iMarket Solutions Blog : Archive for the ‘SEO’ Category

Building Brand Reputation and Improving SEO

Tuesday, November 26th, 2019

If you’re not already familiar, SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization—the practice of increasing the quantity and quality of traffic to your website through organic search engine results (Moz.com). The real question is, what does this have to do with brand reputation?

In the traditional digital marketing agency setup, these are two entirely different entities, but could disassociating these two key areas be a mistake? We certainly think so! In fact, as part of our dedication to contractor success, iMarket Solutions is in the process of aligning these two departments into one. But, why?

Over Half of All Website Visits Come From Organic Search

We’ve discovered that 57% of all traffic in the HVAC and plumbing industries comes from organic search versus all other marketing platforms combined.

That is an average of 13,795 website visitors per year.

Realistically, you will find that a large portion—about 70%–of these searchers never intend to convert, whether that traffic is coming from your blog, outside your service area, or it’s just a web user doing some research.

If we remove this traffic from the picture, we’re still left with a little over 4,000 users in a year’s time, and with the average qualified conversion rate that means about 1,000 qualified leads in that time. This is a solid number of course, but what if you could achieve even more?

What If Your Organic Search Results Showed a Different Picture?

It’s not enough for your business to just show up in organic search results. Your business must be portrayed in the right way, which we’ll delve into more detail about in the 5 tips below.

Nearly half of U.S. adults, according to a survey conducted on behalf of BrandYourself.com, use an internet search to learn more about a business before moving forward with a purchase, particularly in the service industry. From that survey, 45% of respondents say those search results made them decide not to work with a business—nearly 1/4th of all searchers actively claim their decisions are swayed by social cues!

56% of respondents found the information they saw in search results solidified their decision to work with a business, showing that consumers are more swayed by positive results than they are put off by negative results—but you have to have a convincing positive search presence otherwise you’ll miss out on a large chunk of your potential audience that needs your service.

A Strong Reputation Will Have a Greater Impact on Your Bottom Line

What is your company’s current reputation? You can start figuring this out by doing a search on your own to uncover review ratings, 3rd party review websites, social media profiles and more. You may find something about your company that looks off, or represent areas of opportunity.

You should also look at your competitors that come up and take a look at the “people also searched for” section to get a grasp of where your focus should be when attempting to improve your brand reputation. This reputation won’t be built or rebuilt overnight—we don’t have the magic bullet, nobody does—but the tips shared below provide long-term solutions that any contracting business can adopt.

As you read through these, keep in mind your budget, how much time and resources you’re willing to spend on reputation improvements, what areas need the most improvement and where you can start to make the biggest impact.

Tip #1: Understand Your Brand

The first step is often the hardest, and there’s no exception here. Many brands are lost when it comes to their branding, and buyers are intuitive—if your brand isn’t genuine, customers will pick up on it. You must understand your purpose and commit to it. This starts with knowing your “why.”

This concept is illustrated by author Simon Sinek in his TED talk as well as his book, “Start with Why.” We encourage you to check this out, and also inquire about iMarket Solutions’ full business workshop. Once you know your “why,” you’ll want to connect to your vision, or where you want to be as a company. Your question should be about how you can influence customers to choose your business over the dozens, if not hundreds of other options they have.

We could talk all day just on this topic, but we encourage you to reach out to our team for more information!

Tip #2: Get Involved in the Community!

Community involvement doesn’t have to be complicated. For instance, one of our clients does an annual blanket drive in order to support their local church and community, bringing positive attention to their brand. They’ve been doing this for 6 years now, and over 30% of their online reviews mention compliments such as how their techs are considered family, and how they’re friendly, polite and courteous.

Of course, not all these results may come from the company’s community involvement, but by focusing on efforts like this, you’ll show you live by your values and purpose. And an increase in buzz from trustworthy resources helps increase your website’s level of trust in Google’s eyes, helping your website rank higher over time for competitive keywords. This is true for recent events as well as older events—if you participated in a community event in the past, try to get the organization to link back to your site.

Tip #3: Use Your Website as More Than a Platform for Describing Services

Your website can and should be so much more than just a brochure of your products and services—in fact it’s one of your most powerful tools for marketing, setting the tone for your company and customers’ perception of your brand.

Relevant information on your site that sets your business apart includes things like:

  • What your team is about—what sort of training, certifications, and background checks do they receive? Are there visuals on your site of your team at work?
  • Community involvement and partnerships, including brand partnerships.
  • Unique service offerings.
  • Photos and other tidbits that engage your customers.

If there’s anything you can take away from this, we’d want it to be that your website content is vitally important in building a strong reputation that improves search rankings.

