Everybody is vying for the attention of millions online, and you simply start to fall behind if your SEO game is subpar. It’s fair to say that SEO is as much of a foundation of a successful website as a hosting company is.
Now that we’ve hopefully cemented the importance of SEO, it’s time we delve into the best strategies and content practices for service-based businesses. We’ll explain how they differ from other SEO practices and then give you some actionable advice.
How Are Service-Based Businesses Strategies Different?
Naturally, SEO is not the same for every type of website or content out there. Service-based businesses, which are the domain of this article, require a special approach and a well-developed strategy.
You’ll often see products and services lumped together as if they were the same thing. In reality, they too have some intrinsic differences that you need to pay attention to. Unlike that of blogs or sites that sell products, the measure of a service’s quality isn’t immediately obvious.
It doesn’t take long to figure out if a blog you’re reading is based on factual data or if it’s just a web of misinformation. In the case of a latter, you can just click through it and find a better, more accurate blog. There are no serious consequences to you with the exception of time wasted on reading low-quality content.
Businesses that sell products, while sharing some pain points of service-based sites, face their own challenges. They still need to find customers, and there’s no better path to new clients than SEO. But customers also know that there’s the possibility of returning a faulty product and getting their money back.
However, service-based businesses face specific challenges that require a very detailed SEO strategy to contend with. There’s no returning a faulty service as you can do with a product that doesn’t meet your expectations.
That goes for any type of service you can imagine. Whether it’s a local service such as landscaping or an online service offering to improve your webpage’s ranking, there isn’t much difference. Potential clients know they likely won’t be able to get a return on their investment if something goes awry.
On top of that, local services often include medical interventions. For example, your services might include physiotherapy or chiropractic. Your clients are literally putting their health in someone else’s hands. It’s going to take a lot of trust on their end to hire you.
Instead of sugar-coating your web pages, you need to show experience.
Service-based businesses need to do an excellent job of reassuring the visitors that they’re trustworthy. In order for them to convert, you need to reassure your clients that they will, in fact, get the service and the results they’re paying for.
Beyond that, you’ll need to drive the right kind of traffic to your website. At least that’s similar to all the other types of websites. There’s no point in being trustworthy and reliable if the services you’re offering are not what the visitor was looking for.
Now that it’s clear what the challenges of service-based businesses are, it’s time to move on to creating content and formulating SEO strategies to find efficient solutions.
We’ll start the discussion with content and then move onto quality SEO.
Best Content Practices
It’s easy to disregard the importance of content if you’re running a service-based business. That’s why we’ll give you a rundown of content practices you should always consider:
- Content strategy
- Original content
- NAP information
Let’s see start with a content strategy that even service-based businesses need.
Come up with a Content Strategy
Even though the focus of your website is advertising the service you’re providing, it’s an excellent idea to have a content strategy in place.
We often see service-based businesses foregoing content marketing because they think it doesn’t apply to them. Suffice it to say that you’re missing out on valuable traffic by not having additional content.
Services solve particular pain points for people or businesses. So why not expand your problem-solving repertoire by having a blog that explains how exactly your services help. An e-book is also a great way to expand your content strategy.
Let the content speak in favor of your services. For example, if you’re running an online tutoring service, post an article about the advantages of your teaching methods. Or show the readers how much money they’ll save using your services.
The point is, additional educational material is always a welcome sight. Not everyone who finds your service will be interested in reading that, but those who are will be thankful that you’re providing more content.
You don’t have to churn out three blog posts a week. But a content strategy that consists of a weekly (or even monthly) informative piece will do your site good.
In Regards to Content
Whether you’re writing content for the blog or the services pages, there are some rules to follow. Of course, they’re not actual rules, just best practices that years of SEO testing have revealed.
Original Content Above All
The first rule of writing any kind of content is that you shouldn’t copy other people’s work. Again, it doesn’t matter if we’re talking about blogs or services here.
While it seems obvious why you shouldn’t copycat someone else’s blog post, it’s not as immediately clear why you shouldn’t just take competitor’s service descriptions and use them yourself.
Service-based website owners don’t think that plagiarising content is an issue for them. After all, it’s a very specific service, how different can it get from what competitors are saying?
But the thing is, you shouldn’t try to be just as good as your competitors. You need to be better. Take some time to go through your competitors’ service pages and check out their work. Look for information that is missing and use it to your advantage. If you have more to offer than your competitors, you’re likely to drive more traffic and do better.
