Marketing - How do you Measure Up?
By Jason Myers, VP of Demand Development, The Blue Book Building and Construction Network
In this first of a series of articles, we explore commercial construction marketing – specifically, on-page SEO. It is an important part of your marketing, but many do it completely wrong.
The commercial contractor has an especially difficult job: stand out amongst a sea of consumer oriented businesses with huge advertising and SEO budgets.
"The key is to realize that an evolving content is fresh and gives the Bot something to chew on"
Do you want to advertise your commercial contracting business online? Great, you’ll be competing with every residential player out there. This drives advertising costs from web pay per click (PPC) or pay per impression (CPM) based advertising on Google and other platforms to exorbitant levels.
Furthermore, quality is diluted by the traffic (clickers), who more often look for some residential solution.
Enter, the organic SEO tactic. A wise commercial contractor expends resources to bolster performance in organic SEO of specific commercial/industrial contracting phrases. This process of SEO optimization is neither fast, nor is it a one-time project. In fact, it requires a consistent focus and constant re-education to keep up with search-engine algorithm (methodology) changes that occur at least each quarter.
The question is: What can a contractor do to have a web presence which drives inquiries?
The lion’s share of the traffic to website is driven by Google. Half of a website’s traffic will typically come from search results. About 60percent of all internet-enabled devices connect to Google on a daily basis.
Every time we turn around, another search-engine change has emerged creating havoc with website owners. It is a bit of a shell game for website owners and SEO geeks. Google will adjust its formula to increase or decrease the weight of factors used to determine the ranking of a web page in the Search Engine Results Page (SERP). Why do they do this? Because everyone is trying to improve website rankings by leveraging the on-page and off-page SEO methods. When one method is overused, creating a poor result-set, the mighty Google will adjust the weighting to rebalance the results.
There seem to be three camps of people when it comes to their focus on SEO: the avoider, the dabbler and the committed. Regardless of which camp you belong to currently, you must realize that the changes to search-engines are perpetual and with each change comes new adjustments that increase or decrease the impact to anything you may have done to “improve” your site’s performance.
In today’s ever changing search-engine landscape, the commercial contractor has an especially difficult job: stand out in a sea of consumer-oriented businesses with huge advertising and SEO budgets.
The 4 Factor Formula to Successful On-Page SEO
The most important factor for a site is the on-page (within the site) factors. Off-page SEO is mostly about creating votes of confidence and relevance from 3rd party sites and is not as important in today’s search engine landscape as it once was. There are four distinct factors in a successfully executed, SEO friendly website:
Platform + Architecture + Curation + Content = “On-Page SEO”
Let’s start with the Platform. It must be fast. Page load times represent a major factor in the search engine indexing robot (Bot) being able to fully index the site. Take a look at your site using Google Webmaster Tools. It will show you the latency or speed issues that may be affecting the Bot crawls.
Most contractor websites use Godaddy shared hosting or something comparable. This exposes the site to traffic spikes on any number of the hundreds or thousands of sites hosted on that single server. There are three issues caused by seemingly “affordable” shared hosting:
1. Latency or speed issues caused by neighbors hogging all of the server processing power and bandwidth
2. Guilt by association if there are spammers on the same server, the search engine can penalize your site.
3. Malicious attacks resulting in hidden malicious code on the sites that phish or otherwise compromise the visitor, stealing data and other nefarious activities. One insecure site on the server can jeopardize the whole network of neighbor sites on the server. This is much like an outbreak of the flu in a family because of contamination and close proximity. Thousands of sites in a two square foot box is the epitome of close quarters.
Architecture is how the site is designed from a Bot perspective. Specifically, can the Bot crawl the site’s navigation and content in a logical fashion? Is the structure of the site logical and does it allow for proper meta information?
Curation is the portion where the business owner or website person steps in and adds information to the website using the content management system. However, this is not to be confused with content. Typically, during this process is where many on-page SEO mistakes are born. For example: while adding pictures of a project, the curator skips the meta information on the image (Alt tag). This creates an issue for the Bot to determine what the image represents and that affects the page the image appears on by reducing the evidence to the Bot as to what the page is about. In another common scenario, the curator is adding content to a post or page in a content management system (CMS) and forgets to use proper title, description, keywords and other meta information to help the search engine. The result is poor SEO.
Content is something that has become more and more talked about in terms of SEO and its importance. It makes sense that the Bot is trying to determine what the site is about in as human a way as possible. Many webmaster and SEO geeks will try to game the system, however, the reality is that good information is looked upon favorably. Information that is poor, stale or poorly written will get penalized in terms of the search engine ranking for relevant keywords and key phrases.
The key is to realize that an evolving content is fresh and gives the Bot something to chew on. In recent years, the Bots have favored fresh, almost up to the minute information. Face the fact that with Billions of web pages, freshness is better than stagnation. Think in terms of the three R’s: Relevance, Recentness and Readability
Contractors will often perform well on the Relevance and Readability, but fail miserably at Recentness. There can be many reasons for this. One of the most common is that the website is difficult to update or requires outside resources. This creates a real barrier to fresh information being updated onto the site on a regular basis.
This can be easier than one thinks.
The challenge for a contractor website owner is to architect, build, populate, update, and promote a proper website. This task seems like a one-time endeavor, however, we know that recentness of information is important. Indeed it is a tall order. Especially, for the resource-constrained contractor who focuses on their business of contracting and making revenue and mitigating risk. Make no mistake, your website is part of your business. Your website is part of your marketing.
There are a few things you can do to help promote your business more effectively. One of the most powerful tools you can leverage is the ProView from the Blue Book Building and Construction Network. ProView was designed, architected, built for SEO and is constantly modified to keep up with all of the search engine-updates.
Because The Blue Book Network’s website has a very high trust rank and authority, your ProView-listed business is promoted to search engines. ProView presents industry-specific, buyer-focused information about your company. Most importantly, it is easy to use and ensures that your information is optimized. No Nerd Needed!