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.