Pest Control SEO: The Definitive Guide
At the time of this blog post, there are well over 20,000 pest control companies in the United States.
If you’re a Pest Control Operator (PCO), you need to stand out from the competition.
Luckily for you, we are wizards in this arena.
You see, with the popularity of the internet, consumers can find out all the information they need in just seconds. Good reviews, bad reviews, services, locality, and just about everything else.
You need a way to distinguish yourself as the best available option.
A comprehensive online pest control marketing strategy is the way to do this.
We’ve created the Ultimate SEO Guide for pest control companies so that you can gain more exposure online, leading to more calls and more SALES.
Just to give you an idea, this guide is about 4000 words strong, so you may need to bookmark it and come back.
We created it in numbered sections so you can jump back and forth to the subjects that you’re interested in.
Let’s dive in…
1. Importance of SEO for Pest Control
Yes, we’re an SEO company, so we may be *slightly* biased, but it’s really not up for debate.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is one of the most important things a pest control company can do to get customers online.
We simply have too much data (and sales) under our belt to deny that.
However, what does this mean for you and your business?
In short, it means that in order to compete with other companies in your geographic area, you’ll need to know the basics of what search engines are looking for, how to create a strategy with realistic expectations, know which keywords to target, and how to execute a long-term strategy that fits your business.
For any given pest control search on Google, you’ll see something like this:
As you can see, there will be a map section and a regular list section below with 10 results. These are considered “organic” because they appear naturally, as opposed to ads that are usually placed above these.
Note: If there are ads running, they will appear first, right under the search bar. You may also notice sponsored “Google Guaranteed” services here as well.
These “Google Guaranteed” ads are super new, so only time will tell what Google’s “play” is with them.
Remember, Google’s motive is not only to fetch results, but more importantly, to make lots of money.
These ads are a way to do just that.
Anyway, back to SEO-
If you were to actually search for, say, pest control in Houston TX, you’d be just one of over 2,000 people who type this in every month!
If you own a pest control company, imagine if you could capture even 10% of these clicks and funnel them to your website!
From the studies we’ve seen, the top organic listing (under the map section) gets around 30% of the clicks.
In this case, that’s 600 clicks from potential buyers.
If you could formulate a plan that would eventually land you this kind of click volume, you’d jump at the opportunity, right?
After you’ve read through this guide, you’ll be well on your way 🙂
2. What Do Search Engines Want?
The first thing to understand is that Google wants to show visitors the very best results for any given search.
Their stated mission is to “organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”
So if you are not willing to make a better site than your competitors, SEO is not for you.
Here are a few things that separate good sites from the rest:
- Easy to Navigate
- Loads Quickly
- User-Friendly Design
- No Broken Links/Pages
- Customer-Friendly Language
- Clear Calls to Action
In short, build your site for people first, search engines second.
You can rank a site pretty high on search engines, but if people hate your site and bounce off of it back to the search results, your progress will be stifled.
*One thing that we’ve found is that Google will often favor review sites like Yelp and AngiesList, due to their overall trust and site authority (especially if there are no great results from pest control companies).
In fact, we’ve done studies that indicate that only about 69% of first page pest control searches are actual pest control companies.
There are a lot of improvements to be made, no doubt about it.
Having a clear strategy for capturing traffic in your specific geographic area will be key to your long-term success.
3. Pest Control SEO Strategy
Search Engine Optimization is, in a nutshell, making hundreds of small, specific improvements that eventually compound into rankings, traffic, leads, and sales.
It can be daunting to consider all the things that need to be done to out-rank your competitors.
However, we agree with our friend Steven Kang from SEO Signals Lab– it all can be narrowed down to four distinct “signals”.
They are listed below:
If you can nail these, you can rank for any keyword in the universe. At that point, your only consideration is timeline and budget.
Authority– When a trusted site references yours, usually through backlinks, your site “authority” goes up.
Technical– site speed, security, and indexing, etc.
Popularity– search engines, social media, and links play a role in this, which Google can detect and reward.
Relevancy– All keywords have related keywords that appear in Google’s database. They can be related through geography, industry, brand, etc. This is often the #1 mistake that we’ve seen pest control companies make.
Knowing these general “signals” that lead to SEO success is key, but they won’t do any good unless you’ve built your campaign on a solid foundation, starting with keywords.
4. Pest Control Keyword Research
If you were to travel back in time to 2007, keywords were really all there was to SEO.
Now, with hundreds of factors influencing search rankings, their significance is often downplayed.
This is a mistake.
Knowing keywords and “search intent” are still a major foundation to Search Engine Optimization.
What is Keyword Research?
Keyword Research is the process of uncovering search terms and determining the value of each in order to carry out an SEO campaign.
