Home Builders SEO and Digital Marketing Plan
This is going to be THE most complete digital marketing guide for home builders you’ve ever read.
But before I tell you exactly how you can grow your business and get more construction jobs every month, let be very honest with you… I want your business, I want you as my client.
So… Although I’m giving away for free the exact steps that you can take to get more exposure, traffic, leads and sales online, this is essentially my sales pitch to you.
You can either have your web team develop a marketing strategy based on this information, or you can hire me to do it for you. At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter. I mean it does, and it doesn’t. I don’t expect you to pay me because of all of the value that I’m giving away for free, but I would really like it if you did.
Anyway, let’s get into it…
Step 1 – Calculating the Campaign’s ROI
A lot of people look at Marketing and Advertising as a cost… I like to look at it as an investment.
Yes, it’s a business expense, you’re going to have to pay for it, and it’s essentially a cost. But you should really be tracking how much you’re spending to acquire a customer and how much revenue that customer brings into your business.
So how do you calculate the return on your investment?
Let’s assume that on the low-end you’re going to make $250,000 in revenue per new home built. At a profit margin of 20%, you’re gross income/profit on that job is $50,000. This will then go towards your operating expenses including Marketing and Advertising.
The question now is… How much would you be willing to pay to acquire a $250,000 client? Is it $1,000? $2,000? $5,000? That’s going to depend on a lot of factor and how you operate your business…
So let’s assume that following monthly numbers are true:
- Monthly spending on SEO and digital marketing services: $5,000
- Number of organic visitors from Google per month: 400
- Lead Conversion Rate (Percentage of website visitors that contact your business): 5%
- Number of organic leads (number of people who contacted or requested a quote): 20
- Sales conversion rate (Percentage of organic qualified leads that become customers): 10%
- Number of NEW customers per month: 2
These numbers will depend on a lot of factors, and not all business will be able to get 400 targeted visitors from the search engines, it really depends on how much traffic is out there.
I’ll explain more about this below, but devonshirecustomhomes.com (a custom home builder in Tampa, Florida) gets about 466 organic visitors according to SEMRush.
The number of qualified leads generated is going to depend on how targeted your traffic is and how well optimized your website is to convert visitors to leads. We’ll look at conversion optimization tips below.
Yes, this is a very long post, feel free to take a break whenever you need… There’s a lot of information to digest.[sociallocker id=263]
Step 2 – Targeting the Right Keywords
This is really the first step of the whole marketing plan. The reason why I included the ROI first is because I wanted to be very clear about the potential of a digital marketing and SEO campaign design to get you more business.
Choosing the right keywords is very important. If you’re a home builder in Tampa, you don’t want your website to rank for “custom home builder in Seattle”. It’s not going to do anything for you.
So what are “the right keywords” and how do you find them?
The “right keywords” are simply the phrases and terms that people are searching for to find the services that you’re offering. For companies that only operate in a specific geographical area, these keywords should include your service plus a city, county or state.
The best and most reliable tool to find these keywords is Google AdWords (Keyword Planner). Here’s how you do it (you’ll need to sign-up for a free Google AdWords account):
Come up with a list of 3-4 keywords that are related to the services that you offer so that Google can return a list of phrases that you’re potential customers are searching for. An example would be:
- Custom home builders Tampa
- Home builders Tampa
- Tampa Home Builder
Paste these keywords into Google Keyword Planner, in the very first section “Search for new keywords using a phrase, website or category” (as shown below). Select the country you’re targeting (United States in this case) and click on “Get Ideas”.
You’re going to be taken to a page that looks like this…
So make sure to go to the “Keyword ideas” tab.
Google is going to return all the keywords related to the phrases that we’ve entered previously, so now we just have to select the keywords that get some search traffic (look for the “Avg. monthly searches” number) and add them to our plan.
Keep scrolling down and add the keywords that not only have search traffic, but are also related to what you offer. In this case any term that includes home building, home builders, home construction, custom home builder, etc… plus the city of “Tampa” is a good keyword.
