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Plumbers and other tradespeople are essential in modern society, yet they face one huge barrier to entering new markets: Peeling away customers from the competition.

Many homeowners have established relationships with plumbers and contractors, making breaking into certain markets difficult.

Thankfully, plumbers have ways to excel in a new market, particularly when capturing new homeowners or performing emergency services where other plumbers are unavailable.

The best sources for seizing these opportunities are Google Search, and you can improve your visibility there using local SEO.

In this guide, you’ll find tips and tactics to help plumbers, electricians, contractors, and other tradespeople and businesses break into a new market, build a customer base, and expand your brand.

Off-Site SEO Essentials

One of the biggest traffic sources for all businesses comes from ‘near me’ searches, particularly on mobile phones.

By optimizing your Google Business Profile listing and third-party directory listings, you can build your business’s exposure and increase the number of incoming calls to your business.

Google Business Profile Optimization

Your Google Business Profile shows in local search pack results and is displayed in Google Maps searches.

To optimize your Google Business Profile listing correctly, follow these tips and dive deeper with this guide.

Ensure consistent NAP information (i.e., name, address, and phone number).

Verify your business on Google Maps.

Write a description of your business and its services.

Use high-resolution and relevant photos to showcase your brand and company.

Local Directories

Next, you’ll want to optimize your brand’s business profile on other third-party sites that customers frequently use to find plumbers, including:

The Better Business Bureau.

Yellow Pages.

Angie’s List.



Home Advisor.


Blue Book.

While some sites like Yelp have waned over the years, these directory sites are still important business referral sources.

Some sites provide ranked lists of different businesses based on customer reviews, which can furnish social proof and trust for your business (if you get enough positive reviews).

Moz offers tools for local citation building, or you can manually claim each business yourself, following the tips above to optimize your social media presence.

Build A Social Media Presence

While engaging with customers on social media is not critical for many contractors or trades, sources like Facebook can be valuable for customers looking for special announcements, business hours, and reviews.

Build a social media page for Facebook and LinkedIn, providing high-resolution photos and clear NAP info for easy contact.

Managing Reviews

Finally, you’ll need to manage reviews on external third-party websites to build customer trust.

Generally, you should analyze each third-party site at least once a month, if not more, to see what people are saying about your business and how you can improve.

Think of reviews like personal referrals – which are already a massive source of revenue for your business.

According to one survey, 84% of customers of service businesses and tradespersons said reviews are ‘important’ or ‘very important’ in their decision-making process.

Follow these tips to manage online reviews for your plumbing business:

Encourage customers to leave a review after a positive service or engagement.

Encourage customers to leave reviews on your website and all marketing materials.

Respond to positive reviews.

Respond to negative reviews with solutions or an apology.

Don’t worry too much about negative reviews, as most customers will be equally dismayed by overtly harsh reviews.

However, responding to negative reviews with a positive service engagement could build more customer trust over time.

It also helps you show off your customer service skills.

On-Page SEO Essentials

Now that you’ve optimized your business listing on strategic third-party websites, it’s time to optimize your website for local SEO results.

Local Keyword Research

To begin, you’ll need to conduct local keyword research to see which terms drive the most qualified traffic to your website.

Open up a free Google Ads account and use the Keyword Planner tool to search for keywords in your area.

For example, if you operate in Houston, you could use “plumbers houston” as your seed keyword and filter your search for Houston, Texas, to uncover further ideas:

Based on this list, “plumber houston tx” and “houston plumbing services” have less competition and can be easily won in local search results.

You can also filter this list by “top of page bid” and look at the highest bids for the most commercially relevant keywords.

You can also take a competitor from your initial keyword list and plug in their URL to see which keywords they rank for.

You can add a semantic filter to adjust your results for strictly plumbing-related keywords.

Building a list of these keywords will be critical for optimizing meta tags on top-level pages and developing content ideas.

Meta Tag Optimization

Now that we have our list of seed keywords, we need to apply them to our web pages.

You will need to optimize the metadata on each page with relevant keyword data to make pages more likely to rank for search results.

This metadata will include:

Title Tag/H1: The primary keyword related to a page and the page’s topic. Title tags must be between 50-60 characters, or titles will be truncated in SERPs (search engine results page).

Meta Description: A brief description of your webpage, which includes your seed keyword and a call-to-action to read or find out more. Meta descriptions are ideally between 145–160 characters.