It’s possible you’ll find things that your competitors do right, and that you’d like to do yourself. Just make sure you word it your own way and present it in a way that’s characteristic of your brand. No matter what you do, don’t copy-paste.
The same goes for your own content. Don’t replicate the text from one of your pages and use it on another. It will come off as unprofessional and lazy, and your visitors should think neither of those things.
Have a NAP
Name, address, phone number. NAP. You’re in the business of providing services and you need to build trust. There’s no worse signal to your visitors than a business lacking basic information.
You can always add additional methods for potential clients to contact you. But there’s no bigger trust boost than leaving a phone number on there as well.
First of all, a lot of people still prefer to talk to service providers and get as much information as they can directly from you. It’s also your opportunity to show you professionalism and willingness to do everything to solve their problem.
Secondly, plenty of local businesses provide services that solve immediate and high-priority situations. If someone’s basement is filling with water, they won’t exactly be filling out a form on your website, trying to describe what’s going on. They’ll call you and expect you to handle the problem as fast as possible.
It’s a radical example, but you get the idea. The bottom line remains the same — leaving a phone number is a good business practice.
As we’ve pointed out several times already, one of the major issues that service-based businesses face is lack of trust. What visitors see on your website will decide whether they put their trust in you or not.
One thing that they must never see is inconsistency. That’s a sure proof way of losing potential clients.
We talked about NAP already. Let’s say you two business phone numbers that you want the clients to use to get in touch with you.
If you just leave one number in the footer, and another on, say, the homepage, you’re sending very poor signals to the customers. The same goes for any similar errors that might occur when typing the phone number on your site.
Triple check to see if all the information is correct. And you’ll also need a strategy before you go placing contact information and losing track of it. In other words, figure out what numbers you’d like to show and where before you do anything else.
On top of all that, your content should be consistent as well. Make sure that service descriptions fit what you’re doing. If you’re adding blog posts about the advantages of your services, make sure what you say there is in line with what you offer.
All of this might seem superfluous, but you wouldn’t believe how common these inconsistencies are (and how harmful).
An SEO Strategy That Works
After you apply some of those best practices on content, it’s time to elevate your SEO strategy too. We’ll discuss adding:
- Meta titles and descriptions
All of the subjects we cover here either have the goal of bringing more people to your website or converting them once they’re there.
Get Your Meta in Order
Page (meta) titles and meta descriptions are just as relevant as they used to be.
The meta title is the link you click on when Google shows you search results. The very same title also appears in the tab you just opened. It’s a crucial element that too many service-based businesses tend to ignore.
A proper page title won’t be longer than 60-70 characters, spaces included. It should outline what the focus of the page is and possibly fit your brand name as well. Google truncates longer page titles, so it’s a good idea to stay on point. You can recognize truncated titles by the ellipsis symbol (…) and should try to avoid that happening whenever you can by staying within the character limit.
As for meta descriptions, they’re often a point of debate for many SEO experts. It’s not at all unlikely to hear varying accounts of the importance of meta description. The general consensus seems to be that the short meta descriptions (up to 160 characters) will suffice. The meta description is the text you find below the clickable search results. They explain in short what the web page you’re about to visit is all about.
They’re an excellent opportunity to let visitors know what service they can get and what pain points you’ll solve for them.
Both meta titles and descriptions are the foundation of a decent SEO strategy, and as such, should not be avoided. Make sure that every page on your website has both, and your services will get more traffic, and subsequently, more clients.
A Map to Your Services
A sitemap, to be precise.
You should make it as easy as possible for Google’s crawlers to rummage through your website. Google needs to be able to discover every page on your site in order to rank it properly.
There’s a lot of talk about what websites should or shouldn’t have a sitemap. It’s often said that larger websites or those that use rich media content are the ones that need to provide a sitemap. The same goes for sites that have large archives or poor internal linking strategy.
In reality, every website can benefit from having a sitemap, no matter how big or small. Having a list of all the webpages and files on your site makes it easier for Google to index them.
Along with listing all the files, you can provide some basic information such as when the page was last updated. What info you can provide depends on the type of file. For example, images can benefit from a sitemap entry that explains the subject matter of the image as well as licensing.
It’s possible that your website already has a sitemap. If you’re unsure, look for it in yourdomain/sitemap.xml. That’s where it’s usually located. To access the XML file, you’ll need a plugin for the content management system (CMS) you’re using.