Now that you’ve added all the relevant keywords to your plan, you should export the list to excel. The download button should show up on the right side of your screen. Just make sure that you export the file with the right format.
Clean up your excel sheet by removing all the columns apart from the list of all the keywords and how much organic traffic they are getting. I usually order them using the filter feature to make sure that I know what the most important keywords are.
Excel lets you calculate the sum of a column. You should calculate the total organic monthly searches using that function. For this example, I got the total to be 2120.
2120 is basically the number of people that are searching for all of these keywords every single month. Just over 2000 searches for home builders in Tampa, Florida.
Now, not all of them are going to visit your site. In fact, this is how much traffic websites get based on their Google ranking (Source: Advanced Web Ranking):
The CTR or Click-Through Rate, measures the percentage of people that click on your website after searching on Google. According to Advanced Web Ranking’s study, the website ranked first on Google gets about 25% of the traffic:
2120 (total traffic) * 0.25 (1st spot CTR) = 530 (total number of monthly visitors)
What this allows us to do is get an idea of how much search traffic we can get by ranking on a specific position on Google. And then using the conversion numbers discussed above, we can have more accurate calculation of what the ROI for the Search Engine Marketing campaign will be.
Step 3 – Analyzing Your Competition
There are many tools that allow you to look at how competitive a search engine results page is. I highly recommend that you download 3 free browser plugins to look at how competitive your market is. These are:
- Moz SEO Toolbar – https://moz.com/tools/seo-toolbar
- Majestic SEO Backlink Analyzer – https://majestic.com/majestic-widgets/plugins
- SEOquake – http://www.seoquake.com/
Understanding tools and SEO metrics
A lot of people talk about PR (PageRank), DA (Domain Authority), PA (Page Authority), etc… but they never explain them properly.
Another crucial thing when evaluating competition, is that we’re never looking at only one metric or characteristic of a site. Just looking at DA or PA isn’t really going to help us. That’s why using different tools is so important.
I’m going to try not to go into too much detail about anchor text and backlink analysis, but having a basic understanding of some of the most common metrics can help us determine the competition for a specific keyword.
PR or PageRank was the only public SEO metric calculated by Google. Very authoritative websites were awarded with PR 10 and new and non-authoritative websites got a PR N/A or PR 0. Google has announced that they’re no longer updating their PageRank metric, this doesn’t mean that they don’t have an internal website score, they’re just not updating PR specifically. So looking at PR isn’t really a good indicator of competition.
Domain Authority (DA) is one of the most famous metrics in the SEO world. This was developed by Moz.com and it looks at the overall authority of a website. Moz crawls the web for external and internal links, social mentions, content, website structure, and other factors to determine the authority of a website.
Page Authority (PA) is another metric developed by Moz. PA looks at the authority of a particular page of a website, rather than taking into account the whole website.
Trust Flow (TF) and Citation Flow (CF) these are two metrics calculated by Majestic SEO. Majestic looks at the trust, relevancy, quantity and quality of the backlinks pointing to a specific site.
Usually, if your competitors have really high metrics, it will be harder to outrank them.
Majestic SEO also looks at the number of total backlinks, number of unique backlinks and the anchor text profile. These are all very important.
The free plugins that I suggested above allow you to look at all of these metrics, but there’s a lot of manual work involved.
Recently, I’ve started to use a tool called KWfinder. It’s not completely free, but it lets you do a few free searches a day…
The great thing about this tool is that it puts together a spreadsheet with a lot of the most relevant metrics, including trust and citation flow, unique links, some social signals, and it also assigns a score from 1-100 on how competitive the keyword is.
Website Optimization and User Experience
The 2 features that I like the most about SEOquake are “Density” and “Diagnosis”.
- Density allows us to look at all the words and phrases that our competitors are using. This is important because Google loves content and a lot of their algorithm updates looked at keyword density. This is basically the number of times a specific keyword shows up on your page divided by the total number of words or phrases. Many people debate about what the optimal keyword density is, but why not just look at the websites that are already ranking and replicate their success?