Header Tags: The subtopics or dividing headers across each page. Each header should include a relevant long-tail keyword.

URLs: URLs should retain a simple structure with your site name followed by the name of the title of the webpage.

Keyword Usage: Seed keywords should be used in the webpage’s introduction and 1–5% throughout the text document.

Local Schema

While local keyword research will certainly help Google or Bing index your website for local search results, nothing is guaranteed.

To help search engines index your website properly, use schema markup on web pages to properly label and index them.

While schema markup can be complicated, Google’s Structured Data Tool simplifies the task.

Insert your URL and add the appropriate schema markup to ensure each page on your website is properly indexed by Google.

Some common schema markup data that will apply to your plumbing business include:



Opening Hours.





See our Complete Guide to Local Schema for more useful tips.

Mobile Responsiveness

Another big component of local search is mobile search.

Many local searches for your business will be conducted via smartphones, so you can’t ignore the importance of mobile.

Thankfully, most modern CMS options come with responsive web design.

However, to ensure your website runs smoothly on mobile, consider the following tips:

Compress all images.

Keep webpages short and simple.

Limit the amount of JavaScript.

Avoid large videos (leverage YouTube instead!)

Site Speed Optimization

Fortunately, by optimizing for mobile, you’ll also be optimizing for page speed.

To increase page speeds, consider the following tips:

Minify CSS.

Enable file compression.

Use browser caching.

Clean up redirects.

You should still identify page speed issues using Google’s Page Speed Insights for more helpful information.

Creating Consistent NAP

As a final tip for this section, it’s crucial to ensure that all contact information (name, address, phone number = NAP) and branding are consistent across all your pages.

Content Essentials

With your website in place and ready to rock, it’s time to build landing pages for your most important services and service regions.

Service Pages

Ideally, your UX should retain very simple navigation, with your target keyword (such as “Plumbers Houston”) and all auxiliary services as secondary or service pages.

These pages could include services, such as:

Emergency Plumbing.

Toilet Repairs.

Pipe Leaks.

Garbage Disposal Repair.

Water Heater Services.


Drain Cleaning.

Gas Piping.

These should all be located under a general Plumbing Services top-navigation page where users can explore different services, find out pricing, repair specifics, etc.

Regional Pages

Another important consideration for plumbers and contractors is whether your business serves a large metro area or different locations.

For example, if you provide plumbing services to most of New York City, you could create regional pages for Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens with a list of various services.

Furthermore, if there is enough keyword volume to warrant those pages, you could create regional pages for neighborhoods in New York, such as the Upper East Side, Upper West Side, and SoHo.

These pages may also rank for ‘near me’ searches in those neighborhoods.

Creating A Blog

Finally, you could also consider starting a blog if you feel it will give you a leg up on the competition.

Blogs provide several benefits for local businesses, including plumbers, such as:

Providing customers with easy DIY tips and repairs.

Separating your brand from other plumbers as a local authority.

Providing you with engaging content to share on your social channels.

Ranking for long-tail keywords relevant to your business to drive traffic.

You can also consider sharing DIY and tutorial videos on platforms like YouTube, which link back to your website.

Video content is highly shareable and easy to consume, giving your business much-needed exposure.

Link Building Strategies

While we discussed ways to drive traffic from third-party websites, link building can be an exceptionally useful tool in your arsenal to give your business a leg-up on the competition.

Link building – whether it’s using rel=follow or nofollow links – directs qualified traffic to your site and customers to your business.

If you don’t have the money to spend on a tool like Ahrefs, here are some free local link building tips to help you drive traffic to your website:

Reach out to newspapers in your town that list local contractors and ask for a link to your site.

Reach out to local bloggers who have interviewed local businesses in your area to contribute a quote or interview.

Write guest posts on websites with local influencers to contribute some DIY repair tips and other related content.

Sponsor a local team, volunteer, or host an event that forces journalists and bloggers to write about your business.

These tips will help give your brand exposure, which, in turn, will drive more customers to your business over time.

Digital Advertising

Use geotargeting to narrow your audience to a specific region.

Insert negative keywords to reduce ad spend.

Leverage location-specific keywords to compete with ‘“near me” and organic results.

Enable ad extensions that provide easy call options and list your business address.