Tip #4: Own Your Brand Narrative

Google doubles as both a search engine and a review resource, so it’s important to ensure it’s optimized from both angles. You want to take charge of the narrative going on here, as well as other common review platforms like Yelp, Angie’s List, Better Business Bureau, Facebook, and HomeAdvisor.

Of course, you’ll never have direct control over these properties, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. How? By asking your trusted customers to leave reviews, particularly on Google My Business. 

That said, you cannot offer incentives for these reviews—we suggest strict adherence to Google’s guidelines regarding this matter—, but you can work on building a strategy to request and respond to reviews. Seriously, respond to every single review you get to address the feedback you’re receiving, whether it’s positive or negative. When done in a tactful way, this will help increase trust in not only your customers’ eyes, but in Google’s eyes as well.

Tip #5: Listen to Your Customers

This goes beyond looking at the feedback you’re receiving through reviews—though this is part of the process. There are other areas where your customers are talking—listen to recorded phone calls, read through your form submissions, review Google messages, and take note of chat conversations to get an idea of how your brand and reputation are being perceived.

Engage with your customers, your employees, and even your close friends and family to see what they think of your brand, to get a better idea of how your company is perceived.

Remember, even the smallest shift toward improving your company’s reputation will begin to show in the way customers perceive and interact with your brand and marketing. We urge you to start from a place of understanding for your brand, and a partnership with a marketing agency that understands your specific business needs and opportunities.

Contact iMarket Solutions to learn more about our comprehensive digital marketing products for contractors. Our purpose is to be dedicated to contractor success. Everything we do is informed by this purpose.

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How Can You Attract More Website Traffic?

Wednesday, November 20th, 2019

Your website is the core of a successful digital marketing strategy. After all, 95% of customers find businesses online through their websites. But having a website with an attractive design, eye-catching calls-to-action, and friendly navigation doesn’t mean prospects will actually see it. A website that potential customers can’t find may as well not exist at all. Driving traffic to a website is what makes a digital strategy work.

Finding methods to pull more traffic to a contractor website is a core part of how iMarket Solutions helps our customers succeed in a competitive marketplace. Just as a strong digital presence through a website is essential for digital marketing success, so is a well-considered strategy created to channel traffic to the site.

You have a great website—What marketing tools will drive more traffic toward it and toward your business?

Top Marketing Tools for Stampeding Customers to Your Website

There are an immense number of digital marketing tools available to send potential customers to your contractor website. Here are a few we consider essentials:

Search Engine Optimization: SEO is still the number one tool to make your website visible to search engines and people searching for your services. A website optimized to garner traffic needs relevant keywords and phrases that search engines can easily locate and interpret. The landscape of SEO continually shifts, so any strategy to attract customers to a website must evolve to stay current with the algorithms and guidelines of the major search engines.

Social Media: Mid-sized businesses require social media to send people to their sites. Social media may seem like an impossible maze to navigate, but all these platforms have the same basic use: to develop “word-of-mouth” campaigns with a wide range. Your customers are already “hanging out” on social media, where you can approach them with a casual pitch rather than an aggressive hard-sell. A strong social media presence not only increases website traffic, it achieves other goals like building trust with customers and increasing the chance of conversions.

Search Engine Marketing: Search Engine Marketing (SEM) means using pay-per-click ads on search engines to attract traffic to your site when customers are looking for relevant services. You pay a variable amount to the search engine based on how useful customers find the ads. The better your SEM strategy, the more traffic your site receives and the less you pay for the pay-per-click ads.

Responsive Website: When we call a website “responsive,” it means the site responds to a visitor’s screen size and orientation, then alters the layout for the best visitor experience. Your potential customers use a plethora of devices to access your website. From screens as large as smart TVs to smaller smartphone screens, a successful website must adapt to whatever device a visitor uses. Don’t let customers slip away because they can’t easily navigate your site on their device of choice.

Managing Tools Into an Effective Strategy

This isn’t a comprehensive list of methods to increase website traffic. No list can be comprehensive, because digital marketing technology sprints toward the future with the speed of a cheetah. You don’t have to worry about exhausting yourself chasing that cheetah—with iMarket Solutions, you have the perfect ally to keep pace with both current and future tools. We specialize in creating success for HVAC, plumbing, and electrical contractors, so we understand how to design a strategy to drive relevant traffic to your website. We use cutting-edge technology to see that your contractor website is not only visible to prospects, but engages them, creates trust, and drives them to contact you.

