My partners and I did most of our own marketing and advertising for our computer service and web design company, and we thought we had a pretty good idea who our closest competitors were. We knew which other companies in the area provided essentially the same services that we did, and about how much they charged for them.
And we ranked extremely well in Google for “computer service + (name of town)” and “web design + (name of town)”.
Happy end of story, right?
Not so much. We soon discovered that people were searching for more specific terms, sometimes referred to as “long tail” keywords. Like “computer virus cleanup” or “upgrade computer” or “upgrade laptop memory” or “read my husband’s emails to see if he’s cheating on me” (just kidding, but we did do a lot of strictly legal forensic work). And when you combine those keywords with the name of the town they were located in, our website was no longer ranking in the top 3 results.
Results varied, but multiple companies were ranking better for some of those long tail search terms than we were. And some of the top ranking company names surprised us. And to add to the surprise, one of the companies ranking higher than us had a similar name and was located on the same street as we were, and we didn’t even know it till they showed up in Google.
Who is Your Competition?
It’s great to rank for the big, all-encompassing keywords like “computer service” or “plumbing” or “window cleaners”, but not only are those harder for a small business to achieve, people usually do a second search, narrowing their search terms to be more specific. They type in those long tail search terms that are easier to rank for and more likely to convert to a real lead or a sale.
Build a list of specific long tail search terms, including geo location, that pertain to the specific services you want to promote. For example:
- computer virus cleanup keller, tx
- laptop screen replacement dallas
- upgrade pc memory arlington, tx
Now take your list and go to Google, searching for each term, one at a time. Make note of which companies are showing up in the top organic results AND in the top pay-per-click (PPC) ads for each term.
This is your competition.
What To Do About It?
Click on every one of the top ranking results and take a look at the kind of information each of those pages is presenting. The content on those pages is not the only factor in how well they rank, but it is a huge factor. The quality of the content, the number of links from other authoritative websites to those pages, how current the content is, and the correlation between the specific search term and the content on the page all help determine how that page achieved the rank it has in search results.
Then do this on your own website:
- create a page for each keyword term you are trying to rank for
- put meaningful, relevant, original content on the page, making sure it’s going to be helpful to your readers
- name the page something closely related to the search term
- make the top heading on the page closely related to the search term
NOTE: You don’t have to use the exact wording because a lot of long tail keyword phrases are not grammatically correct, and you want your headings to make sense.
- be very conservative with your use of geographical terms – when you add them to text and headings, it can make your page look spammy. It’s better to have your city/ST info at the top of the page or in the footer or side rail, and not necessarily in the body. Google will find it and associate it with the content.
- allow some of your PPC budget to target these search terms, making sure each one has its own landing page (see above)
- be sure to put a clear call-to-action on each landing page, even if it’s just “Call now for a free quote!”
What we found, and what you will likely find, is that the PPC ads will provide immediate results in traffic, and the new content pages that target long tail keywords will provide long-term organic results.
Who is your competition?