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Building houses is what you do by day. Building your business is your passion by night. Every business needs a website these days. So it is inevitable that you will have to set one up. There are a lot of things to consider if you’re setting up a construction company website for the first time. This article will help you make sense of them and get your ducks in a row.
The first thing you will need to do is set up a domain and hosting account. If you already have a business name, then choosing a domain name should be easy. BlueHost has an easy to use domain name search tool where you can check out the availability. If you’re exact domain isn’t available, you can browse suggestions to find similar URLs.
You will need hosting in order to hold the files that make up your website as well. BlueHost also has very affordable hosting packages that are great for a website that is just getting started. They also offer bundled packages with discounts and perks.. So before you sign up for either, check to see if there is a package that would give you more value (You can also check out our website design, hosting, and administration packages).
Once you have your domain and hosting all squared away, you’ll need to decide what type of site you’re building. The old-fashioned way is to set up some simple HTML pages and a CSS file and build it from scratch. However, this requires fairly extensive knowledge of front end coding languages, and makes ongoing maintenance very difficult.
Most web admins these days will opt for some type of Content Management System (CMS). This allows them to have a handy interface where they can log in and edit text, create new posts, add pictures and more. WordPress has always been our platform of choice. Some other popular platforms include Drupal, and Joomla or hosted solutions such as Wix and SquareSpace. Note that if you go with either of the latter options, you won’t need a separate hosting account.
The right choice for your business depends on what you’re comfortable with. If you want more control flexibility and are OK with doing some of the technical setup and ongoing maintenance, then one of the first three suggestions are likely best. If you want something that is easy to use and requires no technical knowledge or maintenance but that also is limited in terms of your ability to customize, then Wix or Squarespace is a better fit.
Depending on what you choose, the setup time and effort may vary. All of these options include straight forward tutorials to help you along the way. Of course, if you’re looking for a little extra help, you can also check out our web design and hosting packages. We’ll cover all of the setup and regular maintenance as well as post monthly updates to keep your site current with your latest activities.
The first step for many of these platforms is to choose a ‘theme’. Most of them have a variety of free and paid themes to choose from. Each one has its own unique layout and feature set. Click around and look for links to demo sites so you can see how they really look. Then select one and follow the instructions for installation for whichever platform you’ve chosen.
Once you’ve got the general look and feel put together, its time to start customizing and adding content. Make sure to find a place to put your logo, phone number, and primary services in the header of the site. Usually the themes will include a way to adjust your primary colors. Look for links to things like ‘Theme Options’ or ‘Customize Appearance’. In this section should be the color controls, as well as a bunch of other configurable options.
You will also need to put some content on the pages. At a minimum, we suggest including a few sections, such as: about your company, services and area covered, contact information, testimonials, and case studies or examples of your work. If you’re not a writer, you can ask a friend or colleague who is or hire a professional copywriter. We also offer writing services as a part of our contractor web design and hosting packages.
The whole point of having a website is to get more customers. So getting people to visit your website is only the first step. You also need them to get in touch with you either by calling you, filling out a form, or signing up for a newsletter. The term that web designers use for promoting this type of engagement on your website is ‘Call to Action’.
To be effective, you need to include different ways for users to contact you. These things should be prominently displayed and they should clearly describe what action you want people to take. ie: ‘Fill out the form to get a free quote’ or ‘Give us a call to schedule a consultation’. Often times the call to action will include some freebie that users get as a reward for taking the action. No matter what call to action you have, make sure to gather their contact information as a part of it.
Once they have taken action, you can followup with them as needed either by phone or email. Don’t wait too long, the sooner you reach out to them, the more likely they will be to become a customer.
Getting traffic can definitely be a challenge. As a local contractor, you likely have some existing methods of promotion such as newspaper ads or lawn signs. Make sure to add your website URL to them along with some call to action along with it, like ‘Visit our site at…’. You can also keep up a regular blog, start growing your social media following, or try Google Ads.
To really build your traffic and online presence, the best thing you can do is just stick with it. Don’t give up. Try to set up a regular promotional schedule and stick to it. A few actions that you take a couple of times a week can help you increase your traffic over time. After a while you’ll have a professional website with lots of ongoing traffic and a fresh source of new leads.
