Homeowners seem to contemplate remodeling mostly at night, judging from the e-mails awaiting Jan Jacome many mornings. “Twenty-two percent of our total gross volume came from Internet leads” in 2006, up from 12% in 2005, says the owner of Crossroads Contracting, in Londonderry, N.H. The success of www.crossroadscontracting.com shows that a small company can attract qualified Web surfers without the assistance of paid keywords, online referral services, or other fee-based lead generators.

With just five basic pages, the site makes reassuring use of words, images, and ease of contacting the company. ( Click here for example.)

Well-chosen words and user-friendly tools are essential on the Web, says John Clements of Clements Marketing Group. Every few months, “search engines like Google visit every site they can find, looking for certain criteria to find out how valid the site is,” he says. One criterion is a “keyword density” of 4% — in layman's terms, if you want people to find you by searching for “New York remodeler,” 4% of the words on your site must be “New York remodeler.”

Also critical: Respond quickly to Internet-generated queries. Jacome's personal follow-up phone call is ideal for small companies that can keep up with the incoming lead volume. If you can't respond to individual queries, set up an “auto response” that thanks the person for his or her interest and promises you'll make contact at a specified time.

Paid keywords? You'll get more “clicks” this way, but actual leads are more elusive. If you do “pay per click,” Clements says to create separate “landing pages” for each of your services or product lines. Learn more about this and other strategies at www.clementsmktggroup.com.