Frank Bair from Artisans Carpentry came to visit Idea Shop with a simple problem – how to drive traffic to his website without spending a fortune on adwords. We talked to him about Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), PR and advertising.
Frank has a great product; high quality but affordable carpentry performed by reliable trustworthy traders. He also has a lovely new website. He recognises the website’s potential to drive new business, but is not sure how to get people there.
Research shows few people look beyond the first page of search results. Frank needs to be on that first page. To get there he needs to optimise his website for search engines. This means showing search engines that your site is relevant to certain searches. There’s lots written about how to do SEO. Below is a crash course.
Search engines judge the relevancy of your website based on how often the words in a search are used in your copy. These words are called keywords. If I type “Carpenter London” into a search bar, the search engine then looks for sites that use those keywords. Then it sorts all those sites into an order. The sites it judges to be most relevant go first. Where you come in that order is called your “ranking”. Having more keywords in your web copy is good for your ranking – but don’t want to over do it because then your site becomes a horrible read. You can research what keywords are right for your business using Google’s free keyword tool. You can research out if you’ve overused your keywords by having friends to read your site. https://adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal
2. Where to put those keywords
Search engines read from left to right, top to bottom. That means using a keyword in the top left of a page is better than using one in the bottom right of the page. The words used in links, headers, urls and navigation are considered more important than those in body copy. Therefore, it’s a good idea to keywords in links, headers, urls and navigation, if possible. Again, there’s a balance to be reached; you don’t want really long navigation copy, or all your headers to sound the same because you’ve crammed the same keywords in over and over again.
3. Body copy
Search engines like pages with copy on them. Aim for around 250-300 words per page, where appropriate. Search engines also like sites that have lots of incoming links. So create good quality content, and update it often. That way more people will want to link to you.
Links going in and out of your site make it look popular and makes search engines think it’s more relevant. Think about links that are relevant to your user, then find a way to include them that seems natural. You might add a links section to all your pages. Or you might work links into body copy. Don’t just cram links in thoughtlessly because it will devalue your site. In Frank’s case relevant links could be interior design blogs, kitchen and bathroom suppliers and non-competitor tradesman, (electricians etc). These sites may be willing to do a mutually beneficial link swap.
5. Putting yourself out there
Frank could also create content for external sites and link to them. For example, he could create a gallery on flickr.com to showcase work completed by Artisans Carpentry. Or he could create a Youtube channel filled with DIY how to videos. He could make these videos himself, or simple select existing youtube content to go on his channel. Frank can also drive traffic and improve his natural search ranking by becoming active on local DIY and home improvement forums and blogs, posting relevant comments and including his url in his signoff.
6. Page description.
Once he has achieved the holy grail of being on the first page of search results, Frank mustn’t rely on people clicking though to his site to get the info they need. Research shows that including your telephone number in your page desciption (the copy that appears with your link on the results page) can significantly improve the number of calls you receive. (The same is true of having your digits in the header of every page on your site which Frank is already doing.)
Knowing how people find your site and how they interact with it once they are there is invaluable when it comes to improving traffic. We pointed Frank in the direction of another free Google tool, Google Analytics. This is a free service that allows you to see exactly that. It means adding a little piece of code into each of his pages but it will help him figure out how to attract more visitors and turn more visitors into customers.
8. And finally
Search engines are always changing and developing so its important to stay on top of the latest SEO techniques by checking online.
A quick search for “Carpenter South London” revealed a couple of paid for results, (where people pay to have their site come up at the top of the search results), at the top of the page and more down the right hand column. Of the natural search results (where people haven’t paid for a high ranking) the first two are carepenters adverts on Gumtree.com and Trustatrader.com. We recommended Frank follow suit with ads of his own on both these sites. Frank told us that most of his business comes from word of mouth. To capitalise on this we recommended he email satisfied customers an email voucher that they can forward to friends. The voucher could offer a discount and a free consultation. He also mentioned an ad in a local paper that generates a lot of leads. We recommended he continue to use this.
We also thought it would make Frank stand out if he were to craft some wooden leave-behinds with his url burnt on to them. This could be something useful, like a fridge magnet or a paper weight, that customers would leave somewhere visible, thereby keeping Artisans Carpentry at the front of prospective customers minds.
Next we looked at activities beyond SEO that would attract more visitors. Here’s a few of those ideas:
Approach local papers about a DIY column.
Do carpentry displays at local events and fetes.
Start a campaign – starting a campaign not only generates PR, it also positions you as a market leader. The campaign would need to fit with Artisan Carpentry’s values of quality, trust and workmanship. Within that remit, it could be about anything from more use of sustainable material, to bringing back apprenticeships or to a campaign for more reliable traders.
Donate leftover wood to local bonfire night displays.
Create wooden play equipment to donate to local play areas.
As you can see, a lot was squeezed into our hour and half brainstorm with Frank. We can’t wait to see the results. And we know where we’ll be going next time we need some home improvements.