Create landing page copy that’s relevant to your ad and includes relevant keywords, high-quality images, and an easy way to contact your business.

Email Marketing

Finally, I want to mention email marketing, as it can be a powerful tool for local businesses.

Plumbers can benefit from email marketing by sending re-engagement emails that remind previous customers of your business, especially if you work with residential and commercial residents.

However, email marketing can be expensive, especially for a trade that relies heavily on emergency repairs.

For this reason, email marketing is not truly necessary for plumbers unless you actively create content, engage with the community, or run promotions.


SEO for tradespeople and their businesses involves many of the same strategies as with other local businesses.

However, tradespeople require special consideration for their unique business model.

Hopefully, by following these tips, you can establish a positive web presence for your business and start getting more phone calls.

More resources:

Featured Image: Khosro/Shutterstock

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How To Improve Seo For Your Local Business: 24 Tips

How to improve your SEO with keywords

We’ve talked about the importance of using keywords for your titles, meta descriptions, image tags, and content body — but exactly which keywords should you use? This section will cover how to choose keywords to improve your SEO and Google ranking.

How do keywords improve SEO?

Keywords are a crucial part of SEO. They are the words your target audience is typing into Google searches to find information, products, or services your business provides. In other words, keywords are the means by which search engines connect your business to customers.

Here are nine steps you can take to improve your SEO ranking through keywords.

1. Use keyword tools

While it is a good idea to brainstorm keywords for your business to rank for, this should not be your only approach. What you think your target audience is searching for online may not be what they are actually searching for. Keyword research tools provide real user data to help you confirm whether the keywords you have thought of will improve your rank on Google, as well as to identify additional keywords that you may not have thought of on your own. Google has recently placed restrictions on its free keyword tool, but there are many keyword tool alternatives that you can try.

2. Identify keywords that drive traffic to your website

Keyword tools can be very helpful for finding and suggesting keywords, but keep in mind that the data they provide is generalized for all websites and users.

If you want your website to rank on Google, one of the best resources for this is none other than your website! With an analytics tool such as Google Analytics, you can identify the actual terms people searched for that led them to your website. You can also see which keywords you are already ranking for, and build more keyword clusters from there.

3. Be realistic when choosing keywords

The key to improving your SEO is in being realistic. Yes, you want keywords with a high search volume, but keep in mind that these tend to be general. It is not realistic to think that everyone searching for a general term is looking for your specific service or information.

In addition, if the competition is also high for a particular keyword, it may not be realistic to think that you have a chance at ranking for that keyword. You may have a great blog post with keywords in the title tags, meta content, URL link, and alt tags, but if your expectations for ranking are not realistic, you may end up disappointing yourself.

4. Use long-tail keywords

Being realistic about keywords brings us to one of the most commonly overlooked ways to improve your business’s website ranking on Google — long-tail keywords. What are long-tail keywords? They are longer keyword phrases and the remedy for high volume and high competition keywords!

These longer phrases that incorporate keywords are less competitive because fewer people or companies are able to provide such specific information, and they are more targeted because the people searching those phrases have more intent to engage or buy. You can improve your SEO on Google by finding long-tail keywords for your business most relevant to your target audience and creating content from those.

5. Google search your keywords before deciding

Whether you’re using specific keywords or long-tail keyword phrases to get your business on Google, one very important keyword tip is to always Google search your keywords before using them. This is a way to check to make sure that the content you plan to associate with your keyword is aligned with the content Google associates with that keyword.

Perform a Google search for your keyword and see what other content it pulls up. If the search results don’t reflect the content that you’re writing about, you will either need to change your content or change the keyword you are using.

6. Scope out the competition

While you’re looking at the keyword search results, take an even closer look at your competitors who are already on that first page. Are they large businesses, news sites, or government sites? If these competitors are wildly different from you, or if they have been around for several years, it may be hard to improve your ranking for this keyword. Another observation to make is the form of the content in the results. For example, if the search results are mainly product pages, and you have a blog post, your content may be seen by Google as less relevant. Make sure that what you’re trying to rank for reflects what people are actually searching for online.

7. Check your results

How local businesses can improve their SEO

SEO is a must for any business looking to get found, stand out, and get chosen online. However, for local businesses especially, there are three particularly important points of focus.

