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– Tree Service Owner’s Efforts to Rescue their Websites
– Even the Best Tree Service Websites Fall Short
– What’s Holding Back Strong, Content-Rich, Local Websites?
– 1st Major Problem Affecting Your Website
– 2nd Major Problem
– How Do the Search Engines ‘see’ Large Cities?
– Proof That ‘tree removal Dallas’ only ranks you in Downtown Dallas
– 3 Solutions To Improved Local Business Website Performance
I know many profitable tree service business owners who have worked hard to discover the latent potential of their websites. They’re happy to invest in a channel which generates more tree service leads for their business. Despite this, some have lost patience with this channel and have resorted to expensive paid search and paid social marketing campaigns.
This article explores why the majority of local business-to-consumer (B2C) service websites are like buried treasure, waiting to be unearthed.
Tree Service Owners’ Efforts to Rescue Their Websites
Owners have added separate tree service pages and extra content to their websites, even tree care blogs on occasion. They’ve added videos of completed tree jobs. They’ve made changes to the site so that it works better and faster on mobile phones. Some may even have paid extra for a faster web hosting service. Others go one step further and commission Search Engine Optimization (SEO) work.
And yet the number of calls and leads still disappoints.
Fully 3 in every 5 tree industry websites provide their owners with less than 10 leads a month. We know because we asked you; check out our website effectiveness survey piece. But it needn’t be this way. After all, 1 in 6 tree service sites generate more than 100 leads a month for their owners. So the potential is there to get more from this critically-important digital channel.
Even the Best Tree Service Websites Fall Short
Spoke to a successful tree guy in Tennessee recently. This month and every month, he spends $10,000 on digital advertising his tree business. This includes both Pay Per Click and Local Service Ads. His tree service company is well-established and highly profitable. He is happy to spend this much to support tree service sales of more than $1m a year. The spend seems high but is broadly in line with the U.S. Small Business Administration article on typical ad budgets for a million-dollar B2C service company .
I thought initially that he might not have a website. But he does and it’s an excellent site. It has a detailed About Us section several layers deep. He has several well-formatted and informative service pages. His site even has a page dedicated to glowing testimonials; all presented in an attractive and mobile-responsive design. On the surface, the SEO metrics look great. In fact, the site is so strong that it appears on page 1 of the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPS) throughout most of a small city in Tennessee with a population of around 175,000.
But there remains a problem because his superb website is still not strong enough to rank any higher than the 2nd page of Google in neighboring small cities within his service area. We’re talking about competitive search terms such as ‘tree removal service’ and ‘tree removal’.
Hence, his business absolutely needs the supplementary $10,000 p.m. paid search advertising campaign to sustain sales at a sufficiently high level.
But imagine how much lower his marketing budget could be if his site was visible across ALL his service area in East Tennessee (instead of just 20% of it).
So what’s going on? And what can be done to liberate much better website performance?
What’s Holding Back Strong, Content-rich Local Business Sites?
There’s a double challenge preventing your tree service website from working as hard as you do. We’ll outline these two systemic problems below.
They are quite apart from the steady decline in the space available on page one of the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). I’m sure you’ve seen the multiple ads on most page 1 search results PLUS the recently added Local Service Ads PLUS the Maps Results. Despite this land grab, top of page 1 organic SERPS remain highly prized by businesses. This is because the top 3 spots take most of the attention …and clicks …and inquiries. We can’t do anything about this but owners can do something about the two issues outlined below.
The 1st Major Problem Affecting Your Website
Consumers across the U.S. are looking online for local businesses in increasing numbers. But they want a service provider that’s near them. Check out this breakout pattern of local searches over the last 5 years for “near me” tree services (source: Google Trends):
This trend underlines a big shift in consumer behavior which I believe is, at least, partly driven by voice searches. Because nearly 40 million Americans currently own a smart speaker and 58% of all consumers have used voice search to find local businesses (Source: Review42). It’s now easy to ask a digital assistant (e.g. Alexa, Siri, Cortana) “Hey Siri, find a tree removal business near me.”. So if your business/operations address is neither physically “near me” nor “in my area”, then your website will lose out to geographically-closer tree service companies.
The 2nd Major Problem
There’s another big reason why your tree service website is failing you right now. It’s to do with how search engines ‘see’ your city.
Local websites work reasonably well in most cases. For example, restaurants, cafes, shoe shops, delicatessens and hairstyling salons have a limited catchment area and rely heavily on local foot traffic.
G o o g l e ’s ‘algo-brain’ clearly thinks your tree service business has a limited catchment area too. Who could blame them for not knowing that your service area extends up to 20 or 25 miles or more beyond your operational base address?
