5 Common SEO Mistakes That Local Tradesmen & Contractors Make

by: John Devlin

Virtually every website on the internet has errors and mistakes of some sort, and I am not talking missing meta descriptions.

But most pages and sites ranking in the top 5 of search engines for competitive keywords avoid the most common SEO mistakes.

Over the years, I have either advised and worked on over 200 websites belonging to tradespeople, contractors and home improvement firms.

They all needed different tweaks and improvements, but the same errors come to light time and time again.

If you’ve ended up here and you own a website that is not in the home improvement or home service industry, then don’t worry.

Make sure you stick around as these are still some of the biggest SEO mistakes on all local websites.

What you'll learn today

In this post you’ll learn about 5 of the regular culprits that hold local tradesmen’s sites back in search:

  • How writing twice about the same thing is damaging you
  • How large images are lousy news
  • How not to place keywords in the content
  • How your website has more pages than you think
  • How to get a significant SEO boost from internally linking

What are SEO errors?

Errors or SEO mistakes that need to be fixed on a website fall under the bracket of technical SEO.

You have on-page SEO and off-page SEO which are both nearly useless if the site has major technical problems.

Trying to rank a website in search results with the common mistakes and errors like below is like trying to win the Grand Prix with flat tyres.

It isn’t happening.

5 Things What Should be Avoided in SEO

Most local tradie websites struggle not because they lack power, relevance and trust which are all pieces of the puzzle you need to rank in search engines for the significant keywords, like “insurance” or “holidays.”

They usually do lack those things, but Google expects to see that, a local landscaper having loads of backlinks (votes from other websites) from the likes of Forbes or the BBC would be strange in itself.

Yet it does expect you have the basic SEO best practises complete and error-free. 

The truth is most local contractor sites ranking on the first page are just making fewer mistakes than the rest.

That’s why I wrote this SEO guide for contractors and tradesmen.

You can hire of course, but learning at least to a beginners level is a valuable asset.

1) Keyword cannibalisation - Pages that hurt each other

Keyword cannibalisation has come into search results over the last year to 18 months.

It caught a lot of excellent SEO experts out.

What is it?

It’s basically when two or more pages on your site have:

  • The same content
  • The content talks about the same topic

 

When two pages on your website speak about the same thing, Google sees it, and it struggles to work out which page or piece of content it should rank.

The result is it tanks both pages in search engines.

It holds both back because it can’t work out which to rank.

Actions to take

1) Do a site search using the site:example.com “main keyword here.” 

swap the examples above for your website and scan the results.

You’re looking for any pages that have this.

2) Work out which is the most crucial page and de-optimise the other by removing the main keyword.

If they are 100% talking about the same thing, then 301 redirect the lesser piece of content to the better version.

2) Huge unoptimised images kill site speed.

For me, in 2020 out of more than 200 ranking factors for Google that they use to rank websites, site speed is the most important.

The reason I put it at the top of the most crucial list is that even if you do everything else perfect if your slow you’re still screwed.

If the speed is crap and above 3 seconds as an average, then visitors are clicking back or and choosing somebody else’s website from the search results.

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Why this is terrible for you.

The fact that there clicking back and finding the information they wanted from another search result is a ranking factor. And a pretty big one at that.

Always remember Google is a robot for want of better description.

It gathers hundreds if not thousands of data points and metrics on every website in its index, even yours.

Now some of these are less important than others,

Say the odd spelling mistake.

I am not a great speller and even though I use the Grammarly app to check everything.

There may be still one, or two grammar errors get through.

Google won’t downgrade my rankings for this. It understands it can happen.

But if I am at the top of page one for a relevant keyword and my page takes 5-6 seconds to load, then people don’t wait.

And Google will drop me like a stone, probably even from page one entirely if the load waiting time is something ridiculous.

You probably guessed by now how uploading large images is related to the above.

Images that are too big being uploaded to a website is the biggest killer of website speed across the internet.

Actions to take

1) Check your website speed here or here for free.

If it’s over 3 seconds (ish), then go to step 2

2) Check the sizes of your images

  • For the full-width image, if you have one, this needs to be 1500-1900 pixels wide.
  • For half-width images no bigger than 1000 pixels

3) Download and resize the images at Picresize.com for free

Any tradesmen or contractors website should only have 2-3 images on the main page.

If you have loads of imagery from previous projects on the leading page ranking in Google, then this will slow you down.

Have them moved to recent projects / recent installations or gallery page. 

It would help if you had the speed where it matters.

4) Upload the image new images and delete out the old.

There are tonnes of other speed optimisation tips you can use, but that is the most basic and one and the biggest offender.

3) Keyword Stuffing

Keyword stuffing is one of the most common SEO mistakes for tradesmen and home improvement type businesses.

It is the act of placing too many keywords on a page so that the result is the content reads terribly and destroys any user experience.

Here is an extreme example of stuffing keywords.
You may laugh, but this happens all the time.

Actions to take

1) Short and sweet, read all your content especially the homepage or any significant pages you know you rely on for leads.

Edit the page so you are left with quality content that reads well.

Don’t be afraid to yank keywords out of there.

If you need a more specific guide, have your main keyword in one time and 1-2 supporting keywords than just write naturally.

4) Indexation - Sending Google pages you really shouldn't

Most people have no idea about what I am about to say next.

A local website with say 15 pages indexed in Google will probably outperform a website with a hundred or two hundred pages.

Why?

Because the smaller website is leaner and cleaner and either know the mistakes to avoid or just luckily doesn’t have all this extra content it’s pushing to Google, which is of no use to anyone.

I have never seen a local site with a considerable amount of pages indexed where even 50% of the pages are quality content.

Most are garbage or duplicate content. This will hurt your SEO efforts.

You should only be sending your best pages and content to search engines.

This includes.

  • Homepage
  • Service pages
  • Location pages
  • High-quality blog posts

 

Actions to take

Pages like the about us page and the contact page do not need to be indexed in search results.

Things like tags, categories and taxonomies should be turned off. See how here

Delete out any pages or posts where you don’t believe the content is top-notch and 301 back to the homepage or most relevant page.

5) Lack of Internal Links

An internal link is a link between one piece of content to another on your website.

The link tells search engines, page A is linking to page B, and the words used in the link shows the crawler what the next piece of content is about.

Here is an example from Wikipedia

Link contextually to your most important pages.

Use keywords to link to other pages but mix up the words you use to link with.

Don’t repeat the same keywords over and over again.

For a page about “roofing services in New York.”

You would use a selection of the following.

  • “Our roofing services in New York.”
  • “For more on our New York service.”
  • “New York roofers.”
  • Our New York roofing company page.”

 

By doing that way you have optimised your internal linking structure, you’ve also included some other cool words like roofers and companies which will help to rank in the search results.

A website with internal links will struggle; it’s a necessary component of search engine optimisation in 2020.

That's a wrap!

A little shorter than most of the SEO strategies I write, but these five are vital to check and fix if needed. Fixing significant technical SEO errors will not only improve your site for the user but will help your ongoing efforts in search engines massively.

If you do your digital marketing, or you’re hoping to learn then this is a good post for you.

If you’re hiring an SEO agency, you should still be checking these common search engine optimisation mistakes to make sure they’re done.

Some agencies are notorious for talking the talk and not walking the walk.

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