Internet marketing for service businesses |

Internet marketing for service businesses

Ian White May 9th 2011

Businesses in the service industries often struggle with how to market themselves online. It’s a weakness that many accountants, letting agents and doctors would admit to. Here at Bluehoop have been marketing service professionals on the internet for a while now, and we’ve picked up some great techniques that we’d like to pass on to you, to help you maximise your own results and build your business or practice.

SEO for Service Industry Professionals

There’s simply no way you can guess what your potential clients and prospects are searching for. You may think you know for sure, but you don’t. You MUST take the time, (or spend the money) to get a keyword analysis. This is going to give you the critical insights into what your potential clients are searching for, and how much competition there’s likely to be for each phrase. The free Google Keyword tool is perfect for this. If you don’t know your way around this useful tool, I’ll be writing an article about it soon, so keep an eye out. This will help you in determining which of your services to zone in on and promote more, and it will also help you develop some good ‘long-tail’ keywords to base some blog articles on (a bit more about blogging later).

The keyword tool is simple to use, but make sure you follow a few basic rules – assuming you’re marketing yourself to the UK, always choose the ‘advanced’ search method and click on the United Kingdom as your ‘local’ search. Pop in the keywords you THINK are right for your business, and Google will come up with a big list of suggestions, and importantly, it will tell you how many people are searching for each keyword. There are two columns of results. The far right one is ‘local’ (remember you set the UK as your local search) so that’s the one to read from. A word of warning – ALWAYS click on the ‘EXACT’ button on the left hand column to get the correct numbers. They’ll be far lower (disappointingly) than the first set of figures that come up, but they’ll be a far more accurate estimate of the amount of monthly searches for that term. You can download the figures to a handy spreadsheet to keep for future use

Your Web Site

Based on your thorough keyword research and your industry experience, you need to list each of your services on your website. It probably depends on exactly how many services your offer, and if there are any particular groups of clients that you serve, it’s probably a good idea to give each service its own page if you can. That’s because it is easier to promote a single service (or keyphrase) on a single page, rather than crowding it out with lots of keyphrases that you’re targeting. If Google can look at a page and see a single relevant keyphrase repeated throughout the page (use sparingly, don’t stuff!), then it likes what it sees and may raise you in the rankings a little higher based on that.

So what do you include on each service page?

A keyword-rich page title – The page title probably ranks as the number one thing that Google looks for when assessing how visible you should be in the search engines. When you do a search in Google, the title is the bit that appears underlined in blue. It should be compelling enough that potential site visitors will want to click on it, and it should have your keywords at the start of it. Don’t stuff the keywords in – something like ‘Leeds Physiotherapy: Sports Injury Leeds’ would work perfectly.

A keyword-rich header – Repeat the keywords in the header of the article as well, in a way that will get people to want to read on. Because research has shown that people don’t read, but scan through web pages, its best to use sub headers as well so you can lead people quickly to the info that they’re looking for.

Keyword-rich body copy – I’d recommend that you write 500 to 1000 words on each of these service pages. A few hundred words just won’t cut the mustard. Repeat the primary keyphrase about six or eight times, and make sure they appear in the first and last sentences. Emphasise some of them by underlining, making them bold or italisizing them.

Link from your keywords to other pages within your site. Google likes to see links to other parts of your site from within body copy, and it’s likely that your services will complement each other, so there should be lots of opportunities to link your keyphrases up to different articles on your website. So following our example, if you’re writing about Sports Injury, make sure you link the phrase to other areas of your site where visitors can learn more.

Calls to action – Its a bit daft to do all of this hard work of attracting visitors to your site without asking them to buy something from you. If you don’t ask, you don’t get. A simple line, like ‘book your appointment now’ or ‘call for a free consultation’ will do the business nicely.

Blogging

You’ll see other articles about blogging on the Bluehoop website, but in short you’ll find that a blog will be your most important tool in your web marketing tool box. You’ll see benefits from organic search engine optimisation and lots more incidentals – Bluehoop had great success in just directing people to our website to read more about a certain subject.

Create categories for each service – many blogs are organised by category so make sure you have a category for each service offering (but also make sure you populate them regularly).

Write info-laden blog posts about each service. They shouldn’t be salesy. Remember that you’re selling yourself in another way by being seen as an authority on your subject. Take an even-handed, educational approach which emphasises your expertise. Remember of course to use the correct keywords and link through to the appropriate pages on your website when you do need to sell. Finally, finish off with a call to action.

Answer all comments and questions – create a conversation with your followers. It can be addictive and fun, not to mention creating a business social network that could prove invaluable to you in future.

In Conclusion

As service professionals, you can reach a much wider audience by taking a long hard look at how your website is organised and applying these few simple techniques to improve things. Here’s a quick overview:

  • Keyword analysis – it all starts here…
  • Create Search Engine friendly pages for each of your services, and interlink them, closing with a call to action.
  • Show the world that you’re an authority on your subject and increase your search engine visibility by blogging about your core service areas. For maximum effect, get them linked back to the services pages within your site that are relevent.

Author profile: Ian White


Prior to founding Bluehoop, Ian worked as a publishing manager and print buyer for several business to business and business to consumer publishers.

Ian has a strong aptitude and understanding of the business and marketing needs of companies across many business sectors; skills that are now utilised to develop successful website promotional strategies for all of our clients.


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