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Most contractors already have a website, but many common mistakes might be keeping them from getting new customers. Below are the worst 10 mistakes made by contractors make when creating a website and some thoughts on how to best fix these problems. [/box]
Keywords are the words or phrases that people search for in order to find an answer to their question. If I live in Denver and am looking to remodel my home, chances are I will be typing “Denver home renovation” or just “home renovation”. Google always assumes your location as part of your search. If your website does not currently reference the keywords “Denver” or “Home Renovation” there is almost zero chance that Google will send traffic your way. Mentioning each of your keywords multiple times on various pages of your site is also important, but be careful not to flood the site with too many keywords. This is known as keyword stuffing and will bring negative search engine consequences. Another problem seen frequently with contractors is having a list of too many cities they serve. It is always tempting to include cities located 40-50 miles away from your base location, but including 30 or 40 city names is excessive. It is better to limit the cities served to less than 10, but make sure to include other city names on other sections of your site. A great way to let customers know you have worked in their area before is to include the city name in testimonials or image galleries.
Missing Call to Action
OK, you successfully got someone to visit your site. Now what? What are they supposed to do with the information you have online? The simplest call to action is for them to contact you to find out more about your services. A phone number, contact form or email address is crucial for you to help convert your website traffic to a paying customer. Another huge mistake contractors frequently make is not following up with these information requests.
Phone number or address not prominent
Every page should provide the viewer with a way to contact you. Remember the Call to Action is to get the viewer off their computer and call you for a quotation.
Images for Text
Older websites might incorporate the company name, phone number or address as part of the logo. It is recommended that neither the phone number or address be used as part of an image logo. Sometimes it is not possible to remove the company name from the logo, but if so, make sure it is repeated in text once or more on the home page. In addition, the address and phone number should be text, not images. This is very important because search engines will index prominent text better that images. Your phone number in an image might be ignored by search engines.
No References or Project Gallery
People searching for a contractor online feel more relaxed knowing that you worked on their neighbors house. This may not always be possible, but knowing you have worked in their town will definitely help. The town name is also one of your keywords, so make sure it is included in the your project gallery and alongside any project images. Including a section for customer references on your site also helps.
Relying on Facebook as a Business Website
Social media is a great way to spread the word about the quality of your work. Keep in mind that a potential customer visiting your Facebook page does not create any traffic to your website. The best strategy is to have a Facebook page that encourages viewers to visit your page. For example, you can create a Facebook post that mentions your latest build and even includes an image of the job. Each of these should link to the gallery in your website so the result of the Facebook mention will send traffic to your site with your controlled Call to Action. You are also guaranteed that your website will not show ads for your competitors, Facebook might.
A broken link is a clickable section of your site that points to a missing page. Broken links and missing pages will discourage search engines from sending traffic to your site. It will look bad to potential customers. There are many online tools to check for broken links, make sure to look out for them regularly.
If you don’t show customers images of your previous jobs, how are they going to know what you are capable of? Almost as bad as not having any images, is having too many that are unorganized. Customer confusion is not what you are looking for. Make sure that there is a way to view images by category or job type. Without organization too many images will slow down your site. Sizing images takes a little know-how. If your site is using images that are warped or pixelated it looks unprofessional. It is important to not post ultra high resolution images as well. iPhone images are too high in resolution and need to be reduced in size. All images need to be optimized for web use. This allows for quicker load times and makes your site more favorable to search engines.
“Come visit us at the 2006 Denver Home and Garden Expo.” Having old information on your site is a great way to tell search engines potential customers that you are not really into updating your website. They might even think you are no longer in business. Make sure you have a way to update your site regularly to avoid this mistake. Simple things like an outdated Copyright date could also be a red flag. Having “Copyright © 2003, All Rights Reserved” will not give search engines or potential customer any confidence that they have found a responsible, professional contractors website. Freshness of the information on your site is a very important factor to search engine rankings.
and the Worst mistake is…………….
Waiting for the Phone to Ring
Thinking that having a website will automatically bring you new business does not work. You need to promote your site. Search engines rank your site by how important it is within your industry and community. One of the factors that influence your ranking is how many sites related to your keywords actually link to your site. These inlinks are like an endorsement from other sites. The more popular the page that endorses you, the more popular your website will be. Facebook and Twitter are great ways to bring new visitors to your site. If your company does commercial work, it is crucial to work with LinkedIn for building business to business contacts.
Our colleague at Construction Programs & Results has suggested a few other tips for Contractors Websites. Thanks Michael Stone for your tips.
Phone numbers should be at least 2/3 the size of the company name font, and the number should always be at the top right corner of every page on the web site. I have had any number of people tell me that when they have done this, their call #s improve.
The other thing that most contractors miss is when they post pictures of past jobs, it is always the finished job. That gives the company almost no credibility. I have had people tell me that they think they saw the contractors picture of his “great job” on somebody else’s site. True or not, that is their perception. All pictures and I do mean ALL, should have before pictures with the finished picture and even better is before, DURING and after pictures. 3 sets of pics for each part of the job. Now they know you did the job.