Dronfield Garden Services found themselves left high and dry by Yell, and turned to me to try and rescue their business. As it turned out, we almost had to start from scratch and build up the online presence from nothing while Yell hung on to their existing domains. In a bizarre situation, the company was competing against itself in the search engine rankings.
Dronfield Garden Services used Yell to handle their website and search marketing. They felt that the bills were escalating but the returns just weren’t there. There was no one they could really talk to at Yell about the account, and Yell’s general approach seemed to be ‘one size fits all’ marketing. Trouble is, all businesses are different, and it’s important to understand the business and the market place if your are trying to generate leads and sales for them. I was happy to step up to the challenge of moving the business forward.
The company has been in existence for over 20 years, and Yell had control of their domains. These were powerful domains and were ranking well in the local area for all sorts of useful keywords, and Yell were not about to give them up.
So we purchased new domains that contained the keywords, which also happens to be the company name, and installed new websites on them for Tree Services and Garden Services. So now we had a platform to market from, but we were in competition with the old sites. Google were still ranking the domains even thought there was no content on them.
It’s difficult to rank a new domain. Google is a touchy old soul and doesn’t trust new sites. In order to establish trust I linked the sites to the Google My Business pages and Facebook pages. I also updated the Google My Business Listing and made sure it was verified, and added a new Bing Places listing while I was at it. I then made sure that Google was crawling the new pages by listing them and the sitemaps on Google’s Search Console.
I then completed a large amount of business directory listings. Funnily enough, the company had no existing listings to update, which is odd as Yell were supposed to be optimising the business locally. Business listings are one of the fundamentals of SEO and one of the first steps towards getting a website recognised and liked by search engines.
One of the key parts of business listings is to make sure all the name, address and phone number listings are identical and match the information Google has for the business on the Maps / My Business page. This in turn has to match exactly the name address and phone number of the website. When I say the details have to match exactly, I mean exactly. The business is on High Street, and the Google Maps listing says ‘High Street’, but the website says ‘High St’, Google takes the abbreviated address to mean that it’s a different business. Likewise, any directory listings that differ from the Maps listing are taken as a different business and ignored in relation to the actual business. See, I told you the Google Bots were a bit on the sensitive side.
To make sure there was no doubt as to the address and authenticity of the business I added Local Business Schema Markup to the site – hidden code that tells Google about the business without the bots having to crawl the entire site, or becoming confused with any other information on the site.
With a new website that is yet to rank, how do you get traffic? I ran some paid ads on Google Adwords to generate some traffic and conversions to the sites. The budget didn’t have to be high, just enough to get things moving. Also, no matter what anybody says I’m convinced that sites that advertise on Google Ads do better in organic search.
I also run a continuous Facebook ad in the local area to raise awareness and send social signals to Google – social media activity is a ranking factor and it’s a plate that needs to be kept spinning.
I embarked on a content marketing schedule for the gardening site. Long posts of 1200 words or more in great depth about gardening in relation to the service the company provides – like this one on How to Mow a Lawn: www.dronfieldgardenservices.com/how-to-mow-lawn/
The purpose of these long posts is to show search engines that the site is a great repository for good quality, in depth articles that visitors will love. By building the credibility and authority of the site it will rank higher in search results. The post are a great way to get extra keywords onto a site, and by linking them back to me main service pages – the pages we really want to rank – we are helping those pages to rank higher.
I then built links to the blog posts to strengthen them, and shared them on Facebook and the Google My Business Page. The links from external, independent website act as a vote of confidence from the web. Google rates these ‘votes’ highly, especially votes from established and authority sites that are relevant to the business.
I checked out the local competition and I was sure we were building a stronger profile then any of them… but then there was a problem.
I discovered a Google Maps Listing for another Dronfield Garden Services, which linked to a website with a domain of dronfield-garden-services. But the web pages were for another business entirely. A little research revealed this competitor to be an ex employee of the business who had set up in competition for himself and wanted to steal some of DGS thunder. Strictly speaking, Google shouldn’t rank this site as the content on the pages did not match the url or titles, but Google makes it’s own rules! I’ve alerted NOMINET about the site and they are reviewing the situation. Hopefully they will rule in favour of Dronfield Garden Services (the real DGS!) and release the domain to them. That would be ideal as the site could then steal the thunder back. The whole situation is starting to sound like and 80’s rock album with all that thunder stealing, so I’m going to leave it there.
Nominet are the ‘official registry for UK Domain Names’ and have the power to mediate and act in cases where domain names are stolen and returning them to their rightful owners. You can find more information here.
To date we are only a few months into the campaign, but the early signs are that the site will do well. Pages are starting to register on the search engines, and Bing especially likes the site as we already have some page one listings. I know that Bing is an ‘also ran’ next to the behemoth of Google, but I’m expecting big things of Bing in the future as it is the default search engine shipped with Windows computers and now with Apple Device. Watch this space for the future of Bing and Dronfield Garden Services.
The site continues to have page 1 rankings for local keywords and has steady progress after the initial flurry of activity – as the 6 month chart below shows: