Why Do Some Websites Appear At The Top Of Google?
Whenever you do a Google search for anything, you get a list of search results listed in order of relevance to your search. For example “home contractor near me” will get you a list of contractor websites. Chances are if you’re reading this article, your own website isn’t one of them. Oof..
Ever wonder how those first few contractor websites got to the top of the results? First off, let’s clear something up that I hear a lot of our clients ask:
👉 No you do not pay Google directly to be in the #1 position.
Instead, Google has a powerful algorithm that decides what websites should show up for any given search, and in what order.
How does the Google algorithm know anything about any website on the Internet? Here’s how it works in basic terms:
Crawling The Internet — This means Google sends out ‘bots” (also called “spiders” Gross) which are little programs that automatically discover and scan websites on the entire Internet. The spider bots work 24/7 and store their information in the Google Index.
The Google Index — This is a huge database spread across the world, and every website Google discovers is indexed there along with any known information about each site. This index is continually updated with new changes made to any website.
Displaying Relevant Websites — When you search for anything, Google quickly accesses the database and pulls up the websites that are the closest match, based on a lot of factors such as keywords, amount of content, structure, recent updates, and many more factors.
To get your contractor website to the 1st page on Google, your website needs to be more relevant and be better optimized for search engines than any other contractor website in your local area.
This process is called Search Engine Optimization, or SEO.
👉 SEO is the difference between owning a website that might look pretty but does nothing for you, and owning a website that generates consistent phone calls and emails every month so you can grow your business.
Table Of Contents
Your Contractor Website Needs Content. Lots Of It.
Remember those spider bots? They can read. In fact that’s their job. It is specifically the text content in your website that these programs are reading to discover what your website is all about.
Think of your website as a simple white page with a whole bunch of words on it, because this is essentially how the bots view your site. All the pretty images, logos, colors, animations, and videos are just the eye-candy wrapper that presents the page(s) as a “website” to human viewers.
You can’t just have a couple paragraphs and call it a day. To rank above all the other contractor websites in your area, you need to have a substantial amount of text content, and have new content added every month so Google knows your website is active and current.
The content itself needs to talk extensively about your contractor services, while using specific keywords and keyphrases.
Contractor Keywords & Keyphrases
Keywords (and keyphrases) are the backbone of the Google search algorithm (as they are for Google Ads).
These are the words and phrases that your target customers are typing into the Google search engine.
Some keywords they might search for are:
“new home construction”
The term “keyphrase” refers to the longtail version of keywords, with the addition of extra words that people may include in their search, such as:
“home contractor near me”
“renovator for new kitchen”
“new home construction in vancouver bc”
“framer for poultry barn”
“commercial builder in san antonio texas”
These keywords and keyphrases must be used throughout your website so that Google knows exactly what your content is about, and can show pages of your website to people searching for these specific keywords.
Adding detailed descriptions for each of your services is an easy way to add your keywords to your content, but how do you add even more content to your website without getting too wordy and repeating yourself?
This is where blog articles (just like this one!) come in to play.
Long-Form Blog Articles
Back in ye olde Internette days (like 10 years ago), articles with 500 words were plenty enough to get on the first page of a Google search. Now however, there are so many websites out there that you’ll need 1400-2500+ words per article to rank above the rest.
A well written article serves two purposes:
It should be written for keywords that people are already searching for, not just what you think your customers should want. There are keyword tools that can be used so you’re not guessing. (we’ll get into these tools further down)
It should also have genuinely useful content. Your article content needs to be actually informative, helpful, and well-researched so your readers realize that your blog has most of the answers that they’ve been searching for elsewhere on the Internet.
Remember, your target customers are looking for solutions, and your articles should deliver.
Scheduled Monthly Publishing
Not only does Google look at the content of your website, but it looks at how “fresh” that content is. In other words, does your website have a lot of older content that made sense in the 90s, or recent content that your customers are searching for today?
This means you need to keep posting new content on your website every month so Google knows you’re up to date. Your customers will also appreciate current information.
Some business owners prefer to write their own blog posts, but most contractors are way too busy running their business and would not consider themselves content writers anyway. If this is you, don’t worry my friend…
Yes, you can absolutely hire out this task to professional writers who are knowledgeable in your industry, and do sufficient research on any topic before writing your blog articles.
