Some plumbers and HVAC contractors, we speak to believe that SEO is a magic trick. These people aren’t fools, they are just misinformed. There’s a point of view from people outside the industry that proper SEO requires some kind of magical formula. The truth is that SEO is very straightforward when done right. Furthermore, Google can’t be tricked in the way that it could be in the early 2000s. Stop trying to trick Google and focus on your users instead. If you track Google’s algorithm updates you know it’s their end goal to provide the best experience to searchers and to satisfy their queries or intent. Check out today’s plumbing SEO podcast to learn more:
Don’t Try to Trick Google
Trying to trick Google is a lonely road that ends with a penalty and potentially bankruptcy for your plumbing or HVAC business. It depends of course how reliant you are on organic traffic for leads, but it’s going to be very difficult to sustain success without any organic traffic. Aside from the possibility of a penalty, Google is away too smart to be tricked in 2020. Their algorithm updates have address every kind of shady tactic from link manipulation to low-quality content production. Steer clear at all costs.
Google Values Credible Brands
One of the primary reasons why Google can no longer be gamed by shady tactics is because they’ve increased the value of brand credibility. This value optimization allows Google to ignore tricks from SEO scammers who don’t work with credible brands. For example, a local plumber with no reviews or reputation can build thousands of inbound links, but never rank well. Why? Because Google knows that nobody cares about their brand. In fact, their brand may not even be legitimate in the first place. Google uses signals from 3rd party sources as well as their own search data to determine whether a brand is credible and engaging for local consumers.
Brands are Built Through Engagement
Building your HVAC or plumbing brand is a holistic process. Whether you have yard signs, newspaper ads, or simply a good reputation in local neighborhoods, you build your brand by performing great services. These offline behaviors are then translated online with the help ofreputation management software like BrandRevu. It’s important that Google sees your reviews on your Google My Business listing along with other 3rd party platforms like Yelp, Facebook, and Better Business Bureau. As you build on your reputation, your SEO should improve even more than before. Responding to reviews is also a highly-suggested marketing technique going forward.
Check-ins Help with Branding
There’s some reputation management software for plumbers that supports local check-ins. Our favorites at HVAC – Plumber SEO Webmasters is BrandRevu. This software allows for local contractors to check-in at job sites and have those check-ins displayed on the appropriate page of the website. For example, you service a water heater in Dallas, TX, and take a picture of the tank. This picture, along with the other check-in information, is automatically populated on your water heater repair page. That’s the best SEO you can get. Forget about all this manipulative stuff and focus on actual work you do. Not only does Google prefer it but so do your website visitors.
Do Digital Signaling
We talked about reputation management software and how it can help build branding signals for Google and your prospective customers. There are other kinds of signals that can contribute to your success. Reviews, check-ins, social media activity, and YouTube videos are all effective signals for search engine optimization. Not every plumber or HVAC contractor is comfortable filming YouTube videos but think about how you can make your media unique through images. Websites with pictures of your team, equipment, and trucks almost always convert at a higher rate than stock photos. Responding to inquiries on Facebook and Twitter is another good signal. Listen to more plumbing SEO podcasts to learn about SEO tips.
Since the birth of SEO, link building has been one of the most polarizing topics. We know that links are an important ranking factor today, but that the quality of the link is now of much greater importance. When Google first launched, they could not distinguish a natural link from an unnatural one. With this in mind, SEO professionals used spam and schemes to get to a #1 ranking. Many plumbers think these tactics still work in 2020, but they’re very wrong. Google’s quality guidelines on links are quite clear. Furthermore, penalties are still being handed out, and Google has said publicly that paid links don’t help rankings because they are ignored. Check out today’s episode of the Plumbing SEO Podcast to learn more:
Understanding Google’s Guidelines
Google states “Any links intended to manipulate PageRank or a site’s ranking in Google search results may be considered part of a link scheme and a violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.” They really couldn’t have been more clear about their stance on links. Still, plumbers tend to ignore their advice and argue that links do in fact help sites rank high. While links are certainly one of the factors search engines use to determine credibility, the search engine has gotten much better at properly valuing links. So while links that are gained naturally through brand recognition and quality content are helpful, any type of deliberate link building violates Google’s guidelines and should be avoided by plumbing and HVAC companies.
What are “Natural” Links?
Natural links are those that are earned rather than built. So instead of begging your friend to link to you on their website, you earn the link naturally from your local Chamber of Commerce, who recognizes your plumbing company as a staple of the community. Links are intended to represent real-life connections. In other words, organizations that revere you in person can demonstrate that on their website. Conversely, unnatural links come from institutions that you are not affiliated with and have no good reason to link to you. Creating great content on your blog with independent research is another way to earn natural links since other websites will cite your blog post as a source, even if they don’t know you.
Can Plumbers Use Guest Posts to Build Links?
There’s been some confusion over the years about the validity of guest post links. Google has come out recently and re-stated that all guest post links should have the nofollow attribute, meaning they won’t pass full PageRank. So to be clear, guest post links are not the best method to get quality inbound links. After all, they’re unnatural because the person writing the post has the incentive to link to their own site, rather than to earn such a link in the natural manners we discussed previously. Any type of massive-scale guest post campaign you were running is not only worthless in regard to rankings, but it can also get you penalized by Google. Focus on branding your company offline and creating great content.