Once you have a giant list of keywords, you can further categorize them based on search intent.
Here’s what to ask yourself-
“What outcome is expected with a given search query?”
– Informational– searches looking solely for information about a subject.
Examples: bed bug appearance, types of spiders in California, essential oils for pest control, mosquito facts, etc.
– Branded– a search for a specific company. You’ll of course want to rank for your business name, but this should happen whether you put a lot of resources into it or not.
Examples: Jims Pest Control Houston, Pest-O Exterminators, etc.
– Purchase Intent– these are the main focus, keywords that denote an imminent buying decision.
Examples: termite treatment cost, pest control Phoenix AZ, bed bug exterminator, eco-friendly pest control near me, etc.
In pest control, knowing which keywords people are typing in is only part of the puzzle.
Knowing which ones to target (especially on a budget) is the real key.
For example, if you just targeted the word “pest control” because over 100,000 people search it a month, you might regret it.
Let me explain.
Not only is it a self-evident keyword that would be targeted anyway, but you’d be competing with the likes of Terminix and Orkin on a national level.
From our experience, it’s important to hone in on two areas: location and service.
Like mentioned before, the keywords with the highest volume aren’t always the best ones to go after.
The first question is: what level are you at currently?
If you have a brand new site/brand new company, there’s no way I’d recommend going after “pest control los angeles” or “pest control houston”.
The competition is just too high.
But let’s say you’ve found a way to make bed bug or termite treatments really profitable.
Targeting one of these might be a much more efficient use of time since there’s less competition.
You might think that 320 people searching for termite control is just not enough, but from what we’ve found, these search volume estimates are extremely conservative.
The actual numbers are usually much higher, not to mention people typing in derivatives, higher volume in the warm season, misspellings, etc.
Or if you’re stuck on pest control for your keyword, try targeting a smaller city within your service area.
For example, Long Beach is still in L.A. county, but has an extremely manageable difficulty rating of 4.
Think of the different ways you can use this tactic to find keyword opportunities that your competitors are overlooking.
5. On-Page SEO for Pest Control Websites
When an established pest control company comes to us and wants to capitalize on “low hanging fruit”, we almost always turn to on-page elements.
What is On-Page SEO?
On-Page SEO is the process of optimizing pages of a website so that it will rank higher in search engines.
This is (of course) different than Off-Page SEO, which includes external signals like backlinks.
The cool thing about On-Page SEO is that it’s completely under your control.
We can’t force sites to link to us or Google to automatically rank us at the top, but we can always make sure the on-page elements are as complete as possible.
One thing that you’ll come to learn is that with local businesses, Google cares a lot about consistency.
If your business name, address, and phone number appear different on different pages of your website or they don’t match what Google sees in online directories, they won’t “trust” your site.
There are a lot of great tips for on-page SEO, so instead of defining nerd terms, here is a list of things you can do to nail your On-page SEO.
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
– Ensure your pages are crawl-able (use Screaming Frog SEO Spider to see if there are any errors that would prevent Google from crawling your site).
– Google should automatically index your site, but you double-check by typing in your URL in the search box like this:
– Put your main keywords on the page in question. Don’t stuff them in where they appear unnatural, but if you’re planning on ranking a page for a certain keyword or phrase, it needs to appear somewhere in the text.
– Put Your Keyword in the Title, if at all possible. This should also be your “H1 Tag”.
– Create a meta description that includes your keywords, but also urges the user to click on your listing. Note: stuffing tons of kw’s in there doesn’t help with ranking.
– Add your keywords to the URL of the page where natural (in other words, don’t overdo it – it helps but it’s not a massive factor either).
– Also, create URL’s (permalinks) that are concise. Ramming tons of keywords in there usually backfires. Keep them as short as you are able.
– Use unique media. Graphics, custom photography, and especially videos are great for keeping users engaged with your site.
– *Note on media: if your photos are massive, compress them so it doesn’t drag your loading speed down.
– When you upload media, create descriptive “alt-text”. Search Engines use this to understand your media.
If you’re using WordPress, you can do this easily as you upload new photos or media.
– Use internal links to reference other pages on your site. This is useful for site visitors and Google as well. Use descriptive anchor text (the actual text of the link) when creating these.
– If you change a URL, make sure to redirect the old permalink to the new one. This way you don’t get redirect chains or 404 errors.
– Fix any broken links that appear in the Screaming Frog software for your site.
– Make sure your site is mobile-friendly. Google recently announced that their indexing would prioritize mobile-friendly sites.
– Get an SSL certificate (https) for your site. This will make it appear “secure” in most browsers.
– Put your address on your site. If you only have one location, just place it in the footer. If you have multiple locations, place the address on your dedicated local landing page.
– Use schema markup to help search engines understand your site better. If you’re using WordPress, the schema plugin works fine.