We’ll show you how to do this at the end of this article, but first let’s talk about the two types of SEO.
Onsite SEO vs Offsite SEO
All the content and optimizations that are done to your website itself are called “onsite SEO” which is what we have been covering so far. However, there are several more SEO strategies that are implemented elsewhere on the Internet, but still directly affect your Google ranking.
These optimizations are called “offsite SEO” strategies. Let’s see what they are.
Backlinking To Your Website
What are backlinks? These are links to your own website that are placed on other websites and other locations on the Internet.
Why is this important? Google places a high value on these links because if someone chooses to place a link (to your site) on their own website, this shows a huge level of trust and perceived value.
How do you get these links placed on other people’s websites?
Established marketing agencies often have access to other website owners that the average person does not. This can be because of a few factors, such as industry authority, personal or business relations, and experience in approaching these other site owners.
It’s usually best to leave this task up to your marketing agency, as they have the tools and contacts to make it happen.
There are also other areas on the Internet you can add links to your website, such as your Google Business Profile.
Google Business Profile
What is your Google Business Profile? (formerly called Google My Business)
This is a free service offered by Google that allows you to create a business profile with info such as:
Hours of operation
Website URL (backlink)
And many more features about your business.
This profile shows up on the right hand side of a Google search (when they search for your exact business name) and on the left hand side in Google Maps.
Creating a Google Business Profile helps Google understand that you are a local business, and the link to your website is an offsite backlink.
You can also create a business account on Facebook and Instagram and add your website URL to each.
Next let’s talk about how you’re going to track all these links so you know what’s working and what isn’t.
Tracking & Measuring Your SEO Results
This is super important! Many marketers will promise to do all kinds of SEO strategies for you, but how will you know if anything they’re doing is actually effective?
Obviously you’ll know your SEO is working once you start getting phone calls and emails, but here’s something you’ll want to understand: SEO takes a bit of time (we’ll talk more about this further down).
This means that while you wait for results to come in, you will want to see actual hard data for each and every effort so you know your money isn’t going to be wasted.
How does your marketing team know what efforts are going to bring in the most calls & emails? Unlike the physical billboard, clicks and website views can be tracked and measured.
No guessing, just pure data. Let’s look at some tracking tools used by online marketers.
Remember all those keywords and keyphrases that people will use to find your contractor website? How exactly do you know which ones your potential customers are actually searching for?
Before a single word of content is written for your website, your keywords should be carefully researched.
Some important metrics when choosing keywords are:
Search volume - This is how many times a keyword is searched for per month. Some keywords have a high volume of searches, and many have a moderate or low volume.
Difficulty score - Some keywords are very popular, and certain businesses who have been around for a long time have already cornered the market on that particular keyword.
Cost-Per-Click (CPC) - Popular keywords have a high cost-per-click due to all the advertisers who are bidding on them. Less popular keywords have a lower CPC.
The trick is to choose keywords that are low enough in difficulty and CPC, but high enough in search volume. It’s a bit of a sweet spot.
There are a variety of online tools to discover these metrics for each keyword. The tools we use at Bucksaw are:
Once you (or rather, your marketing team) has gathered real data for each keyword, the writing process can begin.
Next, we can begin tracking what content is working by using Google Analytics.
Yes, Google has their own tracking tool called Google Analytics. This is one of the most powerful data measuring tools on the Internet, and it's completely free to set up and use!
Google Analytics can track data such as:
How many new and returning users land on your website. — This should increase every month as Google learns whom to show your website to.
What location each user is from. — They should all be in your local area. If most of your views are from far away locations, then something needs to be fixed.
What pages they are viewing the most. — This helps you understand which blog articles are the most popular, and then more articles can be written on similar topics.
How long each user stays on each page. — Are they just skimming the page and leaving, or are they actually reading and absorbing your content?
Most importantly, you can see what keywords people have been using to find your website! — The keywords that work best will be used to write more articles, and previous content can be updated.
The Google Analytics dashboard is very complex, with many different options to view your data. You can toggle between graphs, charts, and other visual representations to see data such as CTR (click through rate) bounce rate, impressions, position, etc.
