SEO & Content Marketing Strategies for Construction Companies
Why SEO (Search Engine Optimization) Matters
Nearly every business out there is trying to dominate the search engines, but think about that free-for-all competition from Google’s perspective: They process over 5.6 billion searches per day. No wonder SEO marketing has sprawled into subfields, and only an SEO agency worth its chops can explain the difference between indexing and crawling, or why, you know, hreflang tags are so important. For many other fields, especially ones as hands-on as construction, technical terms like that may sound like fancy gibberish. We won’t lie—with phraseology like UX, KPI, CLV:CAC, PPCs and ROI, the alphabet soup of marketing jargon can be tough to swallow. But even if you’re a no-nonsense contractor with a straight-talking approach to your craft, implementing a construction marketing strategy online can help clients find you and help you secure new projects.
We’ve written before about proven tactics to market a large construction firm. Now let’s dig into a related topic—how construction companies of any size can build and maintain a solid SEO and content marketing presence.
What Are the Benefits of SEO?
The main objective of SEO is to propel your site up the SERPs (search engine results pages), which is more consequential than it may seem: The top three spots of the first results page attract over 75% of all clicks per search. As a result, more than 90% of web pages lure in zero—count it: zero—organic traffic from Google.
A related term often batted around in this discussion is “SEM,” or search engine marketing. You’d be forgiven for confusing “search engine marketing” with “search engine optimization,” since they sound virtually the same, but SEM refers to using paid media, while SEO refers to harnessing organic media. Each tactic comes with its pros and cons, but one of the advantages of SEO is that it’s free-ish. (We say that with the caveat that calculating the ROI of SEO can get tricky.) Plus, SEO tends to bring in qualified leads—people who are already interested in your business and, therefore, more likely to become clients.
The four pillars of SEO are technical SEO, on-page SEO, optimized content, and off-page SEO. We’ll touch on each pillar in this blog, but to clarify: SEO strategies for construction companies are essentially the same as SEO strategies for any other company. Yes, a construction firm will have to research keywords specific to its niche, but they’re still drawing on many of the same tactics that businesses that make edible shoes or that serve as your Virtual Dating Assistant (ViDA) employ to stencil forth their own brand visibility.
One (off-page) strategy that seems to be particularly effective for construction companies is local SEO. Since construction often remains a word-of-mouth industry and a local service even today, it’s worth noting that 46% of all Google queries are seeking local information. So here are some of the first steps involved in crafting a digital construction marketing strategy:
- Create a Google My Business listing.
- Register your company with Google Maps.
- Keep your addresses and phone numbers current.
- Encourage your customers to post reviews—which can help drive that word-of-mouth that’s so vital to your reputation.
Analyze the Competitive Landscape
Remember all that elbowing-to-the-top that we mentioned at the outset of this blog? Unfortunately, that’s the reality in the world of SEO—bottomless competition. If you’re a construction company and you’re trying to expand your online presence, you are jostling against untold legions of other construction firms. To outrank them in the SERPs, you need to run some competitive analysis to gauge which SEO tactics they’re using and how your own tactics can surpass theirs.
Among the most valuable insights that you can scrape out of this investigation is a deeper understanding of keyword research—identifying the phrases and words that users in your industry search for most often. Incorporating keywords into the page titles, H1–6 tags, and content of your site can boost your rankings. But a word to the wise: Don’t overdo it. Google considers keyword stuffing to be spamdexing, a ploy to cut in front of the SERPs line, and they will shuttle you to the far back of that line if you commit such a party foul. Instead, download tools like KeywordsFX or Answer the Public, which perform a function that’s effectively the opposite of keyword stuffing: keyword mapping, or a blueprint that delineates which keywords belong on which pages of your site.
The analytics that keyword mapping uncovers can also help determine the number of images or videos—and even the tone of voice in those videos—that you should use so that Google shuttles you this time toward the front of that round-the-block line of search results.
Streamline Your Site’s UX
As a construction company, you already know your fair share about organization, architecture, usability—principles of design that apply in the digital world, as well. A website, in its own way, is like a building. Websites have top-to-bottom levels that are connected yet distinct. Ideally, they’re visually appealing, but, primarily, they were built to fulfill a utilitarian purpose. And people who use a website, like people who move through a building, will leave if they get turned around too often and can’t find what they’re looking for.
Google understands all of this, and it rewards well-constructed websites with higher placement in the SERPs. “Well-constructed,” in this context, might mean that a site fulfills any number of UX best practices: Pages load within three seconds, it has an SSL certificate, you’ve added internal links, users rarely encounter 404 errors, and it’s optimized to run on all devices, very much including mobile. Since over 50% of all web traffic takes place on mobile, Google has no qualms downgrading your rankings if your site isn’t mobile-compatible.
One way to signal to Google that your site is UX-friendly is to include a link to your sitemap at the bottom of your homepage. A sitemap is an XML file that tells search bots a plethora of information—the hierarchical relationship of the pages, the last time those pages were updated, whether other versions of a page exist in a different language. All that info can help crawlers determine where your site should be included in Google’s prodigious index.
Keywords, sitemaps, information hierarchies—so far, most of the marketing strategies that we’ve described have fallen into the bucket of on-site SEO. The next series of tactics that we’ll go over are so deeply on-site that they warrant their own category: Technical SEO.
The elements of a well-executed technical SEO plan are often hidden in the back-end of the CMS (content management system), so it’s easy to forget how integral they are to increasing a site’s click rates. Take a gander at some of the more widely used of those elements:
- Title Tags: Snippets of HTML that display on the SERPs as the headline for a certain page. Make sure they contain your primary keyword, but keep them pithy.
- Meta Descriptions: These descriptions show up under the title tags. Add a CTA to them, and don’t blast on beyond 140 characters.
- Alt Text: Descriptions of the visual elements on your site that screen readers understand and read to visually impaired users.
- Schema Markup: Code that appears as rich snippets in the SERPs, helping search engines understand the type of content that’s on your site and displaying information pertaining to that content to users.
Create Custom Content
On the topic of content: Make it, and lots of it. Fresh content—be it articles, white papers, case studies, infographics, listicles, how-to guides—signals to Google that your site may be relevant (and worth their users’ time) because it’s consistently updated. Ergo, current.
Content is one category of SEO where the strategies that apply to construction companies might differ from the strategies that other companies use. Every business should run a competitive analysis and write title tags. But construction companies can create videos—especially given how popular videos are becoming—that show how they completed a project, transforming a muddy crater that they gouged out of the ground into a 32-story skyscraper shaped like an elephant.
Before / After photos of repaved driveways, remodeled kitchens, or restored historic buildings also showcase your craftsmanship—the steps that you took and the beauty of the final layout. Consider writing a blog, too, where you drop some knowledge about industry tips and trends. If users find your ruminations helpful, Google is likely to reward you with a prominent perch in the stratosphere of their SERPs.
Take It Off-Menu
All these ranking factors can be summed up in a single acronym: E-A-T, or “Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness.” Quality content, page speed, mobile compatibility, internal links—all those on-page tactics matter, but another way that Google knows it can trust you is if other sites cite or mention you. So our last tidbit of advice is to invest some time in off-page SEO, as well:
- Start a podcast where you interview experts in construction.
- Encourage customers, bloggers, and opinion leaders to review your services.
- Launch Pinterest or Instagram accounts with photos of the stunning interiors you’ve built.
- Answer questions about prefabrication and modularization construction that are floating out in forums like Quora.
Anything you can do that shows Google that you’re an authority who’s helping their users find the information they’re looking for—well, they just E-A-T that up.