Social media can be a great way to gain more exposure for your business and more traffic to your website. The choice used to be pretty easy when it was just two big platforms, Facebook and Twitter, that dominated the market. Since there were only two, many businesses could pretty easily maintain a presence on both in between their normal business activities.
The social media landscape is a lot different now. There are dozens of networks that are all vying for peoples’ attention. As a local contractor or small business owner, you definitely don’t have time to keep up on all of them. And you might not have the funds to hire a full time person. So what do you do?
Your time is money. You can’t afford to spend it on things that don’t give you an immediate return. What that means for many local contractors, is focusing on finding and finishing new jobs. It also means focusing on ways that you can integrate your social media presence with your normal day to day. So you’ll also need to focus yourself on some channels that really work.
To do that, you need to figure out which networks your customers are already using. One simple way to do this is to just go out and ask them. Give some of your existing customers a call and tell them you’re going to start a social media account and would like to know which one they prefer. You may also want to ask them specifically which social media websites they would use to research your specific product or service.
As you do this, you’ll likely start noticing some trends. The trends among your customers are likely to be consistent with similar customers in other areas. This is true across the population as a whole, and many of the big social media sites have user bases with very consistent browsing and buying habits. There is a lot that you can learn from these macro trends as well.
In our experience, there can be opportunities on any social media platform that you choose. At the end of the day, it’s all about getting your message in front of your target audience. Some of the platforms make this easier than others. For example, sites that rely on hashtags for organization can be easily dissected simply by searching for hashtags that relate to your business. Twitter and Instagram are two great examples of this.
Try visiting each of their sites and searching a hashtag such as #plumbingproblems or #electricalrepair or some other term that is relevant to your business and see what comes up. The first term you pick may not be very popular, but there will likely be some posts or you may see a more popular term in the ‘autocomplete’ field before you hit search. Check the autocomplete and the other tags on existing posts to find other, more relevant posts. You can continue on like this and get a good feel for the type of audience you’d be reaching. Social media makes it easy to learn more about and connect with people, so go ahead and do just that.
The different platforms have inherently different audiences too. In the Instagram and Twitter examples above, most Instagram users are younger, but old enough to have some money. They’re also very technology savvy, and are motivated by sharing visual content such as images and videos. If you were a landscaper or home architect, this is a great place to target potential customers by showcasing your work.
On the other hand, Twitter is a primarily text-based platform that made its name for popularizing quick and to the point messages in 140 characters or less. Users on this platform fancy themselves as looking to get straight to the heart of the matter; no time for fluff. Because of this it has become a popular destination for folks that are interested in the news or politics. If you run a small publication, operate a blog, or if you’re President of the United States, Twitter can be an effective place to find new subscribers and reach new people.
LinkedIn is great for professionals to network with one another. If you’re a commercial contractor looking to make contacts in the business world, this can be a great place to start. The newsfeed and hashtagging are becoming more popular on the platform. Possibly the biggest appeal is the search functionality, which lets you search individuals quickly and easily.
Facebook can be a good option and has a fairly diverse user base as well, however it has largely become a ‘pay to play’ platform and if you don’t have the adspend, it can be hard to reach your audience. There’s also throngs of other paid networks that can be great for local contractors, such as HomeAdvisor, AngiesList, and more. The latter are often viewed more as a lead generation opportunity, but most also have a social component.
There are dozens others as well, and figuring out if they work for you can only be done by testing the waters. Our recommendation for folks just getting started that already have busy jobs would be to choose one of the options that we discussed. Once you have picked one out, then its time to set up a schedule and stick to it. Know what type of content you want to post, how you’re going to target your audience, and how often you want to post. Then make it happen. Overtime, your audience will grow and your business will increase.
As a contractor and small business owner, you aren’t just an expert in your trade, you’re an expert in everything about your business. For most contractors that are just starting out or are still small, your business is more than just working on the job. You’re going out and meeting potential new customers, putting together estimates and project details, negotiating with vendors to get the best deal… And then you still have a family and friends to keep up with!
So when it comes time to finding new customers, it’s easy to fall into a routine. And if it’s working, then convincing yourself to do something else can seem counter intuitive. The business keeps coming and you hardly have to do anything, that seems like a win-win.
