One of the best activities you can do for your contracting business is to audit your online presence.
No, we’re not talking about how many hours a day you’re active on social media, rather, how prominent your business is online. A proper audit of your online presence helps you figure out what causes homeowners to book your competitors instead of you.
Equipped with our decade of industry knowledge, we’ll walk you through the six steps homeowners follow when searching online for a contractor and how to make sure your business is front and center for every pixel along the way.
Starting from the top…
1. Homeowners need to be able to find you
I know we shouldn’t have to say this, but we will just for Johnny in the back who keeps forgetting:
Homeowners need to be able to find you online.
You’d be surprised how many contractors pay top dollar for a new website and think they’ll suddenly start to get a steady flow of traffic and leads.
If only life was that easy, eh?
Think of it like this: Your website is just your storefront. You still need to get people through the doors and buy something.
Search engines like Google and Bing are the best way to do that because — other than asking a friend — that’s where most homeowners go when they need home improvement services.
In other words, you gotta be there, and you gotta show up on Page 1 for keywords related to your business.
Why? Because the first page gets over 80% of the clicks, that’s why.
Think of search engine domination as the digital version of a wacky waving inflatable arm flailing tube man. It demands attention.
And the higher you are on the first page, the greater portion of those clicks you’ll receive:
When it comes to showing up on the first page of Google, you have three options:
Use Google Ads to show up at the top of the page
Optimize your GMB listing to appear in the Google Maps section
Appear in the organic (or free) section
To show up at the top of Page 1 without any search engine optimization (SEO) knowledge, you’ll need to set aside a monthly budget to invest in Google Ads. Running ads is the quickest way to take up space on the first page — and get leads fast!
To show up in the maps section on Page 1, the most important thing you can do is make sure your Google My Business page is set up accurately and filled in its entirety with relevant information. The more information you can provide, the better.
In this case, more is more!
There are a ton of other factors that determine whether or not you’ll list in the maps section, such as:
Number and quality of reviews
Local telephone number
Consistent local citations
Need some tips? Take a peek at our brand-spankin’ new Google My Business Guide for Contractors to learn all about how you can optimize your GMB to rank higher locally.
To show up in the organic (or free) search results section on Page 1 of Google, you need to create website content that is both relevant and valuable in the eyes of Google. This strategy (SEO) is complex and can’t be quickly summed up here. So if you want to learn more, you can check out this guide on ranking your local business after you finish this blog.
You can also create company profiles on other websites like HomeAdvisor, Thumbtack, and Angie’s List, which can increase your odds of showing up on the first page when someone searches for a contractor in your area.
In any case, you’ll need to use either Google Ads, the map pack, or create content to show up organically if you want any chance at generating new leads for your business.
We never said contractor marketing was easy. Hard work and patience are essential here!
2. Homeowners have to feel like they’re at the right place
At this point, a homeowner has found your business and made their way over to your website.
So far, so good.
But just like “buyer’s remorse” is real, so is “clicker’s remorse.”
If you don’t convince a new visitor they’re at the right place within three seconds of landing on your website, they’ll hit the back button faster than you can say, “WAIT!”
That’s why your ‘above-fold’ — everything a visitor sees as soon as they land on your website — is crucial.
You need to call out your ideal customer, let them know what you can help with, and reassure them they’ve made the right choice by clicking over to your website (and not your competitor’s).
To do that, make sure you have:
Clear and concise copy that describes the services you provide (not some vague statement)
The areas you serve (so people know you work in their neighborhood)
Imagery that is relevant to your service offering (not some random stock images)
Some form of social proof (to start building trust)
A call to action, such as a phone number, button, or form so visitors can take action right away if they’re ready
Also, be sure to use text that’s not overly technical — keep it light, and leave the technical talk to when you meet them in person.
Pro Tip: High-converting landing pages are a more efficient way to convert traffic than a homepage, as landing pages tend to be short, sweet, and to the point.
3. Homeowners have to trust you
So far, a homeowner has found your website and has decided — within three quick seconds — that your company can solve their problem.
But, unfortunately, that’s still nowhere near enough to get them to contact you.
At this stage, it’s all about earning their trust.
You can earn their trust through:
The overall professionalism of your website (logo, branding, design, etc.)
The accreditations and awards you sprinkle throughout the page
The professional photos and videos of your team, equipment, recent jobs, etc.
Having your physical address and phone number in plain sight (not hiding them)
It’s all about conveying to visitors that you’re a legit business and not just some contractor that’s here one day and gone the next. Do what it takes to work all of the elements above into your website or landing pages.
