What is SEO for Home Inspectors? Does it Matter?
We have all had that phone call (or multiple phone calls) from someone from another country saying (people in your area are searching for home inspectors – we can give you great SEO and make you rich”. Or my personal favorite “Hi, this is so-and-so from Google and your business listing is not verified and you need SEO”. While it may sound nice at the moment, but what in the world are they talking about? One of the most common questions we get here at Full View is “What is SEO?” and another is “Does it really matter if I get SEO”
You might be aware that SEO stands for “Search Engine Optimization”, but that doesn’t really paint a full picture of what SEO is and why it is so important for you as a business owner.
Put extremely simply, SEO for home inspectors is a method for making your website and online profiles more “findable” online. Eventually, you want your website and profiles to pop up first when someone does a search for the term “<insert your locality here> home inspections”. For this to be successful, the major search engines (Google, Bing, etc. ) need to decide that the best answer to that request by a person doing the search is going to be found on your page. Google represents over 92% of all searches online – so when we talk about SEO, we really mean optimizing for Google for the most part. Optimizing for other search engines – well, the juice just isn’t worth the squeeze.
So let’s talk about the basics of SEO and start with the first point – user expectation.
What Would You Want When Doing a Search?
Think about what you expect when you do a search in your browser. If you make a search for “restaurants near me” you want to see results of restaurants that you can get to quickly as well as their rating and other relevant information. Google (as well as other search engines) will try to get you the information you want in the format that is most useful to you. If you are searching for instructions on how to do something, that might be in the form of a video but if you are looking for a store, you would want a location on a map. You might not be aware of all these things going on in the background, but when the search engine gives you the results you want, you will keep using that engine.
So use this to your advantage as a home inspector and give people what they want. When people find your website and Google My Business listing (i.e. your maps listing) and they start clicking on things, Google assumes that people found what they want, and in the format they want, so it will show you higher next time. So it comes down to not just having “SEO”, but creating an environment. How do you do this?
1) Make sure your Google My Business listing is created, verified, and has everything filled out.
2) Get lots of reviews – reviews make people feel good (or bad) about a service. Having no reviews is not good for converting people to clients.
3) Have online scheduling on your website. If people don’t have an endpoint to convert them, you lose a LOT of SEO value. You will also lose a lot of clients – but never know it. About 30% or more of the clients for the home inspection companies we own come from online scheduling – so well worth it. Try a free online scheduler to start with like Inspector Toolbelt.
4) Build lots of quality online profiles. These are called “citations”. These do a lot for your business: 1) it legitimizes you and your company to Google, 2) makes it possible to find you online, and 3) improves your Local SEO by improving your NAP.
There is a lot more to this, but these are the basics. The point is that you can’t just say “I want SEO” and just get people to your website – you need to create an environment for the consumer.
Your Website Matters
So here is where it comes down to you and your website. You want people to find it, but since there are 6-7 new websites being created every second, how are you going to stand out? This is where SEO comes into play. Search engines are constantly scouring the web for data, and your website needs to present that data in a way that will help google to understand what you offer, who would be most likely to benefit from what you offer, and who you really are.
The structure of your website needs to be both appealing to a person visiting it as well as to the search engines. So in other words, you need to make your website look pretty for the user (people like things that look good, and a good-looking website will keep people on it longer) but you also need to make what you do and where you do it very clear to Google. For example, is it clear that you are a home inspector who serves people with residential homes living near South Bend, Arkansas? It is great that you have a picture of where you serve – but Google can’t tell that from a picture. Can your phone number and website be verified from other trusted sources on the internet (i.e. from the citations that we mentioned in the last section)? If the search engine directs someone to your website, are they likely to be satisfied with that result? Google measures this by clicks from the user, time on the site, etc. This is another reason to have online scheduling. How long has your site been around, and is it actively being updated with new material? This is an important question. The longer a website has been around, the more Google trusts it. Have you ever searched your competitors (c’mon, we know you have) and wonder why the guy with the terrible website ranks over everyone else? Simple – domain reputation. In other words, Google knows him better because he has been around longer and so Google trusts him more. It takes years to build that up. It’s kinda like a girl dating a funny-looking guy who is kinda weird but she has known him since they were kids and she trusts him – compared to the good-looking new guy who seems nice but she knows nothing about him. Adding new content to your website through a blog (content that is NOT copied but freshly written) can help this process go faster.
