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Editor’s Note: This story appears in Working RE Home Inspector’s Summer 2018 Print Edition. OREP insureds enjoy it free along with many other business and risk management benefits! WRE reaches 20,000+ Home Inspectors in Print and Online!
How to Drive Traffic to Your Site Organically
By By Kate Ivey, HomeGauge
Having a functional and attractive website is the first step to creating a great online presence. Already have one? Way to go! The next challenge is making sure your investment in a website pays off.
“Paying off” means doing everything you can to bring people to your site. Because, after all, what good is a great website if no one visits it? There are many different strategies for SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and very different approaches. You may have already been contacted by people or agencies claiming to increase your traffic and ranking and to get you to the top of Google. My advice? Tread lightly and do your research before signing contracts or spending your hard-earned money. Just like the home inspection industry, Google’s algorithms are ever-changing. After six years in this industry, here are what I believe to be the three easiest ways to drive traffic to your website in 2018.
1. Publish Fresh Content Regularly
Having a great website with well-written content is fantastic. But it’s not enough. If you really want to drive traffic to your site and increase your ranking with search engines, you need to publish fresh content on your site. What does that mean? Blogging. Or, in other words, writing original articles with quality content, keywords and links. I know it sounds daunting and cumbersome but it really will pay off in the long run. SEO is a marathon, not a sprint, so you’ll need to stay on top of maintaining your website’s content and making sure it’s useful and relevant to both search engines and customers. If the sound of all this makes you want to run in the other direction, consider hiring a professional to handle it for you.
2. Get Social with Your Business
Now that you have some great content, you need to share it with the world. First stop? Facebook. Why? For one thing, it’s the social media platform used by most businesses. Today, there are 70 million small businesses on Facebook. And if that many businesses are going there, you can be sure people who need those businesses are going there too. Facebook is also flexible. You don’t have to be as brief as you do on Twitter or as visually focused as you do on Instagram.
So what should you do for your business on Facebook? Start by setting up a Facebook business page—if you don’t already have one. Make sure your branding for that page is consistent with your company and with what you’re saying and showing on your website. If branding and marketing skills aren’t necessarily in your wheelhouse, hire someone who knows what they’re doing. After all, you wouldn’t expect a graphic designer to inspect their own home and they wouldn’t want you to create your own logo (trust me!).
For many inspectors, setting up a Facebook business page is the easy part. The hard part is figuring out what to post on it. The only real rules are to make it interesting and mix it up a little. You don’t want every post to be another straightforward advertisement for your business. Mix in some education, some practical information and even some fun. Share tips and tricks for home repair, maintenance or improvement. Link to blog articles you wrote for your website (with a little teaser or introduction to get them to click over), and post photos from your inspections. Are you or your company involved in charitable events, sports or other activities? Post photos from those too and let potential customers know that you’re dedicated to the community. Or why not simply thank a client or agent for choosing you for the inspection? That small gesture says a lot about you as businessperson. Bonus points if you ask the people you thank to follow you on Facebook and you “tag” them in your post. Keep in mind that whatever you post, the main goal is to get followers to go from Facebook to your website. So don’t forget that link!
3. Deliver Your Inspection Reports Online
You may not think of your inspection software as a tool you can use to drive traffic to your site but it absolutely is. Many inspectors today create their reports using software applications but deliver them by PDF. When they do that they’re missing a great opportunity to build website traffic. Quality home inspection software allows you to create reports in HTML instead of delivering them in printed form or as emailed PDFs. I know what you’re thinking—EVERYBODY uses PDFs. But it’s time for PDFs to die—or at least go away. If that sounds a little harsh, consider this: the quickest, surest way to increase your traffic is to stop sending PDFs. With the right software you can easily generate reports that are more visually impressive and functional and that have some nifty time-saving features built right in. Both clients and agents will be happy. (And yes, they can convert those HTML reports to PDFs if they really want to.) But the real payoff, traffic-wise, is that HTML reports mean clients and agents have to come to your website, where you have a chance to impress them with your knowledge and professionalism.
My grievance with PDFs aside, think about how many times your website would get visited each month if you have a full featured software solution that allows parties to come to the website to complete the business agreement, access their report, and not only access an invoice but pay it as well. Or if agents could go to your site to retrieve an older report for reference. More visits lead to a greater sense of familiarity and comfort with you. And that means more referrals and repeat business. And guess what? Those multiple visits help you in another way as well. Internet search engines keep track of visits to your site. More visits tell them your website is relevant and useful, and that helps boost you in search results. It’s a win-win!
Don’t Forget to Track It!
While each one of these tools can help increase your organic traffic, you need to be tracking and monitoring it too. Because our industry changes from month to month and especially season to season, it’s crucial to be able to compare traffic data year over year. That way, when you’re focusing on planning your summer marketing for 2018, you can compare what you did in those months in 2017 to those same months in 2016. Did your traffic increase or decrease? What did you do differently this year to affect that change? Be sure to install Google Analytics on your site as soon as possible so that you can begin tracking your website data.
Facebook Page Insights help you improve your social media presence by telling you what types of content (videos vs. still photos, etc.) are engaging your audience, which topics visitors like most, and if there are optimal days and times to post. Most quality software packages give you ways to view all activity on a report, including report views and views by third parties, so you know exactly what is going on with your uploaded report.
Remember, a quality website is essential for inspectors. But you can’t just have a beautiful website built and then hope for the best. By driving traffic to the site, you’re taking a big step in driving more clients to your business.
About the Author
Kate Ivey has been in the home inspection industry for more than 5 years and currently manages the web services team at HomeGauge. Kate and her team create custom websites and offer a variety of affordable hosting and SEO packages geared towards home inspectors. You can check out examples of their work at www.HomeGauge.com.
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