Almost one year ago to the day, I, like most small businesses trying to break into the world of Search Engine Optimization, felt like a man at the bottom of Mount Everest, looking up into the clouds and wondering how I could possibly get to the top. And when I say top, I mean website traffic, and lots of it.
I wanted to be the site other companies in my industry looked up to when they set their traffic goals. I wanted to be the industry standard, the example, the hub of consumer information….But the task was going to be difficult, and even worse, I was attempting to climb a mountain – for the first time.
As all my readers are well aware, I own (along w/ two partners) a fiberglass swimming pool installation company. In terms of web traffic within this industry, fiberglass pool manufacturers dominate. Why? Mainly because their Google page rank is so high with two simple phrases: ‘fiberglass pools’ and ‘fiberglass pool’. Those two words garner over 20,000 searches a month on Google and therefore catapult the manufacturers to the top, with most builders like me lagging way behind.
Why Small Biz Web Traffic Stinks
In fact, the majority of pool builders get very, very little web traffic. And when I say very little, I mean between 10-20 unique visitors a day…if that. The reasons for this are many but the main cause of the problem reverts back to poor SEO practices—As I’ve mentioned at nausea on this blog, most builders have awful websites. They don’t offer the consumer remarkable content. They don’t teach. They don’t inform. Essentially, the sites are glorified business cards.
But this problem within the swimming pool industry is no different than 90% of other small businesses around the world. Carpenters, plumbers, builders, electricians, home improvement companies—they are all the same. When it comes to web traffic and web lead generation, they stink. In fact, many of these companies depend on their suppliers and manufacturers to give them all their leads. And if they ain’t getting leads from their manufacturers, they immediately turn to Google Adwords and start throwing money their way. Needless to say, it’s a nasty cycle.
Luckily, when I started this process about a year ago, I understood this cycle for what it was, and I didn’t want any parts of it. In fact, if there is one thing I learned a long time ago in business it’s the more a small business is dependent on ‘others’ for lead creation and generation, the more they’re in trouble. I didn’t want to ever sit at my desk and wait for my pool manufacturer to send me a lead. In fact, I wanted to beat them to the leads. Frankly, I wanted to beat all the manufacturers to the leads. This is what my SEO quest has been all about.
As I’ve mentioned before, this quest started with blogging. My initial blogging goals were simple: I wanted to get on the first page with the words ‘fiberglass pools’ and ‘fiberglass pool’. After the first few articles though, I realized my positioning with those two words weren’t really moving. In fact, the blog seemed to be a failure. I was bummed.
Common Sense Blogging
My experience was nothing unique though. Many bloggers, especially small biz bloggers, deal with a sense of hopelessness at the beginning of blogging escapades. We live in a society of results. And we want fast results at that. Unfortunately, blogs don’t typically work that way. But with lots of persistence mixed in with common sense, blogs can take any business’ SEO results to new heights.
And what do I mean by common sense? I mean that you need to start blogging to answer questions of consumers. Stop thinking like a business owner or marketer and start thinking just as a consumer would. This is why you should make a list today of the top 20 questions a consumer asks when they are considering the purchase of your product. These questions will form the foundation of your Long-Tail Keyword strategy, or as I like to put it, your business’ Low-Hanging Fruit.
Low Hanging (SEO) Fruit
The website Wisegeek gives a nice explanation of low-hanging fruit:
We have Mother Nature to thank for the expression low hanging fruit. A fruit-bearing tree often contains some branches low enough for animals and humans to reach without much effort. The fruit contained on these lower branches may be not be as ripe or attractive as the fruit on higher limbs, but it is usually more abundant and easier to harvest. From this we get the popular expression “low hanging fruit”, which generally means selecting the easiest targets with the least amount of effort.
This concept of low-hanging fruit is the whole reason my company’s blog eventually exploded. Instead of worrying about more difficult keywords such as ‘fiberglass pools’, I started focusing on questions/topics regarding fiberglass pools that consumers would be asking themselves and therefore turning to Google for answers. In the world of SEO, these phrases are what’s known as ‘Long Tail Keywords’. There are also short and mid-tail keywords. An example of this would be:
- “Pools”—Short Tail
- “Fiberglass Pools”—Mid Tail
- “What are some sizes of fiberglass pools?” – Long Tail
Do you see the difference? Obviously, long-tail keywords are much more targeted and specific, which is what makes them so wonderful. Just look at it this way, which customer/lead would you rather have, the person that found your website (Let’s assume you sell and install cabinets)by typing in “Cabinets” or the person that typed in the phrase “How much do mahogany cabinets cost installed?” I’m sure you’d choose the second; as such a phrase would indicate the high level of seriousness of the shopper.
The beauty of blogging is that you could easily write an article entitled, “How Much do Mahogany Cabinets Cost Installed?” and I can practically guarantee it would quickly move to the front page of Google for that keyword phrase, simply because the competition for such a word is so low.
It Only Takes One Great Article
Let me give you an example from my business. My partner Jason once wrote an article entitled, “Top 5 Fiberglass Pool Problems and Solutions”. Immediately, this article captured the first spot on Google for many long-tail keyword phrases such as: “Fiberglass Pool Problems” , “Problems with Fiberglass Pools”, and many others (Type a few in your search engine and see what I’m talking about). And although such phrases might not register that high for monthly searches on Google, the blog article has now been read over 5,000 times this past year. Think about that for a second….The average pool builder gets about 5,000 visits a year on their website and this ONE article garnered our website over 5,000 views alone! Now that’s what I call some low-hanging fruit.
The ‘Fiberglass Pool Problems’ article is just one example of many long-tail keyword phrases we’ve written about since we started thinking like a consumer. This is also why, even though we STILL are not on the first page of Google for ‘Fiberglass Pools’, our site traffic has now moved well past every fiberglass pool manufacturer in our industry. While they’ve been fighting over the attractive fruit that is higher in the tree, we’ve snatched as much of the low-hanging fruit off of every branch we could find, and we now stand at the top of the traffic mountain that, just under one year ago, seemed insurmountable.
Hopefully you can see just how simple a strategy this is. It doesn’t require you to be an SEO genius. And it doesn’t require a bunch of money. In fact, it only requires 3 things:
- A business blog
- Write at least 2 articles a week
- Start thinking and acting like a customer
That’s it. That’s all it takes. And I can promise you that if you do these things your site’s traffic, along with your company’s leads and sales, will reach heights you never imagined possible.
Questions or Comments? What’s your ‘Long-Tail’ story? Need some ‘low hanging fruit’ ideas? Put your thoughts below and let’s talk about it!