In an industry as competitive as home services, it’s critical to understand that your search engine optimization goal shouldn’t just be to rank highly on Google in a general sense. What you really need to focus on are the local rankings – meaning those search results that are being displayed for people who live very close to where your business operates. These are the people who are most likely to engage your contracting services to begin with.
A big part of success to that end comes down to your contracting site’s “freshness” ranking. Improving this ranking (and thus where you rank locally) isn’t necessarily difficult, but it does require you to keep a few key things in mind.
Understanding the Local Ranking Factors: An Overview
As a home services contractor, one of the best ways to improve your local rankings comes down to gaining a better understanding of what factors determine those rankings to begin with.
By far, one of the most important qualities that Google looks at when determining local rankings is recency. You could have a blog filled with helpful, relevant contracting articles – but if it hasn’t been updated in two years, it isn’t helping you nearly as much as you’d hope. You need to be publishing high-value content at least a few times a month to see gains to that end.
Relevancy is also a major contributing factor to Google rankings. If you’re a home services contractor that specializes in exterior work, you want to make sure all the content that you’re posting reflects that. General, “all-purpose” articles that cover a lot of different topics in scarce detail won’t really help in the long run.
Distance is another element that determines Google rankings, and it’s one you can’t necessarily help. You’re not going to rank highly in a local search that someone performs 80 miles away from your main operating area because it wouldn’t make sense for that to be the case.
Prominence and availability are other qualities that help determine your local Google rankings. “Prominence” is determined by how well known your home services business already is and, in theory, this will improve over time as your SEO rankings do the same. “Availability” refers to how accessible your business ultimately is.
Of these, one of the most important is recency – otherwise known as the “freshness” of the content that you’re putting out there into the world.
What is “Fresh Content” and Why Does it Matter?
At its core, “fresh content” is exactly what it sounds like – content that has been recently published that makes your home services contracting business easier to find online.
Again, one of the elements that Google uses when determining local rankings for businesses comes down to how active you are. If your website hasn’t been updated in five years, Google will use that as an indication that you aren’t very active – even if you and your employees are out in the field working every day. Regular updates to your website and a steady stream of high-value, relevant content will help show Google that this is the case.
A few different elements go into this, too. These include things like:
- Published date. This is when a particular page was uploaded onto your contracting business’ website. If you created a new “Services” page, the date this page goes live would be the published date.
- Indexed date. This is the date when Google’s crawlers first “discover” your page and add it to the Google search results page (or SERPs). The published date and the indexed date will not necessarily be the same.
- Last crawl. Periodically, those crawlers will analyze your pages to determine whether they have been updated.
- Modified date. This is when the last change was made to your page – like the day you updated your “Services” page to reflect a new offering, or the day when you published a new post to your blog.
How Does Google Measure Content Freshness?
Google measures content freshness in a few different ways, not just for home services contracting businesses but for all organizations.
First, they look at the page inception date. This is the date upon which the page in question was first indexed by Google. For the sake of example, let’s say we’re talking about the blog on your website where you publish helpful, relevant articles about various professional contracting services and why they’re important.
Next, Google looks at the number of changes that have been made to the page in question. Large changes – like multiple new blog posts as opposed to just one – will always have more weight in terms of freshness than smaller changes.
Google will then examine the number of changes to the core content of the page in question. This means that it will look for changes to the main body content as opposed to just headings or footers. Main body content changes always add more freshness to a page than just adjusting minor elements like even date and/or time tags.
Also under the microscope will be the rate at which your page has been changing. Making frequent changes to your page will signal more freshness than periodic changes, even if they’re larger ones. Essentially, imagine two scenarios: one where you publish a new blog post once a week for six months, and a second where you publish 10 new blog posts all at the same time. Because your contracting page is being updated more frequently in the first scenario, that is the one that will carry more weight in terms of freshness – even if the updates in the second scenario are of high quality.
Along the same lines, Google will also look to the rate at which you are adding new pages to your home services contracting website. This is something that can happen in a few different ways depending on the situation:
- Once again, adding new blog posts can certainly help if each blog exists on its own page. You could have a main “digest” page that contains links to all the blogs you’ve ever published, and then each link could open a dedicated page for the blog in a new tab. Each new blog would count as an example of new page creation.
- If you have a gallery of work that you have completed in the past, you could create a new page for each project. You could include pictures, an overview of the contracting work you did, and more. With each project you finish, you could add a new page – thus increasing your freshness as a result.
- As you add new contracting services, create a new page for each one detailing what it is, why it matters and why homeowners or commercial clients should care about it.
These are just a few examples of ways in which you can increase your rate of new page creation. More often than not, it will be a combination of these methods that will allow you to achieve the success that you’re after.
Finally, the freshness of backlinks to the page in question will also help improve the freshness of your domain overall. Links from sites that have high freshness scores themselves can be an efficient way to improve yours.
How Does Content Freshness Affect Your Local Rankings?
Content freshness helps Google determine local rankings by painting a more vivid picture of your home services contracting business than simple traffic numbers could on their own. There are many sites on the Internet that get large periodic volumes of traffic that haven’t been updated in years – that doesn’t mean they should rank highly.
But fresh content shows that you’re an active business, you’re invested in publishing high-value content, and you offer services that are relative to the needs of searchers. The more often you can show these things, the better the chance you have at rising to the top of the SERPs.
How to Improve Your Freshness Score: Fresh Content SEO Tips for Home Services Contractors
As a home services contractor, you can improve your site’s freshness score in a few different ways. Again, you’ll want to leverage a combination of these techniques for the best possible results:
- Publish new, helpful and relevant content on a regular basis – at least once a week, if not more.
- Refresh your older content on a regular basis as new information becomes available on those topics.
- Prioritize content that is receiving high volumes of traffic. In other words, once you find out what your audience likes, create more of it.
- Change the publication date on your content after updates are made, if applicable.
- Finally, submit to Google through the “Search Console” to get your site indexed and your changes recognize as soon as possible.
Request a Demo of Our Business Intelligence Marketing Software Today
If improving your local rankings as a home services contractor sounds like a big time commitment, that’s because it is. But that’s okay – we’re here to help! Request a demo of our business intelligence marketing software. It allows you to not only view analytics to identify high-performing content, but it also helps you publish new content regularly as well. You can also use it to edit and update blog articles from one easy place, allowing you to improve your site’s “freshness” ranking faster than ever.