How to Rank Without Linking
Since link building is not a viable option for plumbers in 2020, the focus must shift to factors that adhere to Google’s quality guidelines. Engagement is one of the main factors Google looks at today. Whether it’s reviews, social signals, user-generated content, or simply click-through-rate (CTR), Google will take notice. The best way to increase engagement is by investing in review software for plumbers, such as BrandRevu. This software allows for jobsite check-ins so that plumbers can verify their presence in different service areas around their main city. These check-ins are populated onto the appropriate page (city page, service page, etc.) so that users can easily verify that you were in that city and performed that service.
When it comes down to the plumbing population, about 80% don’t take marketing seriously. These plumbers are satisfied with the status quo and don’t wish to grow their plumbing company and make more money. That leaves an additional 20% who aspire for a greater life, and business. These plumbers have made an important first step in the marketing process, which is a very personal one. It is the will to improve their lifestyle through digital marketing. They understand that without a deliberate intention to improve, nothing will ever change. With that being said, not every plumber within that ambitious 20% knows how to market. In fact, it’s only about 1 out of 100 of those ambitious plumbers that are running on all cylinders. Here’s what that type of plumber knows to do:
Organic SEO is the best return for plumbers in 2020. Contractors with 15 trucks on the ground are dominating organic search results in their market. Not only do they show up on organic results for keywords like plumbing repair dallas tx but they also get plenty of searches of their brand name. Since they’ve been established in their community as a top plumber, people are seeing their yard signs, or hearing about them from neighbors and then searching them on Google. This is where reputation makes a major difference, which we will expand on more later.
For plumbers, in particular, Google’s Local 3-Pack is critical to lead generation. It is important that your business listing shows up for search queries like plumber near me and plumbing repair near me. The local SEO algorithm is separate from the organic one and is based specifically on proximity, relevance, and prominence. An effective SEO strategy is locally focused and involves optimizing GMB listings as well as company websites. Reviews are helpful to local SEO which we will expand on in our reputation management section for plumbing companies.
We’ve already referenced reputation management twice, so it’s important to expand on the idea. Plumbers who succeed in 2020 have a positive reputation online. This is executed through review generation, specifically on Google and Facebook. Review software for plumbers like BrandRevu is the secret weapon to establishing credibility through reviews. The software sends SMS text reminders with review links to ensure the consumer can simply and effortlessly leave a glowing review of your service. The more reviews your listings accumulate, the greater your prominence score is and the better chance you have of ranking on the Local 3-Pack.
Plumbers who succeed have an established website with proper design. We cannot stress enough that the best plumbing websites use schema markup, clean codebase, and user experience optimization. Site speed is a critical factor in 2020 and it is urgent that users can browse through your website efficiently. Call to actions through click-to-call functionality are equally important when it comes to web design. Mobile users should have the option to connect to your phone straight from theirs. Embedded contact forms that are mobile-friendly is also something to consider for new plumbing websites.
Web design is great but without content, the site won’t make the impact it is intended to. Every plumbing website should have more than a Homepage, About us page and Contact us page. Plumbers with 15 trucks on the ground didn’t get there with a 3-page website. Instead, they had content written for each one of their services like water heater repair, toilet repair, garbage disposal repair, etc. Content is only effective when it is written uniquely and not copied from other sources. Google hates duplicate content and will not rank your pages if they flag it as scraped. It is important to use your content to internally link to other pages and help your visitors through a logical sales funnel.
The Plumbing Webmasters Plan
Looking to take your company to the next level in 2020 and 2021? Do you aspire to go from the 80% of plumbers who don’t care to the 20% who aspire to be great? How about becoming the 1% who dominates online through SEO, local mapping, and web design? You can be part of this exclusive club if you simply follow the Plumbing Webmasters marketing plan. For more podcasts, check out our series The Plumbing SEO Podcast wherever you download your podcasts and RSS feeds.
For plumbers, lead generation and SEO are often thought about as separate services but in reality, the two concepts are fundamentally connected. You’ve probably thought about how you can buy plumbing leads without having a website, content, GMB listing, or any kind of search engine optimization campaign. While you will find companies that sell leads, you are unlikely to find what you are really hoping for from these lead sellers. Having worked with hundreds and hundreds of plumbers across the United States, we’ve learned that not all leads are helpful to your business. In fact, our experience proves that only leads that become satisfied customers, and oftentimes; repeat customers are worth generating online. These exclusive leads help your business grow each month, year, and decade which is how to grow a sustainable plumbing business. On today’s podcast, we discuss what you really need to achieve that level of lead generation, both in the rest of 2020 and beyond.
Understanding Leads for Plumbers
There are two types of leads plumbers pay for: shared leads and exclusive leads. Shared leads are typically dirt cheap because they are unlikely to result in an actual customer. A shared lead is a digital equivalent of throwing a piece of meat into a pack of dogs. Not only is insulting to you as a plumber but it is highly unlikely to help your business grow and evolve into a successful company. On the other hand, exclusive leads are far superior because the person inquiring about the plumbing job will only talk to you. That doesn’t guarantee a sale, but it certainly gives you a better chance.
