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Search Engine Optimization, referred to as SEO moving forward, is the optimization of your website in order to land as close to that coveted number one position on search engines. SEO for a landscaping company, or any contractor or location dependent business, is so important to bring in free leads to your business.
Over the years I have worked on several different websites of my own, including this one, to optimize them in order of reaching the first page of search engines to achieve free leads for my own businesses. Over the years I have learned a lot and implemented it all with amazing results. This information I am passing on to you and your business in this post so you can implement it yourself or at least know enough to be able to hire somebody who is qualified to complete it for you. One thing you do not want to do is hire somebody who is unqualified because they can hurt your website for many years to come.
This post is solely focused on local SEO and getting your business to the top of search engine results. From searching for the right keywords for your website to getting in good standing with search engines, we cover it all to make sure that your business is going to rank high in search engine results so that you can get free leads coming into your business.
Though this post is focused on landscapers, contractors of all walks of life will find this post extremely useful. We will be discussing what you should focus on with SEO on your website, how you can climb the rankings of search engines, researching keywords and building optimized pages on your website, and how you can earn free leads through search engines by implementing these tactics. Really any small business that is localized or location dependent will find a lot of value in this post, though contractors will find it most useful.
Landscaping SEO for Contractors
Table of Contents
- Creating a Website Optimized for SEO
- Identifying and Targeting Keywords
- Creating Content
- Getting Links and Building a Presence
- The number one reason that you would be reading this is that you will be working on the SEO of your own site by implementing what we outline in this post. By taking the steps that we outline in the post, you will get some incredible results that will start to bring in more leads into your website.
- Another reason why you should be reading this post is that you will be hiring somebody to optimize your website for SEO. In this case, it is still really important to at least understand the basics of SEO. It is also important to understand what a proper optimization of your site should cost. If you are not paying more than $1,000 USD (a rough figure), you are likely not getting a proper return on your investment. In fact, SEO done poorly will actually HURT your website for many years to come. Throughout this article, we will expand on what is a poor execution of SEO and why it will hurt your website. Knowing the basics will help you hire the right person for the job.
- Website Age
- Domain Authority
Creating a Website Optimized for SEO
- Installing Google Analytics
- Installing Google Search Console
Identifying and Targeting Keywords
Why should you be optimizing your website for search engines?
Once your website gets to the top of search engine results in your area, you will be receiving FREE leads for years to come without needing to do anything. That will pay for itself with the investment of either time or money to optimize your website.
There is no doubt that search engines are here to stay. They are not going anywhere and the amount of people that use these search engines to find contractors in their area will amaze you. We will get into those numbers later in this post when we dive into keyword research.
Why do I need to get to the top of search engine results?
SEO can get competitive. And the amount of people that click on position 1-3 of search engine results is astounding. You want to get into one of these three positions or at least on the top page of results. After that, you are likely not going to be earning any leads into your site through these results.
You would be amazed at how many people are searching for your services on search engines that you do not know of. We will be getting into those numbers when we start talking about keyword research later in this post.
Why should you read this post?
There are a couple of reasons why you should be reading this post thoroughly:
It is important to understand that it does take a while for Google or other search-based websites to crawl your website and for it to rank on the top page. Though the time ranges depending on many variables, you should expect your optimized pages to reach their peak performance on search engines approximately six months after they have been published or edited. You may see some fluctuation as soon as a page is published or edited, but this is just the search engine figuring out exactly where it fits.
As time passes, your page should slowly climb to its optimal position. How far it climbs and how soon it gets there is based on a few different things:
The older the website, the stronger it is in terms of search engines. They will view your site as having more of an authority the older it is.
This is a number given from 1-100 based on how much authority your website has in terms of the search engines. This number depends largely on the amount of domains that are linking to your website. The idea behind this is that if another website links to yours, your website is building authority if another website is vouching for yours. The more links you receive from higher ranking authority websites, the more your Domain Authority will rise. Earning these links, called backlinks, is a task in itself that we will discuss in this post.
Doing the proper keyword research to identify the perfect keywords for your website is quite possibly the most important stage in optimizing your websites for search engines. You cannot skip this step and you should not even try SEO without learning how to do this properly. This is one of the focuses of this post.