6. Local SEO for Pest Control Companies
Local SEO refers to methods of optimizing a website to show up in location-specific searches.
This includes appearing in the local organic section as well as the map section. Nearly all pest control searches fall under these categories, so knowing Local SEO is essential.
In a yearly survey conducted by Moz, SEO experts weigh in on the most important factors for ranking locally. Here is what they came up with in regards to ranking in the local pack.
And here’s for local organic:
Google itself has narrowed it down to just three factors that encapsulate their determination of local rankings: Relevance, Distance, and Prominence.
The first two seem simple: Google wants to only show the most relevant results for a give query. Distance/Proximity to searcher is also a no-brainer for a local search. But what is Prominence?
According to Google:
“Prominence is also based on information that Google has about a business from across the web (like links, articles, and directories). Google review count and score are factored into local search ranking: more reviews and positive ratings will probably improve a business’s local ranking. Your position in web results is also a factor, so SEO best practices also apply to local search optimization.”
Local SEO in Practice
Now that you know the factors related to ranking, it’s time to dig into the actual action items and put them into play.
Citations are anywhere your pest control site is listed on other websites. Since Google uses data from a whole host of sources for its information, it’s important to list your business on all the major sites. Think Yelp, Yellow Pages, Dex, Mapquest, that sort of thing.
Since Google sees how your information is presented on all these sites, make sure they are all 100% consistent.
Your name, address, and phone number should appear the same across all platforms as to not confuse users or search engines.
Since Google is the place that determines your ranking, it only makes sense to focus on their listing service first.
Go to google.com/business to either create or claim your free listing. Fill out everything as completely as possible.
Here is where that information appears when Google sees what it considers a branded search.
The more effort you put into this, the better.
Google wants to keep their reputation high, so they try to only show legit businesses that perform their services in a professional manner.
This is why they take the number of reviews and average rating into account for ranking purposes.
We found that the median number of reviews that corresponded to each position in the map pack were 27, 25, and 17 respectively.
This wasn’t a scientific study by any means, but it gives you a good idea of where you’re at in comparison.
*Note: Negative reviews happen to every company. The key is in your response. Come across “human” so other potential customers can see that you’re reasonable and will take care of them when they call you.
If the review is blatantly false or slanderous, reach out to the review platform and they may remove it. Sometimes they refuse (*cough cough* Yelp), but it’s worth a shot.
Keep your rating high by continually cultivating positive reviews, so that even if a few bad ones come in, they’ll be drowned out by all the 5 star reviews.
Google scans the words on your site. Do you think that a site with 4 pages of thin content stands a chance against a site with relevant, in-depth blog posts that detail services, geographically relevant items, and pest species?
It’s possible, but not likely.
You don’t need to post content every day for Google to like you, but think of it this way-
Google can see your site as a whole, so each quality page on it can add relevance and authority to it as a whole.
The more there is, and the more often Google sees new content, the better.
Again, there are ranking sites out there that aren’t posting regularly, but if you’re looking to increase your chances of ranking high, don’t overlook quality content creation.
7. Link Building
Link building is consistently one of the top factors in ranking a website.
But it’s also one of the toughest, which is why many companies use shady tactics to acquire them.
Backlinks are anytime one page references another. These are “clickable” and magically transport you to the other one.
Alright, you probably already know what a link is.
The problem is, Google puts a lot of value in how many quality sites are linking to yours. So your challenge becomes, “how do I get other sites to link to mine?”
Every SEO has been asking that since the dawn of the internet.
The “black hat” way to do it is to just buy domains that already have links pointing to them, create passable-looking sites, and then link to yours from them.
It worked pretty well for a while, but Google has brought down the hammer on such tactics in recent years.
Some still get away with it, but for us, it’s just not worth the risk of being penalized.
The first place to get links is from the directories where you’d naturally list your business. Think Google Business, Yelp, AngiesList, Yellow Pages, etc.
Almost all of them will allow you to link to your website.
These are great for foundation links, but due to the size of the sites, they rarely give “do-follow” links, or links that directly influence site authority for ranking purposes.
Here are a few places to start looking in order to get links to your site:
– Social Media Profiles
– Industry Listings
– Local Directories
– Partner/Supplier Websites
– Friends/Family Members that run websites that could naturally link to yours
– Shoulder Niches- any site that is similar to pest control would be great to get a link from. Construction, Gardening, Home Services, Plumbing, etc. However, link-for-a-link type schemes are also not good (reciprocal links), so you must be able to provide something else of value in order to make it worth it for them to link to you.
If you’re interested in learning more about link-building, check out this post on how we go about doing it for clients.
8. Attributing SEO Success
Pest Control is a simple industry, and its business model is even simpler.