For the help you need to grow your business and website traffic with an exceptional digital marketing strategy, contact a member of our team. We have the experience, knowledge, and tools to make your contractor business a success by increasing website traffic. For more than a decade, our team has sailed atop the churning sea of digital marketing, making the sailing smooth for contractors like you.

iMarket Solutions is a leader in digital marketing solutions to help contractors thrive. Contact us today to assess how you can boost traffic to your website and boost conversions.  

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Should Contractors Have a Blog?

Wednesday, November 6th, 2019

The short answer? Yes.

The long answer? Yes, but it’s complicated.

Without a blog on your company website, you’re missing a huge opportunity. Blogs provide a way to connect with your customers and community. They are an opportunity to show personality, and to give your company a voice that can separate you from other contractors in your service area.

Not only is a blog the perfect chance for communicating with your customer base, but there are literally no downsides to having a well-maintained, informed, and frequently updated blog!

Blogging Helps Edge Out Competition

There are other businesses out there that do what you do. That doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of consumers out there willing to switch to your service, it just means it’s harder for them to find you if you don’t have the right online presence. A well-planned blog is your way to display the personality, expertise, and voice of your company. With a frequently updated blog, you can:

  • Highlight the differences in your services.
  • Talk directly to your prospective audience.
  • Steer consumers from making poor decisions.
  • Showcase why your team is the one to choose.
  • Build trust with your community.

We’ve got the Data to Prove It

Don’t believe us? Many business owners want to ignore the idea of any kind of marketing for contractors. The fact of the matter is, the data all points to blogs being a central piece of successful business growth—and we can prove it. 

  • Blogs are trustworthy. Blogs are the 5th most trusted source for accurate online information.
  • Great blogs catch attention. 75% of search engine users don’t scroll beyond the first page of results. With a well-maintained blog, the chances of you showing up on that page increases.
  •  Blogs pull positive results. 55% of bloggers report positive results from blogging. Of those 55%, 30% report strong results. These positive and strong results vary from increased website traffic and higher user engagement, to greater revenue. 

A Comprehensive SEO Strategy

For the unfamiliar, SEO stands for “search engine optimization,” which is a process by which your company can be ranked higher in web searches for your service areas. A frequently updated, high-quality blog is a great tool for your company’s SEO strategy. Blogs are a natural way to increase your search engine rankings because search engines value fresh, organic content that uses relevant keywords that meets the needs of online searchers.

More than 95% of customers find local businesses online, which means you need digital brand management that can make the changes necessary to connect with those customers. We can provide an effective SEO solution for contractors that uses the creative voice of a blog with the science of a proven SEO strategy to bring more leads and impressive results!

Constant Communication

Dialogue is a two-way process. Customers don’t just want to call a robotic line, they want to speak to other people when they’re looking for quality services. Writing a blog post provides communication to customers, but also to the community at large.

This communication can be about a topic that shines a light on the experience your team has and the great work they do. For all the effort that goes into an updated blog, the statistics say it often ends in new leads being generated.

Trust is the #1 Priority

The people scouring through a search engine for information about how to repair their HVAC system or what sort of water treatment system they need just want help.

Blogs are written by people as a way to convey information, personality, and experience. Trying to advertise your way into someone’s home might work. But many businesses out there are sneaky about it, and homeowners don’t take too kindly to this, naturally. Blogs are natural advertising. They tell consumers that there is a person behind the product, a team on the other end of the phone, someone who is willing to give them advice while asking for nothing in return.

Paid advertising is one effective way to attract leads, and blogs are how you get recurring customers. That trust is worth its weight in gold.

What Now?

Blogging is part of a comprehensive digital brand management and SEO strategy. When you choose a marketing company to manage your SEO efforts and your blog, you want a company that is knowledgeable about your business and committed to using the best practices to attract quality leads for your contracting business.

We’ve been working with contractors for years; we have the tools and experience necessary to build an SEO strategy that will yield promising results!

iMarket Solutions is your resource for leading digital solutions. Allow us to assess your current SEO and blogging strategy to see where your opportunities are. Contact us today! Dedicated to Contractor Success.

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How to Get Great SEO Results for Your Contracting Website

Thursday, October 24th, 2019

We wish we could tell you there was a super quick and easy method for this. If we were to describe in one phrase what it takes to get your contracting website on page 1 of Google, we would say “time and patience.” Well, that and an experienced marketing team who knows what it takes to properly optimize your site.

Getting your website to rank on a search engine page means understanding how it indexes, analyzes, and then ranks a website. Search engines, including Google, have a large index of all the pages of all the websites they know, and your contracting website can only show up on search engine results pages (SERPs) if it’s in that database. This is where SEO (search engine optimization) comes in!

What Is SEO?

If you’ve ever done any marketing online, you’ve probably heard the acronym “SEO”. But if someone asked you to explain it, could you? 