Shared leads are given to multiple plumbers in the same service area who ultimately compete for the same customer. Leads like these are seldom worthwhile for plumbers who want to grow their business over time. Not only do they often fail to convert, but the few that do are even less likely to come back as a repeat customer. Because of the inherently low value of shared leads, they are often sold for much cheaper than exclusive leads.
Exclusive leads are superior for plumbers because you aren’t forced to compete against other plumbers for the same customer. Exclusive leads are more likely to convert and also more likely to become repeat customers. The ROI of exclusive leads is higher than those of their shared counterparts which is why 3rd party services sell lead exclusivity at a higher rate. For plumbers serious about growing their company, these leads are more appealing.
SEO Produces “Super-Leads”
We’ve established that exclusive leads are better than shared leads but if the lead doesn’t originate from organic search engine optimization or some other form of inbound marketing, it lacks optimal long-term value. The best exclusive leads come from your wong digital marketing campaigns which means throughout your website, branding, content marketing, social media, etc. Any lead that invests in your business, rather than just a simple job is going to be more invested in your company. This manifests itself through reviews, repeat clients, and long-term and sustainable growth for plumbers. Let’s examine why SEO produces the best leads for plumbing contractors:
As is the case with any purchase, the client who invests in the brand rather than product itself is more valuable. When a customer invests in a brand, they trust not just the individual product or in this case; service, but the ethic of the company itself. Establishing your company as a top plumber in a particular service area (s) is going to do wonders for your bottom line. These leads are easier to sell, easier to ask for reviews, and far more likely to use your service again in the future. Each of these things, when multiplied by the number of leads you receive, help maximize your business growth over the course of time.
The 5X Theory
Each sale you make with branded equity helps orchestrate what is known as the 5x theory. When you sell a customer through your own organic web presence, you double their value immediately. Because of their projected lifetime value to your company through actions like reviews, repeat purchases, and word of mouth recommendations, you are expected to get 5 times the value of a lead that came from a 3rd party seller. If each new customer you get falls under the 5x umbrella you will be lapping local competitors in several months of executing this strategy. All of it starts with implementing plumber SEO and then having the patience to see it through.
So Why Are Plumbers Bad at SEO?
Not all plumbers are bad at SEO, but the ones most infatuated with lead generation tend to be terrible at optimizing their web presence. Because they are all-consumed with the final result (the sale) they completely ignore the process of achieving it and the sustainability of their business. Living from job to job is not a good feeling for plumbing contractors, and living that lifestyle overtime is unsustainable or any small business owner. Your company will simply go under if you don’t start thinking long-term with how to streamline lead generation and extra the maximum value from each of your new customers.
You don’t want to just start a business; you want to kill it. You crave lasting, deep success for your plumbing business. The world has enough mediocre performers out there. Why not create something fantastic?
Here at the Plumbing Webmasters, we’ve crafted a handy guide to launch your plumbing startup into the online marketplace with faster, more sustainable, and overall better results. It all revolves around one singular strategy: specialization.
Listen closely as Nolen and Madison reveal how focusing your marketing efforts on one plumbing category can produce incredible revenue opportunities. Be sure to take notes and read the supporting guide below!
Takeaways for Plumbing Professionals
Specialization produces operational and marketing efficiencies.
It’s faster and easier to rank up in a plumbing specialty.
Specializing doesn’t mean you can’t offer other services later on.
Specializing for Success
“How can I be successful in plumbing?” That’s a question that Small Business Trends tried to tackle back in 2018. In their guide How to Start a Plumbing Business, Small Biz offers a few tidbits on building a long-term plan for triumph in the industry. Step number 3 (after getting certified and apprenticed) involves discovering your personal specialty.
Perhaps, you’ve discovered that the inner workings of residential water heaters naturally bend to your every whim. Maybe you’ve got a knack for repairing underground sewer lines without digging up the whole yard. Possibly, you’re the fastest pipe clog relief around.
Some plumbers might see specialization as a limiter on their ability to make money, but the opposite is often true. You can take a focused skill and use it as a launchpad for your startup. Now let’s zoom in on the benefits of specialization, then show you how to get started online (which was Small Biz’ step number 8, by the way).
Why Specialize as a Plumber?
Why do we recommend anything in these sort of guides? To make your life easier and/or more profitable. Multiple areas of your business can benefit from a specialized structure, so let’s break a few of them down here.
The first benefits you’ll realize when it comes to specialization are operational. If you confine your portfolio of services to a particular subcategory of plumbing, that means fewer tools to purchase and fewer individuals to hire. That, in turn, leads to fewer service vehicles and fewer driving demands.
You could potentially earn as much or more revenue with three water heater specialists than you would with a generalized staff of five. Prospective customers will also view your brand and crew differently as a specialized group.
Any plumber can fix a leaky sink. Very few have what it takes to manage a slab leak repair project. Ask any homeownerif they would rather have a generalist or a specialist fixing the multi-thousand dollar ruptured pipe beneath their foundation. Ask them the same question for a busted water heater or a fractured sewer line.
When you become the specialist for a given plumbing sub-category, the choice suddenly becomes clear for homeowners. Plus, experts generally enjoy higher pricing ranges for the same projects!
