Steven St. Onge couldn’t care less if the website for his company, Rhode Island Kitchen & Bath, gets thousands of hits from all over. “Our strategy is hyperlocal,” he says. “We’re all about reaching our local community,” which he considers an hour-or-less drive from his 10,000-square-foot showroom and office in Warwick, R.I.
He’s onto something. With more homeowners searching for contractors online, and more contractors there waiting for them, successful search engine optimization (SEO) means cornering the tiniest of markets on the gigantic World Wide Web.
For RIKB, a key SEO strategy involves sponsoring local charities and hosting events, such as cooking demonstrations with wine pairings co-sponsored by restaurants and a wine store, at the company’s well-located showroom.
Besides listing the activities on RIKB’s website, St. Onge has a PR agency on retainer that promotes his company to local media outlets. To that end, “We find the best way to get local buzz is being listed on [newspaper] community calendars,” he says. Those listings also garner RIKB free coverage in the “social scene” section of a lifestyle magazine — nice alternative to an expensive paid ad. As many as 80 people attend the showroom events, St. Onge says.
Other basic strategies for hyperlocal SEO:
“Incoming links are golden,” says Patrice Olivier-Wilson, a construction marketer with Biz-Comm. As with RIKB’s fruitful community calendar links, this means getting your URL on the sites of local media, vendors, partners, and membership associations — anywhere your target market is likely to look for remodeling information.
“Internal links are also golden,” Olivier-Wilson says. On your home page, for instance, hyperlink “Hear from our satisfied clients” to your testimonial page. Work “green building” into several pages that link to a page that focuses on your green expertise.
Content trumps keywords. “Google ignores a dump of keywords,” Olivier-Wilson says. If a likely search term for your buyers is “kitchen remodeling in Boston,” find different ways to use that phrase in sentences. Google also ignores punctuation. You could end some sentences with “kitchen remodeling.” And begin others with “In Boston.”
Get beyond eye candy. Burying portfolio photos in a Flash movie or slide show “is a total waste from an SEO standpoint,” Olivier-Wilson says. Better: give each photo its own page with a descriptive caption (“Buckhead wine cellar,” “Pasadena kitchen with Sub-Zero appliances”).
All of these strategies resonate with Duane Johns of Advanced Renovations, of Charlotte, N.C. He uses Google analytics to analyze where his site visitors come from, what brought them there, and where they spend the most time, and he tweaks accordingly. “Our site is a huge source of leads to us,” Johns says. He is also leveraging social media — Facebook and Twitter, for instance — to attract even more Charlotte-area traffic to his site.
—Leah Thayer, senior editor, REMODELING.