- Diagnosis looks at a lot of the more technical part of on-page SEO. This will evaluate the use of meta tags, geo-tags, title-tags, integration with Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools, which is very helpful because in many cases, a lot of our competitors won’t be fully optimized.
These are the basics of an effective analysis of your competition. If you’d like to get a free competition analysis from me visit this link https://costa.marketing/free-competition-analysis for more information.
Step 4 – The Perfect Website Design and Structure
The structure of your website is extremely important. Most web designers just focus on building “pretty” websites and forget that your site should not only provide a great user experience but it should also be search engine friendly.
Website Structure and Pages
There are a lot of ways that you can structure your website. Here’s one of the most common ones. It’s clean, very easy to follow (from the user standpoint) and SEO-friendly.
On your home page (and without making the user scroll down) you should be able to answer these 3 questions:
- Who are you?
- What can you do to help them?
- What should they do? (Call-to-action)
The call-to-action is very important. You should clearly state your value proposition, how you can help your potential customer, and then ask them to do something. In this case we want them to request a free quote from you. Most of the times, that’s going to be a very qualified lead.
As people scroll down on your website, they should find more information about what your company does, the processes used, some testimonials, some of your portfolio (although you can have a gallery page just for that as well), and trust symbols (like BBB accreditation or the NAHB membership).
On your footer (which should display in all of your pages), I like to include a secondary menu, for pages that you need but aren’t as important (privacy policies or terms and conditions, for example), the business working hours, your address and contact information, and your maps location. All of this data should be consistent with your verified business listing from Google My Business (more on this in just a moment).
The services page should have an outline of all the services that you offer and what regions you cover. Make sure to link to the appropriate service pages, in case you have one individual page for a specific service.
On your individual services pages (Custom homes, Home remodeling, Commercial construction) make sure to include detailed information about your processes, how long it takes, how much it costs, the more information you have about each of your services the better.
Will your customers read everything? Most definitely not… So you want to be strategic about the way you structure the content on your pages. Make sure you have rich-media content (videos and images) and that you highlight the most important information, so that they can get an idea of what you offer in 30-60 seconds.
The free quote page is very important. This is the beginning of your online sales funnel. Due to the nature of your business, you’re going to be communicating a lot with your potential customers, the initial contact may be done online, but what you really need is your phone ringing. On this page you should reinforce the benefits of working with you, and how you can help them build the house of their dreams. Include a detailed contact form with all the data that you need to give them a good estimate of what their new home will cost. This is totally up to you. Don’t worry if you need a lot of data from your potential customer. You might scare some of them away… But if they can’t share that information with you, do you think they’ll sign a contract for $500,000? Maybe not.
The about and contact pages aren’t very interesting. Just make sure that on the about page you include information about your business and the history that got you to where you are right now. The contact page should have a simple form where people can reach out to you. Not has complex as the free quote page.
Getting your business on the Map
There are 3 main places that you should get your business listed and verified:
- Google My Business – https://www.google.com/business/
- Bing Places – https://www.bingplaces.com/
- Apple Maps – https://mapsconnect.apple.com/
Creating, verifying and optimizing these listings are crucial to your business. I’ll go through the process of getting this done for Google My Business and the other ones are going to be pretty similar.
Out of the three, Google is the most important one, in terms of organic reach and traffic, it’s going to win over the other ones.
Setting up Google My Business
Why is it so important?
For most local business searches on Google, the search engines display a “pack” of businesses that are verified by them.
In many cases, this shows up even before any “normal” organic search results. So you want to make sure that your website and business are not only verified but optimized to show up on this “business pack”.
Here’s how you do it…
Step 1 – Understanding NAP
NAP stands for Name, Address, and Phone. These are the three main data points that characterize your business around the web. Every Google My Business listing is going to have the name of your business, the address where your business is registered and the phone number. It’s very important that your NAP is consistent throughout all your business listings (more on this below).
