Friday, February 19, 2010

Why Do WI Contractors Need Content?

In the July 2009 edition of Phc News, Dan Holohan made some good points about the quality of Web sites contractors use, and makes a great argument about the need for content on these sites. You see it all the time - service company Web sites making no attempt to engage their readers. Many contractors believe that aspect of their business is either not worth their time, or not worth the money to do right. He asks,

How many times have you rolled your eyes and looked down on the low-bidder when it comes to the heating business? That bum who doesn't have the right tools, or the proper insurance, or even a decent truck. That stinker who tracks in mud and is doing his on-the-job learning on every job. You can't stand that guy, right? So why look for that guy when it comes to building a Web site? Why buy on price alone? Or try to do it yourself. Is Web design your specialty?

WOW. You said a mouthful, Dan. Truth be told, in our business you see that quite a bit. The logic says 'keep the price down,' but the way to keep the cost down isn't to present yourself sub-standard. You're a contractor. You want a fair price for a quality job. You do what you do because you're good at it. When it comes to your advertising, the same thing applies. Throwing foolish money away on flash and hype isn't the answer, either. Quality doesn't mean gaudy, it means pleasing and fully functional.

The online atmosphere is saturated. Engaging your customer is absolutely the most important thing a service and contracting business can do besides providing quality workmanship. While many feel that updating posts and answering questions is 'giving away the farm,' the opposite is true. Your business won't be hurt because you've empowered your readers with inside information. Your business will be hurt by ignoring the fact that the answers are being provided by everyone else already, and if you're not involved, your credibility is affected.

What Qualifies as Content?

It may surprise you to know that content is many things, not just updated posts. Keeping your posts updated at least once a week is important for several reasons, one being the ability it has to be fed into an email subscription newsletter as-is. Using an email follow up campaign like AWeber allows your reader to opt-in and opt-out, and allows you to track the types of information that your readers enjoy the most. Providing newsletters to your readers brings your post right into their inbox, and isn't spam because they first request it, and then have the ability to get out whenever they want.

Another reason blog updates are important is because news changes often, and your readers need to know it. When you respond to your reader's comments, you engage them, and possibly you hand-feed them an answer that brings them right into your gates. If problems exist in your company response, a blogging platform allows you a way to remedy the situation. No matter how much you don't want to know what's lacking in your business, it's always better to address issues head on, and you'll be the better for it. Blogs are not the only source of content, however, and you may enjoy using these types of updates:

  • FAQ's - Answering or posing a question is helpful dialog, and very good updated content when used regularly.

  • Pictures - Before and Afters, and new products.

  • Video -That's right, you don't have to write your blog post. For around $40 USD you can get a video camera that sits right on your computer. If you spend two minutes discussing an industry issue, new product or service, that video can get uploaded to YouTube as well as your site. That's a great link.

Service industry professionals and contractors should make the most out of their online presence. Putting the customer's needs on the forefront of new material draws powerful benefits now and down the road.

Gary's Quality Plumbing serves the Plano, Murphy, and North Dallas sector. For all your plumbing needs, call family-owned and operated Gary's Quality Plumbing. Susan Hamilton and Zero To Sixty Marketing LLC offer a full service virtual marketing department, and specialize in the small business and home-based service communities.

(c) Copyright 2009 Zero To Sixty Marketing LLC

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Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Do You Have a Link Strategy?

If you're doing your own small business marketing, and you're using the Web to attract your customers, you need to be sure that your Web site is getting the most possible traffic. Simply repeating a keyword in the SEO description is not the way to do it if you plan on long-term success. A redundant, pointless description doesn't attract the types of readers who convert into sales. It doesn't even provide any SEO benefit.

Instead, carefully thought out SEO descriptions grab your reader's attention because you've interested them in the first place. You will have a much higher chance of a sale if that reader peruses your site than if they click on your link wondering, "What's that?"

But getting that client to click on your link if you're not found on the first page is pretty slim, because most people never make it that far. A key ingredient to accomplish that is a great link strategy. That starts with referencing other material with links to specific topics that relate in some way to your niche, and ends with a great deal of back links from other sites into yours. Not just any site will do. Hook up to the wrong site, and all the hard work gone into your site could suffer. The links you need have more authority than yours, and you won't attract them willy-nilly.

High-authority back links are very helpful to the authority your site will enjoy when an outsider realizes your information is worth mentioning on their site. That can happen when you comment on their site and are allowed to leave a link back to your domain, you engage in a two way dialog in the comment section, or it can happen if you're reviewed and mentioned in it.

Other outside links can be built by you and your team, putting some effort into writing informative, interesting, or controversial topics, and using Web 2.0 sites to link back to the original site you're promoting. All of those methods have some relevance to your 'big picture', but here's where I see many problems that can ultimately have very negative effects. You don't want to go to all that trouble and then lose credibility over too many reciprocal links or poor anchor text use.

Keywords are very important - if they're the right keywords. Industry-standard word use usually isn't going to help the small business owner or contractor that's trying to develop their Web presence. Market Samurai breaks down the keyword research to finely tuned words and phrases that can be craftily woven - not stuffed - into your online writing. Words that many of your clients currently search on, but your competitors ignore, or simply haven't found out about yet.

When you carefully use keywords in anchor text that links from a Web 2.0 site such as Weebly,, Blogger, Squidoo, etc., you begin to develop authority on your Web site for those keywords. Using an effective strategy will improve your visibility over time.

Ah, time...the other factor. The longer your site exists with continual updates and activity, with active unbroken links and user-friendly navigation, the more you will gain credibility in the search engines. Shortcuts won't be effective long term, and if you get penalized for them, can take you down a peg or two for a long time. You're much better off to get your strategy in order, continue to update, and know that staying in the game is infinitely more important.

Susan Hamilton is a freelance commercial copywriter in the Dallas, TX area. Susan has a passion to see the small business survive during economic hardship through better marketing practices, and teaches home-based, service, and contracting businesses how to compete inside their market. Read more about small business marketing strategies on Inside Line.

(c) Copyright 2010 Susan Hamilton Copywriting