17 Jul Website Essentials For The Construction Industry
The construction industry operates very much in the “you are only as good as your last job” camp. Therefore, one of the challenges we face as a digital media company, is that those within the building trade always say that they get much of their work through “word of mouth”. Whilst this may well have been the only credentials they needed 10 years ago, today potential customers are far more inclined to do some online research before choosing who builds their new extension, re-tile their roof or builds a whole new wing of their school.
The internet is now literally at everyone’s’ fingertips – with people connected 24 hours a day. Whether you are connected via your mobile provider or sitting in a cafe with free internet – the potential client base is now hungry to learn everything about a company before they commit, and more importantly open their wallet.
So, with this in mind, what are our top tips for a website for those in the construction industry:
HAVE AN ONLINE PRESENCE
This might seem like an obvious tip, however, as I outlined above, there are still people today fighting this necessity. The world wide web is no longer a fad – but the main source of information for the world. If your competitors have a website, they are far more likely to garner business – or at least start a conversation with potential clients – than those who have no website or just a listing on a directory website.
A competitor with a professionally built, slick, informative website will provide people with the basic knowledge they need to weigh up the options available to them. The internet now opens us up to a worldwide marketplace. Programmes like Grand Designs have shown us that if someone is thinking of undertaking a new house build, they are not afraid to take on international construction companies as the materials, methods and expertise may still work out cheaper by pulling in experts from abroad – and they are only found by looking at their websites!
We live in a very visual age. Every day we are bombarded with new and flashy images representing what services people have to offer. “An image speaks a thousand words” – and none more so than in the construction industry. Well taken photos of before and after a project – visually showcasing the level of craftsmanship that you can provide, will far outweigh a long, descriptive body of text that goes in the minutiae of the work undertaken. These images can be displayed in galleries or case studies, showing the full spectrum of work that can be completed – from fitting a bathroom to completely resurfacing a commercial forecourt. Those browsing the internet may be doing so for five minutes away from their desk at work, and so seeing well-presented imagery will tell them what they need to know, quickly and efficiently.
A full list of the services you provide will not only tell the user quickly what you can provide, but will also serve as the bedrock of keywords for use in your search engine optimisation. Each of these services can represent a page on the website. The pages needn’t be long, rambling prose, but a descriptive paragraph of what the service entails and a list of the sub-services in this area.
Many people will know what it is they are looking for before they search – and if they see this listed in a clear navigation or by bold “points of sale” on the home page – they are far more inclined to pick up the phone and start a conversation with you. It can’t be implied that you provide a commercial roofing services – the potential customer needs to be told, and a website provides a great way to list everything that you do.
Tying together the previous two tips – your content is key. However, your content should be unique. Although many companies may cover the same services, you need to really consider what sets you apart from the competition. One of the hardest things to do, personally and professionally, is to write about yourself.
One of the best ways to overcome this is to work with a copywriter and have a messaging session. A copywriter will be able to ask the right questions you may not have considered, and ultimately provide information that is unique. Your content can’t be taken from other sources – as major search engines have the ability to compare online content and see if it is plagiarised. Your content also needs to think about internal linking – using keywords to link to the other relevant pages in the website.
This concept is applied to images too. It is much better to use imagery that is your own where possible (and of a high enough quality). Images of your own work are far better than stock imagery – as these will stand out. Also having your own images, either taken while on site or set up by a professional – adds a far more personal touch, demonstrating to web users that you are a professional outfit that has really thought about the image they are trying to convey.
MEET THE TEAM
A website can be a very impersonal tool if not done professionally and with thought. It is very easy to only bombard users with the services you offer or the deals you may provide. However, if the website has done its job, then the potential customer will pick up the phone to further engage with you.
We have found over the years that “Meet the Team” pages are very popular with users. It is an added personal touch, helping to connect people with an otherwise faceless organisation. These types of pages also add a level of transparency and helps users to engage with someone they feel familiar with. Again, the right marketing agency will help you to create the right image – with professional photography – asking the right questions that provide a professional, yet friendly profile for the key members of your team.
Case studies have several uses. You want to be able to show people the range of work you can carry out. Whilst a construction company’s focus may be trying to maintain or build large, bespoke structures for commercial enterprises, it might be the case that they also provide smaller services for the domestic sector – the “bread and butter” work.
However tempting it is to show off your architecturally designed, five story new build, you don’t want to put off the more day to day work – if this is the type of service you offer. Case studies give you the ability to showcase the full range of work you undertake – again in a clear visual way – but with the bonus of detailing (in a concise way), the challenges you faced, the way you overcame them and also if the client allows, a testimonial, detailing how the experience was working with you (hopefully a positive one!).
Case studies also need to be kept up to date and are a way of showing that you are still active and current in what you do. Instead of flooding a website with hundreds of jobs you have done, it is good to replace older jobs, keeping the range refined. It is also an effective way to show that you are aware of current or future trends in your industry, giving you the chance to demonstrate the latest methods of construction, or the latest build styles.
The internet is now at our fingertips on a 24 hours basis with a plethora of devices available to browse the internet. Most people now view websites on their smartphones or tablets – as they are easily to hand and portable. Therefore, your website must be able to adapt to the screen that it is viewed on.
Google will now rank you depending on the device being viewed on and whether your website is responsive i.e.: adapting to screen size. You now need one website that is developed to collapse in the correct way. Google will see the ease of use and if your competitor doesn’t have a responsive website – you will rank higher than them in the listings.
A website is great way to show off what awards and accreditations you have achieved – acting as your trophy cabinet. This can be done with logos of the awarding bodies – and you can link to their websites. If you are listed on their websites then this link back structure will help you to gain rankings in the search listings.
Accreditations are an important way to show the standards you have achieved and provide a level of trust in the quality of the services you offer. By showcasing these, you prove that you have a level of commitment to the work you carry out and this will help to sell your ethos.
Websites that are written well, give enough information to gain interest from a potential customer or client. However, some users may wish to have more in depth information and be able to take it away to read later when they have more time. A method of doing this is to have a brochure designed that matches the look and messaging of your shiny new website. Google can search documents too – so although this is a helpful tool for the user, it also pushes you up the rankings. The thought shown by offering these useful downloads, also shows that your business is committed to offering the best experience to those considering your services.
Websites offer so many possibilities and with technologies developing on an almost daily basis the scope of what a website can provide is almost limitless. The general public’s expectations are also changing, and they now demand quick and concise information to be available at the touch of a button.
A website and the investment you put into it, shows the browsing public that you have thought about the importance of the image you project. While word of mouth may still bring in a revenue stream – the first port of call now is a website – it is your shop window to a global audience.