Handyman SEO: How to produce a winning plan (Case Study)

Today, I’m going to show you how to write a winning handyman SEO plan.

(Let’s take the handyman market in Gauteng, South Africa as an example.)

Handyman SEO – Step #1: Search Google for ‘handyman in Gauteng’

Typing in ‘handyman in Gauteng’ we discover 3 main types of result:

  • (a) Paid Adwords listings
  • (b) Local map results
  • (c) Organic search results

(A) Paid Adwords Listings

Handyman Gauteng Google Results

This search shows 2 results for paid ads.

Both are aggregator businesses i.e. quotation and lead generation, like Uber.

Their game is prime time domination – they spend big to gain big.

They have very polished presentations and offer the benefit to the homeowner of multiple quotes in one simple click of a button.

However,

There is a critical weakness in their business model:

  • They AREN’T the service provider.
  • You can’t call them
  • Their websites offer no expertise

At the end of the day, a homeowner wants a handyman, they don’t want t quote.

This is where a prominently positioned handyman business on page #1 of Google has an advantage.

(B) Local Map Results

Handyman Gauteng Google Map Results

These are the top local map search results for handyman in Gauteng.

To qualify for these slots, you have to be a genuine handyman business with a registered office in the locality.

(Aggregator businesses are prohibited).

Although there are only 3 slots on this page, the actual list is MUCH MUCH LONGER.

But Google has its way of selecting the top 3 (most relevant) handyman businesses.

To apply for these positions as a local handyman business, you must complete a Google My Business online application.

Once Google has your submission, it will index or add your business to the existing results.

Your business profile ranking will depend on a number of ranking factors.

(3) Organic Search Results

Top 4 organic handyman Gauteng results

Bottom 4 organic handyman Gauteng results

When you examine the 1st 10 results on Google for handyman Gauteng, you find only 2 direct service providers.

(Only 2 ACTUAL handyman businesses appear in the top 10 results.)

The rest are premium business directories and classified ad sites.

Big businesses with dedicated marketing teams have spotted that many local service providers lack the competitive practice to rank on the 1st page.

This leaves holes in the marketplace for big business aggregators sites to sweep up the all the market share and sell it back to service providers.

This makes the local handyman a servant to big business which farms him out the jobs that actually belong to him.

The result:

  • smaller profit margin for handyman
  • less personal customer service for homeowner
  • low value search results on Google

Handyman SEO – Step #2: Competitive Analysis

Next, let’s examine the top SEO performers in the local handyman niche.

The criteria we will look at goes like this:

Google My Business Leaders

The benefit

The map results on Google page 1 for local services businesses are highly prized.

They sit at the top of the search page – above the organic results.

Apart from the paid ads, they are among the first search results that a customer will see.

Plus, the map validates that those highlighted businesses genuinely serve the customer’s local area.

How to get there

But you may be asking,

“How do I get my handyman business to rank within the top 3 map results for its main search term?”

The long answer: https://backlinko.com/local-seo-guide#local-seo-ranking-factors

The short one:

  • Link your Google My Business account to your business website
  • Write a consistent and complete name, address and phone number quote on your website
  • Get some genuine customer reviews on your account profile
  • Website navigation with: about me/us, services, find us and contact page
  • On-page and off-page SEO

The analysis

Let’s take the top company in the current Gauteng handyman listing: Handyman Services Centurion (HSC).

Top 3 GMB results for handyman Gauteng

From the Google page,

We ask ourselves “what is it that HSC is doing with its profile that other companies are not?”

Spot the difference?

The first thing that strikes me about their profile, is their company name begins with primary keyword being ‘Handyman’…

…and is followed by the #2 keyword modifier for the industry being ‘Services’.

Sounds simple, but it gets straight to the point, doesn’t it?

Google credits this directness with favour.

