In this SEO for trades businesses guide you’re going to learn the exact process we use to rank trades business websites on the first page of Google.
As a tradesman, getting your site ranked higher in search engines is critical for consistently generating more leads and customers.
Ultimately, the higher you rank the higher your sales will be.
Doing SEO for a trades business can be broken down into five steps:
- SEO Set Up. Building a solid website foundation for SEO success.
- Keyword Research. Finding keywords that generate leads and sales.
- On-Page SEO. Optimising web pages to rank for those keywords.
- Off-Page SEO. Strategies to build authority and outrank competitors.
- Technical SEO – submitting a sitemap to get pages indexed on Google.
However, before getting started doing any type of SEO, it’s important that you understand exactly how search engines and the ranking process works.
PART 1: SEO BASICS FOR TRADES BUSINESSES
How do search engines work?
Understanding how Google and other search engines work is essential if you are doing SEO for your trades business. You’ll struggle to boost rankings if you don’t understand what search engines want.
Search engines are like libraries for the internet, but instead of books they store copies of websites.
When you type a query into a search engine, it looks through all of the websites stored in its ‘library’ and tries to provide you with the most relevant and helpful results.
To find these pages search engines use a computer program called an algorithm.
The problem is nobody knows exactly how these algorithms work, but luckily Google has given us some clues on what their key rankings factors are.
Search engines have two types of search results:
- Organic results – you cannot pay to get your trades business here. You get here through SEO.
- Paid results – you can pay to get your trades business here. You get here through Paid Ads.
What is SEO?
Now you know how search engines work, the next step is to give their algorithms what they want in order to push your website higher up the search results.
To do this you need SEO, which stands for search engine optimisation.
SEO is the process of doing things that increase the ranking of a website or individual page.
It’s important to remember there are a number of different search engines, such as Bing and Yahoo. Since each search engine has it’s own algorithm, it would be almost impossible to cover each one in this guide. So, going forward, we’re only going to focus on SEO for tradesmen wanting to rank on Google.
Is SEO worth it for trades businesses?
To answer this question, ask yourself: “are potential customers searching for the services I sell?”
As a local tradesman, your answer will be a resounding yes.
According to a BrightLocal survey, 98% of people use the internet to find information about local businesses. And 88% of those people either call or visit a business within 24 hours.
In short, potential customers are searching for your trades business. If you are not showing up on the first page of Google, you are leaving a tonne of money on the table.
The benefits of SEO for trades are obvious:
- Free, local traffic to your website month after month.
- Easily target and generate more qualified leads.
- Consistent flow of customers and sales.
To prove just how important SEO is for trades businesses wanting to grow, here is an example of a client we work with called Ralph Plastering.
The following graph shows the difference in their website traffic before and after we started SEO.
And this graph shows the difference between how many leads were generated from their website before and after we started SEO within the same timeframe.
As you can see, there is a clear correlation between website traffic and lead flow. The more traffic your website receives, the more leads your company generates.
So, if the key to generating more leads is more traffic, how do you get more traffic?
The answer is getting your website ranked on the first page, which is done by doing SEO.
However, before you dive in we need to make sure your website is set up for success. There’s no point investing time and money in doing SEO if the correct foundations are not in place.
PART 2: SETTING UP YOUR TRADES BUSINESS FOR SEO
Doing SEO for your trades business is much more straightforward when your website is properly set up to succeed. You wouldn’t build a house without a solid foundation, the same applies to SEO.
Follow and complete these steps before starting any type of SEO work.
Choose the right company domain
Most domains are fine for SEO, so you do not need to worry if you already have one. But if you are looking to buy a brand new domain or replace your existing one, here is what you should consider.
Branding is key. Don’t try to be clever by cramming keywords and locations into your domain name. Your best option is to use your trades business name without any hyphens.
For example, if a company used rooferslondon.com, imagine how many roofing companies would show up in Google. This would make it impossible for Google and potential customers to find them.
Top-level domain (TLD)
The last section of your domain name is called the top-level domain, or TLD. This is the bit that comes after your name, like .com. Your TLD does not really matter for SEO, but we recommend choosing .com because it’s the most recognised and trusted.
If you only operate in one country, which is the case for almost every trades business, then choosing a national top-level domain is best, like .co.uk.
We recommend avoiding TLDs like .net, .biz or .info because these are often associated with spam.
Choose a website platform
A website platform will let you easily create, edit and manage a website. There are two types you can choose between:
These are prebuilt websites like Wix, Weebly, Squarespace, etc. Having your website on a hosted platform is like renting a house. You have a place to live but don’t own the land or building and you’re limited to what you can customise. If the boiler breaks, the landlord is responsible for fixing it.
These are custom websites you have full control over like WordPress. Having your website on a self-hosted platform is like owning a house. You own the land and building and can make any type of customisation. You can rip down walls and redecorate, but if the boiler breaks, you’re responsible.
Both type of platforms have their pros and cons, but if you’re looking to start over or upgrade your current website, we recommend using a self-hosted platform called WordPress.
Choose a reputable hosting provider
If you choose to use a self-hosted platform like WordPress, you’ll need to use a web host provider. These are platforms that store your files and make your website accessible on the internet.
There are lots of web hosts to choose from, such as GoDaddy and 123-Reg, but our recommendation is to use a web host called SiteGround. They have a great support team that can help you set up your new website on WordPress.
Plan your sitemap
Before building a new website, you need to make sure you have a logical website structure.
This will make it easier for potential customers and search engines to find your web pages, which is key when it comes to getting indexed and ranking quickly.
The best way to do this is by creating a sitemap. Here is an example:
A sitemap is basically a list of all the most important pages on a website.
This will make building a new website much more efficient, which is especially important if you’re hiring a web design or marketing company to do it for you.
From an SEO perspective, each arrow on your sitemap becomes an internal link from one page to another. These links will help Google find, crawl through and index your pages much faster.
Create a professional website
Once you’ve chosen your domain name, set up web hosting, installed WordPress and created a logical sitemap, the next step is to build a new website for your trades business.
You don’t to worry about SEO at this point, but instead focus all your attention on creating a professional website that has a great user experience.
It would be impossible to explain the entire creation process in this guide, but here are some of the most important things you need to do to get your site ready for SEO success.
Use an attractive, SEO friendly design
The design is going to make or break your success when it comes to SEO. You could rank at the top of Google, but if your website looks unprofessional, it won’t convert visitors into enquiries, which totally defeats the entire purpose of doing SEO in the first place.
This is critical for ensuring your visitors personal data is protected. Always encrypt your site by installing an SSL certificate. You can do this via your web host using a free service called Let’s Encrypt. If you don’t have a certificate, your visitors will see a “not secure” alert and likely leave your site.
Make sure it’s mobile friendly
This is very important because more people are now using their mobile phones to search than desktops. You can use this free tool to check if your website is mobile friendly.
Make sure it loads quickly
If your website takes too long to load then people are going to leave and go elsewhere. Google also ranks slow websites lower than fast ones. You can use this free tool to check how quickly your website loads. Anything below 3 seconds is perfect.
Use a clean URL structure
All of your website pages have what’s called a URL, also known as a web address. This is the bit you can see at the top of any internet browser like Safari, Chrome, etc.
Choosing a clear and descriptive URL structure is very important for better rankings, as it helps visitors and Google understand what the content of a web page is about.
If you’re building a new website on a platform like WordPress, you can choose how you would like to structure your URLs. We recommend using the “Post Name” setting.
If you already have a website for your trades business, it’s rarely a good idea to change the existing URL structure because it can break things and disrupt any rankings you currently have.
Use an SEO plugin
If you are using a hosted website platform like Wix, you can use their basic SEO tools. However, if you are using a self-hosted platform like WordPress, you can install an SEO plugin. This will make doing SEO so much easier. We recommend using YoastSEO or Rank Math.
PART 3: KEYWORD RESEARCH FOR TRADES BUSINESSES
The keywords you choose are going to make or break your success with SEO.
If you target the right keywords, your pages will generate more high-value traffic and qualified leads. If you target the wrong keywords, your pages will only generate low-value traffic or none at all.