We’ve all heard the sayings: no pain, no gain; no pleasure without pain; there night is darkest before the light. But what does all that really mean? For a business owner, that means getting outside of your comfort zone. Learning new things is always uncomfortable, and that’s all the more reason to do it. It’s how you grow personally, and it’s how you grow your business.
Google Ads is one of those things that can help almost any business grow. Everyone’s customers use the internet, unless you’re serving people in some far-off, remote wilderness with no access to modern technology. And if that’s the case, then you’ll likely never see this article anyway. So who are we talking to? Oh, that’s right, we’re talking to local contractors. And your customers are definitely using the internet.
When people in your community start researching projects around their house, or need a leaky pipe fixed, the first thing they do is pull out their phones or hop on the computer. The terms that they type into Google are where you can capitalize. Think about how you would search to hire a contractor. It’s likely something like ‘Plumbers in Philadelphia’ or ‘Electrician 19104’. Or perhaps something longer, like ‘best plumber in southeastern PA’. Google Ads let’s you create a text ad that specifically targets the terms that people are searching for. This means that if you can find terms that are relevant to your business, you can start targeting people that are looking precisely for your services.
Google aggregates all of the data that is put through their search engine. As well as all of the actions that people take when navigating their site. They do this consistently over time and use the information to refine their search results and to create a super targeted advertising platform.
They also use all of this data to create comprehensive research tools and statistics. Check out the Google Keyword Planner and type in some of the terms that you thought of on the top of your head. This will show you what kind of volume you can expect for each term, as well as an estimated bid range. With Google, you pay per click. Each click represents a visitor to your website. Not all of them will convert into new business, so you’ll want to consider that it may take multiple clicks in order to get a new business lead.
Select the terms that have medium or low competition, and a reasonable bid range. You also want to consider how specific the terms are to your business. Do the terms refer directly to what you’re selling? Are they specific to your geographic area? If the criteria checks out, then you can click the ‘add to plan’ button at the top of the list. Try to find 15-20 terms that are a good fit.
From there, you can set up a campaign, create a number of different ads, and then manage your daily budget. You should also check back in to your campaign regularly, and pause it if the ‘spend’ is getting too high. Once you start your campaign, you’ll also want to ask all of your new business leads how they heard about you. Once it’s live, you should plan to spend about 15 minutes a day reviewing the results and managing your ad spend. There’s also more advanced tracking options that we’ll cover in another article. It will likely take you a month or two to dial in on some terms that really convert. Once you have them figured out, the reward can help bring your local contracting business to the next level.
If you’ve got a plumbing business but not a website, you’re missing out on potential business. Word of mouth is great. And many plumbers or local small business owners can do quite well with just a simple sign, a branded truck, and a phone number. You might be thinking ‘Leave the internet to the big guys, I’m doing just fine’. But as a small business owner, you’d be foolish not to expand your reach and engage with new customers. And best of all, getting your business online doesn’t have to be a huge headache.
We’re not talking about a new spigot. We’re talking about a virtual pipe that creates a steady flow of customers straight to your business. Here are 3 ways that a website can take your plumbing business to the next level:
Word of mouth can only travel so far. And sometimes you’re on a job, spending time with family or even…SLEEPING! All of these things and more mean that you can’t always be available to take calls or schedule new jobs. Your website can help fill the void and let people know what you specialize in. Which areas you cover. What your typical hours and rates are. You can also let visitors learn a little bit more about you and your business on the personal side. Potential customers will feel more compelled to work with you if they can relate to you as a person.
The infamous online lead machine. This doesn’t have to be anything fancy. A simple contact form where visitors can fill out their name and contact information, as well as a short description of what they’d like you to do for them. Most website builders and platforms include some way to create a contact form out of the box. In WordPress, we use the apps Contact Form 7 and the Flamingo. If your website doesn’t have a contact form tool, you can try services like Survey Monkey or MailChimp to set one up.
There are lots of online scheduling tools out there as well. Most of the good ones cost a little money either on a monthly or annual basis. The great thing about many of these tools, though, is that not only can they embed right on your website, they can also serve as the scheduling tool for your business overall. Many of them have separate interfaces where you, an office worker, or secretary can add jobs that don’t come through the website as well. This has the added bonus of helping to avoid scheduling conflicts and confusion. Examples of this service include TimeTap and BookingBug.
