a link to your site.
  • Reach out to local bloggers who have interviewed local businesses in your area to contribute a quote or interview.
  • Write guest posts on websites with local influencers to contribute some DIY repair tips and other related content.
  • Sponsor a local team, volunteer, or host an event that forces journalists and bloggers to write about your business.

These tips will help give your brand exposure, which, in turn, will drive more customers to your business over time.

Digital Advertising

Online advertising can also be very effective if you want to drive quick exposure and calls to your business.

For example, advertising on Google Ads allows you to bid on the keywords you’re trying to rank for, so your website shows up above the local search pack.

online advertising can be very effective. Screenshot from Google Ads, July 2022

While I suggest enlisting help or taking a course to begin advertising on Google, here are a few helpful tips to help you promote your plumbing business on Google:

  • Use geotargeting to narrow your audience to a specific region.
  • Insert negative keywords to reduce ad spend.
  • Leverage location-specific keywords to compete with ‘“near me” and organic results.
  • Enable ad extensions that provide easy call options and list your business address.
  • Create landing page copy that’s relevant to your ad and includes relevant keywords, high-quality images, and an easy way to contact your business.
  • A/B test ads to see which ad copy generates the best performance.
  • Use longer tail keywords with less competition or change your bid strategy to limit CPC (cost per click).

In addition, Facebook provides sophisticated audience research tools that allow you to advertise to customers based on demographic information, such as whether they’re a homeowner, over a certain age, or own residential/commercial real estate.

Email Marketing

Finally, I want to mention email marketing, as it can be a powerful tool for local businesses.

Plumbers can benefit from email marketing by sending re-engagement emails that remind previous customers of your business, especially if you work with residential and commercial residents.

You can send emails to advertise local promotions in your area, such as discounted inspections or preventative maintenance.

However, email marketing can be expensive, especially for a trade that relies heavily on emergency repairs.

For this reason, email marketing is not truly necessary for plumbers unless you actively create content, engage with the community, or run promotions.

Conclusion

SEO for tradespeople and their businesses involves many of the same strategies as with other local businesses.

However, tradespeople require special consideration for their unique business model.

Some forms of marketing, such as social media and email marketing, may not be as effective as advertising or reputation management.

Hopefully, by following these tips, you can establish a positive web presence for your business and start getting more phone calls.

More resources:


Featured Image: Khosro/Shutterstock



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Google’s AI Overviews Shake Up Ecommerce Search Visibility

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Google's AI Overviews Shake Up Ecommerce Search Visibility

An analysis of 25,000 ecommerce queries by Bartosz Góralewicz, founder of Onely, reveals the impact of Google’s AI overviews on search visibility for online retailers.

The study found that 16% of eCommerce queries now return an AI overview in search results, accounting for 13% of total search volume in this sector.

Notably, 80% of the sources listed in these AI overviews do not rank organically for the original query.

“Ranking #1-3 gives you only an 8% chance of being a source in AI overviews,” Góralewicz stated.

Shift Toward “Accelerated” Product Experiences

International SEO consultant Aleyda Solis analyzed the disconnect between traditional organic ranking and inclusion in AI overviews.

According to Solis, for product-related queries, Google is prioritizing an “accelerated” approach over summarizing currently ranking pages.

She commented Góralewicz’ findings, stating:

“… rather than providing high level summaries of what’s already ranked organically below, what Google does with e-commerce is “accelerate” the experience by already showcasing what the user would get next.”

Solis explains that for queries where Google previously ranked category pages, reviews, and buying guides, it’s now bypassing this level of results with AI overviews.

Assessing AI Overview Traffic Impact

To help retailers evaluate their exposure, Solis has shared a spreadsheet that analyzes the potential traffic impact of AI overviews.

As Góralewicz notes, this could be an initial rollout, speculating that “Google will expand AI overviews for high-cost queries when enabling ads” based on data showing they are currently excluded for high cost-per-click keywords.

An in-depth report across ecommerce and publishing is expected soon from Góralewicz and Onely, with additional insights into this search trend.

Why SEJ Cares

AI overviews represent a shift in how search visibility is achieved for ecommerce websites.

With most overviews currently pulling product data from non-ranking sources, the traditional connection between organic rankings and search traffic is being disrupted.

Retailers may need to adapt their SEO strategies for this new search environment.

How This Can Benefit You

While unsettling for established brands, AI overviews create new opportunities for retailers to gain visibility without competing for the most commercially valuable keywords.

Ecommerce sites can potentially circumvent traditional ranking barriers by optimizing product data and detail pages for Google’s “accelerated” product displays.

The detailed assessment framework provided by Solis enables merchants to audit their exposure and prioritize optimization needs accordingly.


FAQ

What are the key findings from the analysis of AI overviews & ecommerce queries?

Góralewicz’s analysis of 25,000 ecommerce queries found:

  • 16% of ecommerce queries now return an AI overview in the search results.
  • 80% of the sources listed in these AI overviews do not rank organically for the original query.
  • Ranking positions #1-3 only provides an 8% chance of being a source in AI overviews.