Step 2 – Creating or Claiming your Listing
Go to https://www.google.com/business/ and click “Get on Google”.
Enter the name of your business on the search bar. If Google shows your business on that list, click it and claim admin rights (you might already have them). If your business doesn’t show up you have to add it to Google.
This window should show up. Fill it out as much as possible and click “Continue”
Then add your locations and regions that you serve and ask Google to send you a verification by mail. It will probably take a couple of weeks.
Step 3 – Completing and Optimizing your Listing
You should be taken to this page. Follow Google’s instruction to complete all of your information. Add your logo and images to your page. Make sure that these are the same files as you’ve included on your site. It will help you with consistency between your website and your Google listing.
Make sure you also add a description of your company and services offered and an intro about your business.
Step 4 – Updating and Adding Content to your Page
Google+ is a social network, and links and mentions from this website are (among all other social networks) the ones responsible for the biggest jump in rankings (having jumped 14.63% according to QuickSprout’s experiment).
Don’t expect a lot of people to interact with your content, but adding a couple of posts a week helps your page remain fresh and relevant.
Step 5 – Getting Reviews
Reviews are hugely important. Over the years you’ve probably accumulated testimonials from your clients. Get in touch with them at ask them to review your business on Google. Which of these business pages would you click?
Yes, it should be pretty obvious…
Step 6 – Listing Your Business All Over the Internet
Okay, that sounds spammy, but let me explain. One of the factors for ranking on that business pack that I showed you is having business citations.
A business citation is simply a mention of your business and website on a web page. This is where you have to take NAP into consideration. You have to make sure that your NAP is consistent with the Google My Business listing for all citations.
Once your Google My Business listing is verified, what you want to do is create listings on different business directories. You don’t need 1000 citations. Build them slowly (20 or so at a time) and track how they help you rank on the Google’s 7-pack.
This is what a business citation looks like:
On-page Search Engine Optimization 101
The on-page optimization of your page is extremely important. We’ve talked a little bit about it above (the website structure helps a lot with SEO), but if you’re completely new to SEO, there are a few things that you cannot ignore.
Let’s go through some of the basics of on-page SEO…
Google loves content, so the more unique and relevant content you have the better. If you’re working on a page that you’re trying to rank, I’d recommend that you include at least 500 words of content, plus some images and videos (embedding videos from YouTube is even better).
When it comes to structuring the content, using h-tags or title-tags is particularly useful. This blog post that you’re reading is a great example. My main title (which is also the META title) is in <h1> tags and I’ve decided to structure this guide in such a way that I have h-tags all the way to <h6>. This helps Google understand what this page is about, and also makes it easy for readers to follow what you’re trying to communicate.
I also like to include a META description and 2-4 META keywords. The value of these two has been discussed over and over again, and Google has said that they no longer take them into consideration. A lot of people were abusing it and spamming META data, so Google decided to reduce their importance.
The META description is simply the description of your page that shows on the search engine results. Google shows about 140-150 characters for the META description and 70-80 for the META Title.
You want to make sure that you fit all of your information within those limits.
Make sure to add alt-tags to your images. If you’re not sure which images aren’t completely optimized use SEOquake to find which images have the alt-tag missing. It shouldn’t be a long description, simply include a related phrase that describes the image and context of that page.
If it’s an image of one of the homes that your company has built your alt-tag could be “new home in Tampa”. Don’t overthink it.
When it comes to internal linking and URL structure follow the tips that I shared above (under “Website Structure and Pages”) and you should be fine.
Step 5 – Content Marketing Loved by Search and Social
A lot of your digital marketing strategy should be based on content creation and distribution. That’s how you get people to know, trust and buy from you.
Writing and Structuring Your Blog Content
This post has now over 3500 words of content, I’m not doing because I like to write. I’m doing it because it sells. I say that I’m an expert all the time. But anyone can say that…
Not anyone takes the time to write a complete guide to getting more customers online, and give it away for free. That’s how I differentiate myself from most people.