Let’s face it, plumbing is a very competitive industry. If your prices, ratings, or uniform don’t meet a prospective customer’s demands, they have a dozen other alternatives available at the push of a button. Unless you operate in a smaller service area, breaking into the market is tough!
While generalist plumbers may be a dime a dozen, local specialists in your field are probably in the single digits. Medium to small sized towns may not even have a specialist in your particular focus. It’s much easier to stand out in the online marketing world when only a couple others are standing next to you.
The How of Plumbing Specialization
Now, we are specifically looking at how to market your specialized plumbing services in your service area. Once you’ve picked a field, it’s time to start laying the foundation for your company to build off of.
First, you’ll claim and/or purchase the digital assets you’ll need to mold your brand.
Next, you’ll start developing the content on your website to communicate who you are and what you do to prospective clients.
Finally. you’ll complete support activities as you go along to grow your reputation even more.
Phase 1: Lining Your Digital Ducks in a Row
Everything starts with your website, at least when it comes to earning plumbing leads online. You’ll need a domain name (web address) that sums up your specialty with your unique brand. Speaking of brands, make sure that your plumbing company’s legal name is easily distinguishable from typical industry terms. That will make it much easier to show up in local search results in the future.
While the visual and graphic elements of your brand (such as your logo) contribute to the identity of your company, your website’s content is just as important.
Phase 2: Building Relevance and Authority
You’ve spent years earning your certifications and learning the trade. Now it’s time to share that knowledge with the world. We’re not just talking about consulting with customers in the field. You’ve got to share it with prospects visiting your website too.
Build a healthy collection of pages dedicated to explaining (in layman’s terms) each of the critical services you provide. Explain how your team’s experience makes all the difference during an installation or repair project. Pepper in those specialized plumbing keywords into your paragraphs, headers, and picture captions. A lot of hard work and research flows into writing a website, but doing it right is worth the results!
Finally, spend a little time each month adding to the old company blog. Believe it or not, these blogs still provides some valuable juice for your local SEO. Of course, if you don’t have time for any of these activities, you can always hire a team to do it for you.
Phase 3: Supporting Your Continued Growth
Even your website needs a little help in kicking off your online marketing. If you really want to build a healthy brand, you’ll need three things:
Citations (local listings),
Hundreds of businesses offer cheap listings for your company, but your specialized plumbing company should only require a handful. Yelp, the BBB, and Facebook are all great places to start. Listings add credibility to your website, and they provide more paths back towards your services. You may even receive the odd call here and there for immediate plumbing help!
Most plumbers comprehend the value behind reviews, but they don’t know how to harness them effectively. We’ve found that a smattering of reviews across different sources tends to earn more recognition from Google, rather than keeping all your eggs in one basket.
Last and least known among plumbers is the check-in. Utilizing a tool like BrandREVU, check-ins provide coordinates, tags, and pictures to showcase the fantastic work you perform throughout the community. This offers exceptionally high-quality evidence that your company is active and trusted. Use this tool consistently, and you’ll notice powerful ranking improvements in a matter of months.
Specialization offers speed, focus, and simplicity to plumbing professionals looking to break into the industry. Not only can you cut down on the number of tools and personnel required for day to day work, you can potentially command a higher price average on each of your services.
On the marketing side, specializing also helps by limiting the number of competitors you face in local search results. Water heater experts, slab leak gurus, and hydrojetting aces tend to stand out against the herd, in the eyes of Google and consumers alike. With a proper website foundation and continued support, you can produce some astounding results in a relatively short period of time.
Need help getting the ball rolling on your digital marketing? A seasoned (one might even say specialized) plumbing SEO company can make all the difference! Give the Plumbing Webmasters a call anytime at (877) 388-9884 to learn more about your options.
It may not seem like it but this pandemic is an opportunity for you as a plumbing contractor to solidify the professional relationships you have with your current customers, make sure they become recurring customers, and even gain new customers. But it all starts with outstanding customer service. Believe it or not, you can exhibit stellar customer service as a plumber in these challenging times.
And these times certainly are challenging for plumbers. Plumbing work usually entails moving around somewhat freely in the homes and businesses of your clients. But things are different now. People are skittish about having an outsider coming into their home and mince about the place. So in a sense, emphasizing customer service during COVID-19 has a lot to do with adapting.
But why is customer service so important during this time? Doesn’t everyone understand that things are different and that they should lower expectations? Despite what many businesses are doing, now is a great time to show your customers that you really care and emphasize customer service.
The Benefits of Outstanding Customer Service During COVID-19
Demonstrating great customer service isn’t just about keeping your business afloat during COVID-19; it’s about making life-long customers. This is a perfect opportunity to show your customers that you are willing to go the extra mile for them when they need it the most.
If you are able to provide plumbing services in a manner that exceeds the expectations of the customer during this pandemic, they will remember you when this is all over with. They will also be that much more likely to refer you to their friends and family who are looking for a reliable plumber.
The benefits of customer service stretch far beyond the here and now but it is a great time to “come to the rescue” of your customers and instill a lasting and positive perception of your services in their minds.