Also being a small business that is location dependent plays a major role in your SEO which is what we will focus on in this post. There are also many minor factors that play a role, but these are the major ones that you need to know about and the ones that you can somewhat control on your end. This is where SEO plays a role on your website and this is where we are here to help.
The first step to SEO is to build a website (if you do not already have one). We created a post dedicated to building a website and which Content Management Software you should choose when creating a website. It is important that you build your website using the right tools. A drag and drop website will not have the same optimization possibilities as a website that is using a Content Management Software like WordPress. Use our setting up a landscaping website post to build your website or to transfer your old website to a proper website.
Once you have the proper website created, it is time to get started with putting to use the proper tools to understand what traffic is coming into your website. You want to make sure that the traffic coming into your website is moving to the right page (likely the contact page), among many other things you are going to want to analyze. You also want to be able to monitor where your pages are showing in Google search results and how they rank over time, as well as the amount of times it is shown and clicked.
It is well known that Google has the largest share of search engine usage on the internet. Not only that, but they also have incredible FREE tools for you to use in order to analyze the traffic coming into your website and where it came from. This is why we need to install the next two tools.
Google Analytics is a powerful tool that will help you track a number of things, including what pages are being viewed and what country your visitors are located in (important that you have visitors from your country). This is an easy install and just requires that you copy and paste some code into your website.
Sign up for Google Analytics and follow the steps to set it up. Once you have set up your Property, click the Admin tab in the bottom left corner. There under the Property column you will see Tracking Info. Click on that tab and click on Tracking Code. There you will find your tracking code as a Global Site Tag.
If you are using WordPress, copy and paste this code into your header.php file just before the tag. This is done by clicking the Appearance tab and visiting the Editor window. Once there, you will find the header.php page on the right side. Once you are on the header.php page you can CTRL + F to find the tag. You can then post your Google Analytics code just before it.
To ensure that it is working, on the same page where you found the Google Analytics code for your website is a Send Test Traffic button that you can click that will tell you if the code was properly installed onto your website.
Google Search Console is going to be your best friend when optimizing for search engines, specifically Google. It is going to tell you how your pages are ranking on Google and how many people are clicking on the pages over time.
Sign up for Google Search Console and follow the steps to set it up. Once your account is set up, you will create a new Property by typing in your domain name. This part gets a little bit tricky, but it is important that you complete it so that you have the information that Google Search Console will provide you.
You will have to log into your domain name provider (e.g. GoDaddy). You will need to copy the text code that is provided and paste it into the DNS configuration. This process varies from provider to provider, but you can search online how to do it for your provider in order to complete the steps.
In addition to this, you are going to need to submit your sitemap to Google Search Console so that Google’s spiders know exactly where to crawl in your website so that they can index your pages properly. By clicking on the sitemap tab in Google Search Console, you will be presented with your URL with something you need to type in to submit. Your sitemap URL is typically www(dot)yoursite(dot)com/sitemap.xml. However, this needs to be created by you before you submit (and typically we suggest submitting it after you have updated your site with some pages). You can assume this has already been created if you have the Yoast SEO plugin installed on your WordPress website.
Now that we have this out of the way, it is time to get to the SEO part of this post.
This is the most important step when optimizing your website for search engines. When I first started in the online space, I had no idea about keyword research and I would also not get any visitors to my website. Finally when I took the time to learn a little bit about it and applied it to my website, my traffic slowly started to gain momentum. The best part is that it is free traffic.
Keyword research is the process of finding the right keywords to target and include in a page so that search engines know that it is relevant to a specific search term.
This is why it is so important to find the right keywords for each page that your write and that you are incorporating those keywords properly within that page. We will focus on finding the keywords in this portion of the post and in the next portion we will focus on incorporating the keywords into each page that you write.
Using a Tool
It is almost impossible to properly research keywords without using a tool. There are several tools on the market that range in pricing, but it is a necessary cost that comes with optimizing your website. However, there are a couple of free tools that are a good way to get your feet wet into the SEO game. Unfortunately, they do not provide you with enough information and they will likely waste some of your time trying to use them as a keyword research tool.
