Online Exclusive: SEO checklist for plumbing websites

March 17, 2014
Some of these steps are very simple, while others are a little more complicated and may require the assistance of an SEO developer. The setup basics Keyword research Onsite optimization Content Link building        

There is little success in simply putting up a website and crossing your fingers. Unfortunately for business owners, the “build it and they will come” approach is a sure way to guarantee failure. We often encounter both large and small plumbing or HVAC companies that need help with site-ranking due to rather basic SEO elements.

Dean Iodice is president of ContractorSEO and PlumberSEO.

This is possibly because they have done all the work themselves, or worse, hired a self-proclaimed “expert,” and received a less than stellar job. Simply put, a solid search engine optimization campaign requires a thorough plan.

I put together a checklist of essential SEO tasks that every website needs. Some of these are very simple, while others are a little more complicated and may require the assistance of an SEO developer.

The setup basics

• Install Google Analytics: Google Analytics allows you to see and break down all the traffic that comes into your website. The segments include information such as reasons for traffic, time on site, pages visited, sites guiding traffic, etc.

• Set up Google Webmaster Tools: This is a great tool for diagnosing any issues your site may have.

• Connect Webmaster Tools and Google Analytics: This will give you details on how the public is finding your website.

• Set up a Sitemap: There are some tools that will allow you to create a sitemap.xml file. Once you have this, upload it to the root directory of your server, and submit the sitemap to Webmaster tools.

Keyword research

This might be one of the most overlooked tasks when it comes to SEO. Many business owners think they can just guess what keywords their websites need to rank for. Basing keywords solely on personal opinion is not thoroughly benefitting. In reality, what you think your site should be ranking for may not be what potential clients are searching.

List all of the services you offer, such as plumbing, drain cleaning, water heater installation, tankless water heaters, leak detection, etc.

• List all of the cities you service, such as Miami, Doral, North Miami, Miami Beach, Aventura, etc.

• Create keywords: With the help of a keyword merge tool like Keyword Mixer (Link - you can put together all your cities with services to form optimal keywords.

• Look into the search volume of your keywords: the last thing you want to do is waste your time trying to rank for keywords that don’t drive traffic, or drive the wrong type of traffic. Using Google Keyword Planner you can get an idea of the search volume behind the keywords you created. The program will also allow you to see the search volume on any additional keyword phrases you may suggest.

Pictured from left to right, Josh Nelson and Dean Iodice, owners of ContractorSEO, which specializes in helping contractors and home service business owners increase their sales and revenue through effective online marketing. Nelson is the author of the groundbreaking book, Internet Marketing

• Select your keywords: When choosing keywords, the goal is to pick the ones with a high search volume and little competition. Keep in mind that you want to eventually rank on page one for “Miami Plumber,” but understand that a competitive keyword could take around six to eight months. Don’t let that discourage you however, because in today’s world of SEO, Google is more apt to rank sites with the best content based on long tail keywords (multiple keywords strung together to form phrases). In reality, we find that city+plumber keywords drive very little traffic in comparison to long tail searches.

Onsite optimization

• Create a spreadsheet: It is incredibly helpful to craft a title tag sheet for your website. A simple excel chart can help you keep information organized in different fields like Keyword/Page, Title Tag, and Meta Description.

Begin by adding all of your keywords under the first column, these will be the actual pages on your site. You can get as granular as you may desire, creating pages for specific services like “Miami Drain Cleaning.” I find it most productive to be detailed with the services you provide, and breaking into additional pages that will state all of your company’s specializations, like “Miami Tankless Water Heater Installation.” However, you could get by with simply writing about drain cleaning or water heaters in your “Miami Plumber” page.

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Your second column will consist of the title tags. Keeping in mind that these should not exceed 60 characters, here is a formula for coming up with quality title tags:

(City + Plumber | Company Name | City + Plumbers)

The last column of your spreadsheet should include your pages’ meta description. Have in mind that the meta description is the small block of text that appears under the title in the search engine results page, so you want this area to specify what your page is about. This small space must be used to entice the public to click on your link.