And customer service is a huge part of the plumbing industry. As marketing experts specializing in the plumbing trade, we see that the most successful contractors are the ones that make customer service a priority at all times. If you would like to find out how you can grow your plumbing contractor business both now and on into the future, contact us here at Plumbing Webmasters.
Customer Service Tips for Plumbers
Hopefully, now you have an idea of the potential benefits of maintaining a high level of customer service during the pandemic. But how you maintain exemplary customer service in a time that is so challenging in so many ways? Here are just a few customer service tips you can put into practice right now:
Keeping the recommended 6 feet away from people at all times can be challenging as a plumber. But if you show your customers that you are committed to it, you will win their favor. If you are working in someone’s home or place of business, let them know the area in which you will be working. If you need to move from area to area, make sure your customers know that you will be moving. You can call out to them before you move to give them a chance to maintain a proper distance. It may take more time and effort, but your customers will really appreciate it.
Stay Patient – As a plumber, you probably talk to multiple customers a day. And during these times COVID-19 dominates many conversations. Even though you may be sick and tired of talking about COVID-19, a little empathy goes a long way with your clients. Remain patient, lend an empathetic ear and try not to be short with your customers. Everyone is looking to vent a little these days and if you can be the plumber that can smile through tedious conversations, you will have won a recurring customer.
Don’t Forget About Yourself
You cannot give great customer service if you are not taking care of yourself. It can be hard not to stress during these uncertain times, but be sure you take some time for yourself. Whether it’s just lingering in your truck and taking a few deep breaths before talking to a customer or taking a half day to exercise and let off some steam, it’s important to get your mind right so you can better serve the customer.
If at all possible, do some charitable work. Maybe a local church needs some plumbing work done. Even if it’s pro-bono, it is a great way to show people that you care and a great opportunity to network your services. You may even take some time to consider some of your elderly customers. Reach out to them and ask if they need anything on the weekend like a grocery drop off. Taking a couple of hours or even a half-day to help out around the community will make people take notice of your company.
Last but certainly not least; make sure your customers know that you emphasize safety. This entails not only letting your customers know that you are taking safety measures before rendering a service, but following through while you are actually rendering the service. Update your website to reflect the safety precautions you and your team are taking to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Equip yourself and your team with masks and gloves when they are on the job too.
Plumbing is an Opportunity
Finally, try to view plumbing as an opportunity to make life-long customers. Think about it: plumbing is an essential service. Pandemic or no pandemic, people need help when they have a frozen pipe or a flooding kitchen. They will call you but it is up to you to make sure they keep calling you. And the way to do that is to provide excellent, consistent customer service.
Get in Touch
For more ways to grow your business in these uncertain times, get in touch with us here at Plumbing Webmasters.
People don’t realize how much information Google requires to deliver qualified search results to consumers. The tech giant examines hundreds, sometimes thousands of businesses within your service area alone. Some of them provide plumbing solutions, while some only claim to. The plumbing professionals earning the highest ranks in local search are those that provide the most evidence of their activity.
In a way, all search results are driven by evidence.
Reviews, custom websites, and other plumbing SEO assets serve as proof to Google that your business is active and trustworthy. Today, we’re going to talk about a relatively new form of evidence that contributes heavily towards local SEO rankings, traffic, and leads. We’re going to talk about check-ins!
Key Learning Points for Plumbers
Check-ins are only as effective as your company is consistent in using them.
Check-ins won’t replace reviews, but they heavily influence SEO results.
It’s a team effort! Train other team members to perform check-ins as needed.
What is a Jobsite Check-in?
A check-in is a type of post to Google that shares your location and what you’re doing.
To help you understand the concept, try visualizing your community on the Google Map. Countless businesses and neighborhoods dot the landscape as you scroll from end to end of your service area. You can even see your home office address. However, what doesn’t show on that map are the countless locations where you’ve repaired toilets, installed brand new water heaters, and performed extensive pipe replacements.
As we remind many professionals over the years, Google is not omniscient. It only knows what people tell it. In fact, the search engine only works as well as it does because hundreds of millions of people continually upload information for it to dig into.
Check-ins provide Google with accurate, current, and useful data about your company’s activities. They’re your way of saying “Here I am! This is the work I’m providing. We are serving this community.” When you check into a location, it drops a pin on the Google Map. Keep this up, and pretty soon Google will see evidence of your team’s hard work across your entire service area.
Map Packs Like These are One of the Ultimate Goals of Checking In.
What Benefits Do Check-ins Offer?
Higher rankings, greater volumes of traffic for your website, and (most importantly) leads.
Very, very few businesses utilize jobsite check-ins in their digital marketing strategy. When Google has more detailed information about your company, the search engine is more likely to recommend your business over similar services with less information. Ever since Google’s Local Search Update of Q4 2019, local search rankings have grown more fluid. With the right optimization, plumbers who previously struggled to rank can now earn premium map pack listings for exceptional traffic boosts.
We’ve seen check-ins allow brand new plumbing companies to capture these positions in a matter of months. That represents an astounding marketing success, producing qualified plumbing leads in a very short period of time. Whether you run a seasoned company or a brand new service, check-ins can greatly benefit your business!
What Check-ins Look Like
While solutions and methods vary, this is what a typical check-in might look like. It starts with pulling out your phone at the very end of a job. You snap a picture of the water heater (or toilet, etc) you just installed. You go to a special website, pull up a form, and fill out information about the project. You tap “check-in” and BOOM! You’ve just performed a check-in.
