Get stuck in traffic

Improve your online communications with marketing methods to boost website traffic

Don't be shy. In the business world, those who speak up and take initiative are the ones your customers hear. If you sit back with minimal effort, the world will pass you by.

This most certainly applies to the Internet, where anything and everything always is accessible. But availability of information does not equate to immediate attention. Businesses especially need to work toward communicating online with their customer base while creating interest and perhaps intrigue in what they offer.

As a roofing professional, you rely heavily on others to trust your skills and industry competency. Therefore, the least you can do for clients—and your reputation—is to truly put an effort into expanding your touch points with the public and use the many opportunities online for sharing your skills.

A business website creates a designated space for you to tout the positive attributes of your services. It is a platform to express your unique selling points with target audiences while also providing an information resource that always is available. To maximize awareness, communication and outreach, online marketing initiatives become important steps for business growth. Opportunities with search engines such as Google,™ online listings in virtual directories, social media and even analytical data about website activity all can extend business outreach.

Before the birth of digital media, prime marketing techniques included public displays, sponsorships and advertisements in print publications. Now, marketing efforts include online banners, AdWords (Google's advertising platform) and search engine marketing techniques.

The number of online advertising opportunities in general has increased dramatically thanks to a rising emphasis on communicating trust and relevance instead of merely shouting the loudest amongst competitors.

Getting started

If you are unsure about how to get started with online marketing, it may be beneficial to start small. For roofing professionals, clients most likely are located in surrounding communities, so focusing on outreach to local residents and businesses is ideal.

As a first step, market your business through online directory listings on local search engines. Placements in these resources help boost visibility when a potential customer searches online for a roofing professional. Directory placements display your business's contact and website details for immediate accessibility. Checking with your current Web host provider for tools that help push your business content out to several directories, such as Google Maps, Yahoo!®Local, Bing,™™ and Yellow Pages, also is a good idea. Submitting information once, rather than individually, can save time.

Facebook,© Twitter© and YouTube are likely familiar to you. Great for making personal connections, these platforms have been transformed into popular marketing tools for managing customer relations. Social media now is an avenue the public expects businesses to use for communication, particularly those services that directly affect day-to-day lives. You can build a community of clients on Facebook, for example, and use YouTube to offer a collection of videos showcasing different projects or share customer success stories. This all combines into a testament of what you can offer, your skills and knowledge, and, most important, your efforts to make customers comfortable with your work.

Taking the next steps

A website is great but not nearly as effective as it could be if it's not used through other online channels. Many opportunities on the Internet keep a website at the heart of its strategy to increase online presence. Search engine optimization (SEO) is one of them. SEO's primary benefit is the careful look it forces you to take at your website. Is your site's content enhanced with keywords and features that push the site to a prominent position in online search results? In other words, if someone were to search for a roofing professional in your area, will search engines consider your website relevant enough to be placed high in the list of search results?

SEO is a free method businesses can implement by doing the following:

  • Strategically place keywords and industry vocabulary in site content
  • Update website material on a regular basis
  • Offer credible third-party links that expand information about the topic to visitors
  • Write captions to photos, including "buzz words," to all images
There are no foolproof methods that guarantee a top placement in results. However, SEO can significantly improve visibility and reputability on the Internet.

Just as SEO can be extremely effective, search engine marketing (SEM) has become a valuable strategy for business owners who have a budget available for additional marketing. Unlike SEO where website content is key, SEM is a tactic using online ads to place information on search result pages. This includes banners or graphics around the border of a search result's page and sponsored links that often connect directly to the sponsor's website. In practice, this heightens brand awareness and recognition with consumers while giving you as a business owner more control over targeted marketing initiatives. Again, your Web host can be a valuable source of information so inquire about this with its customer support team.

The science behind successful SEM and SEO strategies is yet to be perfected by marketing experts, but to help you get a basic understanding of them, following are some of the most frequently asked questions business owners have about SEM and SEO.

How is SEM affected by my website?

Ensure your website's homepage is coordinated with the keywords used in your advertisement. If Google cannot make the connection between the ad and your website's homepage, the relevance will be missed and your Google Quality Score will be lowered. A Google Quality Score is a system Google uses to measure the relevance of keywords, ads and your landing page within your search engine advertisement and your website. Additionally, ensure your website loads properly and all Web pages are fully functional.

What comprises a Google Ad?

Advertisements consist of three parts—a title linking to the website, up to two lines for a description, and the business's URL (website address) or website page to direct visitors. The advertisement topic can be anything relevant to your organization, from an overview of your business to a specific service or promotion you currently offer.

How long does it take for SEO to affect my listing in search results?

This is difficult to say. SEO is not an overnight fix and takes many things into account. It can take up to two months after any changes are made for search engines to recognize the new optimized content. Also, rankings are affected by elements such as the number of visits to your homepage and links to your website in other online content.

What is an ideal number of keywords to include in website content?

The most important thing is not necessarily how many different words you use, but how often you use them. Forcing use of this vocabulary in places where it does not make sense will hurt your reputation as a knowledgeable source and potentially damage how search engines analyze your website.

Is there a special process that a search engine such as Google will use to find my website?

There is but only to a degree. Search engines send out "crawlers" around the Web each time someone performs a search online. Depending on the specific search terms, these crawlers will focus on reading and analyzing websites that include these exact words or similar phrases. An extensive algorithm is performed on the backend, and the resulting analysis of sites' content produces a list of links from most relevant to least relevant.

Analyzing your efforts

Your website exists for people to visit. You have optimized content to pull traffic from search engine results and use a Facebook profile as a key source for client feedback. With a website at the heart of your online endeavors, realizing the effect your site is having on customers is vital to tuning into your target demographic.

Website data, or site analytics, is an efficient method to measure a site's success with the intended audience. This batch of statistics measures important details that can help you learn how to improve your business presence, revealing details such as levels of traffic to site pages, visitors' geographic locations, time spent on the site and keywords used in search engine requests. You also can ask visitors questions directly through surveys and polls posted on the site. By offering two-way communication between you and consumers, surveys allow you to acquire specific information about what customers are interested in regarding your website and your services.

As you leverage your website to communicate your services, you are raising awareness with those whom matter most for your growth and success. Accessibility to your business increases, and clients have a resource to share with others.

Kelly Meeneghan is the spokesperson for 1&1 Internet Inc., Chesterbrook, Pa.

Did you know?

NRCA is on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube and offers the following:

  • Exclusive promotions
  • The latest industry news
  • Information about the newest programs and publications
  • Notices about upcoming roofing industry events and NRCA educational offerings
  • Exclusive live updates and photos from industry meetings and events

Key Terms to Know:

Google Quality Score: A system Google uses to measure the relevance of keywords, your ads and your landing page within your search engine advertisement and your website. Higher quality scores can lower cost per click and better position the ads.

Keywords: Words strategically used either within the website to improve a website's ranking in search engine results or for developing advertisements within search engines. Keywords should be relevant to the website and your business.

Pay Per Click (PPC): The amount paid by advertisers each time a user clicks on their advertisements.

Search engine marketing (SEM): A form of paid marketing that places business advertisements on search engine results pages.

Search engine optimization (SEO): The method of organically improving the visibility of a website in search engine results. This task can be done for free by the website owner.


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