The concept of search engine optimization is actually fairly simple. It’s the process of getting traffic from organic search results on search engines. By organic, we mean free—you’re not getting ranked due to paid advertising. Paid search marketing and PPC (pay-per-click) are important parts of a contractors’ digital marketing toolbox, but not what we’re discussing today.

Generally speaking, the fundamental steps to SEO success are:

  • Figuring out what homeowners and business owners are searching for as it relates to your business.
  • Optimizing each page of your website for target keywords and keyword phrases.
  • Increasing the “crawlability” and “indexability” of your website.
  • Creating share-worthy, compelling content that earns links, citations, and amplification.
  • Producing a great user experience, including fast page load times.
  • Ensuring your website is accessible to both search engines and humans.

One very important factor to remember about SEO is that it’s just as much about people as it is search engines themselves. You have to know your audience! Know the words they’re using, what sort of content they wish to consume, even the different verbiage they may use based on their locality.

Why Is SEO So Important?

There are a number of digital marketing tools that help make contractors successful. Paid advertising, social media marketing, reputation management, and even live chat are all things that can help you acquire leads and convert them into customers.

But the majority of online traffic is driven by search engines. Organic search engine results cover more digital real estate than any other form of online marketing, they appear more credible to the educated consumer, and they receive far more clicks than paid advertisements. In fact, according to Moz.com, SEO has ~20X more traffic opportunity than PPC on both mobile and desktop.

How Does Google, and Other Search Engines, Work?

Search engines have three main functions – to crawl, index, and rank.

Crawling means scouring the internet for content and looking over the code and content for each URL they find. They’ll look at things like the URL for the page, the meta-data, the content of the page (text, images, videos, etc) and how each page is being linked to. This will help search engines understand what keywords and phrases the page is most relevant for.

Indexing means storing and organizing the content that’s found during the crawling process. Once a page is in the index, it’s in the running to be displayed as a result to relevant searches.

Ranking is the part you’re likely most familiar with—it’s providing the pieces of content that will best answer a searcher’s query, which means that results are ordered by the most relevant to the least relevant.

Not All Search Engines Are Created Equal

Have you ever noticed that when talking about SEO, “Google” almost seems synonymous to “search engine”? Google does have the largest market share, and it’s the one that the SEO community pays attention to most—because this is where the greater majority of people search the web!

In fact, over 90% of web searches occur on Google. This is not to say other search engines aren’t important, but rather to stress the need to use Google’s quality guidelines when developing your SEO strategy.

Should You Hire a Marketing Professional to Help with Your SEO Efforts?

When you work with a marketing team to develop a strong strategy for your contracting business, you’ll want to work with one who knows the ins and outs of Google, SEO, and most importantly, your business!

We’ve only just brushed the surface here on what it takes to make sure consumers find your website. Working with our team means you’ll stay up to date on all the SEO tools necessary to build a beautiful and functional website, and have access to whatever digital marketing needs you may have.

iMarket Solutions is the expert in digital marketing and SEO for contractors. To learn more about how our SEO services can help you grow your business, contact us today.  Dedicated to Contractor Success!

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Why Should Contractors Utilize Digital Marketing?

Wednesday, September 25th, 2019

When it comes to getting your name out there and converting local homeowners into loyal customers, there are many marketing methods that can help you along. Creating the right overall marketing strategy is an essential part in helping your contracting business grow. These days, this means creating a solid digital marketing strategy.

Digital marketing is, in the simplest terms, the marketing of your products and services using digital technologies, both on the internet and other forms of digital media. In the last few decades, digital marketing has drastically changed the way brands and businesses utilize technology in their marketing efforts.

At iMarket Solutions, we are dedicated to contractor success. This means we believe in helping contractors form a reputable digital footprint in today’s online and mobile environment. This isn’t optional anymore—it’s what your contracting business needs to separate itself from your competitors. What exactly does this look like?

The Benefits of Digital Marketing for Contractors

Today’s consumers are increasingly becoming more mobile and web-based than ever before. Sure, marketing efforts such as advertising products and services through direct mail, or from a booth at a home or trade show is still valuable. But, to truly reach homeowners and even business owners where they’re at, you need to be visible online. There are a number of benefits to this, including:

Brand Development: A beautifully designed website, reputable social media presence, and solid online reviews are just a few of the ways you can garner attention for your contracting business. Building a brand from the ground up, or even entering a new vertical, can be overwhelming. But with the right support, you can quickly gain leads and conversions.

Lead Generation: If you want to enable your business to create enormous traffic and subsequent sales and conversion, the best way to do so is with digital marketing. Digital agencies can bring in leads through content marketing, email and social media marketing, optimized web forms, A/B testing, and more.