A closer look at the profile photos show that companies #2 & #3 have more detailed profiles the HSC inc:

  • more customer photos
  • more reviews
  • better review ratings
  • company descriptions

…all of which HSL doesn’t have. But still, HSL is #1.

Keywords come first with Google.

One common feature on all websites within the top 3 results is an ‘about us’ page and ‘contact’ page in the website navigation.

Only the top 2 companies had a matching phone number with the GMB listing.

None had addresses registered with GMB.

Organic Leaders

The benefit

The top 10 organic Google search results are the most visited search links in the page.

Research suggests that customers prefer clicking on the naturally listed results, vs. the paid results.

Here is a breakdown of the amount of traffic each of the top 10 organic search results attracts:

Google organic CTR breakdown by position

(Source)

The ideal would be the no#1, or at least in the top 3, which at the least would get you 1 in every 5 searchers clicking through to your website (at the most – 1 in 3).

How to get there

But what’s the secret for getting within the top 10 Google search results for your chosen keyword?

Well, actually, it’s not actually a secret, Google tell how its all done on their website:

Google How Search Works: Search Alorithms

To summarise clearly:

There are actually hundreds of factors Google uses to evaluate how useful web pages are:

  1. Freshness of content
  2. Number of time your search terms appear in the webpage
  3. Whether the page has a good user experience
  4. It is a site that many users value for similar queries
  5. prominent websites link to the page

This is the proof Google looks for to be certain your website is worth putting ahead of other businesses.

The analysis

Let’s remind ourselves that on the 1st page of Google for the keyword search term ‘handyman Gauteng’ there are only 2 actual service providers.

Here they are:

1st organic SEO result for an actual handyman in Gauteng

2nd organic SEO result for an actual handyman in Gauteng

The two genuine local service providers on page #1 Google are:

  1. gautenghandyman.co.za
  2. handyman-handyman.co.za

Note: both companies have their home page ranking on page #1, as opposed to other webpages.

Now,

  • what can we glean from the Google page?
  • what does page #1 tell us about why these two business websites are favoured in the rankings?

From observation, these are perhaps the things that Gauteng Handyman (GH) is doing better in their website metadata:

  1. The URL is an exact match for the main keyword (although in reverse order).
  2. The page title matches the URL to begin with followed by the most popular modifying keyword ‘services’.
  3. The main trades: Electrician, Plumber & Carpenter follow, which confirm the ability/specialty of the provider.
  4. In the description, the phone number comes first.
  5. Gauteng handyman again is mentioned which matches the company name and URL – not to mention the search term (although in reverse).
  6. Since 2006 gives an estimation of experience.
  7. The services are repeated in the description to confirm the page title.
  8. There is a mention of the main city name within the description.

Handyman Gauteng Handyman (HGH) on the other hand:

  • uses unnecessary repetition of words
  • has a mismatch of URL and page title
  • leads with the keyword in the description¬† lowering the value-added to the customer
  • mention free quotes (I’ve never heard of handymen that charge you money to quote)
  • no call-out fees would indicate they won’t charge you to take a look at your issue – is this true?
  • all your handyman needs would indicate that they do EVERYTHING…is this true?

[1] Freshness of content

Using the tools tab on the Google search page, I selected each of the drop-down freshness parameters for each website.

Here are the results (on 29.11.20):

GH

  • new pages published in the last 24 hrs = 0
  • …in the last week = 0
  • …in the last month = 0
  • …in the last year = 9

HGH

  • new pages published in the last 24 hrs = 0
  • …in the last week = 0
  • …in the last month = 0
  • …in the last year = 0

(Score: GH 1 – HGH 0)

[2] On-Page SEO 

Let’s take a look at what is happening on the pages of the websites and how this translates to satisfying the Google search software.

GH

Gauteng Handyman Homepage Above The Fold

With the Google no.1 choice we see immediately at the top of the page a clear indication in the navbar menu of all the trades mentioned on the Google page.

Plus a gallery, index of areas served, quote form and contact page.

On the home page, we see the company name reiterated in exact wording again, just like on the Google page. (Also note the main modifying keyword, “services” added at the end.)

The subheading directly beneath the trades (electrical, plumbing, carpentry and handyman services.

Then a clear call to action – telephone number – instructing the customer immediately of how to get in touch.

The page copy in the body of the page itself begins with the phrase Since 2006, just as in the metadata description shown on the Google search page. This is consistent.

Then, the company name.

Next, we see the main trades listed again…electrical, plumbing etc…

Followed by the city reference Johannesburg again.

(All of this detail is totally consistent with the Google page information.)

The main project types are then listed, including geysers, generator, lighting etc.

HGH

Handyman Gauteng Handyman Homepage Above The Fold

The Google ranking runners-up have adopted a more landing page like approach to their home page.

Above the fold of the page is a title, subtitle and read more button.

The title is the primary keyword with the main modifier ‘services’ and then the repetition of the word Gauteng.

The faint subheading reads “we offer professional handyman services in Gauteng and surrounding areas of Gauteng.”

The duplication of the word Gauteng in both the main title and the subtitle adds no value. This could be seen as stuffing (completely unnatural way of communicating and is only done to try to influence search results.)

The menu shows a services page, with no mention of trades (i.e. electrical…) this forces the customer to drill deeper to find out more – rather than offer the information upfront.

Handyman Gauteng Handyman Homepage Below The Fold

Further on down the homepage, there is a mention of the company name Handyman Gauteng Handyman in title format.

The subtitle beneath contains the modified keyword ‘Gauteng handyman services’

There are some mentions here of supposed benefits:

  • Free quotes
  • Cost-effective
  • All hours

One of these (‘free quotes’) was mentioned in the Google page meta description.

Handyman Gauteng Handyman Homepage Internal Links

The main page body begins with Gauteng Handyman with a repetition of Gauteng in the first line.

(Again, this kind of repetition adds no value.)

Every line of copy thereafter has at least 1 (and sometimes up to 3) mentions of the place name, Gauteng.

To a potential customer this kind of repetitive stuffing is:

  • unnecessary
  • distracting
  • off-putting

Further on down the page, there are some blue coloured text links from this home page to other service-related pages.

The page titles and the link text match up respectively.

This would help the search engine understand that there are more relevant pages of content to crawl offering value to customers.

However, when you follow through by clicking the links, you are presented with a carbon copy of the home page almost word-for-word except for the phrase handyman services being swapped for another service type.

Like, building services for example.

(Score: GH 2 – HGH 0)

Content Spread & Ranking Strength

Now, we are going to examine the spread of content which these two websites have indexed (published) on with Google.

After all, Google is a search engine and therefore it must have content to search.

First up…

GH

Step #1 Site command:

Type into Google the text between the apostrophes below:

  • “site:gautenghandyman.co.za”

The result will be a list of all the indexed pages on that website known to Google.

The count = 58 pages.

Looking through them the page topics were:

Area landing pages:

  • Germiston
  • Edenvale

…etc.

Project pages targeting Gauteng:

  • geysers
  • ceilings & cornices

…etc.

Step #2 URL structure:

The structure of the URL (web page address) otherwise known as permalink is built using a physical silo pattern.

This is where the URL of subordinate or child pages contains the parent page name ID, before the child page name ID.

A bit like a surname.

Take the geysers page for example on the GH site. This is the URL structure:

http://www.gautenghandyman.co.za/plumbing/geysers/

Notice how the word geysers comes after the word plumbing? (The alternative is to have the geysers page on a URL that looks like this: http://www.gautenghandyman.co.za/geysers/ – this type of URL structuring is called ‘virtual siloing’)

Physical siloing of pages is generally considered to have greater SEO benefit among technical web professionals.

Why?

It offers a hardwired reassurance to readers and search engines that you have a well-organised array of content.