1. Focus on your niche market

As a local business, it is important to identify and express that which distinguishes you from nearby competitors and/or larger franchises. Think in terms of the specific products, services, and conditions your ideal customer is seeking out. Do you provide same-day services? Are you the only environmentally friendly business of your kind within a 20-mile radius? Are you pet-friendly?

The more specific you can get about the products and services you provide, the better the chances are that you will rank for searches your ideal customers are performing. This is called niche marketing.

For example, does your health club or martial arts studio teach self-defense classes for women? Don’t just include “self-defense classes” on your services page. Get more specific with something like:

“We are a martial arts studio that provides karate classes to all ages. We also offer specialized self-defense classes for women of all ages, from teens to seniors!“

Your business will be more likely to show up when people search for things like: self-defense, women’s self-defense, and self-defense for teens.

2. Standardize your business name

When Google sees inconsistencies in your online content, it loses trust in you and will be hesitant to put it in front of searchers. Therefore, another quick and easy way your local businesses can improve its rank on Google is to ensure that your name is the same across all online channels — social media platforms, niche directories, review sites, map listings, etc. This might seem like common sense, but many companies do not obey this rule.

For example, if your business name contains the word “company”, do not use “co.” in some listings and “company” in others. Keep it consistent. Also, find one handle you can use for every social media outlet. This will improve your SEO and make it easy for people to find your business online.

There are many ways to optimize your business listings to improve your rank in online searches, but consistency is the most important.

3. Create a Google Business listing

Aside from having a website, the best thing you can do to improve your local visibility and Google ranking is to create and optimize your Google Business Profile. Google Business is making it easier than ever for potential customers to find, learn about, and engage with businesses specific to their needs. Complete with reviews, ratings, directions, posts, and other vital information, it is becoming the go-to directory for consumers. Create your Google Business Profile asap to improve SEO for your business.

Final tips for improving your SEO

So we’ve covered the tactical aspects of using your website, content, and keywords to improve your SEO. Now it’s time to finish off with three more general or strategic tips.

1. Think bigger picture

Knowing what products and services are most profitable and where you’d like to expand in your business is important for setting the foundation for a solid SEO strategy. Don’t think of keywords but of general phrases that make sense for your business, as it stands now and also where you want it to stand in the future.

2. Analyze your traffic

Doing all the above is great, but without measuring the right SEO metrics, you can’t know whether your actions are actually improving your SEO. Google Analytics is the industry standard and allows you to see where your website visitors are coming from and what they’re doing on your website. The insights gathered from this data will help to inform and refine your SEO tactics moving forward.

3. Focus on unique content

There is no way to create lasting SEO success overnight. This is by design from search engines, who are constantly pushing for websites to produce quality work on a consistent basis to get distinguished from spammy, low-quality sites. When it comes to improving your SEO, the importance of authentic content cannot be emphasized enough. Blog posts and videos are a great way for you to present yourself as an expert in the field, answer common questions and show prospects how you work. Releasing these pieces monthly shows both searchers and search engines that you’re a credible, trustworthy resource that is worthy of ranking higher on Google

Proper SEO takes time, so treat it like a 401k. Invest in it each month and over time, you’ll net fantastic results.

Related: Have more than one business location? Get tips to optimize SEO for multiple locations here!

New Seo Strategies: 3 Steps To Perfect Seo Content Creation

Are you forward-thinking in your approach to search marketing?

When was the last time you updated your content strategy?

With Google’s ever-changing algorithm, your SEO tactics must continue to evolve.

Search engines are known to reward websites that publish high-quality content – consistently.

Gone are the days when businesses could rank on Google simply by pumping out generic, keyword-stuffed material.

Now, the key to higher rankings is creating content that offers maximum value to searchers.

On October 6, I moderated a webinar with Carlos Meza, President & CEO at Crowd Content.

Meza explained how to optimize your content for user intent and relevancy by using a meaningful content structure.

Here is a summary of the webinar. To access the entire presentation, complete the form.

Key Takeaways

Use human-first content. Focus on the user and how you can help them. Ensure that your content leaves them with takeaways.

Topic Clusters answer not only one question but all the questions that the searcher might have.

Content Creation: What’s Changed Over The Years

2024 has been focusing on quality content, with 6 out of 7 updates targeted toward content.

Today, some content methods are no longer applicable.

