Years ago, when a homeowner needed a contractor, he would find him through direct mail or local advertising. Some still do. But today, in addition to those approaches, homeowners use the Internet.

Homeowners have the same problems with their homes as they always have: drafty windows, leaky roofs, an exterior that needs fixing, an old closet door that should be replaced, the need for more useable space in the basement ... The list is endless. But now, to find a home improvement contractor to fix these things, they search the Web for home contracting websites.

So the question for contractors is: How do you build a website that will make homeowners call you?

Keep It Simple

One of the first things to keep in mind is that you want to keep your website simple. Make it straightforward to understand and easy to navigate. If your company offers a variety of home repair services (such as window replacement, roofing, vinyl siding, patio doors, additions, gutter guards, etc.), make it clear how to find each of those services. For instance, right there on your homepage, provide pictures or marked sections for each of the services you offer.

Because some people prefer to pick up the phone and talk with a live person about a home improvement need that they have, it's a good idea to prominently feature your phone number on your company's homepage as well as on all other pages of your website.

Another good idea is to present a clear call-to-action or an offer on your homepage, such as "Get a free estimate, click here," or "Get 10% off, call now."

Though some people like to call, others would rather fill out a form. If a form is included on your site, keep it short. Short forms look easier and friendlier to fill out than longer ones.

Make sure that the form asks the homeowner only for the information necessary to start your conversation. Asking for name, address, and phone number is acceptable. Any in-depth information, such as the specific home improvement need or the homeowner's financial situation, is best left for your first meeting, i.e., the sales appointment. It's less threatening to prospects that way.

Make a Movie

Videos can also be a great addition to your website. This is especially true if they demonstrate how you perform your services and if they are meaningful to the homeowner. Recorded TV commercials on the brands your company sells don't demonstrate your competence or add anything meaningful for your potential customers.

Posting videos that show your expertise, such as replacing a roof or building an addition, can help turn website visitors into potential customers. Also, consider supplementing your video demonstrations with before-and-after photos of completed projects. Video testimonials by recent customers can also be a powerful tool. These types of videos demonstrate your ability to understand customers' needs and help build trust with new visitors to your website.

The important thing to remember about your home improvement website is to keep it clear and simple. Make communicating what you do, how well you do it, and how to get in touch with you as easy as possible. That way homeowners will take away a great first impression of your company, even before you speak with them.

-Todd Bairstow is a Web marketing expert and co-founder of Keyword Connects, a company dedicated to online lead generation for the home improvement industry. Contact Todd at [email protected] or call 781.899.3677.