Put yourself in the shoes of a homeowner dealing with a persistent leak. See, you’ve tried every DIY trick in the book, yet to no avail, prompting you to look for a plumbing service. Eventually, you’re down to two options: one serving clients in multiple states and another who’s working in the community.
The first one may feel reputable enough, given that its customer base spans several states. The problem is that they don’t have a physical office close to your place, and you’d want that leak patched up quickly before it takes its toll on next month’s water bill. As such, a local plumber is often the more practical option.
You can notice this on search engines, where keywords like “plumbers near me” have substantial search volume. When you have that many people asking, it makes sense for businesses to market to local audiences to be the answer. You can bet search engines will adjust correspondingly, even urging ranking for search results with location-specific content, a practice known as local SEO.
Why local SEO?
To understand why local SEO is such a big deal, it’s important to understand two things. The first, as explained just now, is that people often search for needs and wants near them. While they aren’t above going the extra mile to buy products and services, it’ll be better if they can get goods from a seller closer to home.
Convenience is bliss—this slogan drives the point home for businesses offering essential services like plumbing repair. Response times define a plumber’s competence, among other aspects, and keeping them short is a win-win for them and their customers. One way to pull this off is to set up a presence in the vicinity, both physically and online.
The second has to do with the limitations of a small business, namely in advertising. The latest data shows roughly 60% of plumbing and HVAC companies in the U.S. have fewer than five employees. It’d be nice if one of them were a marketing professional, but it’s usually another plumber or receptionist to help handle more job requests.
Realistically, these businesses can’t compete head-on against ones with huge customer bases. The best they can do is promote themselves as a friendly neighborhood plumbing service and build their reputation there. This way, they’ll become so synonymous with the community that newcomers, big or small, will have difficulty dislodging them.
This is where local SEO enters the picture, a cost-effective digital marketing strategy that can deliver the convenience consumers seek. Specialized service providers such as Plumber SEO Consultant assist businesses in brand promotion, freeing them to focus on their core functions.
Optimizing for Local Search
The goal of local SEO remains the same as any other kind of SEO: rank favorably in local search results. “Favorably” in this context means the link to a plumbing business’s content appearing on the first page, if not the top result.
Then again, seeing that Google has shifted to continuous scrolling for showing search results, the more apt term may be “above the fold.” In other words, the first few results that appear without scrolling down are the objective. As users expect answers immediately, most will focus on these entries and are less inclined to move further down the list.
To achieve a positive result, you’d have to cherry-pick your search terms. Even if keywords like “plumber” and “plumbing service” are frequently searched, the competition is fierce because the terms apply to every plumber in the country, if not the world. Ranking will be nearly impossible in this regard, unless you’re a household name with a huge marketing budget. But even that is no guarantee!
It’s also worth noting that searches for generic keywords don’t constitute a majority. According to one estimate, search terms with local intent account for 46% of all Google searches. Add the benefits like fewer competitors due to a smaller search volume, and local SEO may yield more returns relative to investment in time and effort.
Here are some examples of plumbing-related local intent keywords:
- “Plumber” or “plumbing” + “near me”
- “Plumber” or “plumbing” + location name (city/town/community)
- “Best” + “plumber” or “plumbing” + “near me” or location name
- “Leak repair” + “near me” or location name
- “Plumbing installation” + “near me” or location name
- “Open” or “24/7” + “plumber” or “plumbing” + “near me” or location name
Your business can use these keyword combinations, as long as they’re relevant to the services you offer. It doesn’t make sense to promote it as being open 24/7 when it isn’t, right? Remember that search engines penalize websites when there’s evidence of intent to game the algorithm.
Keyword research and targeting aren’t the only approaches to local SEO. Search engines have evolved over the years beyond merely retrieving links to relevant content. Google, for instance, is stacked with a broad range of content features, from Google Ads to structured data markups.
While these features enhance user experience, they come at the expense of search engine real estate being reallocated. Most search result pages have fewer ranked sites and pages above the fold, with the rest occupied by featured snippets, product listings, and info boxes, to name a few. All the while, the clickthrough rate drops further below the fold.
Fortunately, the changes came with updates to the SEO rulebook, namely ways to harness them. Central to these is the Google Business Profile (GBP, formerly Google My Business), basically an online version of the old-fashioned phone directories. Through the Knowledge Graph, details stored in GBP, like address and operating hours, can be generated in relevant searches.
This makes managing a GBP account a must for local SEO. The more data entries satisfied, the higher the chance the business appears in some form in Google’s structured data results. If you provide your address in Denver, search results for “plumber in Denver” may tag your business, typically on an interactive map.
Other methods include on-page and technical SEO, though a bit more difficult than setting up a GBP account. They warrant their own articles, but keywords will be at the heart of such efforts.
So, what does local SEO prove? A business doesn’t always need to cater to a large, varied audience just to be noticed. Marketing to a small local community can yield better results in numerous situations. As plumbers are a dime a dozen in almost every town or city, focusing your marketing efforts on your area is a sensible thing to do.