It may seem contradictory to consider the future of search engine optimisation (SEO) for plumbing businesses… especially when it has a long history of shifting goal-posts and major algorithm updates. But here’s a truth most SEO agencies won’t share with you.
Don't feel like reading a long article? See a live example of an excellent SEO implementation on this Melbourne-based plumbing business.
Here’s the truth that only the best SEO agencies will share with you.
It may seem contradictory to consider the future of search engine optimisation (SEO) for plumbing businesses… especially when it has a long history of shifting goal-posts and major algorithm updates.
The core elements of effective SEO have not changed in over 25 years. That’s right. Since Google was created, heck, before it was even called Google, its number one priority has been to improve online search experiences for its users. That’s it.
If you (or your SEO guy) haven’t considered user experience as a critical part of SEO, then you’re likely using outdated techniques that have an expiry date. And that’s just one example of where the future of SEO is heading and how most will be left in the dust.
To stay ahead of your competition in 2024 and beyond, here are our top no-bs insights on the future of plumbing SEO that will actually help you move the needle.
- Give people what they want, as fast as possible
It has recently come to light, due to documents released as part of Google’s anti-trust battles, that user experience is a far more important SEO ranking factor than what many people have previously realised.
These insights prove that popular advice for SEO is dead wrong in most cases.
If this is not your first SEO rodeo, you’ve probably heard that SEO comes down to keywords, content, links, and some technical stuff.
And yes, these elements are all important. But they aren’t the most important. Not by a long shot.
How users interact with your brand is a critical pillar for rankings according to Google, yet non-existent in most SEO guides out there. At EngineRoom, we’ve long held the belief that user experience matters which is why our design and SEO teams collaborate closely on all projects we run for clients.
As a plumber, we recommend that you start by considering the user’s journey when looking for your services:
- How many people are in a panic due to leaks or pipe damage?
- How many emergency service calls do you get?
- How likely is it that someone will search for a nearby plumber on their phone vs their laptop or computer?
Your customers’ experiences shape how they will make decisions on who to call and do business with. Someone in a panicked state will likely choose the first plumber who answers and can come to their property as soon as possible.
So coming back to SEO, here’s what Google sees…
Your potential customer picks up their phone, frantically searching for “plumber near me”. They are presented with nearby businesses that they can call directly from Google.
Let’s say the first business doesn’t answer.
The prospective client calls the next one who answers on the first ring. They have a chat and the plumber is booked for an emergency call out.
If this pattern continues, who do you think Google will recommend to its users? The plumber who doesn’t answer or the one who picks up immediately?
And if you’re wondering how Google will even know… if you’ve clicked on one result and a few moments later you click on another, it’s clear you didn’t get what you needed from the first result.
Multiply this across 8.5 billion searches per day and Google collects some powerful insights from user’s actions to influence which brands to push up the rankings and which to demote.
So here are some things you can do today to future-proof your SEO efforts for your plumbing business.
- Consider the user journey from the moment they search until they pick up the phone to call
- Compare your website and brand to others and see how you can provide a better experience
- Make it a habit to answer calls straight away or call back in under 5 minutes
- If your website looks a little dated, consider giving it a facelift to improve conversions
- Don’t be a spammer (and definitely don’t hire one)
Here’s a dose of brutal honesty you probably didn’t expect from a marketing firm: there are no “weird tricks” or “technical hacks” that can help skyrocket your website to position one overnight.
“Weird tricks” and “hacks” = spam or something shady going on in the background. Guaranteed.
The biggest issue we see with plumbing SEO is the poor standard of SEO and marketing techniques used. And boy have we heard some horror stories of the things some plumbing SEO providers offer under the guise of legitimate services.
If you’re doing your own SEO, do some due diligence on the techniques you’re implementing. If you’re hiring someone to do SEO for you, stay away from bottom-of-the-barrel services that sound too good to be true. You really do get what you pay for when it comes to SEO.
SEO has a murky history. It went through a “Wild West” era where spammy techniques worked exceptionally well. And it took a long time for Google to catch up.
These days, Google is more active in its fight against web spam. It finds over 40 billion spammy pages online per day which is why it typically releases a couple of spam updates each year. It also has classifiers and AI systems that detect web spam and remove such pages from search results automatically.
