In most every major U.S. city, there are 1,000-3,000 searches every month for carpet cleaning. Smaller cities such as Pensacola, Fla. only have 75 to 200 searches per month. The Internet is becoming the new Yellow Pages for service companies.
A few years ago, if you asked me if homeowners were searching for carpet cleaners on the net I would have said, “Not really.” But now the Internet is evolving, and it could be the most cost effective advertising currently available.
Flash back to 1997. By the end of the year 10 million would be online in the United States. That was a pretty good number, but there was a small problem for businesses. People thought everything on the net should be free. Thus the “Free Report” became so popular. Internet marketers had to appeal to what surfers were looking for…freebies.
I put my first carpet cleaning web site up in 1997. I rarely got a hit. Even in 1999, 2000, 2001, I was ranked at the top of the searches in my city, but rarely derived any business online. People weren’t looking for services. So, other than an occasional email, my site didn’t do much for me.
When I received a request for an estimate, I’d give the recipient our office phone number so they could set up an appointment. I’d sometimes get a response back like, “Do you service Ohio?” No ma’am, we’re in Florida. Much of the traffic I was getting wasn’t even in my service area.
But all this has gradually changed over the last couple years. Instead of a job book from the Internet a few times a year, I soon noticed we were getting a job every month. Then, we’d get a job twice a month. Now, it’s common for us to book 2-4 jobs every week online.
Here’s the amazing part. Our site isn’t super fancy. Much of it is still the original site I put up ten years ago. The beautiful part is, once I put my site up, all I had to do was pay a $5-$10 hosting fee, answer a few emails, and get the jobs done. Even if I only booked one job a month, where else can you gain a carpet-cleaning client for $10?
If your site is informative, the client you gain will feel closer to your company because they will know your background. Yes, you should give tons of information about exactly what you do. That’s why they came to your site, to do some research before hiring. Put up pictures of you, your staff, your shop, and your trucks. Tell the story of your company. Give them tips on spot removal. Tell them how they can keep their carpet looking beautiful. Be the expert.
The Four Big Don’ts for Your Web Site
Don’t use a template-based program to do your own site. These programs are available from hosting companies such as Godaddy, Yahoo, and others. They offer the user a simple template with the means to fill in the blanks with individual company information. It’s an easy way to get a site up fast without any web design experience, but it really limits your means to optimize your site for search engine status.
Don’t spend tons of money on flash or fancy graphics. You should have pictures on your website. And they should look good. I recommend pictures of you, your staff, your shop, and your trucks so net surfers can get to know who you are. But it won’t really increase your response if your page is filled with fancy graphics or flash media. Flash is a presentation used to show videos and pictures. Aside from the fact flash is much more expensive to put on your site, it may even cause some surfers to avoid your site due to browser settings that may not accept flash.
Don’t target more than three keywords. Stick to using three main keyword phrases. Use phrases such as “Carpet Cleaning Miami,” “Carpet Cleaner Miami” and “Carpet Cleaning in Miami.”
Don’t forget to include your city name. Google has no idea where your cleaning company is located. The only way they’ll know is by repeated mention of your city name. Mention your city in your keywords, but also mention it in your body copy in several places on your page.
E-newsletters: Cheap and Effective
One great way to keep in touch with your clients is via e-mail. You can create a simple e-newsletter for all the clients on your email list. Just send out a few useful cleaning tips once or twice a month. Plus, any time you have a slow week you can send out a last minute email with an Internet-only special. This will help fill the gaps in your appointment book.
One good way to manage your email is with an autoresponder. This will allow you to place an opt-in box on your site. When prospects fill in their name and email, they’ll automatically get a sequence of emails. Done tastefully, this can greatly increase the response rates to your online marketing.
You can get a free autoresponder at www.Zookoda.com. This system was originally created for blog owners, but it can easily be adapted for service businesses. Some others are www.ConstantContact.com and www.Aweber.com for a small monthly fee.
Speaking of blogs, did you know Google regards blogs very highly when it comes to search engine placement? Google likes blogs because their content is typically updated regularly. For best results, use a Wordpress blog placed directly on your own Web site. If you have a blog posted on someone else’s site, it won’t help your search engine optimization. Post to your blog at least twice every month and your search engine status will soar.
The Internet age is here. Get your Web site ready to take advantage of one of the cheapest advertising media possible.