A Home Improvement Blog -- Your Best Way To Increase SEO
Are you considering adding a home improvement blog to your website to increase your SEO efforts? As a company specializing in online marketing for home improvement companies, we would like to outline what a home improvement blog would do for your SEO.
Objectives of Home Improvement Online Marketing
Often times when we first start talking to a home improvement client about their online goals, one of the first things we hear them say is something to the effect of the following:
- "I want to get my website to show up #1 on Google"
- "I want to dominate the Internet"
- "I want to show up higher than my competitors"
This usually triggers a 5 Step Website Effectiveness Audit of the Client's current website by the Three Deep team. When we look at a company website we look at it from both a technical Search Engine Optimization standpoint, but also with respect to the actual content on the site. Very generally, most home improvement retailer websites are still very behind the times from an Internet effectiveness standpoint. We look at upwards of 150 retail home improvement sites a year. The vast majority of those sites, to quote the CEO of Forrester Research, are "hard to use, confusing to the visitor, poorly designed and cast an unfavorable shadow on the brand." With respect to the search engine optimization of the sites we look at, it is quite common that including proper SEO best practices was never even part of the original site development.
Up until a few years ago, designing an effective website; one that gets found and ranked by the search engines, and also is effective in converting site visitors into actual prospects was not even a strategic priority for a lot of contractors. Now days, with the effectiveness of traditional lead generation methods like print, TV, and direct mail declining, home improvement contractors are looking to expand their Internet presence and talking to companies like Three Deep. We see the industry quickly being segmented into two groups; those companies that embrace the web and have a well rounded customer acquisition strategy based upon driving traffic and generating leads, and those with no coherent strategy at all. We have several case studies of clients who now are generating more than 25% of their total sales from online sources. For most home improvement companies, the Internet represents the single biggest opportunity for future sales growth. Getting there takes dedicated financial and personnel resources, "hope" is not a strategy! We know that many business owners expect immediate results, but that mindset clashes with the view that SEO is a marathon, not a sprint.
The Best Way to Increase SEO for Your Home Improvement Business
At the outset, let me say this: SEO is hard work. There is a perception out there that getting good organic search rankings is easy and can happen overnight. Nothing is further from the truth! We'll talk with a client who says "I want to get to number 1 in my market on Google." When we look at his 5-10 page website, we'll quickly find its technical SEO components; title tags, meta descriptions, keywords, header text, etc. to be completely missing or fundamentally flawed. Those items can be fixed relatively quickly. But the most pressing issue is that the site usually lacks good content. In fact, it seems to be a general practice among many contractors to simply copy content from a manufacturer's product website and post it on their own site -- verbatim. Duplicate content, text or words that exist somewhere else on the web provides virtually no SEO benefit at all! Getting fresh, original, engaging content on a website is where the heavy lifting really is. Quite frankly, it usually requires a substantial copywriting effort on the part of someone, either the business owner himself or a professional -- either way it's a big investment of time and resources.
One recommendation that we'll tell our home improvement clients that they can do to increase their organic search rankings is to start writing a blog. A home improvement blog, if incorporated into a client's website, can serve a number of purposes. First it is a great way to add original, fresh content to a website. Each new blog post will be seen by the search engines as a new web page. The search engines like seeing sites that are constantly being updated. By writing just two new blog posts a month a company would add 24 new site pages at the end of one year. Home improvement blog posts can also be syndicated out to company Facebook, Twitter and YouTube accounts, allowing that content to be seen (and shared) by an even wider audience. A third, and possibly the biggest benefit of a blog is that it allows a company to target the actual keyword traffic they want to achieve search rankings website to appear. Well-written blog posts will have good keyword usage in the copy itself. For example, if you are reading this post you likely did a Google search for a home improvement blogging or home improvement search optimization related keyword....you found our blog, if you are interested in learning more about our services you'll probably visit our website and maybe you'll even contact us?
Why You Should Have a Home Improvement Blog
When we mention the benefits of blogging to Clients, the first response we'll usually get is some type of reason why they can't do it:
- "I don't have the time to write a blog."
- "I don't have anything to write about."
- "I'm not a good writer."
The fact is that in 2011, without fresh, original content regularly being added to your website, you simply will not achieve good search rankings. A well-written and regularly updated blog will help you reach those local consumers making "long tail" searches around windows, siding, roofing, bathroom remodeling in your area -- the exact prospects you are looking for! Writing copy that is engaging will stimulate them to learn more about your company and ultimately reach out to you, increasing your online lead generation; which at the end of the day is the goal of your website isn't it? Examples of good blog topics could include:
- A feature on a recent job you did, including Client testimonials. Window World of the Twin Cities does a great job of posting video testimonials shot by their sales reps on smart phones to their home improvement blog on a regular basis. Those testimonials also get posted to Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
- An article on the benefits of your particular product, and why homeowners should consider your product or service. Long Fence and Home used their home improvement blog to announce the launch of a new solar product. Bordner Roofing blogged about how to identify if a roof needs replacement.
- A public interest story on some charitable work you did in the community. For example, Creek supported Race for the Cure.
- A news story of interest to homeowners in your area. Minnesota Exteriors wrote a post about what to look for in a storm damage contractor immediately following a hail storm in Minneapolis this spring.
A home improvement blog should be viewed as a key component to a well rounded Internet strategy. Other critical components include a conversion optimized website, an effective paid search (PPC) campaign, optimization, social and email nurturing campaigns. We'll address these topics in future posts!