Plus, there is a physical reference to the reader of the context of the word geysers, for example, in your site.

In this case, geysers in relation to plumbing are quite different from geysers in relation to natural springs.

Now, let’s take a look at the GH contender…

HGH

Step #1 Site command:

Type into Google the text between the apostrophes below:

  • “site:handyman-handyman.co.za”

The result will be a list of all the indexed pages on that website known to Google.

The count = 1,560 pages (some 30x the pages of GH)

Looking through them the page topics were:

Area pages:

  • Eldoraigne
  • Westdene

etc…

Project pages targeting each individual sub-area in the province:

  • Delport ceiling
  • Florex paving

etc…

Step #2 URL structure:

The URL structure here with HGH is virtual silo (without mention of the parent page in the corresponding child page URL).

(Score: GH 3 – HGH 1)

Long-tail rankings

Whilst we know how the two sites rank for their #1 keyword ‘Handyman Gauteng’, what we don’t know (yet) is how they rank for their secondary keywords (secondary keywords are where a customer types in a longer more specific phrase to refine their search aka. Long Tail keyword).

What we do know thus far though is that HGH out does GH by 30-1 for number of indexed pages.

This total page number alone is a vanity without looking at:

  • ranking
  • user experience (relevance and value-added)

It’s worth digging deeper to examine the spread of potential traffic generation each site musters up from internal pages.

Take a look:

GH

  1. handyman Midrand = http://www.gautenghandyman.co.za/areas-serviced/midrand/
    • no appearance on 1st page Google
  2. handyman Randburg = http://www.gautenghandyman.co.za/areas-serviced/randburg/
    • no appearance on 1st page Google
  3. handyman Edenvale = http://www.gautenghandyman.co.za/areas-serviced/edenvale/
    • no appearance on 1st page Google
  4. door repairs Gauteng = http://www.gautenghandyman.co.za/carpentry/doors-windows/
    • no.3 Google
  5. electric fences Gauteng = http://www.gautenghandyman.co.za/electrical/electric-fence/
    • no appearance on 1st page Google

Whilst GH for its main keyword performs very well featuring on the first page of Google, it doesn’t perform so well at all on the long-tail search.

HGH

  1. handyman fleurhof = http://handyman-handyman.co.za/handyman-fleurhof.html
    • no appearance on 1st page Google
  2. handyman brakpan = http://handyman-handyman.co.za/handyman-brakpan.html
    • no appearance on 1st page Google
  3. handyman ravensklip = http://www.handyman-handyman.co.za/handyman-ravensklip.html
    • no appearance on 1st page Google
  4. azaadville renovations = http://handyman-handyman.co.za/azaadville-renovations.html
    • no appearance on 1st page Google
  5. slovoville tiling = http://handyman-handyman.co.za/slovoville-tiling.html
    1. no. 2 Google

Again, much like GH the satelite pages (long tail) perform quite pooly for their corresponding long tail keywords.

Other sites long tail

Whilst searching those Google pages for the positions of GH and HGH for their targeted long tail keywords, I discoverd a LOT of other handyman websites which WERE ranking for these long tail keywords.

Here are the pick of the bunch:

Both of these websites appear often in the top 5 results on the 1st page of Google for their long tail area keywords.

So what is it about these websites that allows them to rank so well for their long tail place name search terms?

In my opinion…

Simply:

  • a more naturally written page
  • very sparse sprinkling of the area name

One site writes a fairly heavy page length by comparison 600+ words (thehandymanjohannesburg.co.za)

Another is just a series of simple sentences focused on each trade service and only 1 page body mention of the place name.

The other has 3 paragraphs with place name mentions in paragraph 2-3 and totally omitting the leading paragraph.

All of them use the “keyword + telephone number” as the page title which shows as the blue link in Google’s search page.

Backlinks

Surprisingly this is one area which the 5 websites featured have greatly overlooked.