These insights reveal significant shifts in how ecommerce sites need to approach search visibility.

Why are AI overviews pulling product data from non-ranking sources, and what does this mean for retailers?

Google’s AI overviews prioritize “accelerated” experiences over summarizing currently ranked pages for product-related queries.

This shift focuses on showcasing directly what users seek instead of traditional organic results.

For retailers, this means:

  • A need to optimize product pages beyond traditional SEO practices, catering to the data requirements of AI overviews.
  • Opportunities to gain visibility without necessarily holding top organic rankings.
  • Potential to bypass traditional ranking barriers by focusing on enhanced product data integration.

Retailers must adapt quickly to remain competitive in this evolving search environment.

What practical steps can retailers take to evaluate and improve their search visibility in light of AI overview disruptions?

Retailers can take several practical steps to evaluate and improve their search visibility:

  • Utilize the spreadsheet provided by Aleyda Solis to assess the potential traffic impact of AI overviews.
  • Optimize product and detail pages to align with the data and presentation style preferred by AI overviews.
  • Continuously monitor changes and updates to AI overviews, adapting strategies based on new data and trends.

These steps can help retailers navigate the impact of AI overviews and maintain or improve their search visibility.


Featured Image: Marco Lazzarini/Shutterstock



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Google’s AI Overviews Go Viral, Draw Mainstream Media Scrutiny

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Google's AI Overviews Go Viral, Draw Mainstream Media Scrutiny

Google’s rollout of AI-generated overviews in US search results is taking a disastrous turn, with mainstream media outlets like The New York Times, BBC, and CNBC reporting on numerous inaccuracies and bizarre responses.

On social media, users are sharing endless examples of the feature’s nonsensical and sometimes dangerous output.

From recommending non-toxic glue on pizza to suggesting that eating rocks provides nutritional benefits, the blunders would be amusing if they weren’t so alarming.

Mainstream Media Coverage

As reported by The New York Times, Google’s AI overviews struggle with basic facts, claiming that Barack Obama was the first Muslim president of the United States and stating that Andrew Jackson graduated from college in 2005.

These errors undermine trust in Google’s search engine, which more than two billion people rely on for authoritative information worldwide.

Manual Removal & System Refinements

As reported by The Verge, Google is now scrambling to remove the bizarre AI-generated responses and improve its systems manually.

A Google spokesperson confirmed that the company is taking “swift action” to remove problematic responses and using the examples to refine its AI overview feature.

Google’s Rush To AI Integration

The flawed rollout of AI overviews isn’t an isolated incident for Google.

As CNBC notes in its report, Google made several missteps in a rush to integrate AI into its products.

In February, Google was forced to pause its Gemini chatbot after it generated inaccurate images of historical figures and refused to depict white people in most instances.

Before that, the company’s Bard chatbot faced ridicule for sharing incorrect information about outer space, leading to a $100 billion drop in Google’s market value.

Despite these setbacks, industry experts cited by The New York Times suggest that Google has little choice but to continue advancing AI integration to remain competitive.

However, the challenges of taming large language models, which ingest false information and satirical posts, are now more apparent.

The Debate Over AI In Search

The controversy surrounding AI overviews adds fuel to the debate over the risks and limitations of AI.

While the technology holds potential, these missteps remind everyone that more testing is needed before unleashing it on the public.

The BBC notes that Google’s rivals face similar backlash over their attempts to cram more AI tools into their consumer-facing products.

The UK’s data watchdog is investigating Microsoft after it announced a feature that would take continuous screenshots of users’ online activity.

At the same time, actress Scarlett Johansson criticized OpenAI for using a voice likened to her own without permission.

What This Means For Websites & SEO Professionals

Mainstream media coverage of Google’s erroneous AI overviews brings the issue of declining search quality to public attention.

As the company works to address inaccuracies, the incident serves as a cautionary tale for the entire industry.

Important takeaway: Prioritize responsible use of AI technology to ensure the benefits outweigh its risks.



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New Google Search Ads Resemble AI Assistant App

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New Google Search Ads Resemble AI Assistant App

A keynote at Google’s Marketing Live event showed a new AI-powered visual search results that feature advertisements that engage users within the context of an AI-Assisted search, blurring the line between AI-generated search results and advertisements.

Google Lens is a truly helpful app but it becomes unconventional where it blurs the line between an assistant helping users and being led to a shopping cart. This new way of engaging potential customers with AI is so far out there that the presenter doesn’t even call it advertising, he doesn’t even use the word.

Visual Search Traffic Opportunity?

Google’s Group Product Manager Sylvanus Bent, begins the presentation with an overview of the next version of Google Lens visual search that will be useful for surfacing information and for help finding where to buy them.

Sylvanus explained how it will be an opportunity for websites to receive traffic from this new way to search.

“…whether you’re snapping a photo with lens or circling to search something on your social feed, visual search unlocks new ways to explore whatever catches your eye, and we recently announced a newly redesigned results page for Visual search.

Soon, instead of just visual matches, you’ll see a wide range of results, from images to video, web links, and facts about the knowledge graph. It gets people the helpful information they need and creates new opportunities for sites to be discovered.”

It’s hard to say whether or not this will bring search traffic to websites and what the quality of that traffic will be. Will they stick around to read an article? Will they engage with a product review?

Visual Search Results

Sylvanus shares a hypothetical example of someone at an airport baggage claim who falls in like with someone else’s bag. He explains that all the person needs to do is snap a photo of the luggage bag and Google Lens will take them directly to shopping options.

He explains:

“No words, no problem. Just open Lens, take a quick picture and immediately you’ll see options to purchase.

And for the first time, shopping ads will appear at the very top of the results on linked searches, where a business can offer what a consumer is looking for.

This will help them easily purchase something that catches their eye.”

These are image-heavy shopping ads at the top of the search results and as annoying as that may be it’s nowhere near the “next level” advertising that is coming to Google’s search ads where Google presents a paid promotion within the context of an AI Assistant.

Interactive Search Shopping

Sylvanus next describes an AI-powered form advertising that happens directly within search. But he doesn’t call it advertising. He doesn’t even use the word advertising. He suggests this new form of AI search experience is more than offer, saying that, “it’s an experience.”

He’s right to not use the word advertisement because what he describes goes far beyond advertising and blurs the boundaries between search and advertising within the context of AI-powered suggestions, paid suggestions.

Sylvanus explains how this new form of shopping experience works:

“And next, imagine a world where every search ad is more than an offer. It’s an experience. It’s a new way for you to engage more directly with your customers. And we’re exploring search ads with AI powered recommendations across different verticals. So I want to show you an example that’s going live soon and you’ll see even more when we get to shopping.”

He uses the example of someone who needs to store their furniture for a few months and who turns to Google to find short term storage. What he describes is a query for local short term storage that turns into a “dynamic ad experience” that leads the searcher into throwing packing supplies into their shopping cart.

He narrated how it works:

“You search for short term storage and you see an ad for extra space storage. Now you can click into a new dynamic ad experience.

You can select and upload photos of the different rooms in your house, showing how much furniture you have, and then extra space storage with help from Google, AI generates a description of all your belongings for you to verify. You get a recommendation for the right size and type of storage unit and even how much packing supplies you need to get the job done. Then you just go to the website to complete the transaction.

And this is taking the definition of a helpful ad to the next level. It does everything but physically pick up your stuff and move it, and that is cool.”

Step 1: Search For Short Term Storage

1716722762 15 New Google Search Ads Resemble AI Assistant App

The above screenshot shows an advertisement that when clicked takes the user to what looks like an AI-assisted search but is really an interactive advertisement.

Step 2: Upload Photos For “AI Assistance”

1716722762 242 New Google Search Ads Resemble AI Assistant App

The above image is a screenshot of an advertisement that is presented in the context of AI-assisted search.  Masking an advertisement within a different context is the same principal behind an advertorial where an advertisement is hidden in the form of an article. The phrases “Let AI do the heavy lifting” and “AI-powered recommendations” create the context of AI-search that masks the true context of an advertisement.

Step 3: Images Chosen For Uploading

1716722762 187 New Google Search Ads Resemble AI Assistant App

The above screenshot shows how a user uploads an image to the AI-powered advertisement within the context of an AI-powered search app.

The Word “App” Masks That This Is An Ad

Screenshot of interactive advertisement for that identifies itself as an app with the words

Above is a screenshot of how a user uploads a photo to the AI-powered interactive advertisement within the context of a visual search engine, using the word “app” to further the illusion that the user is interacting with an app and not an advertisement.

Upload Process Masks The Advertising Context

Screenshot of interactive advertisement that uses the context of an AI Assistant to mask that this is an advertisement

The phrase “Generative AI is experimental” contributes to the illusion that this is an AI-assisted search.

Step 4: Upload Confirmation

1716722762 395 New Google Search Ads Resemble AI Assistant App

In step 4 the “app” advertisement is for confirming that the AI correctly identified the furniture that needs to be put into storage.

Step 5: AI “Recommendations”

1716722762 588 New Google Search Ads Resemble AI Assistant App

The above screenshot shows “AI recommendations” that look like search results.

The Recommendations Are Ad Units

1716722762 751 New Google Search Ads Resemble AI Assistant App

Those recommendations are actually ad units that when clicked takes the user to the “Extra Space Storage” shopping website.

Step 6: Searcher Visits Advertiser Website

1716722762 929 New Google Search Ads Resemble AI Assistant App

Blurring The Boundaries

What the Google keynote speaker describes is the integration of paid product suggestions into an AI assisted search. This kind of advertising is so far out there that the Googler doesn’t even call it advertising and rightfully so because what this does is blur the line between AI assisted search and advertising. At what point does a helpful AI search become just a platform for using AI to offer paid suggestions?

Watch The Keynote At The 32 Minute Mark

Featured Image by Shutterstock/Ljupco Smokovski

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