The best solutions upload check-ins directly onto your website. Regular website updates are healthy for SEO purposes, encouraging Google’s crawlers to revisit your site more frequently. If your check-ins offer geo-location data and information directly related to your services, that’s SEO gold for your website!
Tips for Getting the Most Out of Check-ins
Frequency and accuracy are keys to success when it comes to check-ins. Ideally, you want to earn those little pins all over the map of your service area, for each of your services. That means that your business needs to check-in consistently to get the most SEO improvement out of the activity. That may mean adding 3 minutes onto the end of each job, but the results are worth it!
By the time your competitors finally get on board with check-ins in a couple years from now, you’ll already have hundreds of pins across the map.
If possible, choose a check-in solution that lets you upload fresh pictures on to your website. Customers and Google alike appreciate fresh images, and it looks nice on your site. All you have to do consistently snag photos at the end of each job. Just imagine your clients seeing projects closely related to their plumbing needs as they browse through your website!
From Plumbing Webmasters
If check-ins still seem like an entirely foreign (but exciting) concept, don’t worry. Our team at the Plumbing Webmasters is here to answer your questions! Learn more about jobsite check-ins, and your options for incorporating them into your marketing strategy. Call our team today at (877) 388-9884 today.
As a plumber, you probably already know the value of word of mouth recommendations for your business. People are more likely to use your services if they are referred to you by a trusted friend or family member. And in the digital age, word of mouth referrals translate to online reviews – particularly Google reviews.
Google reviews represent one of the most powerful tools for consumers today. They can look up any business in existence and if it has a Google My Business account, they will see reviews and star ratings from people who have used the services of that business. In fact, Google reviews and online reviews in general, are so powerful that it is estimated that 91% of consumers trust online reviews from Google and other sources like they do word of mouth referrals.
Table of Contents
Diversifying from Google
Many plumbers have found Google reviews to be an invaluable tool for their business. But it’s important to realize that there are other fish in the sea. During this time of pandemic it is crucial to know and familiarize yourself with alternative review sources.
Facebook Business Reviews
Facebook is another very powerful marketing tool that is still up and running. As a plumber, trust is everything to your business, which is why Facebook business reviews is one of the best alternatives to Google reviews. The great thing about Facebook business reviews is that people can see when their friends and family patronize and review your business. If the experience was good, you will have the eyes of your existing customers’ friends and family on your business.
And Facebook is far and away the most popular social media platform. There are 2.2 million Facebook accounts active every month. That gives you a massive pool of potential clients to draw from. Be sure you have a Facebook business account and start reaching out for Facebook reviews.
Better Business Bureau.
Have you ever looked on competitor sites and seen that little blue logo at the bottom, side or in the corner of their page? Many contractors have this logo because an ‘A’ rating or higher with the Better Business Bureau is a sign of trust. The Better Business Bureau was established in 1912! That’s over a century of service. Today, people know their name and know that they can turn to the Better Business Bureau site for valuable insight into the way a company operates and what kind of services they offer.
And yes, of course, millions of consumers browse the Better Business Bureau website every day to read reviews. The great thing about Better Business Bureau reviews is that they are prestigious. So many people still go to the BBB website because they trust that BB reviews cannot be manipulated. You can’t for instance, simply pay someone to go on the BBB website and leave a good review of your business.
The thing about Yelp reviews is that they tend to be emphatic one way or another. A lot of people use Yelp to really describe why they love or hate a business. Yelp encourages detailed reviews (as evidenced by the generous character count they give for each review) from their users and many users oblige.
So when you offer consistently excellent plumbing service, you are going to want to encourage your customers to leave a review on Yelp – both now and in the future.
Leveraging Reviews in 2020
Knowing where to look for alternative review sources is great, but there is more you can be doing. You should treat reviews as a commodity, especially the way things are now. There are ways that you can leverage the reviews you are getting and turn them into more business as opposed to letting them stagnate. Take a look at the following list to see what we mean.
Respond to Reviews
If someone leaves a positive review of your business on Facebook, take that as an opportunity to interact with the customer. Respond to their comments with a thank you or tell them that you are happy you could help them. Turn a review into a dialogue to build a better rapport with customers.
Turn Reviews into Ads
If you get a wonderful review that highlights a specific aspect of your services in a positive light, don’t be afraid to showcase it on your site. A lot of times, customers will hit the nail on the head and mention things in their reviews that are directly in line with your business model. Be sure to make these kinds of reviews visible on your website and various business profiles.
Check-ins are a great way to let people know that you are still providing plumbing service and providing it in their particular area. We offer check-in tools here at Plumbing Webmasters but you can also check out Facebook Check-Ins for your business’s Facebook account.
You may have noticed recently that Google reviews is not allowing reviews to go live. This is due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the nationwide shelter in place mandates. Google is trying to protect businesses by locking down their review feature, thereby making it impossible for someone to leave a bad review of your business simply because it was closed in adherence to the law.
While this is necessary during this time, a lot of businesses are feeling the pain. So today we are going to be discussing alternative review sources that you can use right now in place of Google reviews. If at any time you would like to speak with one of the marketing professionals here at Plumbing Webmasters, please feel free to call us.