Regardless, we should mention that you could use Google Adwords to research keywords, but the information they provide you is specific to purchasing ads through Google. The competition rate that they provide you for a specific keyword is based on how many others are purchasing ads for that specific keyword and not how difficult it is to rank for that keyword which is what you want to know. A similar tool that provides minimal information is Ubersuggest which just does not provide enough information to make it worthwhile to use.
The least expensive and most valuable tool I have found to this point is Keysearch. It is also the tool that we are going to use throughout this portion of the post in order to show you how you should be conducting your keyword research. Whether you are using Keysearch or not, this information is still valuable and can be applied to other tools that you choose for your keyword research.
If you are interested in Keysearch, it is offered at a monthly price and you can get 20% off with this link and using KSDISC as a discount code. (I receive a small commission when you use this link).
What Keywords to Research
Difficulty of keyword depends on how many websites are optimizing for that keyword. Keywords like “landscapers” will be more difficult because of its simplicity as well as its general nature. The more specific that you can get with a keyword, the less difficult it will be to rank for. This generally means choosing a keyword that is longer than just one word. This is called the long tail keyword.
Another thing that you need to know when doing keyword research as a landscaper (or any contractor for that matter) is that you want to focus on your area. You should think about what people in your area would search for when looking for your services. What would you search for if you were looking for a contractor for yourself?
It would likely be “type of contractor in city“. An example of this would be, “landscaper in Toronto“. This is a good starting point, let’s analyze what Keysearch provides us with when we search for this term.
You will see that Keysearch provides a score of 30. It is a little bit difficult to understand at first what this number means, but generally you are looking for a score below 20 if you have a brand new website with a low (below 20) Domain Authority (find your Domain Authority by searching your website here). If the difficulty of the keyword is between 20-30, then it will be a little bit more difficult to rank for this keyword but still possible if you make quality content around that keyword. It definitely does not hurt to create a page around these more difficult keyword phrases so that in the future your page will rank well for them.
On the right side of the page are other terms that are similar to the term that you searched for.
You can use the Filter function to type in your city / area to find the keywords that are suggested specifically for the area you want to target with your services. By clicking the Check button for each of the keywords that you want to research, you will discover each of the difficulty scores for these and you can sort them appropriately.
With these results sorted, you can see the difficulty of some of these keywords are really low making them low hanging fruit to rank on the top of search results. You now need to choose which keywords are the ones you want to target in a page on your website. Note that this step is usually done first before clicking the Check button because you only get so many per day on your Keysearch plan.
Let’s take a look at our results in depth here. The top result was “commercial landscaping toronto” that has a monthly search volume of 40 and a difficulty score of 8. The other two columns show the Cost Per Click and Pay Per Click results that people are paying to be placed at the top in the search engine ads.
Now, if your business offers commercial landscaping in Toronto, this is the perfect keyword for you to target on a page. A monthly search volume of 40 is not too high, but it is still something. What you can do is search for similar keywords to “commercial landscaping toronto” that you can also target on the same page. Using a combination of those words or adding some words to it will help you create a list of keywords that you can incorporate into the same page and the monthly search volume of each keyword you target will start to grow.
You can also continue down the list and find more lucrative keywords like these:
Their difficulty scores are still fairly low and their monthly search results are much higher than the previous keyword phrase we featured. These would be perfect IF you offer this service in Toronto.
For each of these keywords that you research, you will want to click on them and look at the left side of the window to analyze these keywords further.
As you can see, you are presented with the a list of websites. These are the top 10 results on search engines for that specific keyword phrase. This is where you need to decide if the keyword is too difficult to rank for or if it is possible for you to rank for that keyword phrase.
What we focus on when looking at this table are four columns: Domain Authority (DA), Auth (Authority), Title, and URL.