Doing keyword research is not that difficult and a lot of it is common sense. However, there are some things you need to be aware of to get better results with SEO for your trades business.
Let’s take a look at what those things are.
What is keyword research?
Keyword research is the process of discovering words and phrases people type into search engines like Google to find local businesses, products and information.
Why is keyword research important for SEO?
Keyword research is important because it ensures your web pages are targeting keywords that customers use to find your services.
If you choose the right keywords, your pages will rank for high value searches that generate qualified leads. If you choose the wrong keywords, your going to generate bad traffic and poor quality leads.
SEO takes a lot of time and effort, so you need to make sure you show up for things that produce sales.
How to find keywords for your trades business
Most tradesmen don’t think about the different ways customers might search to find their services.
For example, if you were a plumber, some customers may find you by typing “plumber” into Google. But others may find you by searching for a specific plumbing service like “boiler installation” or “leak repair”.
This means your website needs to show up for all of these different keywords.
Here’s how you do it.
Start by writing down a list of all the main services you offer.
Here is an example of what that might look like for a plumber:
- Boiler installation
- Boiler repair
- Boiler servicing
- Underfloor heating
- Burst pipe repair
- Radiator installation
Once done, expand this list by adding any associated services.
For example, associated services for “Boiler Installation” could be expanded to:
- Combi boiler installation
- Electric boiler installation
- Oil boiler installation
- LPG boiler installation
The next step is to find the keywords customers are using to find these services.
You can do this for free using Google Search.
Start by typing “your service + location” into Google. Then on the results page, check Suggested Searches, Related Searches and competitor websites to find keyword ideas.
The goal here is to find and build a list of keywords for each service, so as you go through, make sure to note down all of the relevant keywords you could target.
Here’s an example of what it might look like when trying to find keywords for boiler repair in London.
Alternatively, you can use a keyword research tool like Ahrefs Keyword Generator.
To do this, you need to:
- Select Google.
- Set the location to your country.
- Type in “your service + location”.
- Click “find keywords”.
This will then pull up a list of keyword ideas. Repeat this process for each service and write down any keywords you think are worth targeting.
The free version of this tool is quite limited, but it can help you find keywords a lot quicker compared to physically trawling through Google.
Check keyword search volumes
To consistently drive more traffic and generate more leads from SEO, your website pages must target keywords with high search volumes.
To find search volume data for a specific county, city or town, you can use Google Keyword Planner.
Keyword Planner is free, but unfortunately it has a couple of limitations:
- It only shows broad search volume ranges (e.g. 10-100), not an exact number.
- It groups keywords and shows a combined search volume number.
For these reasons, it tends to be more productive to check search volumes at a national level. This is because what happens in one location is likely to be the same as the next.
Again, you can do this by using Ahrefs Keyword Generator.
The goal here is to identify which service keywords have the highest search volume because these are the best keywords to target.
High volume keywords should be prioritised and the central focus of your SEO efforts. However, it’s still important to include low volume keywords so your web pages show up for multiple searches.
Check for user intent
As a trades business, checking the user intent behind your keywords is important because you only want to target keywords people use when they are ready to buy.
For example, someone searching “different types of flat roofs” is in research mode, whereas someone searching “flat roof contractor” is likely in buying mode.
To check local intent for a keyword, type it into Google and look at the results.
If there is a map pack or some local “blue link” results, then your keyword has local intent.
If there is no map pack or local “blue link” results, then your keyword doesn’t have local intent. You should avoid targeting these keywords.
You can still target keywords without any local intent, but for trades businesses we only recommend doing this through writing blog posts.
Assign keywords to pages
Generic keywords that are not related to a specific service (e.g. plumber, plumbing company, plumbing contractor, etc) should be assigned to your homepage.
However, it’s important to remember that your homepage is not going to rank for all of your service keywords. So you will need to create separate pages for each service to target them.
Keep it specific. Avoid merging multiple services and unrelated keywords together. Each service should have its own unique page.
For example, keywords and associated services for “boiler installation” should go on a dedicated boiler installation page. This page should not include keywords for “boiler repair” or “boiler servicing”, these should have their own dedicated service pages.
