Today, a business coach asked me to look at two websites. She couldn’t understand why one plumbing website consistently came up ahead of her client’s. I changed the names to protect my own hiney. Here’s what I wrote. Marilyn, Here are some things I found when researching your client “Frodo” Plumbing and its competitor, “Sauron the Dark Lord of Mordor” Plumbing. First, know that Sauron Plumbing actually has two sites: www.Sauronplumbing.com and www.middleearthplumbingtips.com. In other words, Sauron is trying to make it seem like they just publish plumbing tips for their geographical area for the benefit of all humanity. Mostly, this second website exists to funnel people to its business website. Your client Frodo has no such publishing arm.
Website Size and Small Business SEO
Pages on the Website Frodo: 190 pages Sauron: 1,100,00 pages Middle Earth Plumbing Tips: 195,000 pages Backlinks (other sites linking to Frodo pages) Frodo: 486 Sauron: 1,130,000 Middle Earth Plumbing Tips: 32,200 How did Sauron get so many pages and backlinks? Well, the backlink farms were producing plenty there for a while. Sauron’s probably stopped with those practices, but still many links still exist for him. Also, don’t forget that a post on Facebook with a link to your site counts as a backlink from a VERY big entity. In other words, if Sauron’s put up a bunch of Facebook posts with invitations to check out a blog or an offer on his site, Google counts that as a backlink. Sauron Plumbing and Middle Earth Plumbing Tips are the same company. Many pages from one are linked to many pages from the other, making it look like Sauron Plumbing has lots of “backlinks” or community approval. If your website, Marilyn B, Business Coach has backlinks coming in (they’ve highlighted text on their page and it leads to your website pages) from places like the Chamber of Commerce, SCORE, the SBA and lots of other business related places, those look like affirmations of your value and Google ranks you more highly. Beyond the backlinking, however, clearly Sauron Plumbing has been adding pages in droves for years and yrs. It has a million pages. Frodo has 190 pages. It can’t compete for the SAME keywords that BMP is going for (Middle Earth Plumbing, Middle Earth Plumber, Middle Earth Plumbing Contractor). Unless Frodo wants to pay for an onslaught of new pages, that fight is over.
The Small Business SEO Strategy: Long-Tail Keywords
I think Frodo should write a bunch of blog posts for the neighborhoods where it CAN most likely compete. “Battling Drain Clogs in Isengard,” or even more broad, “3 Isengard Plumbing Problems Solved with Household Cleaners.” You’re just trying to get people with plumbing problems to the Frodo site WHERE THEIR OFFERS LIVE. At the end of that blog post you have to say, “if all your hard work doesn’t result in a flowing faucet, maybe it’s time to call a professional to kick the problem to the curb. Check out our coupons on this page.” That’s the call to action. This approach is called “long-tail” blogging, the keyword phrases are longer, the audiences more targeted and specific. While there may be less traffic, in aggregate, they add up. Further, the visitors may be more compelled to buy because they’ve found exactly what they wanted. Basically, Frodo could create many new pages mentioning their neighborhoods and “Plumber” and then even focus in more on specific services/specific neighborhods. “Top 3 Plumbing Issues in Soggy Helm’s Deep & what to do about them.” and “Why Plumbers HATE Helm’s Deep Copper Pipes.” Stuff like that.
Content Can Be SEO King for Small Business, Particularly if It’s Geo-Targeted
As good as blogging, however, is to have separate pages for each service area. Look at the Sauron Plumbing tab that says “service areas.” They list them there and then have separate pages for several, probably their most popular neighborhoods. That WHOLE page then comes up in the search results when someone types in “Plumber Isengard.” The top of the page reads something like, “Isengard Plumber with 30 Years Experience!” or something like that. People think it’s a totally local plumber, but pages exist for many neighborhoods from Forodwaith to South Gondor. My other good example of this is Shamrock Electric (a real website readers—check it out! They have duplicate content issues that need addressed, however). I think Frodo should come up with their 5 biggest neighborhoods and get pages written for those. Those are quite easy. I charge like $50 per page for each, as long as there are 5 or more.
Social Media and Small Business SEO
Also at issue is the lack of a Facebook presence that links back to Frodo Plumbing website. But since Facebook is best for broadcasting blog posts and Frodo is not really posting, then they don’t have as good of an excuse to link back to their site. Sauron Plumbing is doing a bang up job on FB and on Twitter. Frodo is not on Twitter either. Frodo has a Facebook page but only 6 followers and no posts. Social, the blog and the website have to work in concert to achieve one goal: people to the website and people calling or filling out info form. As for Google Plus, yes Frodo has 18 great reviews and Sauron has 25, only 7 ahead of Frodo. I saw lots of stars beside Frodo–almost 5. Here’s the really complex difference: Sauron is listed in the Google Plus Directory where the reviews go, BUT he also has a Google Plus PAGE, which–much like a Facebook page—he updates with his photos, insights, tips, articles he’s reading and more. Frodo Plumbing does not have a Google Plus PAGE. That may be making a difference. You can update FB & G+ simultaneously by using Hootsuite. Doesn’t this all sound awful? For a very sophisticated company, Google has made this SUPER CONFUSING! Google Plus Local Pages – all the same all different all nuts. As far as the blogging, If he will blogs, which I recommend, Frodo will have to get “Google Authorship ” set up. It’s also called “rel=author” and it’s so technical I put my developer on it! Basically, if you search “Internet Marketing Baloney-Hype” my photo comes up alongside the blog post I wrote. If you type in “Emergency preparedness and household repairs,” you’ll find the post Frodo wrote in March, but his photo is not there. Ask his developer, “Can you set up Google Authorship for Frodo’s website?”
Leveraging the Visual Focus of Facebook and Google+
As far as social is concerned, the best Frodo can do is try and blog, broadcast those blogs on FB, TW and G+ and then watch the results on Google Analytics. If they’re going on FB, they have to have photos. Consider shots of:
- funny things that come out of drains
- beautiful kitchens and bathrooms
- amazing, high-end plumbing fixtures
- double-showers and other plumbing feats
- gleaming pipes
- flooded trophy rooms (or basements if you want to be boring)
- scary animals in toilets
I know photographers who can go around with Frodo and take like 300 pictures for him to use. If he wants me to do that I charge $300. I’m no professional, but I’m not bad for an amateur.
Local Directories for Small Business SEO
Finally, if you go to Yext.com and type in Frodo Plumbing’s website and phone number, you’ll see he’s not in many local directories. It looks like Sauron is on many local directories and his entries are all full of photos, explanation of what he does and more. This said, directories don’t have much SEO “juice” any more. I have to watch the experts and see whether they think the directories are worth it. I’m thinking no. I only get a few people coming from the directories to my site. How do I know this? Google Analytics. As with social, to measure effectiveness, the only game in town is Google Analytics. It’s not only free, it gives you all the info you need to make informed decisions.”
Need Help with Small Business SEO, Internet Marketing and Getting More Clients Online?
That’s all folks! While two businesses may seem to be the same size, their SEO choices make a big difference in the number of leads they get online. If you need help determining just why you’re not getting the attention you think you deserve, feel free to give me a call at 858-248-0667 or fill out this contact form with your issue. Want to get good tips for small business SEO? Follow Informed Web Content on Facebook, Google Plus or Twitter. See you in cyberspace!