[Make sure you’re not using these old ways & see content horror stories] Instantly access the webinar →

Search Engines are getting better at understanding content as humans would; it now:

Puts context into queries and sentences.

Punishes keyword stuffing.

Analyzes the holistic meaning of a query.

Looks at the meaning/scope of whole paragraphs.

Leverages NLP and AI to predict information people want.

[What’s NLP?] Instantly access the webinar →

In light of these updates, what do you need to do?

What To Do Now: Write For Humans

Unfortunately, over time, we became too technical in SEO and forgot that the content we produce is supposed to serve a purpose for humans.

Writing for humans means producing high-quality content. Here’s how.

High-Quality Content: 3 Factors To Consider

When you want to start writing high-quality content, there are three factors to look at.

Factor #1: Empathetic, People-First Content

Ask yourself, what would you feel if you were in the shoes of the reader?

Humans respond to narratives, stories, brands, and information – and so do search-engine algorithms!

So, make sure you:

Start with intent – the “why.”

Focus on the “who.”

Personalize content.

Tell stories.

Make it readable & user-friendly.

[Check out Google’s guidance] Instantly access the webinar →

By writing people-first content, you’ll stay aligned with Google’s narrative that great content is the best way to protect yourself from updates.

Factor #2: Topic Clustering

Topic clusters are resources that answer all the questions around a topic.

When you think about topic clustering, you can think about it like what you’ll have on your plate for dinner.

[Learn what we mean] Instantly access the webinar →

Focus On Topics & Not Keywords

Now, this doesn’t mean keywords don’t work anymore. It just means keywords should be within the topic cluster.

Topic clusters are great for:

Future-proofing SEO.

Scaling SEO strategy based on topics.

Internal linking.

Attracting backlinks.

Increasing web engagement.

Increasing conversion.

[Find out where to start with clusters] Instantly access the webinar →

Factor #3: Subject Matter Experts (SMEs)

A subject matter expert has highly specialized knowledge of a particular industry or field.

Improve E-A-T score (must-have for YMYL content).

Build trust.

Make content unique.

Provide more organic opportunities for backlinks.

[Discover the recipe to producing great E-A-T content with an SME] Instantly access the webinar →

A Note On Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Is AI good or bad for content? It depends on how you use it.

For example, AI is a tool to help writers be more productive, overcome writer’s block, and create an outline.

However, AI will not replace 100% of what a writer can do.

So, it’s best to proceed cautiously when using AI to create content.

Make sure your content strategies stay up-to-date by applying all the principles discussed in the on-demand webinar.

You’ll find that adapting to the rapidly changing SEO standards will be easier, and you’ll be able to energize more of your online presence.

New SEO Strategies: 3 Steps To Perfect SEO Content Creation [Webinar]

Here’s the presentation:

Join Us For Our Next Webinar! KPIs, Metrics & Benchmarks That Matter For SEO Success In 2023

Reserve my Seat

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Featured Image: Paulo Bobita/Search Engine Journal

Choosing The Right Seo Agency For Enterprise Seo

Choosing the right SEO agency can be a daunting task in itself.

Considering the complexity of what is needed from an enterprise SEO agency adds an entirely new level that can be overwhelming.

With so many SEO agencies popping up all over, how do you know which ones truly know how to optimize a website with the latest in Google’s algorithms without trickery or spam?

My experience over the last 20 years has found me on both sides of the fence.

I started my career building an SEO agency from a few people and a handful of clients to more than 500 clients and 100+ employees in less than a year.

Cut to several years later (2006) and I’m on the other side for chúng tôi (at the time a very large company) and interviewing for agencies to provide extra support.

With each enterprise organization I manage SEO for, I bring in a consultant and an agency (if there isn’t already one on contract).

The jump from working with a small to medium business into a large organization with corporate bureaucracy is not easy for anyone, especially an agency.

Partnering with an Enterprise SEO Agency: What You Need to Know

A big factor in how your enterprise SEO agency will perform for you is having a clear understanding of what you will need them for once they are onboarded.

Setting up expectations during the RFP process will not only help you weed out the capable from the not-so-capable, but will set you and them up for success in the long run.

Drafting up a business case with your agency and tools for SEO will help you get organized on your needs and what your plan is for your agency going forward.

The business case will also help communicate expectations with key stakeholders and gain buy-in.

