Whether you’re just starting out on your own, or you’ve been in business for years, as a contractor, having an effective online presence is crucial. Your website is the core that all of your other advertising points to. So it needs to be compelling, easy to navigate and designed to convert visitors into clients. You know your trade. Whether you’re an HVAC Contractor, Home Improvement/Remodeler, Landscaper or other artisan, you know how to install an furnace, make a tight miter joint, or create that beautiful kitchen atmosphere that your clients will treasure for entertaining. But where did you learn how to BUILD a website? Well, odds are… you didn’t! I’ve worked with a WIDE range of contractors over the years, so I figure I would share my knowledge and help you folks out a little. Of course, if you prefer to leave the heavy lifting to a pro, you can always reach out to me to design that perfect website.
START WITH A GOOD FOUNDATION – Just like building a home, a contractor’s website also has to start with a strong foundation. Building an effective contractor website is a little challenging, but not impossible. There are many pre-made templates out there that have an attractive design (and even code) built-in before you start, some you just have to organize and plug in the details of your individual business.
DOMAIN NAME – Choosing a domain name is pretty important. Less is more – you want to keep it short and memorable and as close to your brand as possible. ‘Top Level Domains’ like .com and .net are, by far, the most popular, but getting a short, memorable one for your business can be tough because they’ve been around so long. You can check to see if your ideal domain name is available on sites like GoDaddy. When you’re done building your site and you let it off the leash – don’t forget Advertising 101 – place your domain EVERY place you put your name (Business cards, your vehicles, jobsite signs, other advertising and more)
MAKE IT MOBILE FREINDLY – Your customers have a wide variety of devices to view your website on. At the time of this writing, Statcounter.com showed the device search market share for desktop, mobile and tablet devices at 54%, 43% and 3% respectively. Mobile devices are definitely something you want to plan for. If your customer has to pinch or zoom with fingers to read your site, it’s not going to fair well. Below are 3 different contractor websites, each with a different level of mobile usage.
KEEP IT PROFESSIONAL – Your customers aren’t just buying a product from you. They are inviting you into their home to update one of the most expensive possessions they own. Within less than a minute, your customers will know whether they want to continue viewing your site. You need to make a clean, easy-to-navigate design with effective illustrations, ‘confidence’ factors (like awards, accreditations, chamber memberships and badges like BBB), and relevant content to keep your prospects on your page quickly. If there are Brands you typical use, or are an authorized installer, use their logos. They spend a lot of money advertising their brand and you can benefit from it as a supplier by giving your brand an extra lift. And please, design your website for your clients, NOT the search engines. Websites that look spammy or use keyword stuffing will turn off your customer very quickly (and it could get you put in the search engine penalty-box!)
The Warm n' Fuzzies
ABOUT US PAGE – Whether you’re a new business or have been serving clients for decades, most people don’t know you. Even that customer you helped with a new roof 10 years ago probably won’t remember why they chose you now that they need new siding. Most of my clients have a hard time creating an about us page – they know they’re great – just don’t like to brag! Keep it simple, yet concise. Think about all of your customers and why they told you they chose you. Was it your years of experience or rich history of your family serving the area? Your awards from a local newspaper? The volunteer work you guys (and girls) do in the community? Your non-salesy demeanor? Or that you enjoy fishing and are a die-hard Eagles Fan. Whatever the reasons, include it. People like to see the human side of you!
TESTIMONIALS – I always tell my contractor customers “If you say it, they can doubt you…If your customers say it, it’s gospel!”. People today believe in online reviews almost as much as word-of-mouth reviews. For the folks above who don’t like to brag, this is a perfect tool…let your prior customers tell THEIR story of your success! There are plugins for WordPress like Trustindex that can actually port all of your Google reviews into your website and display them in an easy-to-read carousel format. Mine are below (sorry – had to plug myself!) And yes…You can filter out the reviews from people that NOBODY can please! Keep in mind that the average star review on Google in 2020 was 4.08, so people are expecting a couple less-than-stellar reviews and some get leary of ALL 5-star reviews. It shows you’re human and fallible. You may have had a delay in product shipment or nicked a piece of furniture or didn’t clean up as good as “Mr. Belvedere”. Use your own discretion to include these 3.5-4 star reviews. If you don’t have reviews, ask for them. Check out our other post for some tips on getting referrals and reviews
Highlight Your Services
FOCUS ON YOUR NICHE – There are a lot of services I COULD provide in the digital marketing arena, but I prefer to focus on 4 (Website Design, SEO, SEM and Social Media). I could do video production, drone footage and online display ads – which I also do, but just don’t list it. Why? because my niche is the four areas – I enjoy it, I’m good at it and it’s profitable for my business. You could be a plumber, but you also do HVAC, Water Softener installation, water heater replacement and bath remodeling. Depending on your current state, you want to highlight these top 3-4 services and make them bold and prominent on your site (AND create links to pages specifically dedicated to these business segments). Pepper in some of your secondary services on your home page. Don’t cram your home page with every conceivable service you offer. If needed, create new pages for those.
KEEP IT PLEASING TO THE EYE – You will likely want to use colors that coordinate with your brand and logo. Make sure you use white as well (copy stands out better on a white background). In terms of color psychology you have a lot of choices. Blue conveys, calm, assuredness, trustworthy; Red conveys emergency (i.e. 24 hour emergency tree service); Purple can mean royalty, high end, extravagant; Green for eco-friendly, money, landscaping; or you might be a paving contractor in which black and yellow ‘pop’.
Use stock images and/or your own pictures if they are decent quality and resolution. “After” pictures work best – focus on the benefits that your customer will derive from hiring you – not the problem they already have. If you’re a remodeler, definitely use before AND after photos. Adobe Stock has a free library with decent, but limited stock photos. The image below of Allentown PA is from Adobe. If your business has multiple business segments like bath remodeling, basement remodeling, kitchen remodeling, decks and gazebos, I would recommend creating a separate ‘portfolio’ page with separate galleries. Here is an example in a HVAC Website
Videos are good, too. Through sight and hearing, you’re capturing 2 senses and conveying emotion as well. Normally your brands you use have videos you can place in your site (new roof drone footage from GAF, Cost savings video of Weil McLain Gas Boiler, etc). Just ask your distributor or sales rep (you might even get some co-op dollars for this too!) Be careful with Videos though as they could put a drag on your website load time.
MAKE IT EASY TO NAVIGATE – To recap, your prospective customers are looking for a particular service. Sometimes multiple services. Emphasize your core services and highlight secondary services on your home page. This way, they know whether or not they’re in the right place. Create separate pages for your core services. Make sure to make it easy for customers to do business with you. Use call to actions, buttons, forms and phone numbers throughout your website. Make sure your NAP (name, address, phone) appears on every page.
CONCLUSION – It’s a little challenging and definitely has a learning curve to do it the right way. If your contractor website isn’t up to par, and you need a redesign, or maybe even a brand new site, and you don’t want to DIY, give us a call. We’ll listen to your needs, the image you want to convey, and build you a contractor website that not only looks good, but performs! Thanks for reading!