Google Reviews drive local search and online branding more than almost any other ranking factor. Most plumbing professionals have some notion of the impact reviews have on their business. However, most don’t fully understand how to effectively collect and manage their client feedback.
Even though COVID-19 halted the production of new Google Reviews, you’ll need to have a plan in motion once they return. To help guide your plumbing company toward stronger brand growth, we’ve created a quick how-to for gathering, managing, and protecting your client feedback. These reviews aren’t going to collect themselves!
Key Takeaways for Plumbing Professionals
Google Reviews are the most visible form of feedback.
They directly affect rankability for local search results.
Google Reviews are best earned right after a successful service visit.
Negative reviews are opportunities to showcase your customer service prowess.
Fake reviews are not worth it. They’ve killed many businesses.
Understanding Google Reviews
Tied directly to your company’s Google My Business listing, Google Reviews represent your brand’s overall service quality to the entire local search community. Homeowners (and/or commercial clients) can leave a rating by directly searching your business name and submitting a review in the knowledge graph located on the right hand side of the screen. On mobile devices, the review tab on your listing houses the collection and submission area for new client ratings.
There are a few crucial truths you’ll need to when it comes to Google Reviews and their uses.
They are Necessary for SEO
Absolutely essential. To Google, these reviews provide undeniable proof that your business is both active and trustworthy. That means they can depend on your listing, and send more traffic your way by ranking up your website. That’s why many of the top listings on local map packs, some of the best traffic earners, feature companies with dozens (even hundreds) of Google Reviews!
That makes sense, because those reviews represent activity tied directly to your GMB account. Your GMB heavily influences local search results. If you want to win those premium map pack placements, you’ll need to consistently gather reviews on a job by job basis. By the way, if you want more detail about local map packs and optimizing for them, be sure to check out our video guide on Search Marketing, which covers the 3 major aspects of a search engine results page.
They’re Crucial for Sales
Even back in 2015, Pew Research studies showed that at least half of all Americans consider online reviews prior to making a purchase. Five years later, that number continues to climb. That’s because reviews are essentially personal recommendations from other consumers, less biased than the word of the associated business. Even with essential services like plumbing, reviews can make or break a purchase decision.
It’s not enough to gather one or two. Fresh reviews, at least in the mind of local homeowners, provide the most dependable representation of your service quality. The more, the better! After all, don’t you consider reviews on your key purchase decisions?
They Won’t Collect Themselves
Did you know that the vast majority of plumbing clients never leave a review, positive or negative? In fact, a business could consider themselves luck if even one in ten of their clients remember to leave a rating. On the other hand, most plumbing clients would be more than happy to provide a review when asked. According to a study covered by Search Engine Land:
“…if asked, approximately 71 percent of consumers will leave a review for a business.”
Those are good odds! Just imagine how many reviews you could collect in a given year if even half that percentage left them when asked. All you have to do is ask. Add in a geotagging review software (like BrandREVU), and you’ve got the makings of an outrageous improvement in local search rankings! This, of course, could mean significantly more revenue for your business.
Responding to Negative Reviews
Now comes the unpleasant, but necessary side of reputation management: negative reviews. When an angry client leaves a disparaging rating on your GMB, it’s easy to take it personally. With a little ingenuity and a lot of patience however, you can turn negative reviews into unique branding opportunities. Master the art of turning a low rating into a customer service moment, and you’ll wow all your future prospects!
Keep Calm and Carry On
First of all, don’t sweat every negative review that shows up on your GMB. If you’ve been doing a good job providing exceptional service, odds are these negative reviews will be few and far between. Continue to gather positive feedback every time you finish a job by immediately ask your clients for reviews.
The more reviews you gather, the less impact those stinging complaints will have!
Respond to the Problem
Some complaints are legitimate, while others are simply caused by misunderstandings. Either way, it’s best to respond to complaints quickly and courteously. Politely ask the client to provide more information about the circumstances behind their poor service rating. Be sure to take the conversation offline. Email or direct phone calls work best.
Once you’ve identified the cause behind the complaint, consider what you can do to satisfy the unhappy client. For repair problems, that might mean scheduling a next day service visit. For pricing or payment issues, that might mean giving a discount. Obviously, you’ll want to find a solution that meets their needs without breaking the bank!
Finally, make sure the client is completely satisfied before moving on. When you’re confident they feel happy, ask them if they’d feel comfortable updating or deleting their review. Be sure to emphasize just how essential their review is to your business, and how you’d appreciate their help. Odds are, you’ll see a higher star rating soon and earn a happy long-term client for your trouble!
Dangers of Fake Reviews
Fake reviews are bad business, whether they come from Google Reviews or somewhere else. Yet they’ve been a growing concern across multiple industries these last few years. Tech giants, such as Amazon and Google, have done their best to lessen the impact of these fictional ratings, but high demand means that review-writing services still manage to thrive.
How do fake reviews threaten your business? Consider the viewpoints of both clients and Google.