Optimize individual pages: You must remember that every page on the website requires a specific title tag, this is an area that is frequently missed, which also applies to meta descriptions. If you want to use every possibility to attract traffic, adding a unique meta description is necessary. Neglecting to do so will land you a random excerpt from the content on your page.

• Be sure to use your keyword in each page URL, e.g.

• Each page should be limited to one H1 tag, using your keyword in the tag. Use additional headers if needed (H2, H3, H4 and so on).

• Internal links: It is a good idea to link the main keyword within your content to another page on the site, but make sure the link is relevant. Maybe you have a blog post about drain cleaning, be sure to link the words “drain cleaning” to the drain cleaning service page. Having an organized internal link structure helps the credibility of your page.

Images: Every page on your site should have a minimum of one image within the content. Add an Alt Tag to the photo with your keyword or keyword phrase. This does not mean that a site will not achieve a page-one rank because it does not have a photo on it.

However, I find that photos break up the text, making the page more attractive and easier to read. Graphics are of significant importance when catching a potential client’s attention, just think about reading a magazine, have you ever seen blocks and blocks of text with no eye-catching images?


Content is core! I used to say content is king, but then I stumbled upon the phrase “Content is Core,” and it makes complete sense. The content on your website is the center of everything. It’s what drives the traffic, it’s what you link to and from, it drives absolutely everything. Gone are the days of keyword stuffing your website to the top, today Google wants to see the best relevant content on a website. Concentrate on writing great content and your website will rank in time.

• Make sure each page on your site has the bare minimum of 300 words. All the content must be unique content, you have to create what will be on your site. The wild, wild west days of the internet when you could go to a competitor’s site and copy/paste their content are over. If your site gets hit with a duplicate content penalty, you may never rank on that domain again.

• You have to have a blog on your website. Look to your Google analytics for ideas on topics to write about. If you see a trend developing, like tankless water heaters, then write some informative articles on the benefits of tankless water heaters.

• Make your site a conversation machine. Don’t limit your content to just text, create videos, podcasts and infographics. This type of content generally keeps people on the site longer and helps your overall SEO campaign.

• Stop selling and start helping. The hard sales pitch on your services page just won’t attract as much search as crafting your content to answer questions that searchers are asking. Your website is going to encounter two types of searchers. The people who type their search terms into a web browser and those who speak to it. The way both of these people search is different, so you really want to write in not only an informational style, but also in a Q and A type of way.

Link building

Link building is actually a bad word in the SEO world. Google does not want you concentrating on building links, instead they state “Create great content and people will link to it.” When it comes to links, more is not better, better is better! It is imperative to write great content in order to attract links, but try the following as well:

• Are you an authorized dealer for a particular product line? If so, get a link on the manufacturer’s site.

• Are you a member of an industry association? Do you use a service like Angie’s List? Get in touch with industry influencers, follow these people online, and connect with them.

These are all easy ways to acquire industry related links with authority. You want reputable links so that this is passed on to your domain. This is the reason why I say that better is better, link building is not about quantity, it’s about quality.

At the end of all this work, you have really just begun. Ranking high in search engines will definitely improve your business, while simultaneously putting a target on your back. SEO is not simply about getting to the top, it is about staying at the top, because all of your competitors want to be there as well.

You should be striving to find new link opportunities on a monthly basis. Get listed on online directories, start blogging, get involved in social media, analyze your report data and aim to rank even higher with more/different keywords.

SEO is a long term commitment, keep at it, and your business will continue to grow.

Dean Iodice is one of the authors of the groundbreaking book, “Internet Marketing & SEO For Contractors.” He is also president of ContractorSEO and PlumberSEO, which specializes in helping contractors and Plumbers across the U.S. increase their sales and revenue via effective online marketing. Learn more at or Contact Dean at 866-493-9910 or [email protected].

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