- Domain Authority
was discussed earlier in this post as a number between 1-100 rating the authority of that website. The higher the number, the higher the domain authority of that specific website and the higher that search engines are going to list it in their results.
refers specifically to the amount of inbound links that this page has. The more links that this page has coming into it, the more that search engines see it as an authority and thus ranking it higher in search results. This could show as NA for no links or a specific number for how many websites are linking to that specific page.
refers to the keyword being in the title for that page or not. This could either show as a Yes or a No.
refers to the keyword being in the URL for that page or not. This could also either show as a Yes or No.
When I am looking for keywords to target in a page, I look for at least 3-5 websites that I know that I can knock of this list in replacement of my website. I look at these four categories and see if I can best at least 3 of them. If I do not have the DA, but know I can build more Authority and insert the keyword phrase in the URL and Title, then I believe I can create a good page to knock that website off the top 10. I need at least 3-5 of these wins on this list in order to continue with this keyword phrase.
As you can see, the more difficult of a score that you find, the higher the Domain Authority of the websites in the top 10 results will be. Regardless of this, you can also see that the Authority column for each of these websites is either NA or very low and the Title and URL is “No” meaning that the keyword phrase is not in the title or URL. Even though this is a difficult keyword to rank for, it is not unheard of for a website with a low DA to target a keyword phrase like this with it in the title and URL while also building links to the page to make it into the top 10. A little bit more difficult, but still possible nonetheless.
If half of these pages had the keyword phrase in the title and / or URL and they had higher Authority links, then I would stay away from this keyword phrase or I would just incorporate it into a page anyways. We will talk about where to incorporate more difficult keyword phrases into a page in the next portion of this post in order to rank for both difficult and less difficult keywords.
Complete these steps for every single service that you offer, finding keywords that are similar and using your creativity to find similar keyword phrases that you can target on the same page. You can find more keyword suggestions at the bottom of the page of Keysearch or even in the suggested keyword phrases at the bottom of a Google search page after typing in a keyword like “landscapers in toronto”.
Now that you have created a list of keywords that you want to optimize your website for, it is time to create pages around those keywords. This is where you will combine your writing with photos and videos on your website to create unique and quality content in order to stand out from the rest.
What we do, is we create a list of keywords that we found that have a varying degree of difficulty that we can create one page for. For example, if we offer lawn maintenance in Toronto, we would find all of the keywords for that specific phrase that could be targeted in a single page. We found “lawn maintenance toronto”, “lawn care toronto”, “lawn care companies toronto”, and many more that we can target all on one page. We can also find more keyword phrases based around lawn care and Toronto that we can target.
With this list of keywords that I know that I can rank for, I find the most difficult of the bunch that also has a good portion of the traffic. I would not choose a keyword with a difficulty in the 30s that has less than 100 when there is another keyword in the 20s that has more than 100. I would find a balance between difficulty and the keyword having a good portion of traffic compared to the other keywords on the same list. I would also make sure that this keyword would make a good title for my service that the page will be about, for example Lawn Maintenance Company in Toronto, because this will be my primary target keyword.
I would then find other keywords that have a similar difficulty-to-traffic ratio. The higher difficulty keywords that yield high traffic results. These keywords will not be specifically similar to the title keyword that we found above, but could be “lawn care in toronto”. These keywords will be my secondary target keywords that will serve as headings in my page. I would find 2-5 of these keywords.
The remaining keywords will act as low difficulty keywords that can be worked into the page that should be easy to rank for. Our primary and secondary targeted keywords should be our focus because they have a high yield of visitors per month.
You will then repeat these steps for each of your company’s services that it offers on different pages of the website. You can also repeat this for specific areas of larger cities or different cities that you service. For example, if I have a business that services three cities in a surrounding area I would repeat the same research for each of these cities. If I have a business that serves a major city and that city is split up into different areas or regions, you can do the same.
How to Incorporate Keywords Into a Page
Now we need to put these keywords into our website. As search engines continuously improve their algorithms to show their users the best results, practices for SEO have changed. It began in the early years as keyword stuffing which involved finding a keyword that you wanted to rank for and writing it into an article as many times as possible. Nowadays, it is about placing keywords in an article where it is best suited and not necessarily placing it in as many times as possible.