From a Client’s Perspective
Trust is everything in business, especially when it comes to essential home services. If a consumer can’t trust that the reviews on your GMB account accurately represent your service quality, they’ll turn to other options fast. So zealously guard your ratings from any sort of manipulation. If anyone suggests buying up reviews, don’t. It’s not worth the risk to your local search results.
Remember this: consumers understand if you don’t have a perfect 5-star rating. In fact, they may even prefer if your score is less than perfect, because it suggests your reviews are authentic! Just keep getting those new ratings.
From Google’s Perspective
A business caught with fake (purchased or incentivised) reviews creates risk for Google. After all, that company may be struggling for business or suffering from low service quality. Google takes risky company listings and ranks them on the backside of search results. At the very least, they could cancel any suspected reviews and remove them from your collection.
In worst case scenario, we’ve seen companies lose their GMB account overnight. That means no showing up for local-based searches. Worse yet, it means a tremendous loss of traffic and leads coming into your website. That’s an expensive mistake not worth making!
As one of the most important factors affecting your local search ranking, Google Reviews deserve consistent attention. Collect them as often as you, immediately after service visits if possible. Not only does this protect and grow your brand, it promotes stronger results on Google Search. That’s easy money for your business.
If you’re looking to automate and empower your reviews process, talk with our team at Plumbing Webmasters. Each of our custom websites come with integrated review software, enabling you to automatically ask clients for reviews and post them on your website (and any citation sources you desire). We’ve helped plumbing companies, such as the Chattanooga Water Heater Co, dominate local map packs and earn premium leads in a matter of months.
To learn more about Google Reviews and our related services, call us at (877) 388-9884!
COVID-19 is a virus spreading through the United States at a rapid pace and has already caused economic turmoil.
Plumbers will be affected, though it is too early to tell how much it will hurt plumbing as an industry.
As a plumber SEO company, we have the unique perspective of monitoring our hundreds of clients through Google Analytics and our own propriety tracking software.
We are interested in how COVID-19 is impacting things like search traffic, website clicks, and keyword searches.
So what does all of this mean for plumbing companies?
What NOT to DO
Don’t Let Panic Cloud Your Judgement
While the first reaction for most plumbers might be to panic and suspend operations, it may not be the best reaction. We’ve seen plumbers in some parts of the country actually get more business since the coronavirus outbreak. Even New York state, which is currently the most affected by the virus, lists skilled tradesmen like plumbers as part of the essential servicesthat can remain active.
Don’t Suspend Internet Marketing
During economic uncertainty, it is common for businesses to cut unnecessary costs. As a plumber during the COVID-19 outbreak, one cost that is absolutely necessary is internet marketing. Now would be the worst time to cut your online marketing campaign since most people are stuck in their house, and their only method of finding your business is online.
What You CAN DO to Capitalize
Triple Down on SEO & Internet Marketing
Because some plumbers will bail due to economic pressure, there will be an opportunity to take over search engine results pages within your local community, not just in the interim, but in the long-term. This is true both on traditional organic search results (ten blue links) and Google Map Pack results which are based on a separate algorithm but often provide the most accessible leads. Consider your options:
Google Map Pack Results
Google Maps shows prominent and relevant businesses within the proximity of the searcher, and if multiple plumbing companies shut down, you can quickly become most prominent. This is especially true if your business is already established with an existing Google Business profile showcasing multiple customer reviews. Now is the time to overtake competitors in your area.
Traditional Organic Results
If a plumber shuts down their business, don’t expect Google to hold their ranking position for much longer. Because Google’s algorithm can detect user engagement and other similar metrics, a plumbing company that goes out of business is extremely vulnerable to being overtaken, not just in real-time, but on Google search results. You can be the replacement.
Since PPC advertising requires ongoing payment, some plumbers may pull the plug on their ads. If this happens, it will drive down the cost per click (CPC) which means you can get highly valuable keyword clicks for a fraction of their peak price. Since plumbers throughout the States are still getting business, acquiring these once highly-coveted clicks could have a nice impact.
Be a Leader in Your Community by Protecting Customers & Staff
Most people remember who was there for them during tough times, not easy ones. This is true for homeowners during the COVID-19 outbreak. Plumbers who answer the call, and do so while exercising precautions and creating a safe working environment, can cement themselves as go-to plumbers once all the smoke clears. Your customers will remember you forever after this.
Summary for Plumbers During the Coronavirus Outbreak
Protect Your Clients & Employees
Now is not the time to be reckless, instead, be vigilant. Take safety precautions to avoid spreading the virus to staff or clients. You can use your online tools as a method of limiting face to face interactions. Once you schedule services, your direct interaction with the homeowner can be very limited. Your job is to ensure you don’t contaminate their living space.
Take Your Marketing Seriously
Now is not the time to cut marketing costs, if anything, it is a time to triple down on them. There are very few opportunities to overtake long-cemented plumbing companies on Google search results but now is one of those times. As businesses close down because of the outbreak, other companies will take their consumers and their reputation within the community. Will you be one of them?
Call Plumbing Webmasters
You won’t have much time to execute an online marketing strategy during these uncertain times. Your best option is to call Plumbing Webmasters at (877) 388-9884 and ask about our discount. We are working with plumbers across the United States to ensure that homeowners can find the contractors they need to keep their plumbing systems up and running at a time when normalcy is needed as much as possible.