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There is a lot of confusion today about SEO, and especially about what it actually is, as compared to some mistaken ideas floating around there. And this confusion seems rampant in the plumbing and other professional services fields. So give us a few minutes of your time while we try to clarify a few things.

What SEO for Plumbers is NOT

There are a few things that masquerade as "SEO" when they really are not -

Social Media Marketing (SMM) is Not SEO. You are surfing around on Twitter or whatever your favorite SM site is. All of a sudden you see a post where someone references a great plumbing service that they have used. Or perhaps you encounter a paid ad. Yes, you might be in need of a plumber - someday. But right now you are probably interested in other things. So what happens to that ad or posting? You will probably forget about it. SMM can be useful as a part of a larger strategy but it is difficult to secure a significant amount of business from it in the short-term because it cannot guarantee that you are reaching people who are in the market for your services NOW.

Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Advertising is Not SEO. PPC can be an important part of your marketing mix (that is why we offer PPC Management services at Posirank) but that is also not SEO. PPC is a form of advertising and nothing more. It has nothing to do with the visibility of your business online, as you are simply paying to erect an online "billboard" that points humans to your site. If you stop paying for the ads, the "billboard" will come down, and so will your traffic.

Blog Posting (by Itself) is Not SEO. Yes, we know - you've been told, over and over again, "Every business needs a blog!" And that is true, as far as that goes. So what do business owners do? They have their web guys set up a blog, often on a subdomain of their main site (big mistake - want to find out why? Let us know and we'll get back to you real quick.)

Then those same business owners start posting on that blog - post after post. Sometimes for many months or even a year. TONS of content. That's supposed to be good for your SEO, right? The result? Nothing. Nada. Zilch.

Why? That's because no one is reading those posts. They don't have any visibility. Posting blog entries will only pay off if you can get visibility for them. And getting "visibility" is the SEO part of the equation. Without the SEO part you can post on blogs for the rest of your life and get no result whatsoever. Getting an "Updated" Shiny-New-Toy Website is Not SEO. We've seen it so many times - disappointed site owners come to us. Disappointed because they have just paid some web design firm XXX (usually thousands) to get the latest design roll-out for their site. And it looks wonderful, clean and new.

But they can't understand why they are still getting no business from it. And that's because website design is not SEO - and that's because some websites are failures from an SEO perspective: they look great but in reality (underneath the covers, so-to-speak) they are actually working against your search engine visibility. We can share with you in more detail about how to structure your website to enhance your SEO if you are interested - just reach out and call us. Even if you have had your site redone. ESPECIALLY if you have had your site redone.

Filling Your Site Content With "Keyword Rich" Terms is not SEO. There's a big difference between site content that is valuable and useful to humans and content written primarily to gain the attention of search engines. While it is true that search engines (like Google and Bing) scour the web and pick up content everywhere they find it, and it is also true that they look at the words they find on a page to help them to understand what that page is about, if you are thinking about your content only in terms of "keywords" you are thinking all wrong.

Why is that? Because search engines don't stop at just trying to understand what your page content is about - they try to put a value on that content. And to do that they compare what they are finding on your site pages to what they are finding on pages dealing with the same subject-matter. And it is the valuation that they put on your site content that ultimately determines how highly they will rank your content in the SERP's (Search Engine Results Pages - the listings that display when you input search terms).

There are millions of webpages that are "keyword rich" - filled to overflowing with all sorts of words and phrases. The creators of that content had hoped that their content would rank well. They believed that the presence of these targeted words would convince the search engines that this content was important. Yet those pages mostly lie buried in the SERP's. They are being outranked by pages that provide unique value and are written with authority by people who can prove their expertise. Getting that kind of content visible is SEO - the rest is just foolishness.

What SEO for Plumbers IS

Ok, that was the negative stuff. Thanks for letting us get that off of our chest (it's good to vent every once in a while!). Let's see if we can focus on a few areas to illustrate what SEO is, if you are operating a plumbing business.