I believe that if you’ve read everything that I’ve written until now, that you at least think that I know a thing or two about SEO and digital marketing. At least I hope so!
And, in my opinion, this is what every company and business should do. Yes, even home builders.
You do this on your company’s blog. I use WordPress for 90% of my websites, it’s very easy to use and customize, and it integrates a blog as well.
Although I highly recommend WordPress, it doesn’t really matter what you use, as long as it works for you.
So having a blog and a content marketing strategy is crucial to your business.
Now, the question is… What do you even write about?
Fortunately, the internet has been around for a while, and we can easily find out what type of content people like. I’m not saying that you should copy other people’s content, but what you can do is study what some of your competitors have written about your market and replicate the most successful posts.
Most of the successful posts are going to be information posts, how-to guides, case studies, this is what people like and engage with. This is what your blog needs.
You need to create content that gets shared and linked to. But we’ll talk more about links on the next step.
Now, let’s look at how you find the topics to blog about. We use Google! Yes, how fancy is that? Simply search for:
- Home Builder Blog
- Home Building Blog
- Home Remodeling Blog
- Home Renovations Blog
- Home Extensions Blog
- New Homes Blog
There are hundreds if not thousands of blogs that talk about your industry. Not all of them are going to be good though… Because you’re a home builder you might know which magazines, blogs and other publications your customers are reading. So start with those.
Go through the articles that these websites publish and run them through a social media counter (if you’re using SEOquake you don’t really need anything else since it shows the number of likes, shares, comments, tweets and +1s).
ShareTally is a great tool that gives more detailed numbers on social media interaction for a specific URL.
This article from FineHomeBuilding.com got 583 shares across all the different social media platforms. So it seems like people have some interest in building a firewood storage in this case.
The post isn’t even that detailed, and you as a home building specialist could easily create a much better how-to guide. The reason why most people don’t do it, is because it takes time.
Just to be clear, this is just an example, I’m not saying that you should go ahead and create an article about building a firewood storage. I just wanted to show you the process that I use to find a winning piece of content.
Distributing your content on Social Media
Now that you know how to find the best topics to write about, what do you promote your content effectively?
If people are searching for this type of content on Google (which they are for the storage idea that I shared). You should be able to get some SEO traffic if you get some good authoritative links to it (more on this in step 6).
What you can also do is promote it across your social media profiles.
Facebook is huge with over 1.2 billion users. And you should definitely have a budget for Facebook ads. You can target people that are interested in “home building”, “home remodeling”. Target people that have moved to your region of operation. The levels of targeting are insane.
YouTube can also be a great resource for you. You can use the written content and translate it to video format (You can record a video series on building a firewood storage). Being the second largest search engine, a lot of your potential customers will be searching for specific how-to videos on Google.
Pinterest users love infographics. You can get infographics for $5-$10 on fiverr.com. Send the freelancer a copy of your article and ask him or her to create an infographic with the major takeaways from that long-form piece of content. They now have promoted pins, so you should be able to create a fan base on that platform with a couple hundred dollars.
Instagram is a very interesting platform as well, especially once they open their advertising product to the market. People really pay attention to the content shared on Instagram and if this network allows you to target with Facebook data, it’s going to be huge.
There’s always Twitter… My favorite thing about it is the search function. You can easily find people that need help with a specific problem and you can jump in their conversation and answer questions. Are you going to get a $500,000 client from it? Probably not, but it’s a great way to build a brand and to really help people out.
My advice to you is, respect the different platforms and create content targeted to those platforms. I’m not saying that you can’t share a YouTube video on Pinterest. But if infographics get a lot of traction there, why not invest $10 and get people to talk about you?
Now, the ROI of social media may not be as clear as the one I described above for the SEO campaign.
