Online marketing for tradesmen - a quick-start guide

Whether you’re planning to make online marketing your main strategy or you just know that you need a basic web presence, here’s a how-to digital marketing guide for tradesmen.

If you’re a builder, an electrician, a plumber or a handyman, you might think that your job has little to do with the world of online marketing.

But increasingly, people are looking online to find a tradesman, checking website reviews to see if someone’s trustworthy, and shouting out on social media about a job well (or badly) done. This means that the internet can be a great tool for tradesmen if it’s used properly.

Websites for tradesmen

Nowadays it’s easier and more straightforward to set up a professional-looking website even if you don’t have any web development knowledge.

Popular options include Wix, WordPress and Moonfruit, but there are also platforms like TradeSiteBuilder that are designed specifically for tradesmen.

Here are some tips for what to include on your website:

Location

Make it clear where you’re based and the areas that you cover. Most website builders give you the option to add an interactive map to your site.

Contact details

Ideally give an email address, a mobile number and landline number, and make this information prominent across all pages of your site. Clearly state the times when you can and can’t be contacted if you don’t want to receive calls at all hours.

NAP (Name, Address, Phone) consistency

It’s really important that your name, address and phone number are listed consistently across the internet, as even the smallest variation could deter pernickety search engines. As well as making sure this is the case on your own website, you should check it on external sites like online business directories. Do this by Googling the name of your business and your city and browsing the results. If you find any inconsistencies, the website will usually have a process for logging change requests.

Your services

Include a list of the services you offer, including short descriptions or specifics where necessary.

Why you?

Sell yourself on your site: write some words about your reputation, approach and experience. This could include the number of years you’ve been in the trade, an account of your expertise and training, and perhaps a couple of sentences describing your work ethos.

Customer feedback

Ask some of your past customers for their feedback so that you can add customer testimonials to your site. Be sure to tell your customers that you intend to quote them on your website and check that they’re happy for you to use their names.

Case studies

If you can, add some pictures and descriptions of projects you’ve successfully completed. Include a concise summary of your process and outcomes.

Professional qualifications

Remember to include your qualifications and mention membership of any trade bodies. Check the terms on the organisations’ websites before you use their logos or badges though; you may need permission first.

Insurance

State on your site that you’ve got a public liability insurance policy in place. If you’ve bought your insurance through Simply Business, you can do this by downloading a ‘proof of policy’ badge to add to your website.

Getting people to visit your website

Great, you’ve got your website up and running! But how is anyone going to find it?

Like any business, you’ve got two main ways to increase your visibility online: organic tactics and paid tactics.

Organic search

You’re doing well in terms of organic tactics if your website appears in search results (like those served up by Google or Bing) when someone searches for keywords related to your business. For example if someone finds your site when they type “plumbers in Birmingham” into a search engine.

If this happens, it’s because the search engine believes that your website is particularly relevant to whatever is being searched for. The higher your website appears in the search results, the more people are likely to click through to it.

Getting your site to this stage involves search engine optimisation (SEO) and there’s no quick and easy formula. But it helps to have relevant, well-written content on your website and to know how to write meta tags and meta descriptions.

You can find lots of SEO help online to get you started. For a good, easy-to-understand introduction to SEO, try Google’s Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide. Although it was published a few years ago, it is still a good starting point. You can find other SEO guides for beginners from Moz and KissMetrics.

Google tips

Set up a Google My Business page, so that your correct business details show on Google Search and Google Maps. Google will verify your listing, usually by sending a postcard with a verification code to your business address. Once you’re verified, customers will be able to find you more easily and they can also review your business, plus you’ll be able to access analytics showing insights like views and clicks.

Paid methods

You can also use paid tactics, which basically involve paying to advertise your site. For example you can set up a Google AdWords account, and you’ll only pay a fee if someone clicks on your ad. If you go down this route you need to create well-targeted ads so that you’re appearing for the right people and the clicks are actually resulting in customers. It’s important to use the location setting in Google AdWords so that your website will only appear for people in the right area.

Online listing sites

Tradesmen are split on whether websites like MyBuilder, Checkatrade and Rated People are good for the industry or not, but the sites do well in the search rankings, so listing your business with them could be an easier way to increase your visibility online.

Each site works slightly differently, so speak to fellow tradesmen, check trade forums and chat to the customer service team of each website to see which one is right for you. They generally charge a monthly fee and/or charge you for any leads they generate.

The sign up processes vary, but there will usually be an initial phone call or online form and then some or all of the following steps:

  • ID verification
  • qualification and reference checks
  • credit checks
  • proof of public liability insurance
  • an interview

‘Virtual word-of-mouth’

These sites are becoming a really popular method for homeowners to find tradesmen, and in some ways they provide a modern, digital equivalent of word-of-mouth recommendations.

Although at the beginning racking up positive online reviews can seem daunting, these sites may also give you the opportunity to build up a good reputation relatively quickly.

If you go down this route, is important to keep a close eye on your reviews and manage your online image closely. Always remember to ask your customers to leave you a review, and make it as easy as possible for them to do so, perhaps by leaving a feedback card or sending them a link to your profile. Check the review process of whichever listing site you’ve chosen. And if you believe someone’s posted a review that’s inaccurate and malicious, speak to the website managers about the procedure for getting it removed.

A web presence can be excellent for tradesmen and it could help you reach customers that you’d otherwise struggle to access. Use it right and you could give your business a real boost.

How do you use the internet to promote your business? Tell us in the comments.

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