Where to Find Enterprise SEO Agencies to Choose From

I personally have a list of agencies that follow me with new in-house roles and I recommend agencies as a consultant for clients depending on their needs.

Agencies will always say they can do anything but, from my experience, I know who can do what better and will always recommend accordingly.

If you don’t have your list, a tweet to SEO pros, or a post to a Facebook Group asking for recommendations can help.

If you have time, attend a few conferences (e.g., SMX Advanced, Pubcon, Mozcon) to gather your list.

Peruse the booths, talk to speakers from agencies on the topics that your needs focus on, and talk to other attendees.

Get to know other SEO professionals at an enterprise level and ask them who they use, who they like, and why they like them.

If you are planning on reviewing a large number of agencies for a specific need, then a Request For Proposal (RFP) is needed, but not always necessary.

As long as you are clear on what your needs and expectations are, you shouldn’t have any problem during the review process.

Allow each agency to chat with you one on one about your expectations, and present to a larger team as a second step.

I usually like to get a list of what the other teams would expect (in Groupon’s case, we had five SEO teams plus several business verticals across the global organization I needed to coordinate with).

This requires several meetings upfront but saves time and follow-up from unexpected questions when it comes down to the agencies presenting.

What Makes an Enterprise SEO Agency Different?

Agencies with enterprise-level experience will usually skip past the obvious fixes since they have an understanding that there could be business reasons for them.

I’ve always said that any SEO that didn’t bring that up doesn’t know SEO.

However, they should:

Continue with the understanding that there could be a business reason.

Follow up with the impact vs. effort it would take to fix it.

Be open to feedback with any pushback (or explanation) the SEO team might give during a review.

An agency that hasn’t worked with a complex, enterprise-level site might not understand that:

It isn’t as easy as it appears.

The business might not support it.

There could be legal reasons.

The fix might not be scalable.

Enterprise agencies will also understand that the level of engagement for a larger company might be higher than most of their smaller clients.

Enterprise SEO agencies need to be proactive since the SEO team at the company is more often distracted by all of the work that needs to get done.

Regular check-ins and open communication are critical to the success of the relationship. I have always worked best with agencies that have local offices and/or make frequent in-person visits.

The best agency I have ever worked with has an SEO manager that:

Sits in the office under contractor status with their own desk, company email, logins to tools, and reporting.

Attends regular meetings between engineering and verticals across the organization.

In the end, the relationship is that of an extension of the team that regularly communicates, proactively suggests growth strategies and foundational fixes, and follows through to ensure the work is getting done.

Managing Your SEO Agency

The key to managing your enterprise SEO agency is to keep the levels of communication flowing.

Give them the tools and access they need to become successful and help them champion any work they need through.

Too many times I have inherited strong and capable agencies that fell quiet with no actual work done in a matter of weeks, or even months.

Frustrations were on both sides, to no one’s fault.

Contracts are always signed with positive optimism and a solid plan. But with communication dropping, and little to no support, the agency can’t be successful – and your SEO will fall short.

Set up expectations and a plan (roadmap) of deliverables that the agency should follow.

Be supportive where you can when they need you to be, and follow-through with other teams the agency needs to complete work as promised.

Have at least weekly check-ins with a clear list of what they are working on, what your team is working on, and expected delivery dates.

Talk through where you all are at with tasks for each, and always end with any recommendations they might have to keep the work flowing.

Monthly check-ins with key stakeholders always help to hold everyone accountable.

Other teams can make use of the agency, but also need help understanding their role in work that needs to be done.

I like to end each quarter with a report on tasks completed and ROI on the projects or tasks completed more than 3 months prior.

In some cases, I have seen weekly, monthly and even daily reporting, but then the agency becomes a reporting agency rather than an SEO agency, and when the contract is up it isn’t renewed.

Find your sweet spot for communication and expectations, adjust as needed, and review the contract as often as you all feel it is necessary.

When you all are working together then you will see the success for SEO that both sides are there for.

Featured Image Credit: Paulo Bobita

Six Strategies For Buying Red Sox Tickets

Six Strategies for Buying Red Sox Tickets Getting into the park without breaking the bank

Watch this video on YouTube

Watch the video above to see game-goers’ strategies outside Fenway Park.

Boston University has a reputation for great professors, eager students, and outstanding academic opportunities. It also happens to be roughly 1,056 steps from Fenway Park, the oldest and one of the most storied ballparks in the country—home of the Boston Red Sox. In fact, today kicks off a season-long celebration of Fenway Park’s 100th anniversary.

The park’s proximity to campus means BU students have an opportunity to witness firsthand the legendary Red Sox–Yankees rivalry or to see Dustin Pedroia put on a “laser show” while crushing high-and-inside fastballs. Of course, that’s easier said than done. Tickets can be expensive, and hard to come by. With a seating capacity of 37,493 for night games and 37,065 for day games, Fenway is one of Major League Baseball’s smallest parks. The Sox have sold out every game since May 15, 2003, reaching 700 consecutive sellouts on September 2, 2011. Tonight’s home opener, not surprisingly, is officially sold out.

With that in mind, BU Today offers personality profiles of six buyers, each with a unique strategy. One of these strategies just may get you inside Fenway Park.

BU’s Student Activities Office is selling game tickets for the Red Sox vs. Mariners game on May 15, 2012, during Senior Week. Only seniors can buy them, and the limit is four per person. The tickets are $28 for bleacher seats and $25 for standing room. You can also enter the Red Sox online waiting room for tickets as soon as they go on sale.

“You can buy tickets directly from the Red Sox site,” says Kevin Anton (COM’12). “It is supposed to be a virtual version of waiting in line.”

If you’ve never thought of a night out at Fenway as a charitable way to spend your time and money, it’s time you discovered the Red Sox Foundation. What better way to get your hands on tickets than through the team’s official charity? The foundation auctions off tickets for some of Fenway’s most in-demand games on its website. You can also experience the game by volunteering with Fenway’s Green Team. This group of 30 to 50 volunteers gathers beer cups, water bottles, and other recyclables from fans during the first seven innings—and gets a chance to keep an eye on the game, of course. The BU Red Sox Green Team volunteers at two games a month. Find out how to sign up here.

“It was really cool to get to walk all the way down to the field to pick up the recycling for those seats,” says Jessica Beavis (COM’12). “I got to get a lot closer to the field than I probably ever would have if I had just purchased tickets. We also got to help the environment. So it was totally worth it.”

Two hours before each game, a limited number of tickets goes on sale at Fenway’s Gate E, on Lansdowne Street. Unfortunately, fans often start to line up for them four or five hours before game time, so there is no guarantee any will be left by the time you make it to the front of the line. Also, these tickets are typically for single and obstructed-view seats or for standing room. That said, they go for face value, and if you’re lucky, you can get into a game that has been sold out for months.

Buying Red Sox tickets from scalpers typically means paying more than face value—often much more. And although scalping tickets is illegal in Massachusetts, the biggest problem for buyers is not getting busted, but rather winding up with fake tickets. “Ask to look at the ticket,” says Steve Thaw (COM’08). “Make sure the date, time, and opponent are correct. Check whether or not that section and seat exist.” To get the best bargain, Thaw suggests buying right before a game begins, right after it has started, or if the forecast calls for rain.

Going online to craigslist or eBay to buy tickets is another option. On craigslist, transactions can be faster and easier because you are dealing person-to-person. “Since BU is actually so close to Fenway, it’s pretty easy to get tickets on craigslist for that day or the next day when people can’t make the game,” says Anton. “You can get them at face value and just meet them at the park.” On eBay, it’s usually easy to tell which ticket auctions are legit—but be prepared to pay much higher prices.

StubHub is an open marketplace where any person can sell any ticket. Many fans swear by it, but are generally resigned to paying more than face value. The Doughboy must be prepared to fork over the extra dough. The site charges a 10 percent commission, plus shipping fees or pickup fees. Ace Ticket is another option.

More information about buying tickets to Red Sox games can be found here.

Sierra Brown can be reached at [email protected].

This updated story originally ran on June 17, 2008.

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4 Effective Strategies For Supporting Newcomer English Learners

Each year, teachers across the country open their doors to new students at the start of the new academic year. Being a new student is overwhelming when it’s your first year, but can you imagine the added fear and anxiety that goes with being an English language (ELL) or multilingual learner (MLL)? On top of designing interactive bulletin boards and planning lessons, teachers who are new to working with ELLs/MLLs also wrestle with the concern of how to appropriately support their newcomer students both linguistically and culturally while also delivering content that’s meaningful.