Experienced marketing experts will know how to read and understand this data, and make informed decisions about what new content should be added to your contractor website. Your website’s ranking on Google can literally be engineered.
Obviously we don’t expect the average contractor to know how to read all this data (or know how to fly the space shuttle 🚀) so what you need is a simple reporting dashboard.
Your Reporting Dashboard
At Bucksaw we build a special reporting dashboard for each of our clients. This dashboard pulls in your key metrics from Google Analytics and displays them in a simple, easy to understand visual interface. No more space shuttle cockpit.
You’ll still need a basic level of understanding of what these key metrics mean, but you’ll get a weekly report with an explanation and every month your account manager will go over each metric in detail and what it means as far as progress and your next steps.
Once you start getting phone calls and emails we can discover what efforts brought in those results and double down on them while cutting out everything that underperformed.
Now you’ll be able to grow your contracting business with confidence, knowing you’ll have predictable work coming in.
How Long Does It Take To Get To The First Page Of Google?
The Big Question: how long will it take before your website reaches the first page on Google?
Answer: 3-6 months. That’s according to the 4,300 other business owners and marketing experts who responded to a poll.
Is it worth waiting this long?
Answer: Think of it as a long term investment. Once your website starts appearing at the top of Internet searches, you will have a steady flow of leads that will last for years without ever paying for ads.
A predictable flow of leads means you can confidently hire more guys, take on bigger projects, and start growing your contracting business.
Here’s another way of thinking about it:
Online ads such as Google, Facebook, or Instagram ads are like paying rent for an apartment. — As long as you pay, it's yours. As soon as you stop, so does your flow of incoming leads.
SEO for your website is like purchasing property and then making continuous improvements. — Not only is it yours forever, but every dollar goes into increasing the effectiveness and value of your website.
How soon will you know if your SEO efforts are going to work?
Answer: In general, we're able to provide accurate forecasted results after the first month of marketing.
Your Big Opportunity
Do all these marketing efforts and long timelines sound discouraging? No! This is great news for you. Here’s why…
👉 If it takes this much effort to get a website to the first page of Google, 95% of your competition won’t bother or even know how to begin.
This is a big opportunity for you. Your competitors will be the ones seeing your website at the #1 position on Google, and wondering how you did it!
Your potential customers don’t know how you got there either, but what they do know is if your website is #1, then you must be a trustworthy business.
Recessions come and go, and during the hard times many smaller contractors go under or at least run out of work for a while (as I did back in the day).
It’s the contractors with a strong online and local presence that survive these difficult times, because they’ve already built a strong customer base from being top-of-mind. These previous customers are much more likely to stick with who they already know, rather than risk hiring a new contractor.
You will want to start building your brand now, before the economy in your area goes through a slow period.
How Much Does SEO Cost?
There are a lot of freelancers and agencies on the Internet offering SEO services, with a very wide spectrum of prices and quality. You’ve probably got those emails from people overseas promising to get you to the #1 position on Google in a matter of weeks. (You may not want to reply to those ones).
Your written content on your website needs to not only be in absolutely perfect English, but also needs to be researched first by expert writers who fully understand your industry. Poorly written articles will actually harm your business more than they help.
Backlinking is an area that has a lot of shady tactics, such as placing links to your website on low quality websites that are stuffed full of random backlinks. These catch-all backlink websites are created just for this purpose, and Google has started penalizing websites with low quality backlinks. You don’t want to be one of them.
At Bucksaw we have expert writers on our team, all North America based and familiar with the construction industry.
All our backlinking and SEO strategies are 100% professional and aboveboard. No blackhat tactics in our house.
To see our current pricing, check out our SEO marketing package.
Your Next Steps
Here are some questions you can ask yourself:
How much income (after expenses) do you make per project?
How long does it take you to complete a typical project? (1-2 months? 6 months?)
How many projects can you and your crew handle per month/year?
It comes down to simple math: if the extra projects you get because of phone calls and emails from your website bring you more income than you’re paying per month for your SEO, then you’re in business!
We can help you figure out if SEO makes sense for you, or if another marketing method may be best instead!
Hey I'm Clark Aaron
I used to bang nails for a living, and now I run Bucksaw Creative along with a small team of talented people. We create branding, websites, & online marketing for businesses just like yours!
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