But let’s get real for a moment: We’re highly-visible creatures, and pictures speak thousands of words.
That’s why we always recommend that contractors invest in technology like CompanyCam (sign up below!) that enables them to capture, share, and store photos of their jobs so that when the time comes to update their landing pages with before and after shots — they got ‘em!
4. Homeowners want to hear it from someone other than you
In his book Influence, Robert Cialdini describes the term social proof as:
A psychological and social phenomenon wherein people copy the actions of others in an attempt to undertake behavior in a given situation.
Layman’s terms: Copycats don’t only live in high school. And they’re not always the bad guys!
You can tell your website visitors how great your company is until you’re blue in the face, but it doesn’t even come close to the impact a few words from a recent customer can have.
The more you can “toot your own horn” through the words of others, the more people you’ll get to pick up the phone and call you.
Nobody likes a showoff, but having others show you off is fair game. And the best part is, it’s easy!
You can add social proof to your website in the form of:
Written reviews from happy customers
Video testimonials (Check out this Guide to Recording Video Testimonials)
Before & after progress reports, either in photo or video format
Interesting statistics like total jobs completed, jobs completed in a given area, current open projects in a given area, etc.
Here are some examples of what this can look like on a landing page:
These social proof examples create that “fear of missing out” feeling, which causes homeowners to copy the actions of others, which will inevitably lead them directly to you.
5. Homeowners need a reason to reach out now
By now, you’ve got someone hooked.
They’ve found you. They know they’re at the right place. You’ve reassured them that you’re a legit business. They’ve read enough social proof to see that you’re a big player in your area.
All that’s left for you to do is to get them to take action: You need to convince them to reach out to you NOW to learn more.
They need a reason to pick up the phone or fill out a form NOW instead of hitting the back button or getting side-tracked by the latest episode of their favorite show (any other PawnStars fans here?!).
The key is to use a compelling offer, matched with a sense of urgency and a cohesive call to action.
You can use tried and true contractor advertising tricks like:
Limited time offers (which expire on a set date in the near future)
Additional discounts (i.e., 10% off) if people call or submit a form within 24 hours.
Special discounts when people try to leave the page (using exit-intent pop-ups or chat applications)
On-page timers to display the need to act now as opposed to later
Some people believe using urgency comes off as pushy or spammy, but there’s a reason big players like Amazon use it extensively — it just plain works.
And when it comes to calls to action, you need something both specific and straightforward.
There are generally two questions you’ll need to ask yourself to help you write a compelling call to action:
What is my visitor’s motivation for clicking this button?
What is my visitor going to get when they click on this button?
If you can answer these questions, you’ll have a quality call to action button that drives leads for your business (you can thank us later!).
Check out these examples for inspiration:
6. Most homeowners will do outside research
Even if you’ve done everything right so far, the truth is that more than 95% of your visitors will leave your website or landing page without taking action.
They typically leave for one of two reasons:
They’re too busy to call or fill out a form right this moment
They want to do more research
We’ll cover the first point soon, but let’s focus on the second point for now: Homeowners will leave to do more research.
In other words, they’ll head back to Google and type in your business name to see if everything you’ve mentioned on your website is accurate.
In other words, they’ll be looking for dirt. And honestly, who doesn’t love a good snoop?
And if they find dirt, they’ll start their research process all over again, but with your competition instead.
If you don’t think your customers are doing this, think again—it takes less than 30 seconds to assess whether or not a business is as reputable as they say they are.
Now I’m not saying you need 5‑star reviews across the board; That’s just not realistic. Some people are negative by nature when they’re online.
So while you can’t control every single word said about your business, you can do your best to address customer service issues in person or over the phone before your unhappy customers take to the web.
Bad reviews, especially unanswered ones, can have long-lasting, adverse effects, especially when people are looking for dirt.
And they are. Trust us.
Conclusion: What Matters Most
Knowledge is power, especially when it comes to online advertising.
Understanding what actions a homeowner takes to get to the “conversion” stage is KEY in the digital age to knowing how to grow your business online.
So there you have it; 6 steps a homeowner goes through before actually picking up the phone or submitting a form to become a new lead for your business.
Thanks for sharing your insights, Holly!
Webrunner helps the most innovative contractors across North America generate leads more predictably, through time-tested pay per click advertising and high converting landing pages.
With their help, you can make data-driven decisions based on actual profitability and true marketing ROI with more clarity than ever before. Book your free paid media assessment with Webrunner Media here!