Low Cost, High ROI: Marketing and advertising your brand is one of the biggest financial burdens you’ll never need to take on. But marketing through digital platforms provides you with an affordable alternative to traditional marketing such as cold calling or advertising in magazines and direct mail. The best part is, digital marketing offers a substantial return on investment.

Reputation: The idea behind a careful digital marketing strategy is to gain the attention of potential customers and current customers long enough to build a credible reputation that keeps them coming back. Online reviews, social media presence, and how your company communicates using these digital mediums can help build and maintain a great company reputation in the communities you serve.

Our Comprehensive Products

Not all digital marketing products are right for each and every contractor. It’s important that you work with a qualified team with a specialty in marketing for contractors to determine the best strategy for your specific needs as a contracting business. Contact a member of our team today to learn more about any of the following services we provide!

  • Website Design
  • Digital Brand Management with SEO
  • Review Generation & Management
  • Email Marketing
  • Social Media Management
  • Search Engine Marketing
  • Local Services by Google Support
  • Remarketing
  • Live Chat

“How Can I Get Started?”

Digital marketing can seem overwhelming to a contractor who’s never had a solid online presence. Fortunately, that’s what iMarket Solutions is here for. Getting started with digital marketing means first creating a well-designed website with great, unique content and a strong town-by-town strategy for your service areas—and ensuring that the whole site provides a positive user experience.

Or rather, it means contacting a digital agency with the purpose of delivering HVAC, plumbing, and electrical contracting businesses with the best solutions for their digital marketing strategy to design that website. And your company’s website is just the beginning!

iMarket Co-Owner and Co-Founder Gary Elekes has found that the contractors with the most successful digital strategies have followed this model for getting started in digital marketing:

  • Have your provider publish blog posts at least 1-2 times each month.
  • Encourage and drive customer reviews as much as you can to all review engines—not just Google.
  • Get busy with collecting emails, and launch a solid email campaign strategy that targets existing customers.
  • Tie in your social media accounts with a strategy for community and cause marketing, using Facebook ads, Facebook posts, Instagram posts, and Retargeting.
  • Check to see if Local Services by Google is available in your area, and if it is, don’t wait! Sign up, get vetted, and tie in your ads to your customer reviews.
  • Invest in a paid search model through Google paid ads.

Gary Elekes Co–Founded iMarket Solutions in 2010 with Andrew Allen. Gary is also the Founder and CEO of EPC Equity, a private equity group established to acquire, operate, and grow businesses in the home services trade. Additionally, Gary serves as President of EPC, Inc., EPC Training, Inc., two companies he has sold to EGIA and operates them for EGIA.  He still maintains and operates EPC Consulting independently, and has also been an active contractor since 2002, currently owning and operating HVAC and Plumbing companies in Arizona.

To learn more about how to get started, simply reach out to our team. We’ve been working with contractors for years, and we understand the unique needs you face when getting your name out and attracting leads.

iMarket Solutions is your resource for leading digital solutions. Please allow us to assess your current digital strategy and see where your lead opportunities are. Contact us today!

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How Online Reviews Help Your SEO

Tuesday, April 30th, 2019

There are a number of factors that go into having a successful digital presence for your contracting business. Is your website responsive? Are your landing pages optimized? Do you have social media accounts? Perhaps most importantly, what do your online reviews look like?

It’s no secret that this type of “word of mouth” advertising is still very important. This is perhaps even truer, now that people can find information about your business within seconds with a simple click of a mouse. Google My Business heavily impacts the relationship between online reviews and your SEO efforts—what does this mean for you?

Google My Business Is More than Just a Business Listing

Google My Business helps contractors reach and engage with local customers through Google Search and Google Maps. Because Google owns the platform, they’re going to put the most weight on reviews that come through it.

Google’s Official Stance

Last year, Google published a revised version of their 164-page set of Search Rating Guidelines, which helps human “quality raters” evaluate online content. This includes website, landing page, and overall online business content. The raters then provide feedback to Google in order to enhance their search algorithm.

There are specific factors they look for, and rate on a scale of 1-5 (with 1 being the lowest and 5 being the highest), based on what online visitors like to see and want to see. The overall ratings determine the E-A-T of any given search result that comes up.

What Is E-A-T?

E-A-T stands for Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness. The search ratings measure this as well as the web pages’ reputation. Usually, if one is high the other is high. This is the good and the bad news. Your business’s E-A-T score and reputation may be high and allow your reviews to show up on page one of Google. But, if you have bad reviews then it can work against you.

