Feeling left out lately?
You’re not alone. Your competition for placement on the first page of search results is getting stiffer. Your direct competitors are getting better at SEO. The local directories like BBB, Yellow Pages, Angie’s List, Thumbtack, Home Advisor are gaining more prominence. Ad space is increasing for both Adwords and now even in the Google MAPS Local listings.
It’s not going to get any easier! Here’s what you need to be doing.
Google your business
products and services
First, start paying attention! Google your products and
service. I know that goes without saying. My clients drive themselves crazy
sometimes. But beyond the fact that you may not be showing up in those searches
and you have no more hair left to pull out, pay attention to who IS showing up
in those searches. Relative to the first page of search results:
Create a list of your competitors who are
showing up organically
Create a list of the directory sites who are
showing up organically
Create a list of the local business who are
showing up in maps (if MAPS is there on the search).
Understanding your direct
For each of your competitors that you listed, go to each of
their sites and do this:
Browse through the navigation of each of their
sites and while on each page, hover over the tab in the browser and write down
the text that shows up in the title. Do this for EVERY page in the navigation
of every direct competitor site you found on the search for your products and services.
This might help: http://tools.buzzstream.com/meta-tag-extractor
I did this exercise for “plumbers in cincinnati”. There was
only a single plumber in the organic listings on the first page! I bookmarked
his site because it was so well optimized!
Google MAPS Local Competition
This gets a little trickier. Google knows your location
while you’re doing this search and may prioritize the local list according to
your location. That’s OK if you’re at your office doing this search. In any
case, my bet is you’re going to know who your competition is. What you’re
trying to find out is why they’re showing up and you’re not. The easiest way to
discover your weaknesses is go straight to Google!
For each of your competitors, Google their
website domain. (leave off the http://www and only Google the domain itself).
Ignore any result that sends you to their
Write down any result that takes you to a third-party
website – it’s probably some sort of directory. Go at least 5 pages deep for
Setting up your
With these two exercises, you can now establish a pretty
powerful strategy for competing on the first page. You’ve got a list of pages / page
titles that should give you some idea of what your website pages should
include. Those titles are keyword rich as well. You’ll also have a list of
directories where you need to include your own business information.
In almost every case, you’ll find the following is true:
Your content is not as deep as your competition's
Your content is not well written
Your pages are too general
For example – instead of listing all your
services on a single page, have a page for each of your products or services
Your titles, keywords and descriptions are lazy
or non-existent. In this case, Google will guess and if you make Google work
for it, guess what happens?
You need to be more focused about listing your
business in local directories (and social media)
Address each of these issues!
If you implement this strategy, this exercise puts you at
par with the best in your field. As an SEO service, I’d like to tell you there’s
more magic to it than this but there really isn’t! You may have been told that
link building is the key. That may be true for ranking on a national scale, but
for small local businesses, the citations and directories will give you the
links you need.
You must at least do this to compete. This may NOT place you above
your competition but it will get you in the game. It should move you up the
ranks and possibly even on the first page of Google Search results.