Friday, November 13, 2009

Why Adding a Blog Makes Sense for Local Contractors

I spoke recently at the Las Vegas Roundtable where I mentioned how much I like blogs–especially for a local company trying to gain some Internet market share. I didn’t get a chance to discuss it in detail however. I’d like to do so now. Surely you’d be interested in knowing how to save thousands each month on advertising expenses? Yes?

One of the first things I tell contractors who want to generate more business online is to start creating content. The new customers who find you online will typically do so as the result of a search on Google, Yahoo, Bing or some other search engine. The more content you have online–either on your site or on unrelated sites that may link back to your site–the better your chances of being discovered by that potential customer.

For example, a video on about “plumbing repair in Macon” could lead someone right to your website. An article titled “Shopping for Air Conditioning in Tempe” and submitted to could likewise bring a new customer right to your door. And fresh content added directly to your domain every day will make the search engines positively giddy. Those are proven methods for attracting shoppers and increasing your search engine placement results. A blog can do the same thing, and often do it much better.

"Your blog posts are like targeted strikes for the area or service you want to promote!"

A blog is really nothing more than a really easy way for one or more people to add content to your website, without having to mess with navigation issues or sitemaps or any of the regular things that come into play when you add a page to a website. It also enables your readers to comment on your post and, in essence, create content for you.

Adding a blog to your existing website shouldn’t be difficult. If you’re unable to add one for technical reasons, or don’t want to take a chance on installing something that may not get used, you can install it on a new domain. That’s even easier and can sometimes be better. Putting your blog on a new domain, for example “” or something similar will allow you a little more freedom than you might have otherwise (I'll elaborate on that in a future post). If it’s hosted someplace other than your main website, it can also provide a link back to your site. That’s not a big deal but every little bit helps.

So where do you get content for this blog? I often hear people say they don’t know what to write about or they don’t have the time to write or they’re not good with a computer. All those things can be overcome, and should be, especially if you understand the power of the blog.

Earlier this year I created an air conditioning blog for a client that targeted an affluent suburb outside of a major city. After putting up a home page, about us, contact us and about 5 blog posts, he started getting traffic to the site (Wordpress rocks for search engine optimization if you use the right plugins!). Since then, he’s averaged about 70 visitors a month (for the last 9 months). That may not sound like much,  but consider this. Using pay-per-click, he can spend over $15 per click for major keywords in that area. If each of those 70 visitors had clicked on his ad instead of finding him organically, it would have cost him almost $10,000 over the last 9 months. Not bad for a 10 page blog. If he was more diligent about posting to the site, those figures would increase dramatically.

This particular contractor is one of those guys who can’t type and is very uncomfortable on the computer. Because of that, I developed a hands-free blogging system. It allowed him to call a voice mail box and leave a message from wherever he was. That message was then transcribed and uploaded to his blog. Simple and effective.

So what should you blog about? Everything! Every day there are interesting stories taking place in your company. Think about the things you tell your husband or wife when you get home. Think about the funny things that customers do or say, or that technicians see on the job. Have your techs email photos from the job site that can be posted online. Have them email videos. Still stumped? Try making a list of frequently asked questions and then post them with your answers online, one post at a time. Just write something, but when you do, try to include your targeted keywords in your title and throughout your text. These targeted keywords will be the search terms that you’d most like people to find you under. Your blog posts are like targeted strikes for the area or service you want to promote!

One of the most useful features of a blog is that you can set it up so multiple users can post to it. If you can’t update it yourself, assign a few people to take turns. Have your dispatcher post some quick thoughts once a day – maybe tips for making the service call more convenient. Have the install manager highlight some great jobs you’ve done. Run a poll. Do a survey. Ask a simple question. You can add pictures, videos, links, podcasts and whatever else you can think of. It’s not hard, and it can pay off big time.

Think of your blog as a social media tool. Use it as a way to touch base with your customers in a less formal way. Once they get used to seeing new info on a regular basis, they’ll start coming back more often and they’ll share it with others. Of course it’s now a 2-way tool for you. Be sure to engage your customers and don’t forget to acknowledge them if they leave a comment.

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