So as a baseline, here’s what you should avoid so Google doesn’t see your website as being potentially spammy (and so your SEO efforts still deliver results well into the future).
Plumbing SEO action items
- Make sure every page on your website is genuinely helpful to users
- Don’t create a page for every suburb with copied content and just the location swapped out
- Don’t pay for cheap backlinks
- Don’t rely exclusively on AI to spin up some content
- Stay away from anything that looks, sounds, or smells like a “hack” to cheat Google’s algorithm
Knowing SEO’s history and the things to avoid is a critical step to future-proofing your online visibility in search engines.
- Focus on building trust
So you’re probably picking up on a pattern that the future of SEO is cleaner and more legitimate than its shady history. And you’re right, but there’s more to the picture.
Let’s consider that giving people what they want, and avoiding the pitfalls of spammy tactics are the foundation for your SEO efforts. These alone aren’t enough to secure someone’s trust online.
If you’ve been researching SEO for a little while, you may have come across the acronym “EEAT”. It stands for:
Back in the day, a website was little more than an online business card. Today, an effective website should resonate with your target audience in a way that makes them implicitly trust the quality of your brand and service.
Communicating trustworthiness online is challenging but well worth it. It’s one of the biggest improvements we make on our client’s websites so we can better help them articulate their awesomeness authentically.
As a plumber, here are some tips to get you started with improving the EEAT signals of your brand.
- Take authentic photos of your branded vans, headquarters, team, and anything else you think proves your business is legitimate.
- Make it a habit to ask for an online review after every job.
- Showcase reviews and testimonials on your website.
- Take before and after photos of as many jobs as possible to show your experience (and post them on your social profiles and website).
- Create team profile pages showcasing each member’s expertise.
- If you’ve worked with big clients, ask their permission to feature their logos on your website.
- Make it easy for people to contact you and to see your business is legitimate.
If you’d like to see a live example of these points in action, check out Inner City Plumbing. In a city like Melbourne SEO is a competitive marketing tactic for this plumbing business. Focusing on building trust has improved the user experience and SEO performance alike in a relatively short time span.
- Double down on an authentic location strategy
Location strategies have a mixed success rate for plumbing SEO as they have historically been one of the easiest things for spammers to exploit.
However, as a local business owner, the locations you service are an integral part of your business and can also drive online success.
Since about 46% of Google searches have location intent, creating a location-based strategy is a viable strategy to consider for the future of SEO for plumbing. The key is to do it authentically, in a way that delivers value to users instead of seeming like spam.
In any case, there will be two things to consider here:
- A Google Business Profile (GBP): this is the business listing that will show in Google Maps and also how people can call you directly from search results.
- Localised content on your website.
Pro tip: We’ve found great success with embedding a Google Map of your location or service area within each location page. It’s just one small way to show, rather than tell, your proximity to different areas.
For a single-area plumbing business → we suggest setting up one GBP and optimising all your service pages for the main location you service. Creating multiple location pages can be overkill, especially if you do not have a physical address in each.
For a multi-city plumbing business → It is likely you will need at least one GBP for each city and at least one location page for each as well.
For national plumbing franchises → you will likely have multiple GBP listings per state and your website will need to feature a location hub strategy so each franchise is able to appear appropriately.
- Set up a Google Business Profile for each relevant location your business services.
- Create dedicated location landing pages providing valuable information to your local clients.
- Embed a Google Map showcasing your service area within a location.
- Link to your Google Business Profile on each relevant location page.
- Showcase your community involvement in each area (if applicable).
- Include team profiles for the specific people working in each location (if possible).
Key takeaways about the future of plumbing SEO
Any SEO strategy that centres on providing a great user experience and positions your brand as trustworthy has legs. Such an approach to SEO not only aligns with Google’s core mission, but it also compounds over time so you keep reaping rewards from today’s SEO efforts for many years to come!
Of course, it’s also important to implement SEO best practices for technical, links, and content elements. But as a business owner, it can be hard to know what the best direction may be or where to get started.
If that’s the case for you, feel free to book a free strategy consultation with one of our Senior Digital Advisors to help you figure out the next step towards future-proofing your marketing efforts.