Then again, acquiring quality backlinks from prominent websites can be quite a time/labour intensive task.

Plus, may not be entirely necessary to achieve the end results.

(For this task I used Ahrefs Backlink Checker Tool)

Across the board, this is how they measure up:

  1. gautenghandyman.co.za = 1,258 links
  2. handymanjohannesburg.com = 67 links
  3. stanthehandyman.co.za = 5 links
  4. thehandymanjohannesburg.co.za = 1 link
  5. handyman-handyman.co.za = 1 link

Any correlation between number of links vs. rankings?

Not really. All sites rank on page 1 Google for their primary keywords. And the internal pages are unlikely to have any links.

That said, the sites that tend to rank a little higher up the first page are sites 1,2 & 3 in the list above.

And remembering from the infographic earlier in this article the difference between the 1st and 5th position on the 1st page of Google can be as much as 300% traffic.

The conclusion on links? It helps to have a few more links than the other sites on page 1. It probably isn’t worth having hundreds more though. It may not make that much difference after all.

Handyman SEO: The Conclusion

Here is a compilation of tips which I recommend for anyone devising an local area/regional handyman services SEO campaign.

  1. Choose a domain name that is exact match for your primary keyword eg. handyman ‘[place name]’, or as close to this as possible – but ‘handyman’ has GOT to be in it
  2. Build the website using a content management system (CMS) – you’ll need this to make it easy to scale up the page production and publishing
  3. Have a primary navigation the includes: home, about, services (inc. sub pages for the trades offered), gallery, quote, contact
  4. The home page title should start with “[place name] handyman services” and follow with specific skills/trades offered
  5. Include a telephone number in the page description
  6. Make some reference to experience of business in the description for reputation
  7. Mention the trades or skills in the decription – again matching the title
  8. Use a place name variation in the description
  9. Make sure the page title link on Google page and H1 tagged title on the homepage MATCH
  10. Your homepage subheading should include skills/trades mentioned in the page description on Google
  11. Mention the title phrase again in the 1st line of the 1st paragraph
  12. Make no other mention of the place name and few mentions of handyman
  13. Build out physically siloed service, project and area pages with the same keyword optimsation formula in points 1-12 (make the pages 600+ words long)
  14. Internally link the satellite landing pages for service, project or area (starting from the homepage).
  15. Set up a Google My Business (GMB) account and fill in ALL the detail: the NAP details on the profile should match the website and other prominent business profiles pages.
  16. Entitle the Google My Business profile ‘Handyman Services [place name]’
  17. Get customers to review the business
  18. Link your website to the GMB account profile
  19. Install a blog on the website and give regular project updates – perhaps use it as a channel to share project updates with customers
  20. Get links from local and regional directories and business websites – perhaps 10 links will do.

General SEO advice

  • Get a company name that matches you primary keyword
  • Be consistent with Google page metadata and on-page content
  • Don’t write for the search engine…write to add value for customer experience.
  • Use interal lnks to organise the user experience
  • Prioritise user experience, write normally, produce as much content as you can which leads the customer to learn something new

REMEMBER the Google advice:

  1. Freshness of content
  2. Number of time your search terms appear in the webpage
  3. Whether the page has a good user experience
  4. It is a site that many users value for similar queries
  5. prominent websites link to the page

Let’s go for it and generate some handyman leads using this SEO plan!


References:

https://ahrefs.com/blog/local-seo/

https://backlinko.com/local-seo-guide

Improve local SEO with Google My Business

SEO Siloing: How to build a website silo architecture

https://www.usability.gov/what-and-why/user-experience.html

https://developers.google.com/search/docs/advanced/guidelines/url-structure

https://backlinko.com/on-page-seo

https://www.wordstream.com/blog/ws/2012/11/07/how-to-find-long-tail-keywords

https://backlinko.com/hub/seo/backlinks

https://www.garyfox.co/aggregator-business-model/

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *