SEO for Painters
Welcome to my comprehensive guide on doing Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for painting companies. The following processes are what SEO agencies (including mine) charge thousands of dollars per month to do.
Now, I’m revealing every step of the process for those of you with the time and drive to do it yourself.
Written by George Leon
What is SEO for Painters?
SEO for painters is the optimization of a painting company’s website to have it appear in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) whenever someone searches for painting services on a search engine (usually Google).
SEO does not refer to the paid ads at the top of the SERPs. The paid ads are a form of Pay Per Click (PPC) marketing. SEO, on the other hand, does not require paying Google, or anyone for that matter, to get your website on the first page of the search results.
Below the paid ads are usually the map results. Map results are displayed whenever Google thinks a particular search has local intent, meaning the searcher is looking for a local company.
The map results (also known as the Map Pack) list relevant Google Business Profiles. The Map pack and SEO are related but not the same; they are two different Google products.
SEO focuses on the search results below the map pack. These search results are referred to as the “organic listings”.
It’s called organic because you don’t pay to have your website there. Instead, Google uses its search algorithms to rank websites based on relevance to the search query and the website’s E.A.T. (expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness).
A search query is the word or string of words that a search engine user types into the search box. This is also known as a “keyword”.
By optimizing your painting company’s website to contain E.A.T. signals and be deemed relevant to the painting industry, you can rank it on Google for search terms like “painting contractors near me”.
Ranking on page one of Google for these relevant search queries will give your company a consistent stream of leads without paying a dime for them.
But be warned, getting Google to rank your website at the top, above all your local competitors, is not easy. This guide will indeed show you how to do it, and if you follow these steps, you will rank at the top. But implementing these steps takes a lot of hard work.
The difficulty of ranking on page one becomes apparent when you consider that only ten websites appear on the organic section of the first page of Google for any search query.
And Google often reserves a few of these tenacious placements for directory-style websites like Yelp and HomeAdvisor to show a broader range of website types.
There are likely countless painting companies in your area, all aiming for one of these top spots. Large painting franchises in many cities usually win these spots thanks to their large SEO budgets. But with the advice on this page, you’ll be able to outcompete them and get your company on top.
Step 1: Create Relevant Content
The most important aspect of painter SEO is relevance. To satisfy the searcher, Google must show highly relevant pages for the search query.
The importance of relevance to the search query means you can’t expect your website’s homepage to do your SEO work. Instead, you need to build many pages on your website, each dedicated to a different topic, so that Google can pick the most relevant one to show for any search query.
Geo-targeted Service Pages
For painters, topics refer to services combined with locations. For example, when someone searches for “Cabinet Painting Long Beach California”, Google will show pages that are specifically about cabinet painting services in Long Beach, California.
If you’re a painting contractor in Los Angeles and serve the Long Beach area, don’t think adding the keyword “Cabinet Painting Long Beach California” to your homepage will cut it. Instead, you need a page on your website dedicated to this topic to be deemed highly relevant in Google’s eyes.
Since your target audience is searching for various services you provide and from various locations, you will need a lot of pages.
For example, maybe there are 20 nearby suburbs or small cities in your city’s metro area that you serve. And maybe you offer ten types of painting services. To cover every type of qualified search, you will need 200 pages on your website (20 cities x 10 services).
I did warn you it wasn’t easy to pull this off.
You can start with the most important cities. For my clients, I usually start by making pages for those cities with at least a 30,000 population size or higher.
Common Painting Services
For painting contractors, the following are the most common services that I create pages for:
- Residential painting
- Commercial painting
- Cabinet painting and refinishing
- Deck staining
- Popcorn ceiling removal
- Wallpaper removal
- Drywall repairs
- Woot rot repairs
- Concrete coatings
You might have noticed I didn’t list “interior painting” or “exterior painting”. Making separate pages for these services is the most common painter SEO mistake I come across.
In most cases, Google does not rank pages for interior or exterior painting; they just categorize both of those topics into one topic. You’re better off doing the same and just creating one page for residential painting that covers interior and exterior painting as subtopics.
Google knows most companies that offer one of these services will offer the other.
You may disagree with that aspect of the algorithm since some companies really do offer just interior painting or just exterior painting. But to win the top spots, you must work with Google’s algorithms, not against them.
The More Services, The Better
The second most common mistake, or in this case, it’s an objection from my clients, is not wanting to create pages for all of their services.
I commonly hear from painting contractors that they only want to focus and “market” their highest profit services and don’t want to be bothered with small jobs such as wood rot repair or drywall repairs.
Creating fewer pages and thus less topical relevance is going against what Google wants to see. Google wants to reward companies that are highly relevant to the painting industry in general.
Creating content (i.e., website pages) for as many related services as possible will increase your topical authority and give your entire website a boost.
I understand you may want to niche down, but you’ll have a much tougher time competing on Google, where the most topically authoritative companies get rewarded.
You can still do it; you can make a website all about cabinet painting and get it to rank on page one for your target keywords. I do this for many of my clients, but it takes longer to accomplish due to the disadvantage in topical authoritativeness.
The third most common painter SEO mistake I see painters make is hiring inexperienced content writers to write their sales copy.
Getting professionally written sales copy and content for lots of pages may seem daunting, but hiring low-cost writers from Fiverr is throwing money away. Google’s algorithms have become very smart and can distinguish well-written and poorly written content better than ever.
Running your poorly written content though Grammarly won’t fix the issue.
Search Engine Optimized content needs to meet the following criteria:
- The content should contain original ideas instead of rewording what the competitors say.
- The content needs to be well thought out and logically structured to make it easy to read.
- The content needs to be engaging to have a low bounce rate (the percentage of website visitors leaving your page without taking an action such as filling out a form or clicking on your phone button).
But the most important reason to hire a professional sales copywriter is to increase your page’s conversion rate. There’s no point in sending traffic to a page that isn’t engaging and paints your company in the best light possible.
Good copy is the key to a high conversion rate. If having better copy doubles your conversion rate, you’ve just doubled your sales revenue from your website.
Pro-tip #1: When hiring a copywriter, just hire a great copywriter; don’t look for an “SEO writer”. Most services trying to sell you “SEO optimized content” are just using outdated tactics like stuffing your keywords unnaturally into the content.
The copywriter’s job should simply be to write the most persuasive sales copy to produce the highest conversion rate possible.
Pro-tip #2: Keep your content short and on topic. Writing more words to rank better is a myth.
Google wants to rank pages that fully cover the topic, so as long as you touch on every important aspect of your service, you don’t need to make it long. In fact, it should be as condensed as possible with no fluff. My service pages are normally about 1000 words long.
Mega Pro-tip: It’s fine to reuse a lot (not all) of your copy throughout your various pages.
A common SEO myth is that you should not have “duplicate content” on your website. You definitely shouldn’t copy content from other people’s websites, but repeating content on your own pages is not just acceptable; it’s a very common and needed practice for large websites.
These repeated sections are known as “global elements”. Global elements should be coded into your website so that updating a global element in one place will update it everywhere it appears on your website.
If you use the native WordPress block editor, global elements are called “reusable blocks”. If you use a theme, they may use another term such as “Global Sections”, “Site Part”, etc.
Places to hire copywriters:
- Facebook groups for copywriters
- Search for copywriting agencies on Google
Or, make it easy on yourself and hire us; we offer copywriting. Sure, I may be a little biased, but we have a lot of experience writing conversion-optimized sales copy for painting contractors.
Step 2: Create Supporting Content that Interlinks to Your Service Pages
Your website should have more informational pages than service pages.
Create a blog and regularly post informational content related to the painting trade.
Stick to the type of topics your target audience (homeowners) will find helpful.
This can include DIY painting tips, paint maintenance, home maintenance guides, and articles about your service cities in general.
Creating these informational blog articles increases your website’s topical authority.
But the biggest boost they provide is interlinking. Interlinking is when your own pages link to other pages on your website. Interlinking tells Google that the linked page is important and gives it more authority.
Interlink your articles to each other and to your service pages. The links should be placed naturally in the body content, not in the sidebar or footer.
Step 3: Perform On-Page Optimization
Here’s what I do to optimize a page for search rankings:
1. Best Practices for Images
- Use the right size. Your featured image and main images should be at least 1200 pixels in width to get on Google Discover.
- Use original photos. Your images should be original to give Google something new. Don’t use stock photos or videos. Take your own photos of your paint jobs.
- Use alt tags as intended. Don’t stuff keywords in your Image Alt tags. Alt tags are intended to clearly describe the content of the photo.
- Use Image A.I. Instead of stuffing keywords in your Alt tags, include some photos where the keywords are automatically picked up when scanning the photo with Google Lens.
- Include graphics or illustrations. This increases a page’s dwell time and makes you look more professional. We regularly boost a page’s rank by adding custom illustrations.
2. Best Practices for Headings
Use HTML Heading tags as intended. It may not be a direct ranking factor, but the proper organization of a web document can help Google better understand the content.
A page should have only one H1 tag.
Your page should have multiple H2s; they are the headings for your page’s main topics.
H3s can only come after H2s or other H3s. H4s can only come after H3s or other H4s.
You can technically use H5s and H6s, but using them is often a sign that your page’s structure is hard to read. I rarely use them.
3. Best Practices for Text Readability
Increase your page’s dwell time and conversion rate by following these design tips for your text:
- Don’t make your text areas too wide. The optimal line length (not to be confused with line spacing) for text is 50-75 characters, or about 700-800 pixels, depending on your font size.
- Use large fonts. The optimal size depends on your font, but we typically use between 18px to 20px on desktop and 17-19px on mobile.
- Use appropriate line spacing. Most UX designers use between 130% to 180% (1.3 – 1.8).
- Check your text’s contrast against the background colors. I use WebAim’s contrast checker for this.
- Left-aligned text is the most readable. I no longer use center-aligned text anywhere.
Pro-Tip: Break up your text with formatting. Don’t use boring walls-of-text, instead make your content easier to read by including lists, short paragraphs, tables, and boxes for Pro-Tips, Key-Takewaways, and other information you want to highlight.
4. Include FAQ Schema
Include an FAQ section on your blog posts and your most important service pages. Don’t repeat the questions and answers on other parts of your website.
Use FAQ schema markup on your page’s HTML. Answer the questions as directly as possible by restating the question in the answer. This practice makes it easier for Google to understand the answers and increases your chances of winning a featured snippet on the search results page.
The benefits of having an FAQ section include:
- FAQs are shown below your page’s meta description on the search results page. This increases the amount of space your page takes up in the search results, which increases the click-through rate (CTR).
- You might win a Featured Snippet for a particular search query or a People Also Ask (PAA) placement.
- It may improve rankings directly.
5. Embed Your Own Youtube Video
Create a youtube video for each of your blog posts and your most important service pages. Make sure you upload the Youtube video to your company’s Youtube channel (more on social media profiles in step 5).
Once uploaded, include a link to the original post or service page URL on your video’s description.
The youtube video’s content doesn’t have to be the same as the page, just related. And you can reuse some videos on some pages, but the more videos you have, the better.
Finally, don’t worry about creating something fancy. You can always replace the video once your page starts getting lots of traffic. I paid someone to create the following video for this page:
Step 4: Improve Your E.A.T.
After relevant content, the next metric Google uses to determine which websites will best satisfy the searcher is E.A.T.
Read on to learn how you can show Google that your painting business processes Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness.
Your About Page Should Help Google Understand Who You Are
Painting businesses often skip making an about page. And I can understand why; we know from click tracking and heatmap software that the about page doesn’t get as many views as your other main pages.
But an about page is important for two reasons:
First, it’s one of the seven industry-standard pages that most established businesses have (the others are revealed in the next section). Google knows this and often shows a business’s about page alongside its homepage when someone searches the company’s name (This is called a branded search).
Not having an about page shows Google your business is probably not well established and thus not authoritative.
Second, Google uses Natural Language Processing (NLP) to read your about page and learn about your business.
To assist Google’s NLP, your about page should contain straightforward, factual sentences that a machine can understand. Here’s an example paragraph:
XYZ Painters is a painting company based out of Los Angeles, California, specializing in residential repaints and commercial painting. Founded in 2012 by John Doe, XYZ Painters has won multiple awards, including the 2018 Angi Super Service Award and the 2021 Best of HomeAdvisor Award.
Here’s what else you should include on your About page:
- Links to any authoritative websites that mention your painting company. These websites should be relevant either by focusing on the painting industry, your location, or both (such as service directories like Yelp and Better Business Bureau.)
- A brief history of your company, including the date your business started.
- A brief introduction to the company’s founders and leadership team.
- Your painting company’s mission statement or values.
- A brief overview of your services, even if you already have a dedicated Services page.
Have the other six industry-standard website pages.
To show Google that your website is as trustworthy as the top painting companies, you should have the following pages:
1. Contact Page
Make a contact page with at least the following contact information:
- Email addresses
- phone numbers
- a map of your service area
- a map of your physical office location only if you have one
- social media accounts
- a contact form.
Some painters tell me they don’t want to display their email addresses to prevent spam. I suggest configuring your email settings to filter out a lot of spam.
I also suggest using an email provider great at filtering spam by default, such as Google Workspace.
2. FAQ Page
Painting customers often ask the same questions:
- What’s your service area?
- What’s your turnaround time?
- What kind of products do you use?
- What payment forms do you accept?
- What do I need to do to prepare before you start the job?
Make sure to use FAQ schema markup on your page’s HTML to make it easy for Google to understand. Also, use straightforward and factual language to take advantage of Google’s Natural Language Processing.
3. Careers page.
You can also call it a Jobs page. Many small painting businesses don’t have this one, despite constantly hiring. Having one is a simple way to gain more trust.
Include your open positions and a brief description of each job. You can also include your company values to help prospective applicants learn about your company culture.
4. Services page
This is simply an archive (list) of your various services. You can link each service to its own dedicated page, but you don’t have to.
Each service should include a name, photo, and description. Using a photo is better than using an icon because it proves that you’ve actually done this type of work.
5. Gallery page
You can also call this page a portfolio or featured work page. This one is easy, just throw in some photos.
If you have the time and want to create something that engages your audience, build a fully-fledged project gallery where visitors can click on a project and see photos for the various stages of that specific project.
You can also include filters so visitors can filter projects by service type.
I also often build “Before-and-After” sliders because many painters ask for them. I personally don’t see the value in these sliders, but if you think your customers will, by all means.
I use Termageddon for my clients because they provide auto-updating policies. You can see our various policies linked on our footer below. But don’t copy them.
You can use our contact form page to ask me for a discount on Termageddon.
Complete Your Google Business Profile
Go through every tab of your Google Business Profile account and make sure you filled out everything.
Get as many reviews on your profile as possible. Technically, they don’t affect rankings directly. Still, they do increase click-through rates and get you more customers.
Many painting contractors I work with prefer doing large jobs only, but accepting the small jobs means you can build up your review count much faster since you can complete many small jobs in a shorter period.
So when a customer needs a quick pressure washing or painting a front door, think of it as a quick and easy opportunity to get a review.
But don’t just get reviews on Google; get them on other platforms because Google often shows them in your brand’s knowledge panel. Knowledge panels are information boxes that often appear on Google when someone searches for entities (people, places, organizations, or things).
Have a Real and Consistent NAP (Name, Address, and Phone Number)
Hopefully, you aren’t branding your company name with your legal entity designation (LLC, Inc, etc.) but if you are, make sure it is consistent everywhere.
Help Google connect all of your online profiles by having consistent details, namely your company name, address, and primary phone number. But don’t forget to have consistent hours of operations across your online properties and social media accounts as well.
Don’t use a fake office address, a BO box, or a virtual office address. Renting a real office room often costs under $800/month in most cities and makes a great place to meet with important clients and vendors.
Or consider renting a small warehouse to store all of your equipment and conduct employee training. You can rent a small warehouse for under $2000/month in many cities.
If renting an office or warehouse sounds expensive, don’t worry about it. It’s just one small factor, and you shouldn’t spend the money unless you see it providing other benefits to your company outside of SEO. Many of my SEO clients do not have an office or warehouse, and that’s okay.
Have a Fast-Loading Website
Google has confirmed that a website’s page experience signals are a search ranking factor. These page experience signals are mainly related to loading time.
But as many SEOs have observed, it’s a very weak ranking factor. But while it may have a low direct impact on rankings, it greatly impacts conversion rate and user experience.
And conversions indirectly boost rankings by reducing pogo-sticking and building your brand’s reputation, resulting in more branded searches. More branded searches result in higher brand authority.
Here are some tips for building a fast-loading website that passes Google’s PageSpeed Insights Score:
- If using WordPress, don’t use a page builder on top of it (such as Divi, Elementor, etc.) I stopped using page builders last year and now work with WordPress’s native block editor. These days, it’s just as powerful as the popular page builders and highly performant.
- Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN).
- Use a fast WordPress hosting provider. I use Cloudways. Other great options include Kinsta and WP Engine.
- Use a caching plugin.
- Use an optimization plugin. I use Perfmatters.
- Only use well-coded and lightweight plugins. For example, I use Fluent Forms for creating forms because they have the fastest loading forms.
I do much more to give my clients a 100 mobile score on Google Pagespeed Insights. But the above tips should get you close.
Step 5: Acquire Backlinks Naturally
Many businesses don’t know this, but getting the wrong type of backlinks can do more harm to your rankings than good.
Many small businesses have naively purchased backlinks or “citations” on platforms like Fiverr and then wonder why their rankings don’t budge or, even worse, drop.
So stop looking at useless metrics like “DA scores” or the hundreds of backlinks your competitors have. Just focus on the following natural backlinks that any legitimate business would have.
Social Media Profiles
The first natural backlinks any new business acquires are from their social media profiles. If you haven’t already, create a business profile on the following platforms and add your website’s URL to the profile description or website field.
- Google Business Profile
And to make it easier for Google to associate these profiles with your company, include links from your website to those social media profiles.
You can include the links on your website’s footer, about page, or contact page. Just don’t put the links on your website’s header because then someone might actually click on them. Nothing decreases your conversion rate like taking your visitors off your site.
I also recommend regularly posting content to your business’s social media profiles. Create at least one post per month. You can use the same content on all your social media profiles. And create at least one Youtube video per year.
Industry Reference Sites
Almost every industry has large informational or directory-style websites. I call these Industry Reference Sites.
An industry reference site is an authoritative website in a particular industry. You can find industry reference sites by searching your target search queries and omitting direct competitors.
For example, if you search for painting contractors in your area, you may come across Yelp and HomeAdvisor. These sites are not direct competitors; instead, they compile information about various painting companies (among other industries) and are therefore highly relevant to the painting industry since people use them to find painters.
Make a list of these websites. Only include the websites that rank highly on Google for your search queries (on pages 1 through 3). You don’t want to get listed on spammy, low-traffic websites, just the top sites that Google is already rewarding.
For my painting clients in the U.S., these are usually the industry reference sites for their services and locations:
- Better Business Beaureu
After making your list, create profiles on as many of the reference sites as you can. Some may cost money, but most will be free.
Remember to add your website link to your profile to get the backlink. And just like with your social media profiles, include links back to these reference sites from your website. These are best placed on your About page, as I mentioned earlier.
These are the closest industry reference websites because they are topically related to your services and location.
To take things a step further, find and get backlinks from websites related to the painting industry in general or to your location in general. Remember to only focus on websites that already rank well on Google. Don’t try to get listed on every little blog about your city or painting.
Check a few of your top competitors to see what backlinks they have in common. If the top-ranking pages for your target search queries all share a backlink from a particular website, it’s probably a backlink you should have too.
To find these shared backlinks, I use the Link Intersect feature from Ahrefs. Ahrefs is a paid tool. Unfortunately, I haven’t found any free alternatives that work.
If you have Ahrefs, go to the Link Intersect tool and enter a few of your top competitors for one of your target search queries.
Filter the results by the highest amount of link targets available. For example, if the number is 3, that means some backlinks are shared between 3 of the websites you entered. These backlinks will be the highest priority for you to get. Make a list of these backlinks.
Then, filter by the next highest number of available link targets (2 in my example). These backlinks should be prioritized after the ones with three link targets.
Repeat the process until you get all the backlinks that even just one of the competitors has. Even though just one competitor has these, you should get them too because after you do, there will now be two of you that have them, which can boost the relevance of these backlinks.
Don’t want to buy ahrefs? Use our contact form to ask nicely for a free link intersect report.
These are the hardest to get. I only focus on these once I have a client already on page one but just can’t get past the top painting franchises or directory websites with our usual backlinks from the above steps.
An editorial backlink is a naturally placed link from a relevant and authoritative website. Here are examples of editorial backlinks:
- You write a guide, infographic, or other media about a particular painting topic, and another website uses it as a source in one of their articles.
- You get interviewed or asked for a quote for another website’s article.
- You get featured in a roundup article.
You should regularly publish painting-related articles on your website to boost your website’s topical authority. And in doing so, you will naturally acquire some editorial backlinks if your content is worth using as a source.
Having a great content writer for your website will increase the chances of your articles being cited as a source by other websites.
To speed up the process of getting links, share your articles with editors at other websites and let them know you have a great source they can use to provide more value to their readers.
Frequently Asked Questions
What backlinks should a painting company website get?
Painting company websites should get backlinks from their social media profiles, industry reference sites, and topically relevant publications.
Should painting company websites have a blog?
Yes, painting company websites should have a blog to build topical authority and increase trust. Painting companies should blog about the painting trade, including DIY painting tips for homeowners.
What pages should a painting company website have?
Should I hire an SEO agency for my painting business?
Unfortunately, most SEO agencies don’t know the current strategies to rank a painting business on Google. I regularly talk with painters that paid SEO agencies for months or years with little to show for it.
One tip I can offer is to avoid SEO agencies that charge low prices (under $1000/month). Most of the bad SEO stories we hear involve low-cost SEO agencies with prices around $500 – $1500 per month. It isn’t possible to create and optimize the amount of content needed to rank on page one with a low budget while maintaining quality.
If your painting company is just starting out, I recommend doing your own SEO by following the advice on this page. If you need help along the way, consider my hourly SEO consulting service.
If you run a large painting company and have the budget to hire an SEO expert to fully manage your SEO campaign, let’s get in touch.