Assign keywords to target location
Most trades businesses serve local customers in a specific city or town. So you will need to assign your target location to the keywords you want to rank for.
For example, “boiler installation” would become “London boiler installation”.
If you serve customers in multiple locations, then assigning a county is your best option. You can then create separate pages for each town or city within that county.
PART 4: SEO RANKING FACTORS
SEO for trades businesses involves two parts because there are two ways to rank a website on Google; the first is the map pack results, the second is the organic results.
The goal is to rank the pages on your website so they show up in both sets of results when a potential customer searches for your keywords.
To achieve this you need to do both on-page and off-page SEO.
Here is a list of the most important ranking factors for each type.
On-Page SEO For Trades Businesses
On-page SEO is the process of optimising the content on a page to help it rank higher on Google.
Here are the best on-page SEO practices to follow.
Choose a target keyword for each page
A target keyword is the word or phrase that you would most like a page to be found for on Google.
You need to go through your keyword lists and choose the best keyword to target for each page.
Remember, the goal of SEO is to generate more leads and sales, so it’s important to choose a target keyword that has search intent and the highest search volume.
For the home page, target the best generic keyword a customer would use to find your type of business. These could be keywords like “roofer”, “roofing contractor”, “roofing companies”, etc.
For service pages, target the best keyword a customer would use to find the specific service. These could be keywords like “flat roofing company”, “flat roof replacement”, etc.
You only need to choose a target keyword for pages you want to rank on Google.
Include target keywords in URLs
The easiest way to help Google understand what a web page is about is to include your target keyword in the slug part of the URL.
For example, here is what the URL would look like for a service page targeting the keywords “cavity wall insulation” in Oxfordshire.
It’s best practice to make URLs as short as possible, the ideal length being between one to four words.
Include target keywords in meta title
The meta title, or title tag, is the blue link you see on search results.
Title tags are important because it’s often the piece of information customers will use when deciding which result to click on. It has to be compelling enough so the customer clicks you over competition.
You will also rank higher in Google for your target keywords if you include them in the title tag.
For example, this is what the meta title could look like for a service page targeting the keywords “cavity wall insulation” in Oxfordshire.
Here are a few tips to write the best title tag:
- Keep it short – up to a maximum of 60 to 70 characters.
- Match search intent – show searchers your page offers the solution they’re looking for.
- Include target keywords – use a close variation if more relevant.
- Keep it specific – describe exactly what the page is, don’t be vague or misleading.
It’s important that you take the time to write a title tag for each page you want to rank on Google.
Include target keywords in meta description
The meta description is the short summary of what a particular page is about.
Meta descriptions are important because they show up in the search results, which can entice more people to click through and visit your website. Think of it like a pitch to convince a searcher that your page is the solution to what they are looking for.
For example, this is what the meta description could look like for a service page targeting the keywords “cavity wall insulation” in Oxfordshire.
Here are a few tips to write the best meta description:
- Keep it short – up to a maximum of 155 characters.
- Expand on the title tag – include relevant USPs and benefits.
- Match search intent – inform searchers you offer exactly what they are looking for.
- Include target keywords – Google will often highlight them in bold.
- Include a call to action – tell searchers what you want them to do next, like request a free quote.
It’s important that you write a meta description for each page you want to rank on Google.
Optimise page content
The most difficult part of writing content is balancing the need to attract customers whilst giving Google what it wants to rank a page for your keywords.
For best results, your page content should:
- Cover your topic in full – write at least 500 words of useful information.
- Be totally unique – to avoid being penalised by Google, do not recycle or copy content.
- Match search intent – align content with what visitors are looking for.
- Include keywords – focus content around the keywords and location you want to rank for.
- Trigger an enquiry – tell visitors what to do next by adding a call to action.
Write content to please your customers first, and Google second.
Do not try to manipulate the system by stuffing loads of keywords or writing paragraphs of waffle. This will cause visitors to click off the page, which indicates to Google the page did not answer their query.
Utilise header tags
Header tags help Google understand the content of your web pages. They also improve readability which means visitors will be able to scan through and get the information they need quicker.
There are six types of header tag; H1, H2, H3, H4, H5, H6.