If this happens, you want to put focus on improving the review score on that particular platform, whether it is Google My Business, Facebook, BBB, Yelp, or Home Advisor. We encourage contractors to invest the resources necessary to respond to and monitor your company reviews. This may mean providing internal training to your staff, and even adopting a review generation platform of your own.

“Should I Respond to Bad Reviews?”

This is a common question, and the short answer is “yes.” But only if you do so in the right way. It is possible, if you respond to an unhappy customer who left a bad review in an amicable way, that they may update or remove their review. You also have the option to ask the customer to do so after a problem has been resolved.

After all, a bad review may have come as a result of a misunderstanding, or it’s something you can or already were able to correct. The best case scenario is that a customer will edit their bad review after coming to a satisfactory resolution. However, you want to be careful to not be too aggressive about it.

Another option is, instead of asking the customer to remove or edit their review, is to work on crafting the perfect response to negative reviews. For instance, you can respond to an initial review by acknowledging the customer had a problem, and encouraging them to contact you privately. Once the situation is resolved, you can go back to the review and leave a response such as:

“Hi [name], per our offline discussion, we were able to remedy this situation. We look forward to doing business with you in the future.”

What this does for you is it shows potential customers and 3rd parties that even though a customer had a bad experience, you as the company owner addressed their concerns, and you care about the service you provide.

Reviews Have a Direct Impact on SEO and Site Visibility

The reviews you receive on the various review platforms have a direct impact on your SEO results, site visibility, and, as a result, your leads and customer conversions. This trend is very likely to continue, particularly when you consider the amount of work and resources Google has put into this facet of their local search engine guidelines over the past few years. The longer you wait to invest the resources needed in managing your business reviews and reputation, the more likely it is you’ll fall behind some of your local competitors.

iMarket Solutions provides a full suite of contractor marketing products, including SEO for contractors and reputation management. Contact us today to learn more.  

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Upgrade Your Marketing: Digital Marketing Tips for Contractors

Thursday, March 28th, 2019

You have many options when it comes to developing a marketing plan for your contracting business. Creating the right strategy is a vital part to helping your business thrive. This includes traditional marketing methods as well as newer, digital marketing strategies.

We mentioned this briefly in our last blog post about selling in the shoulder season, though it applies year round—forming a reputable digital footprint in today’s online and mobile environment is not optional. It’s key to helping you build your brand, attract leads, and build customer relationships.

If It’s Not Digital, Is It Even Marketing?

There is of course still value in traditional marketing practices, such as sending direct mail pieces that advertise your products and services, promoting your business and services from a booth at a home show, or even setting up charity events in your local area. But there is no denying that today’s consumers are increasingly mobile and web-based. Therefore, it’s essential to have a solid digital marketing plan in place.

What does this look like? Here are just a few digital marketing tips for you to keep in mind:

  1. Create a Well-Designed Website: It’s not enough to simply have a website up—it must be well designed. This means creating a site that is visually appealing, allows site visitors and customers to figure out what you’re about right away, is user-friendly (customers can find what they’re looking for instantly), and properly optimized. Don’t forget that it has to be fast and responsive—this means it works on any online and mobile device.  
  2. Optimize Your Web Pages and Blog: Weak keywords are the worst enemy to a well-designed website and blog. Choosing the right keywords to attract your target demographic requires a long-term strategy that includes understanding your competition and knowing exactly what web visitors are searching for. Trusting an experienced marketing company to create your SEO (Search Engine Optimization) strategy will ensure that this is done correctly and that you avoid what’s known as “black hat” SEO practices—tactics that can get your website flagged by Google and other major search engines.
  3. Invest in Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Ads: Also called “paid advertising,” PPC ads are an essential component of any effective digital marketing plan, especially in highly-competitive markets. A PPC ad is what you see on the top and right sides of search engine results pages. They’re named as such because advertisers pay each time a web visitor conducting a search clicks on one of those ads.
  4. Have a Social Media and Email Marketing Plan in Place: There’s a lot still to be said for “word-of-mouth” advertising. Social media has taken this form of marketing and amplified it. Businesses can now easily reach customers where they’re at, not necessarily to make a sale, but to engage directly with potential consumers in order to build a relationship. Email marketing is another way to effectively get the word out about your business to leads and members of your community. From eNewsletters to promotional announcements, email allows you to get your business top of mind when the recipient needs a home services contractor down the road.

Not all products are right for each and every contractor. You’ll want to work closely with a qualified professional who specializes in marketing for contractors to help determine the right mix of products for your particular contracting business. When you work with our team, you don’t have to worry about your knowledge of the digital marketing space—that’s what we are here for!

iMarket Solutions is your resource for the leading digital solutions, and other great marketing tips. We would love the opportunity to assess your current digital campaign and see where your lead opportunities are. Contact us today!