Take Dallas, for example. If you’re near the center of Dallas and you’re willing to travel 20 miles to tree jobs, your service area covers 1,250 square miles! So ideally, you want your website to give you complete digital coverage of your service area like this:
But in a busy and competitor-rich city like Dallas, the search engines only ‘allow’ your website to be seen 2 or 3 miles beyond your business address on most occasions. This is only around 13 square miles; something like this circle here:
How Do the Search Engines ‘see’ Large Cities?
Taking a large U.S. city at random, G o o g l e does NOT regard Dallas as a singular, massive metropolitan area. It sees Dallas as a collection of discrete neighborhoods. Not exactly like this but something like it…
This change happened when G o o g l e’s ‘Pigeon’ algorithm update was rolled out July 24th 2014.
Since then, it sees cities not as whole areas. Instead, it segments cities into hundreds and sometimes thousands of small districts, areas, villages, communities, suburbs, zip codes and neighborhoods. This is because it wants to increase relevancy of search results for users in different locations.
It means that this search engine gives priority only to web pages that have been localized for the area in which the user is searching from. Consumer’s specific locations can be determined with ease. The search engines can do this down to the nearest yard or so from IP addresses and mobile data signals.
Proof That ‘tree removal Dallas’ only ranks you in Downtown Dallas
Ranking #1 for the key-phrase ‘Tree Removal Dallas’ only covers Downtown Dallas. This is a heavily developed, tree-scarce downtown city district of just 1.4 square miles!!
I ran 5 separate searches on G o o g l e for these phrases:
- Tree Removal Dallas
- Tree Removal Downtown Dallas
- Tree Removal Red Bird Dallas
- Tree Removal White Rock Dallas
- Tree Removal Wolf Creek Dallas
Then I listed the top 10 organic search results from the 1st page and tabulated them below.
The results highlighted in green show an EXACT correlation between the top 10 results for Tree Removal Dallas and Tree Removal Downtown Dallas, albeit seen in a slightly different order in the search results.
There was no such correlation between the search results for 4 other neighborhoods of Dallas.
Please note that I am not based in Dallas so had to add the city name/ area to the search term ‘tree removal’ to simulate the search results for those real people living in those areas. You can easily check the validity of the above table as you roam around different locations in your own service area.
What about other cities?
I tried the same for the smaller City of St. Louis MO and obtained very similar results. For the sake of brevity, I won’t include the table here. However, do contact me if you want to see the detailed results.
In conclusion, even if your SEO guy can drag your tree service website kicking and screaming to the 1st page of Google for ‘service + city name’ searches, the chances are that it won’t appear anywhere else other than the small area in the center of the city.
3 Solutions To Improved Local Business Website Performance
There are only 3 ways…
- Basic level of localization is to list by name all of the areas and neighborhoods you cover within the city, together with all of the ZIP codes in your service area on each of your service pages. It will get you a little more profile in these areas in the search engines (but not if the competition is strong). CARE – Some SEO experts say that this practice is no longer as effective as it might have been in the past.
Alternatively, customize each of your separate service pages to a different city within your service area. Add relevant local tree care tips to each page mentioning the area to increase local relevance of your services to both consumers and the search engines.
- Advanced level of localization is to have a dedicated web page for each community in your service area. Each page should have its own unique title, unique meta description, tailored content, specific geo-location signals, latitude & longitude data and unique schema. It is possible to create such pages but it’s a lot of hard work.
Have someone you trust create unique web pages for every urban and rural city and community in your service area to the above brief. Sounds reasonable but this can be prohibitively expensive for anything more than a handful of pages. We’ve seen some agencies charge between $575 and $1275 for such pages. They would charge you up to $96,900 to create pages for all 76 locations just in Dallas County. And a minimum of $138,575 for all 241 locations in the City of St. Louis and St. Louis County.
Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be this way.
- Ultimate level of localization is to get tree service leads professionals like MarketingDirector.com Agency to help with the work in point 2). For a tiny fraction of the prohibitive costs mentioned above, we will work steadily to build a large number of community pages specific to each suburb, neighborhood or city in your own service area. Each new location page will have its own unique meta titles, descriptions, content, unique geo data and unique schema. They will be internally linked to build authority in your static service pages too.
As a result, your digital service area grows by a factor of up to 100 times! This means that your service inquiries will climb at least ten-fold. This is especially true if you’re one of the 3 in every 5 tree service website owners that see less than 10 customer inquiries a month.
Your digital footprint in the organic search results pages can now match your actual service area.
John Hackwood helps tree service owners get 20-50 NEW customers per month. He is an expert at helping them get clients using proprietary digital marketing methods. He has been a marketing professional since 1988 and is using this considerable experience to help small businesses in the U.S. tree care sector.
If you’re interested in learning how John can help you grow your tree service business with high-quality sales leads then click on blue button below.