You should only use one H1 tag per page and match it with the page title and target keyword.
Use H2 and H3 tags for subheadings.
Use H4, H5 and H6 tags to organise any information under those subheadings.
Add Internal Links
An internal link is a link from one page on your website to another.
Internally linking to and from pages is important for SEO because it helps Google find, index and understand all of the pages on your website.
When used strategically, internal links can transfer page authority (also known as PageRank) to important pages. The more authority a page has, the higher it will rank in search results.
Don’t force internal links into your page content. You should only use them when linking to other useful and relevant pages on your website.
Add External Links
An external link is a link from a page on your website to a page on a different website.
They are often used to provide visitors with additional information and resources on the topic your page is about. External links are important for SEO because they help boost page authority with Google and build trust with your visitors.
For example, it would make sense for a heating company to have an external link pointing to and from their profile on the Gas Safe Register website.
Only add external links where it makes sense. Don’t link to poor quality or spammy websites because this can damage the reputation and trustworthiness of your domain name.
Optimise your images
High quality images play a key role in successfully selling your services online, but very few trades businesses ever take the time to optimise their images for SEO.
The image optimisation process can be broken down into three main tasks.
Add descriptive file names
Adding a file name to an image gives Google a clue as to what the image is about. When naming an image be descriptive, use dashes between words and avoid stuffing keywords.
Add descriptive alt text
Google cannot see your images so uses alt text to understand what it’s about. They also help improve accessibility for people who use screen readers.
When writing alt text for an image try to keep it as short and concise as possible. Describe what the image is about and include keywords when appropriate, but don’t just add keywords for the sake of it.
Compressing images is essential for making file sizes smaller, which leads to a faster loading website. A good rule of thumb is to compress your images so they each have a file size of 100KB or less. To do this, we recommend using a free tool called TinyPNG.
Include NAP information
NAP is an acronym for Name, Address and Phone number.
Including NAP on your website is an important part of ranking in the organic and ‘map pack’ results because Google uses this data when scanning the internet to find information about your business.
We recommend including NAP on your contact page and in the footer.
Incorrect and inconsistent NAP will confuse Google because it will be unable to link your website to any other online listings you may have, such as an online directory or social media page.
Off-Page SEO For Trades Businesses
Off-page SEO refers to the activities done off a website to help it rank higher on Google.
Here are the best off-page SEO strategies to follow.
Google Business Profile
Google Business, formerly known as Google MyBusiness, is a free tool that allows local businesses to create, manage and optimise their Business Profile in the ‘map pack’ section on Google.
From our own client data, we have found that trades businesses with a fully complete Google Business Profile are likely to generate up to 35% more leads.
For example, a client we work with called Premier Roofing Solutions received an extra 64 calls from their Business Profile in one month alone.
So it’s clear that having a well optimised Business Profile is essential if you want to generate more leads and customers for your trades business.
Follow these steps to optimise your Business Profile:
- Create or claim your Business Profile by clicking here.
- Select the most accurate business category.
- Enter your business name, address and phone number.
- Set your opening hours, including holiday hours.
- Enter your website URL.
- Set your service area.
- Add the products or services you offer.
- Add photos.
- Ask your customers for reviews.
- Post interesting content daily.
Take the time to go through and complete each section in full. The information displayed on your Business Profile should match the information on your website, especially NAP details.
A local citation is any mention of your trades business name, address and phone number online. They mainly appear on online business directories and social media profiles.
Local citations are important because they help Google verify the existence, legitimacy, and trustworthiness of your trades business. If the same details show up across other trusted websites, then this will give Google more confidence that your business exists and is located where you say it is.
In short, the more citations your company has, the more trust and confidence Google will have in your company brand, which can then help your website rank higher in search results.
It’s also important to remember that potential customers don’t always use Google to find a local tradesmen. They often use sites like Checkatrade, MyBuilder, Facebook, Instagram, etc. This is another reason why it’s useful to get listed on these type of sites.
In terms of getting citations, you have two options:
- Manually submit and manage your own citations using a spreadsheet.
- Pay a citation building service, like BrightLocal, to do it for you.