If your site is scoring well in all these categories, it will also end up higher up on a SERP (Search Engine Result Page), and most of us will probably just click on one of the top results if it looks like it gives us the information that we want.
Speed – Mobile Devices – & Users
Another factor that comes into play is the speed and mobile-friendliness of your website. Over half of all web browsing is done on a mobile device, so if your website isn’t made for a good experience on a mobile device, it will automatically irritate half of the visitors to your website and make them grumpy, and if you have ever had to deal with a website that loads slowly, you probably realize how quickly that experience will discourage a visitor. In fact, over half of your mobile visitors will leave your site if it takes more than 3 seconds to load. While that might speak volumes about how impatient people are today, it isn’t just scaring away visitors. Search engines will actually give you a lower ranking when your site load times are high.
On the point of speed – speed is not everything. in fact, the highest-ranking and most successful e-commerce website in the world (Amazon) barely gets a passing grade at 60/100 on Google’s Speed Test Tool. in fact, it gets an “F” for quite a few things. The difference is that when people go there, they find what they want in the format they want.
So consider speed, make things mobile optimized, but most of all – be sure people get to your site, find what they want, and can do what they want.
A Long, Slow Journey
A client of mine sent me an email asking why his website wasn’t on page 1 and why he couldn’t be easily found. So I showed him why:
1) His website was only launched about a week before he sent the message to me – Google hadn’t even seen his website yet (i.e. what we call indexing). Google does this the first time as an introduction, and it hadn’t even happened yet, as it usually takes a few weeks.
2) When a website is new, Google won’t trust it for some time. This is what we call “the Google Sandbox”. In other words, for the first 4-8 months Google doesn’t usually trust your website enough to put you on page one (or almost anywhere yet).
3) This is the most important one. He happened to be in Wilmington IL, so I typed in “Wilmington IL Home Inspections” and came up with about 7 million results… That means to be on page 1, we need to beat out about 7 million other pages. That really put it in perspective for him. Try doing that in your area. Type in your primary area’s name plus “home inspections” and see how many results you come up with.
Of course, this is a simplification of everything that is taken into account, but it also helps explain why SEO for home inspectors is a long-term endeavor. We will never promise to be able to get you boosted up to the first spot overnight because that is impossible. The amount of time your website has been offering the information plays a large part in the result you get, and there might be others that are competing for the exact same audience you are. Fortunately, you can have a good influence on this as well. If you do a good job on your inspections, that will translate into more traffic to your website, which will also boost your SEO score. It will get you more 5-star reviews – which will also boost your SEO. And so on.
Everything on your website comes into play when it comes to convincing search engines that you provide the best answer to what a person is looking for. Having accurate and up-to-date information about your business and your employees can help, and so can reviews and back-links from other websites.
Remember too that SEO comes in many levels. For instance, you can get 4 different levels of SEO in our plans. Be sure the plan you choose has the level of SEO that you are looking for. The bigger the plan, the more SEO you get.
Of course, SEO is not the only thing that is important for you as a home inspector to have a successful website, which is why we have a multi-channel approach to ensure that your business has an online presence that is meaningful and beneficial. The world of digital marketing is full of pitfalls, and there are many who are purposely misleading entrepreneurs with inflated promises of what they can achieve for next to nothing, but it is important for you to understand that having a long-term view of the process and partnering up with an experienced company for your SEO will bring the results you are looking for.
If you are ready to try out our services, head on over to pick your plan and start the process toward SEO success. If you would like to learn more about how to market your home inspection company on other platforms like Facebook (which is also important for SEO), then you can read this blog post.