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Google Search Algorithm Update

Friday, December 28th, 2018

As a leader in digital marketing and SEO, we wanted to share some industry relevant news that may interest you. 

As you may already know, Google’s organic search algorithm is updated hundreds of times every year, and in some cases multiple times each day. And while specific details surrounding the update are not always shared, we know one thing is for sure. Google is rewarding websites that provide exceptional value to those who are visiting them. 

With that said, we’ve been tracking a lot of volatility within organic search results over the last week, which is consistent with an update to the algorithm. Many third party, unbiased, search trend tools have identified changes within the search landscape, which may or not impact your website. Barry Schwartz, a well respected member of the organic search community recently posted an article sharing his insights on what’s going on.

Our digital marketing and SEO team here at iMarket Solutions continues to track the organic search presence of our clients’ websites amid these suspected algorithm updates. Often times, when an algorithm update is released, website rankings may see an increase in volatility over a short period of time (we call this the Google dance). It’s not uncommon to see keyword rankings increase / decrease 5 or more spots in the days after an update of this magnitude. Eventually the dust settles and we have a better idea of how this particular update has impacted any websites. 

Have questions? Connect with an iMarket team member at 800-727-3920 to learn more about the latest Google trends and how we can help your website improve organic rankings and generate leads. 

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Frequently Asked SSL Questions

Wednesday, November 28th, 2018

We’ve written before about the rise of secure protocols, and their increasing prevalence across the internet. This is largely due to the actions of Google, which has a vested interest in ensuring that the sites they index are as trustworthy as possible. Still, this is a deep topic, and our previous writings may have left some remaining doubt as to the benefits of migrating your website to HTTPS. If that’s the case, have a look at the following reasons why it is in your best interest to make sure that your site is using an HTTPS configuration.

How Does HTTPS Differ from HTTP?

HTTP stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol. It is the method that the website uses to organize and display data between itself and any computers that may be connected to it. While this is a fast and easy method for retrieving and displaying data for those visiting your site, it does little to secure the site itself against malicious attacks.

Man-in-the-middle attacks are common on HTTP sites, as they allow someone to intercept the data from your site and display something of the attacker’s choosing to your customers. Usually, it’s an exact copy of the unsecured site with all information entered collected by the attacker. You can imagine what kind of havoc this could cause with sites that handle confidential information like medical records and finances.

HTTPS is Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure, which adds an extra layer of security encryption to help ensure that your customers are looking at the correct website. When someone navigates to an HTTPS address, the browser retrieves a special SSL (Secure Socket Layer) security certificate. Think of this as a kind of additional key needed to display the information. This certificate identifies the site to both Google and the browser as a trusted site. When a user is on an HTTPS site, they can be sure that:

  1. They are seeing the authentic site (E.G. their actual banking site instead of an imposter)
  2. Any information entered on that site will be encrypted for an added layer of security.

Does HTTPS Slow Down My Website?

It has been a longstanding myth that making use of HTTPS instead of HTTP is inconvenient because it slows down the website. Many webmasters are afraid to migrate to an HTTPS, for fear that the added page loading time will put off potential customers. Rest assured, though, this is not the case when the migration is done correctly.

In our in-house testing of roughly 150 SSL migrations, using Pingdom and GMetrix, websites experienced an average of 0.14 seconds faster load time after implementing HTTPS than they did before. So, instead of slowing down those sites, migrating to HTTPS actually made them load faster. Now, 0.14 seconds is so short a time as to be unnoticeable to humans. Google will most certainly notice, though, and that will reflect positively on your site.

Is it Really Worth the Effort to Migrate to HTTPS?

Making the switch to HTTPS can be an involved process, one that is also typically confusing to those who have never done it before. Even with all of the above benefits, some people just don’t want to go to the trouble of getting an SSL certificate to make their site more secure if it means jumping through that many hoops.

Here’s the thing, though: From an SEO standpoint, HTTPS helps you in more ways than one.

Remember: Google wants sites to start using HTTPS. For the past few years, it has even said that it uses SSL certification as a ranking factor for its websites. So, if you use HTTPS for your site, you are both more secure and more likely to rank better in Google’s search results than your competitors who don’t use it. With that in mind, if you haven’t yet migrated your site to HTTPS, we highly recommend that you consult with a trusted professional who can do that for you.

With all of this said, it’s easy to see why every single client who signs up with iMarket Solutions is given an SSL Certificate!  Contact us today to learn more. 

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Google to Prioritize Security for Local B2C Websites

Monday, February 5th, 2018

Have you ever wondered why some websites start with HTTP, while others start with HTTPS? Or perhaps you’ve seen an indication in your browser that the website you’re viewing is “Secure” while others are not?