Given that these services are quite expensive, we recommend just manually adding your company to a handful of sites that matter the most.
To help you get started, we have created a list of 50 sites we suggest adding your business to.
You can download our list by clicking here.
Just remember to keep your NAP (business name, address and phone number) consistent. Your details should always be the same as the details on your website and Google Business Profile.
A backlink is when another website links over to a page on your website.
In the eyes of Google, a backlink basically acts like vote of confidence. The more backlinks you have, the more confidence Google has in your company, which can then help your website rank higher.
Here are 5 local link building strategies for your trades business:
- Create useful content for your blog – this could be ‘how to’ tutorials, price guides, free tips, helpful advice, etc. By creating valuable content that actually helps people, you improve the chances of other sites linking to your website.
- Write guest posts for other blogs – guest blogging is when you write a post for another blog. In return, you can normally include a link back to your own website.
- Build more citations – most online directories will let you add your website URL, which can be a quick and easy way to get more links.
- Local sponsorships – sponsoring a local sports team or organisation is a great way to get more links. Simply ask them if they can include your website URL to their website.
- Join industry associations – type in “your industry + association” into Google. This will bring up a list of associations you can join. They can be quite expensive so we recommend doing some research and picking the most reputable association in your industry.
Getting more reviews for your trades business is an essential part of SEO.
Reviews are important because they:
- Send trust signals to Google which helps your website rank higher.
- Build trust with potential customers which helps generate more leads.
We recommend that you focus on getting reviews on your Google Business Profile because these reviews show up in the ‘map pack’ results when potential customers look for your services.
You can create and share a link for customers to leave you a Google review.
To find this link, sign in to the account you use to manage your Google Business Profile, then search your trades business name into Google and click “get more reviews”.
This will then bring up the link you need to share with customers. You can include this link on your invoices, final emails and text messages, a reviews page on your website, etc.
We recommend asking your customers directly if they would be happy to write a review. This usually works best because you are getting a commitment from them.
If they agree, email and text your Google review link to them. Send a friendly follow up reminder or two if they don’t leave a review after a few days.
Make sure that you take the time to reply to all reviews because this helps build trust.
PART 5: GETTING YOUR TRADES BUSINESS ON GOOGLE
If Google has no idea that your website or pages exist, then it doesn’t matter how good your design, keyword research or SEO strategy is, because you’ll never show up anywhere in the search results.
That’s why you need to submit a sitemap to Google.
A sitemap is a basically a file that contains a blueprint of your website. This file makes it easier for Google to find, crawl and index all of the important pages and keywords you want to rank for.
How to find your sitemap
You can find your sitemap by adding sitemap.xml to the end of your domain name in the URL bar. If that doesn’t work, try adding sitemap_index.xml instead.
- yourbusiness.com / sitemap.xml
- yourbusiness.com / sitemap_index.xml
How to submit your sitemap
Once you have located your sitemap, the next step is to submit it to Google. To do this you’ll need to set up Google Search Console or login to your existing account.
If you’re setting up a new account, you will need to add a property and verify your domain name.
The easiest way to do this is to choose the property type called Domain and enter your domain name without the https or www part.
Once done, click “continue” and follow the instructions to complete the domain verification process.
After your domain name has been successfully verified, you need to submit your sitemap.
To do this, click “Sitemaps” in the menu bar, copy and paste your sitemap URL and click submit. Once Google has processed your sitemap, check the status is showing up as a “Success”.
After a few days or weeks of crawling through your pages, Google will begin to index them.
It might take some time but eventually your web pages are going to start appearing somewhere in the search results. However, it’s very unlikely you’re going to rank on page one straight out of the gate, which is the reason why you need to do SEO.
Everything you’ve learned in this SEO for trades businesses guide should be enough to get your website indexed, ranking and generating a consistent flow of leads.
Doing SEO yourself takes a lot of time and effort, but the rewards are well worth it.
If you get stuck or would like to learn more about growing your trades business with online marketing, then take a look at some of our other guides and tutorials.
Alternatively, if you don’t have time to do it yourself, you can request a free discovery call with our team to see if partnering up with Scale Your Trade is the right fit for your company.