In case you didn’t build a site on a CMS, you can use websites that generate sitemaps or just make a map yourself. But remember, if you’re not using a plugin for your sitemap needs, it won’t get updated automatically. Each time you make a change to one of the pages, you’ll have to manually update the sitemap yourself.
However, as vital as a sitemap is, it’s not a guarantee that Google will crawl every page they should. Their complex algorithms can decide to skip a page with no apparent rhyme or reason. But adding a sitemap is still valuable, you can’t get penalized for doing it, so why not just have it for good measure?
Testimonials Shape Trust
For a service-based business, there’s simply no better way to gain the trust of their future customers than to show that you already earned the trust of other people before them.
Trust is the overarching issue for service-based businesses, and we can’t emphasize that enough. But once that problem is out of the way, your number of clients will grow exponentially.
Your visitors will trust someone with experience. Someone who’s put in time, effort, and helped a number of people solve similar issues. And there’s no better way to showcase your previous successes than testimonials.
Feedback from your previous clients will prove invaluable in your bid to attract new customers. They’ll look to your testimonials page for reassurance, and if they find it, they’ll be more than likely to hire your services.
It should be all too clear by now that testimonials are your key to success. When business owners realize that, some less than ethical ideas often come to mind. We have to get that out of the way first: never require your clients to leave positive reviews, or worse yet, bribe them into leaving one. An example would be offering a discount to customers who agree to leave a review.
The reasons for that are multifold. The first and the more obvious one is because you might come off as pushy and lose a paying customer. But there’s another, more important reason, that has everything to do with building trust. You want more than just positive reviews.
Truth be told, you can benefit from honest reviews, even if they’re not singing your praise. How many times have you looked at reviews of a product or a service, saw they all had five stars and thought that can’t be real? Well, it probably isn’t, and paradoxically enough, mild and even slightly negative reviews can do you good.
They show you’re a real business that caters to real people, and in the real world, no one can please everyone. We’re not saying you should botch a service just to get a poor review — we’re saying your clients’ honest feedback is very valuable.
So how do you go about getting those real testimonials? Obviously, some clients will leave them of their own accord. But how can you coax the others into leaving a review as well, without requiring them to do so?
There’s a perfect time and place for everything, and in the case of testimonials, it’s during a follow-up feedback loop. That’s when you’ll find which customers of yours are truly and outstandingly pleased with the service you provided. Those are the ones whose testimonials will be of most value to you, and those are the ones you should directly ask to leave a comment.
They’ll leave the most elaborate and detailed comments of all. This is exactly what a positive review should be: an explanation of what you achieved for your customer, how you made them feel, how exactly you solved the problem they were having, and the measurable effect you had on their business or private life.
It’s getting more and more common to show testimonials in a video format. Your website will look more modern and professional, while the content will be easier to follow.
But text-based testimonials still have their uses. They can help with the search thanks to all the key phrases and keywords that the reviewer might use.
So even if you opt for video testimonials, provide a transcript of what has been said below the video. If it’s a bit longer, just use a couple of excerpts that contain the juiciest keywords.
Calls to Action
At the end of your service page comes one of the most crucial elements of converting visitors — a call to action.
This is where we’d advise you to abandon the service-based approach. At this point, it should be pretty clear what your service is and how you provide it.
CTAs need to deliver the punchline, and in order to do so, you can’t just rehash what you’ve been saying so far.
Instead of the service-based approach, apply a solution-oriented one. Don’t just repeat what it is you offer, say how you’re going to solve a problem. And after you tell them how you’re going to fix something, give them measurable results, e.g.: “Give us a call today and find out how our service can increase your sales by 30% in a month.”
To make your entire website as easy to navigate as possible, you need to separate all the service pages.
That way, you’re providing users with a much cleaner experience and a website that’s intuitive to traverse.
Depending on the number of services you offer, separating every one of them could lead to you potentially having way too many to find. But if you do SEO for each one, using its one keywords and phrases, and other practical advice we mentioned here, your visitors will still be able to find them.
For that reason, your main navigation page doesn’t need to point to every one of those services. That goes for every highly specific service you offer. For broad services, you can still include them in the navigation menu.
Service-based businesses need to build trust more than most other types of companies out there. It’s no easy task, but you can rely on the strategies and practices we’ve laid out here to increase authority and advertise your expertise.
Like all the other SEO strategies, it requires more than a small amount of patience on your end. It will take some time to see actual results, but know that every positive change you make to your content will add up, and in time, increase your traffic and conversion rate.
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