For online queries, the most concise version of your sales funnel looks something like this:
More traffic increases form fills and phone calls to the business, which in turn generate more sales.
The challenge for PCO’s is knowing which sales came from Search Engine Optimization.
The first step is to establish a baseline of how many calls are currently coming in from each source.
If you’re currently getting zero calls from organic search, it’s easy.
Each organic call from Google moving forward should be attributed to your SEO company.
Using a dynamic insertion technique, a call tracking company like CallRail can attribute, tag, and record any visitors that come through a search engine like Google.
That way you always know your ROI in real-time.
Your SEO company should be able to easily tell you how many calls they brought you.
One of our clients was only getting sales from brand searches before SEO. We created landing pages, set up call tracking, and optimized their site.
They were ecstatic that even with it being fall, when pest control work starts slowing down, they reported over 60 calls in one month from SEO.
Assuming each sale was worth $500 and stayed with the company for 2 years ($1000 lifetime value) and they closed 1/3 of their calls, this particular company could’ve easily 6x’d the amount they paid us for the month… in what would normally be a slow time of year!
This is the power of SEO.
Because we understand the potential of this type of marketing, we partner with companies that are set to GROW.
9. Tips for Converting Website Visitors
In SEO, we talk a lot about “ranking” websites and increasing traffic to them.
However, not enough gets said about how to convert visitors once they actually come to your site.
You could capture a higher percentage of the clicks for a given search, but people are pretty impatient these days.
They know within seconds if your site is legit or not, and by extension, if you’re worth working with or not.
Because if it doesn’t appear to be “legit”, they know they can find one that IS with a couple of clicks.
When a site visitor only comes to one page of your site, then leaves without further interaction, this is called “bouncing”. Your bounce rate is the amount of bounces divided by total website sessions.
In short, it’s a quality measurement of sorts.
If you have an extremely high bounce rate, it usually indicates that your landing page isn’t very relevant to your visitors or they’re being turned off by something.
We’ve found that most pest control companies’ bounce rates are between 55%-75%.
If you are higher than that, you probably need to make some changes to lower it and keep people on your site.
If you are lower than this range, we’d like to talk to you and see what your secret is! 🙂
4 Tips for Increasing Conversions on a Pest Control Site
Knowing what bounce rate is will get you into “conversion” mode.
Your question should always be:
“How can I eliminate roadblocks for my customers?”
Your pest control website represents your business. You may provide an incredible service, but no one knows that unless your site is up to par.
Here are a couple principles for site design:
– Simple is Better
– Keep it Clean- avoid being cluttered or too busy
– Emphasize (with size and color) where you want customers to click (phone number, book online, etc.)
– Less options are better for tracking conversions
– Show a picture of the owner or technicians for your company- no stock photos. (Videos are even better)
CTA’s (Calls to Action)
You need to actively tell potential customers what to do.
This seems like overkill, but it’s amazing how many websites don’t emphasize the importance of:
– requesting a quote
– calling calling right now
– signing up for your newsletter
– filling out a form
Whatever page the potential customer is on, there should be a goal in mind.
If it’s a blog post, have them “like” your facebook page to stay updated. If they’re on a service page, offer them a deal if they sign up today. If they’re on your homepage, invite them to call now or read more about the company.
People don’t want to spend money on something they’re not sure will work.
You can relieve their anxiety by creating a bold promise or guarantee. This should be featured prominently on your site.
– “We’ll Kill ’em Dead or it’s Free.”
– “On Time Every Time.”
– “If we have to come back more than once between services, your next service is on us.”
– “If you get Termites on our Watch, We’ll Cover the Cost.”
These are a few examples of risk reversals that can be effective.
Use your imagination to come up with more “hooks” that will help people choose you over a competitor.
Over 90% of Americans say they trust online reviews as much as the recommendation of a friend.
When I first read that, I was shocked.
It goes to show that people are looking for real experiences when considering a company.
You can always tell them you’re the best.
It’s time for your testimonials to SHOW them.
It’s one thing to know all the principles to rank your pest control site.
It’s quite another to take action and do it – or hire someone else to do it.
Search Engine Optimization can be a bit frustrating at times, akin to climbing a mountain. It’s hard work, and at times you may not feel like you’re making much progress.
But once you get to the top, all of the work you put in becomes worth it.
Please reach out to us if you have any feedback on this post or would like to discuss anything mentioned on it. We’re always down to discuss SEO or Pest Control Marketing.
Thanks for reading!
About the Author
I started Morningdove Marketing for one purpose- to get filthy rich and buy an island. Just kidding. I worked in the pest control industry from 2013-2016 and now my #1 goal is to help as many small businesses as possible with their marketing to help grow their companies. And hey, if I can afford an island one day, that wouldn't be too bad 😉