Getting Top-Tier Visibility is SEO. Here's an example of SEO being done correctly, right here in our company headquarters area:

But aren't these examples of Google's "Local Pack?" Yep. But doesn't Google control what businesses are displayed there? Correct again. Then how can I get my plumbing website to show up there? That's what SEO is about: Giving the search engines enough information about your business and website to convince them (or at least to give them a big hint) that your site is important enough to be listed there.

Beating the "Big Boys" is SEO. You are probably thinking at this point - I'm just a little guy, how can I possibly compete against the large plumbing chains?

But take a good look at the above screen captures. Look carefully at the businesses featured in the local pack - a total of 6 sites. Are ANY of those sites big chain businesses? Not a one. Yes, they might have a big display ad, but those are clearly marked "AD" or "SPONSORED" or something like that. But the local pack displays local businesses - and we see this same consistency throughout many different market verticals, not just plumbing.

In fact Google favors the smaller guy in the local pack in most professional services categories: plumbers, roofers, electricians, auto body shops, you name it.

So here you have it - in black-and-white - proof from the search engines themselves that you can get visibility for your site in the most coveted position - the Local Pack - for businesses your size. How? Well, that's SEO. And if you will just drop us a line (email) we can start the ball rolling to help to get you there.

Strategic Search Query Strategies is SEO. Let's take another look at those Local Pack listings. The first one is a listing that came up when we searched "plumbers anne arundel county MD". Notice the 3 businesses currently listed in the Local Pack. One of them (the 3rd one) is located in Oak Court. The second listing is what was displayed for a search using the search query that includes that location specifically: "plumbers near me oak court MD." But did you notice that the second set of 3-pack results did not include the 3rd listing from the first set? Even though that one had an actual business address located on Oak Court? Crazy, ain't it?

What's the takeaway lesson? Search queries are tricky things. Change the wording and you can get different results to display. If you are currently ranking well for certain local searches you may not be ranking well for others - and for some searches where you are top-tier visible, there are likely to be similar (related) local searches where you are not ranking as well.

This has several implications for SEO:

  • If you seem to be unable to get to the top for certain local queries, despite your best efforts, do not despair. There are other searches you could be targeting - and ranking well for - if you know which ones to target.
  • Even if you are ranking well for some searches, it is very possible you could get even more visibility for your site by developing SEO campaigns around related local search terms.

And remember, it's not just about the volume of traffic from one set of query terms that is important, but the volume of traffic from all the queries you are currently ranking for.

For example, it might be difficult to get visibility for a search query that has a search volume of 2,000 queries/month, as many of your competitors may be reaching for that fruit. But if you can get good visibility for 20 different query phrases, each of which has a 200/month search volume, you would have your 2,000 queries/month in the aggregate. And those 200/month search volume queries might not even be targeted by your competitors, making your job that much easier.

Being consistent with information and messaging is SEO. Did you know that in the SEO world, especially in the local search arena, there is a difference between information and messaging?

"Information" in SEO refers to informational bits and pieces that you have out there about your business: Your business name, current address(es), telephone number(s), driving directions, hours of operation, website URL, etc. The key here is to make sure that this information is accurate (kept up-to-date) and consistent (that no matter the source looked at the information is the same).

"Messaging" is much more broad-based. Messaging includes things like the service areas you offer - is it residential or commercial plumbing that you handle? What types of appliance manufacturers do you represent? What warranties do you offer? What kinds of financing options are available? Specific communities/regions serviced? 24/7 emergency service? Obviously you want to be presenting a consistent message about your business regardless of where it is to be found.

And your website is the best place to put it all together: A detailed description of your business and its current ownership, before-and-after photos, detailed categories for the types of services you offer, a company history, about us page (with photos), maps showing locations, branch location information (if you have any). In-depth content resources (see below for more on that).

Reputation Management is SEO. As professional services businesses operate in the local sphere, the reputation your business has is critical to securing new customers. In earlier times if a customer had a bad experience they might complain but the audience was pretty small - those around them - which was good for the business owner as it limited the impact to their reputation in the community.