The most weighted place to put a keyword is in the title and URL. This is where your primary keyword is going to be placed. The title can have added words, but the keyword should be intact in your title. In our example, our title would be Lawn Maintenance Company in Toronto based on our keyword research and our URL would be www(dot)yoursite(dot)com/lawn-maintenance-company-in-toronto/.
Creating headings in WordPress is easy and this is where you will place your secondary keyword phrases. Much like the title, you can add words to the headings as long as your keyword phrase remains intact. Your other keywords will be placed throughout the article as part of the body of the content making sure that they remain intact as well.
Each of your lists of services should have its own page on your website, as well as the cities that you service in order to rank well on search engines.
Guidelines for Content
Your content should be of high quality and offer information that your visitor is looking for when they type in your keyword phrase into search engines. Your page should be a minimum of 1,000 words, but this largely depends on how long other pages are that are on the top page of search engines for that specific keyword. You can find this by clicking on the top ranking pages on Keysearch when you were doing your keyword research. You can then copy and paste that page’s text into a document and find the word count. Generally you should at least double that amount if you hope to be competitive.
How you do that is by creating a page that offers what you serve your customers in great detail. We start our pages with an introduction of the services and then create headings regarding what steps we take in great detail when completing work for our clients. Depending on the service, it is easy to write 1,000+ words on each of the services that we offer.
Things you can talk about are the detailed steps you complete, the products that you use and why you use them, and why the person searching for your business should use your business’ services. You should never copy and paste from other content online or even from your own website. Search engines will see this as duplicate content and downgrade your website from their results.
Adding photos is important to provide a visual element to your pages and if you can add videos that are relevant to your business then it is even better for search engines in terms of quality.
Getting Links and Building a Presence
Getting links and building an online presence is extremely important to getting high in search engine rankings. However, this is the number one step that can destroy a website. If you pay somebody to build links to your website, you should be extremely careful. The wrong links and a large amount of links from less than reputable websites will destroy the possibility of your website ranking for many years to come.
There are many businesses and other freelancers that offer these link building services, but you should be wary and inquire exactly where these links will come from. Link building is the most difficult step in the process of SEO.
There are various ways in which you can build some links and grow your online presence. Most of these include registering for online directories and other contractor referral websites that allow you to create a profile for your business and include a link in your profile to your website. Social media platforms also play a role in this. Make sure that you take the time with each of these websites and platforms to complete a well-polished profile as these will show up in search results for your business as well and it is important that your business is well-represented wherever it can be found online.
Here are a few places that you can register your business:
- Google Business
- Social Media
- Business Directories
This is the first place that you should register your business. It will take some time as they will send you an activation link to your business address, so you will want to do this sooner rather than later. It will also include you in Google Maps and Google search results when people are searching for a business in your area that offer your services.
It is also important to earn Google reviews for your business to help show Google that you are a reputable business. There are various incentives or giveaways that you can create to encourage your customers to leave a rating on Google for your business, but it is always best to just ask your customer to do so.
Facebook is a must for business and it is also the perfect platform to pay for targeted ads, so it makes sense that you create a strong business page for your business. In addition to this, Instagram is also the perfect social media platform for contractors as it is a visual platform and your work is a visual product. Instagram is also owned by Facebook and the ads that are created on Facebook can be run on Instagram as well. With both of these platforms, you can include links back to your website.
These websites allow you to create a profile for your business. There are numerous amounts of these websites available and it is important that you spend your time creating your profile on each of these websites to help your website stand out if a customer stumbles across this page while searching for your business online. They also allow you to provide a link to your website.
Some of these websites include:
Taking all of this information into consideration is important when optimizing your site for search engines. It can be a daunting task, but the investment is 100% worth it. Whether you are going to take the time to do this for yourself or you think you will be hiring somebody for the job, this information is extremely valuable.
There is a lot to digest in this post. Make sure that you take your time with this information and apply it as is to see the best results. If you have any questions or need help, feel free to reach out to us or leave a comment below.
We will also be releasing an online course for those that want more information and an approach that can be guided to get your website on the first page of search results. If you are interested in that course, be sure to register for our newsletter below so that you can get access to it as soon as it becomes available.