In their infancy, security protocols were often used on sites that collected data sensitive to user privacy. Think along the lines of credit card information, social security numbers and even mailing addresses.

In years since, security protocols have grown in popularity and are now used in many different verticals including HVAC, plumbing and electrical industries. One player you can thank for the bulk of this change is Google.

Along with changing the way that your website looks within a browser, having a secure website also changes the way that search engines look at your website. You may have heard that search engines prefer sites that are secure. This is correct.

Starting in 2014, Google began prioritizing security in efforts to serve their audience with a better user experience. In 2017 the Google Chrome browser began labeling sites without security protocols as “Not Secure” within the URL display. More and more, sites that offer a secure browsing experience are seeing increases in their rankings and more competitive advantages in organic search. With strong indications that security is a top priority in the search industry, it’s imperative that local businesses keep this in mind as they build out their digital strategies moving into 2018.

 

What are the Benefits of Having a Secure Website?

The long and the short of it is: having a secure website better protects your users from malicious attacks and keeps the layers of communication between your website and its users safe.

Outside of this benefit, it’s also a factor that search engines look at when comparing the hundreds and thousands of options available for any given search query. User security is a benefit that search engines look for when pitting one website against another. With the end goal of providing end users with the best experience possible, search engines have embraced security protocols and their ability to serve a better user experience.

While there are hundreds of different factors that play into search engine ranking algorithms, having a secure website could provide you with a competitive advantage. With heavy hitters doing all they can to rank in a competitive landscape, adding security to your website is one piece of the puzzle that you don’t want to miss.

 

What is HTTPS?

Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) defines the way that computer systems are able to standardize and communicate with data found on the World Wide Web. Without getting into the nitty-gritty details, Hypertext Transfer Protocol functions as the base layer that website browsers use to add human context to the numbers and code behind the curtain.

Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) encrypts data during the communication process so that it cannot be modified, corrupted or tracked without detection. This added layer of protection authenticates the identity of the website, ensuring that the user is being communicated the right data, protecting against man-in-the-middle attacks which prompt users to share information with the wrong party.

 

Should I Have Transferred to a Secure Website Already?

It depends. As mentioned in the beginning of this post, website security was born out of a necessity to safely access and share sensitive information on the World Wide Web. For verticals that did not require the transfer of sensitive information, the migration to a secure protocol could prove to be costly, time-consuming, and could even lead to drops in organic visibility if done incorrectly. For most businesses, the juice was not worth the squeeze.

In this time, many websites had to bear the burden of shaky keyword fluctuations as search engines tested and perfected the way that website security fit into their ranking algorithms. With a change made to the application layer of a website, search engines were not as readily capable of identifying the history of a site or its pages and struggled to assign authority that had built up over time. If you were to migrate your site to HTTPS during this time, it was as if you had launched a brand new domain! For webmasters around the world who had taken the time to develop longstanding authority in their niche, this was a very difficult hurdle.

At this point, however, search engines have fine-tuned their algorithms, and can now recognize past authority and assign it to the newly launched protocol. Website security has withheld the test of time and is a smart addition to building the trust value of your site.

If you haven’t previously considered migrating to a secure application protocol, now is the time.

 

What Can I Expect When I Transfer to a Secure Website?

The process for adding a layer of protection to your website security has evolved, and it’s now easier than ever to apply a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) into your website application. When migrating to HTTPS, there are many different factors that must be looked after in order to ensure that the transition is smooth and will derive the greatest benefit for search engine optimization and end users alike.

For all intents and purposes, one of the most important considerations is that a user can quickly and easily access your site, even if they use the old URL. When transferring to HTTPS, it’s imperative that you set up redirects so that search engines and users will be directed to the correct page.

Along with this step, there are also many different checkpoints that need to be addressed to provide the highest level of user experience, and to avoid any of the technical pitfalls that may hurt organic performance. Your digital provider must consider the best SSL certificate for your domain’s needs, how the hosting of your domain impacts the migration, where images are stored, whether website tracking is appropriately updated and even how external links to the old domain will be handled for streamlined performance.

When choosing a partner to help migrate your website to a secure protocol, make sure that they have set an action plan for retaining and tracking organic performance. Without the appropriate quality checkpoints in place, you may not catch a small error – making a switch for SEO benefit moot. But when done correctly, migrating your website to a secure protocol can prove to have strong benefits in user experience and organic search. To learn more, reach out to iMarket Solutions today!

Have questions about the organic performance of your HVAC, plumbing or electrical website? Reach out to iMarket Solutions today to learn more!

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