Likewise, if a customer had a great experience they could rave about you, but only those in their small word would hear about it. Which was not usually very impactful to their business bottom line.

But today, the web is like a big broadcasting system: If people are saying great things about you online, there is the potential for a large group of people to find out about it. But if what they have to say is not positive, just as many people - if not more - might be exposed to that messaging.

So it is important to:

  1. Secure as many reviews as you can - the best ones are those placed on third-party sites as they cannot be manipulated by the business.
  2. Minimize the number of negative reviews - solve as many customer complaints as you can and get the negative review updated if possible.
  3. Take action on unresolved negative comments - get them suppressed in the search listings if they cannot be taken down.
  4. Make it a continuing priority - RM is not a "do it once and forget it" activity. Constantly be scouring the web to see what others are saying about your business.

Authority is SEO. Google has straight-up told us: Expertise, Authority and Trustworthiness is what they are looking for in websites. Those who send strong signals in this area are the sites that search engines want to send humans to. This is especially for those businesses/sites that can have a significant impact on someone's finances, health/wellbeing, or security. Any site like this is called a "your money or your life" site (YMYL for short). And sites that exude a high level of expertise, authority and trustworthiness, who meet Google's E-A-T criteria are much more likely to be visible for local searches.

  • Content - You would be surprised at the content that you can successfully rank. One area to focus on for content is do-it-yourselfers. How do you clean out a stopped up toilet? Can I install a water heater myself? Which type of piping material is better: PVC or copper? How do you locate an interior water leak? How do you thaw frozen water pipes? Will you be eliminating yourself if you provide them with the know-how to fix a problem? Perhaps. But consider this: DIY people are persistent. If they don't find the information they need on your site, they will find it somewhere else. At least if they are at your site they may decide to just let a pro handle it, and demonstrating your expertise through this content may convince them that you should get the job. Check your competitors - they are probably providing informational and DIY content on their site. Why give up that site traffic to them?
  • Expertise and Credentials - In addition to informational content, another way to demonstrate expertise is to put credentialing information out there for the public to see. Union affiliations (union shops), where you/your staff were trained, degrees and certificates earned, all help to build the case for your expertise.
  • BBB and Other Consumer Ratings - Currently have an excellent rating with your local BBB? Make sure you have the BBB logo displayed which links to your business profile there. Local newspaper "best of" awardee? Get that out there as well. Working - or worked with big name companies? Make sure that information can be seen.
  • Current License and Insurance/Bonding - If you are licensed by your state, display that ID. Make sure that people know you are bonded and insured.

Looking for a Guarantee? Here's One …

SEO for plumbing is not secret stuff, nor is it rocket science. It is nothing more than taking effective SEO tactics and applying them to the specific needs of businesses in the plumbing industry - like yours.

Yet, you may be hesitant to reach out - and we probably know why.

We know it, and it's true - the "SEO" world is full of hucksters and gimmicks.

"Just buy this package and get 10,000 new site visitors within 2 months." And later it's because there are backlinks on 300 spammy websites that are sending you traffic - people looking for porn, marijuana or the latest weight loss product. Yea, you'll get traffic - but nothing that helps your business.

"There aren't any guarantees with SEO." And it's true, results can depend on a number of factors that can come in to play. And while SEO can help with some of them, it can't always control everything.

But we want to give you an alternate "guarantee" anyway:

We guarantee that we will not take a dime - or even a penny - of your money unless and until -

  • We have had an opportunity to talk with you - several times if necessary - to really understand what is your current situation.
  • We have a good idea of solutions you may have tried in the past, and why they may have failed.
  • We have sized you up against your competition.
  • We have given you a detailed action plan and clearly spelled out the costs involved.
  • We have secured your enthusiastic buy-in and commitment.

We think that is just about the best guarantee that anyone could get.

And if you agree, we invite you to reach out to us - TODAY while it is fresh in your mind - and the quickest way to get started is to book a call with our staff to get your questions answered. And we guarantee that at the end of that call both you and us will know for sure if you should hit the launch button and come onboard. We're excited to hear from you - please reach out now!

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