What do people do when they need to find a local service provider?

The vast majority of people now search online to find local service providers. Some people ask a friend they trust if the situation arises, and those recommendations are very valuable.  But most people don’t poll their friends or family on all of their service providers.

And nine out of ten search engine queries happen on Google.  That market domination is how Google made $34 billion in 2020.  While places like Facebook and Instagram are great for name recognition and showing off your work, their biggest benefits are keeping you connected with people who are already following you and increasing your online presence, helping you place better on Google.

That’s why this article focuses on Google.

The Competition to Win on Search Is Strong

There are billions of searches on Google every day – and 75% of the time, the searchers never view the second page of search results. That’s why big companies spend enormous amounts of marketing dollars to earn top placement for the most common search phrases.

Fortunately, as an independent painting contractor, you don’t need to search well for those really (really) expensive phrases.  That’s because you’re only looking for customers in your area, and it’s much easier to search well when you’re only interested in people who live nearby.

But there’s still plenty of competition.  Some painters in your area have probably had active websites for years.  Websites like Porch, HomeAdvisor and Yelp are also competing for those spots, hoping to steal those potential customer clicks so they can sell them back to you as leads.

While independent painting contractors can absolutely search well and get business from Google, it’s going to take a lot more than putting up a five-page website with a phone number and a list of your services.

How Do I Search Well on Google?

Google’s search formula is one of the closest guarded secrets in the world.  But thousands of companies (including ProPainter Websites) spend their days tracking what works and what doesn’t work when it comes to getting great Google search results.  We all provide a service called Search Engine Optimization, or SEO.

Unfortunately, there are also a lot of cheats and con artists out there who claim to do SEO but do little or nothing.  One sign that a web provider can’t (or won’t) help you is that they can’t explain what they actually do.  Don’t fall for their buzzword boloney – SEO isn’t complicated, but it is hard.  Like painting, it’s a straightforward task, but it requires patience, focus, and a lot of hard work.

To search well, you have to think like Google.  Google makes money because everyone uses its search engine – and everyone uses Google because it’s extremely good at answering their questions.  When someone searches for a painting contractor near them, Google wants to provide that person with the best options first, and it also wants to avoid providing any false or outdated information.

When people search for house painters or painting contractors, Google lists contractors who serve that customer’s area – and it puts the ones it’s most confident about at the top of the list. 

When people search for specific painting services, Google prioritizes contractors that it knows provide those services.  It prioritizes contractors it knows are reliable – contractors that are still in business and still do good work.  That’s how Google keeps people coming back to their search engine, and that’s how it keeps making money.

What does that mean for you?  Let’s deconstruct what Google wants and talk about how you can provide what it wants.

1. Proving You Serve the Customer’s Area

When people look for service providers online, Google wants to show them service providers in their area.  But what is an “area”?

In most cases, “area” means city.  If you work in one of the biggest cities in the country, an area might be a neighborhood, like Queens or the Bronx.  If you work in a rural area, an area may be a county or multi-county region.

If you want to search well within an area, the absolute minimum requirement is that you list the area on your website as a place you serve.  Get specific.  It’s much better for each defined place within the area you serve – think cities, towns, villages, etc. – to have its own page within your website.  While Google knows that most painting contractors cover a wide area, they want to provide searchers with options that they know offer their services close to them.

You’ll also want to be sure that you have your service area well-defined in your Google Business Profile.  Google will use that as a key indicator of what locations you serve.

2. Proving You Provide the Right Services

People are looking for many different things when they search for painters online.  Of course, many of them want to find a house painter.  Others are looking for a cabinet refinisher, a portrait painter or an automotive or boat paint shop.  And then there’s a long list of oddball requests – art galleries, wine and design studios, face painters, industrial coatings and the list goes on.

That’s why Google’s algorithm examines your content to see if you’re really offering what the searcher is looking for.

Google prioritizes websites with great content on a topic – content that’s informative, easy to read, and shows up well no matter what computer or smartphone a person is using.  So when someone searches for “exterior painter near me” or “interior repaint”, painting contractors whose websites have the best information about those specific services will show up toward the top of the results.

But what if the search is more specific?  If someone searches for “crown molding painting”, Google will examine local painters’ websites for information about painting crown molding.  If your website has that information, you’ll perform much better in the search results than competitor websites that don’t.  The same is true for faux finishes, or even deck staining or garage epoxy.  Websites with paragraphs of content on these topics will search better than websites that just list them.  And if your site doesn’t reference the specific service, you’re not likely to show up in the search results at all.

So, just like the individual pages for towns and cities, you’ll want individual pages on your website for each of the services you provide, or at least for the categories of services you provide.

3. Proving You’re Reliable

Up to this point, all you’ve needed to do to place well on Google is say the right things in the right places on your website.  That’s great news, because it means that a competent web provider with enough content on specific painting services can do big things for your web presence.

Web providers can help with reliability too.  They can make sure your website is kept up-to-date, and that the content changes periodically so Google knows you’re still an active business.  They can make sure that your site loads quickly and reliably when people visit it.  They can even provide tools to help make it easier to get positive reviews.

But there are three things that web providers and digital marketers can’t do, and those are the things that help businesses with good search results get the very best search results.

  • Provide Friendly Service and a Great Paint Job – Sometimes businesses get unlucky. But in general, businesses who provide great service tend to have happy customers.  When businesses fall short and don’t make it right with the customers those customers spread the bad experience – and each time they talk about it, the story gets exaggerated a bit more.
  • Request Reviews from Customers – Even if you provide great service, customers tend to not leave reviews unless you ask for them. Asking happy customers for a Google review is important because businesses with great Google reviews typically search better than other businesses.  Google wants to prioritize businesses that provide the best customer experience.  Reviews are one of their most important sources of customer feedback on service quality and reliability.
  • End the Customer’s Search – One of the things that Google tracks is how many people have their question answered by your website.

    If a person visits your site and stops searching for information on house painters, Google interprets that as a searcher finding the information they were looking for.  Over time, this boosts your search results!

    But if a searcher visits your site and quickly returns to Google, that tells Google the searcher didn’t get what they wanted from your website.

    As hard as it can be to stop working to take a quote request (especially if you’re already booked) this is one big reason it’s important to answer calls whenever you can.  If a customer can’t reach you, they quickly return to Google and continue their search.  Not only are you likely to lose the lead, but this can also impact your search results.

In summary – the key points for searching well on Google:

  1. Prove you serve the customer’s area. Define the area you serve well.  Reference it broadly and specifically in the content on your website.  Create individual pages for cities and towns.  Set your service area in your Google Business Profile.
  2. Prove you provide the right services. Reference all of the services you provide in multiple places on your website.  Create individual pages for each service or at least for the service category (interior painting, for example).  Include significant content about the services.
  3. Prove you’re reliable. Provide great service and request reviews from happy customers – especially ask them to post Google reviews.  Ask them to contact you on your website and respond to them as quickly as you can when they do.

If you are thinking that this is a lot of work – it is.  But if you are able to execute on it well, it will be well worth the effort.

If you’d like somebody to help you, we’d be happy to. We’ve built dozens of pages of content for painting contractors and we’ve tested the content to confirm it searches well. We also have a platform that can make it much easier for you to ask clients for reviews. Contact us today at 919-424-6121 or schedule a meeting for a day and time that is convenient for you.