How did that happen? The company realized it needed to do some marketing to improve sales. “We never spent much money on advertising before and we were always busy enough so we didn’t need to,” he says. “But with a slower economy we needed to do something to generate more sales.”
Anatomy of the website
So they put up a website (www.valleyblacktopping.com). Actually, Ryan Johnson put up the website on his own in 2009. “We needed to have an online presence because that’s where people are going,” he says. “And because the company was shifting its focus to the residential replacement market we needed to find a way for those people to find us.”
Johnson, who describes himself as “self-taught but tech savvy,” used a free website template to create a generic website that did little more than enable people to contact the company. But it did give Valley Blacktopping an online presence and he showed it to the family after it was all up and running.
At first the rest of the family didn’t want a website, the general feeling being “We’ve got ads in the phone book and that’s all we need,” Johnson says. “When they started seeing I was getting emails asking for estimates they started to see its value.”
But old habits die hard. Johnson says the company still ran ads in the phone book though hardly anyone found the company that way. “We had very, very limited advertising prior to putting up the website; just ads in two phone books, that’s all,” he says. “Two years ago we stopped paying for those ads and now all our commercial vehicles have the website on them.”
Working the website
In 2010 Valley Blacktopping upgraded its website and spent some marketing dollars on web-based advertising. Johnson says that since then the impact of the website has intensified.
Where the site initially provided only an opportunity for people to contact the contractor, the redesigned site features a dozen pages visitors can click on including an About Us page and separate pages for residential work, commercial work, driveway care and a photo gallery where pictures of completed jobs scroll slowly by. Every page also includes a link to contact the company directly for either an e-mail reply or a phone number.
Once the site was upgraded the next step was to improve its ranking on search engines such as Google so that when people were looking for a contractor like Valley Blacktopping, Valley Blacktopping came up near the top of the list on the first search page.
Johnson investigated and started to use Google Adwords, which is Google’s primary revenue source. Websites such as Valley Blacktopping “buy” specific words and when a visitor uses those words in a search and is directed to Valley Blacktopping’s site, the site is charged a small fee. Johnson says the investment in Google Adwords paid off as Valley Blacktopping climbed high on Google. Then he began paying close attention to Google Analytics, a Google service that tracks for website owners what exactly is happening with their website.
“Google Analytics lets me know what search engines people are using, how many people keyed in our web address and how many keyed in our company name only. It tells me the click-through rate, how long visitors stay on the website, what pages are visited, how many unique visitors we get a month, where they are searching from – it’s a lot of good information,” he says.
He says Google Analytics showed him that the site’s Home Page is the page most visited, followed by About Us. “Next is Residential Services and people must go there to see if we offer what they want done,” Johnson says.
He says the site averages 200 visitors each month during the summer and between 30 and 40 percent of those visits result in a request for an estimate. “I think that’s pretty good,” he says.
He says once people visit the site and decide to contact the company they do it almost equally via e-mail and phone. “A lot of times people have questions they want answered right away so they call instead of email,” he says.