Over the years, I’ve turned to simple strategies to encourage my students and help them to become better acclimated with our new school culture. For me, the best way to do this was to begin by acknowledging theirs first.

1. Make a Good First Impression

Introductions matter. Learn students’ names and nicknames. Learning how to pronounce your students’ names or using their preferred names shows them that you value their identity. Using icebreakers or name games is a fun way to learn students’ names. Be sure to model the instructions for the class before you begin. When I did this, I could visibly see my students becoming more comfortable with one another by making eye contact and smiling when they spoke and giving a thumbs-up or high five to encourage their peers.

A friendly greeting and a smile is a simple way to acknowledge newcomer students. Smiling is a universal language, which directly sends a message that you’re there for your students. It’s one way to give a warm welcome and invite them to feel relaxed and ready to learn.

2. Cultivate a Supportive and Caring Environment

As a teacher, I found that an easy way to support my high school students with classroom vocabulary was to use signage. Posters with sentence stems and labels of classroom supplies are one way in which students can internalize the English language through visuals and real objects.

Clear and consistent classroom routines also help newcomers to understand what is expected. Whether they are presented on a classroom agenda or introduced through modeling, predictable classroom routines help students feel safe. For example, introducing students to common classroom expressions accompanied by a visual can reinforce routines and give students the opportunity to practice the target language. Teaching students to ask and answer questions about classroom actions, such as finding the page number or asking for a writing utensil, supports newcomers in expressing their needs to others. When their questions are answered, their needs are met because they know they were heard.

Creating a caring climate means that care is used to prepare the physical space and contents within the classroom that make it easier for newcomers to transition into school. Preparing a welcome folder with access to important information such as Google Classroom codes or codes and passwords to websites that are used throughout the year says “We’ve been expecting you” to your new student and fosters a sense of belonging.

3. Use Effective Language Strategies for Newcomers

I frequently use the following strategies with my students to build their vocabulary, practice pronunciation, and strengthen the use of their receptive and expressive language skills.

Choral repetition: This is a technique whereby the teacher models reading fluency, pace, and pronunciation. Choral repetition creates a low affective filter or safe low-risk environment where newcomers can participate in whole-class reading.

Wait time: Newcomers need time to translate the question they’re given, think about a response, translate the answer into English, and then verbalize the response. I like to silently count to 15 seconds when I ask one-word-or-longer phrased questions based on vocabulary or to check my students’ understanding. If I notice that more time or clarification is needed, then I begin to repeat or sometimes rephrase the question to assist my students. Usually activities with text-based or inferential questions require the use of a timer for seven minutes or more, depending on the length or complexity of the activity.

Visual representations: These provide another way for students to express their thoughts and ideas. Accompanying these drawings with short sentences validates students’ perspectives and encourages them to share their stories. It’s vitally important that students feel seen and heard. Illustrations and artistic projects allow newcomers experiencing a silent period to express themselves without the fear of presenting to the whole class. Language researcher Stephen Krashen described the silent period as the first stage of language acquisition, where the language learner is silent for several weeks or more as they begin to adjust and acquire the new language.

4. Use Tech and Peer Support to Help Students Take Risks

This is where technology comes in handy. Newcomers are often uncomfortable with speaking or reading aloud. Our class has enjoyed the use of Flip, Classkick, and Book Creator to record their presentations or answer questions. While technological apps have made it easier for students to create and record their presentations, newcomers may need additional time to work on projects and presentations.

Some students may need an extra class day or an extra week. I use discretion based on my students’ needs as they strive to complete the assignment and on the demands of the activity itself. The truth is that a tech-friendly environment can help learners take language risks in a way that makes them feel comfortable.

To facilitate collaboration and communication, clock buddies or map buddies is a buddy system where students are paired up to support newcomers by translating for teachers or helping them to acclimate to their new school environment. Whether it’s a buddy or small group collaboration, these interpersonal activities equip newcomers to decipher language and content. Online translators, dictionaries, and visual dictionaries allow students to access the definition, image, and pronunciation of words in the target language. Students can also create their own glossaries using Quizlet.

Teachers can practice these simple strategies with the intention of constructing a safe and inclusive environment so that newcomer learners know that they are cared for and valued. The classroom becomes a space where all learners feel self-acceptance and a sense of belonging. It’s a place of purpose where all learners can fearlessly be who they are and confidently take on challenges together.

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