If you’re still not sure if you should take your plumbing business online, there is an easy way to measure your success. With a custom 800 number, you can track the calls that you get from your website. Grasshopper, CallRail, and Google Pay-per-call all offer services that allow you to track calls that come from website visitors. This is a great way to show just how much your website has helped your business.
Not to worry, we’ve got you covered. We love working with small business owners, which is why we’ve created our exclusive small business website package. These affordably priced packages are built for speed so you can get up and running quickly.
So you’ve got a story to tell. But you’re not sure where to start. You’ve been told you should start a blog. But the whole thing seems overwhelming. Well lucky for you, it does not have to be a complicated process or require any development skills to get started. All you need to do is find an industry that you’re interested in, as well as a company that complements your experiences, and start guest blogging for them!
But how do you find the right fit? Lots of people want to find blogging opportunities, how can you stand out? The key is understanding your voice – and the secret is being persistent. You know what your interests are. And you know what you like to write about (TIP: If you don’t, learn how to find your voice in article 2 of our guest blogging series: How to Find High Quality Opportunities). Think about what your favorite sites to read are. Start searching out related blogs and clicking on the articles that they link out to as references. Get to know the content landscape and compile a list of blogs that you may want to write for.
Once you have a nice list of blogger opportunities, start emailing them and asking them if they would be interested in posting some of your content. You should be prepared to provide them with examples of your work. The more relevant that the topics are to what their audience likes, the more likely they will be to find you interesting. You shouldn’t expect to find paid guest blogging opportunities right out of the gate. Instead, you should focus on expanding your network and building more relationships within the industry.
But writing great articles isn’t enough. Wouldn’t it also be great to get paid to guest blog? This is where you need to start making connections on the other end of the spectrum. If you’ve thoroughly explored the blogger opportunities that are available to you, and you’ve been writing articles just for fun, then you’ve already completed one half of the equation. Now you just need to find companies that have a product or service that you can promote within those articles. You don’t want to be too blatant. And you’ll want to make sure it is within the guidelines of the websites that you’re writing for. You may even want to reach out to them to make sure before you start linking to other sites or promoting products.
Finding products and services to promote in order to get paid guest blogging gigs doesn’t have to be rocket science. If you’re writing in a niche that you’re familiar with, then it can be as easy as thinking about the products and services that you use. For example, if you’re writing for fishing and outdoor websites, you might consider reaching out to various outfitters and outdoor websites. If there is a local store that you frequent, you might even stop by and strike up a conversation with an owner or manager. You will need to sell yourself a little and help them understand the value that your can provide (TIP: You can also learn how to create a pitch in article 3 of our guest blogging series: Maximize Your Potential and Get Approved). Again, providing some examples may be a good idea. Again, the key here is persistence. Not everybody will want to pay for your service. But much like the fishing website that you write for: you don’t catch fish without making a lot of ‘practice casts’. Keep at it and don’t be discouraged. Be persistent.
Well, thanks for reading this far. Quite frankly, we’re impressed. You are probably wondering if we’ve ever thought of putting together some kind of layman’s blogger tutorial. Well wonder no more! Not only have we created a free guest blogging article series, but we also have an exclusive Crash Course to Guest Blogging. Click the link and sign up for our blogger tutorial and learn the tips and tricks of the guest blogging marketing tactic. You’ll also learn valuable steps to take that will make you a better blogger overall. And best of all, we follow along with a real-life promotion strategy example that takes you through the process as though you were an actual business owner (in this case running an online gadget website).
Our one of a kind blogger tutorial is broken down into 5 easy to follow videos. It also includes a worksheet series that helps you track your progress and document the information you find. If you’re still not sold that this is the course for you, then we’ve sweetened the pot even further by including an exclusive Facebook group per class that includes personalized Q&A sessions with you and your peers. Our goal is to keep the classes small – under 50 for each time its offered – to help make sure you get the help that you need in order to be successful.
So what are you waiting for? Sign up for the next session of our Crash Course to Guest Blogging today!