However, even if you don’t think that it’s worth it to create a mini video series on YouTube, or a promoted pin on Pinterest, this is all part of the content marketing strategy. Being active on your social profiles will pay off in the long-term.
You build a brand, people know who you are, and you are seen as an authority in your market.
That will help you get ranked on Google. Is it a direct effect? No… But it will allow you to do guest posts on highly relevant website, you’ll have people wanting to link to your website and blog posts, and that drives awareness, and search engine rankings. This leads us to Step 6 – Building High Authority Links.
Step 6 – Building High Authority Links
Congratulations, you got to the last step (It doesn’t really count if you skipped all the other ones). We’re getting close to the 4700 words so I had to congratulate you.
YES! Link building isn’t that fun? Links matter they are the number one ranking factor, and it will continue to be for a long time. Google has tried to remove links from their algorithm (in a test experiment) and weren’t happy with the results.
Although, it’s pretty easy to manipulate link building with black and grey hat tactics, it’s even easier to manipulate other things like social shares or likes.
Link Building 101
Before going into more detail about getting more links to your website, let’s first define a few terms. This will be very useful if you don’t know a lot about SEO:
- Links or Backlinks: your website gets a link or backlink (same thing) every time some other page on the web links to your website. I’ve linked to tens of resources from this blog post. So those websites got a link from Costa Marketing.
- No-follow vs. do-follow: the difference between the two types of links is that no-follow shouldn’t past any ranking power where do-follow do pass ranking power. That’s it. However, no-follow are still valuable. And you’re looking for link diversity as well. Just getting the same type of links can be prejudicial to your website.
- Anchor text: is the text that links to the website. I linked to http://www.fiverr.com using “fiverr.com” as the anchor text.
How to Get Links to Your Website?
So you need links. How do you get them?
Fortunately for you, if you’ve read this far you already have some foundational links. 99% of business citations have a link to your website. That’s a good start. Moreover, having created your social profiles also gets you some links.
Now, most of these won’t get you a lot of ranking power, since most of them are no-follow.
You need powerful links that help you rank, otherwise you can’t get in front of your target customers using Google.
Because, you’ve created great content for your blog you now have content worth linking to. So you can and should do some link outreach. It’s time consuming, but that’s the best way to get free and high quality links to your site. Send them an email, call them if you have to, build a relationship with the influencers in your space, and they’ll link to your content again and again.
You can do this by networking with other bloggers (I should you above how to find influential blogs in your space) or you can also reach out to business similar to yours and ask for a link on their resources page. Here’s how you find the best ones:
Step 1 – Search on Google
Use these searches to find their pages:
- Home builder inurl:”resources”
- Home construction inurl:”resources”
- Home remodeling inurl:”resources”
Step 2 – Filter Authoritative Pages
Using the Moz SEO bar that I recommended to you, you can look for pages that have some authority (these are the pages that you want links from). Here’s an example:
This page has some Page Authority, it’s from a website with over 20,000 indexed pages on Google, and it has close to 500 links according to Moz. It’s a great place to get a link from.
Step 3 – Get in Touch with Them
Once you’ve found a website that you’d like to get a link from, get in touch with them. Show them your best content, if they like them you should be able to get a link from their page.
You can use a similar tactic to find:
- Other local businesses: network with business in your area and agree on a link exchange. You can have a page on your site about “Business Partners in Tampa” for example.
- Local News and Blogs: reach out to them as see if they offer press releases or guest posts
- Guest Posts: if you search for blogs in your market + “guest post” or “write for us” you’ll find a lot of guest posting opportunities. In some cases they’ll let you link to your website.
So THAT IS IT!
That’s my guide on how home builders can get more customers every month with a complete digital marketing strategy.
As you can see it’s extremely time consuming and requires a lot of expertise. You can absolutely do this yourself, in-house. But if you want to do it the right way, you know where to reach me at.
I hope you liked this guide and that you can implement at least some of the steps that I talked about. Let me know if you have any questions or suggestions in the comments section below. I look forward to hear from you.
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