More threads by thinkbig

Jul 19, 2012
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So here's a question I've had and can never find a real answer to it... I have a client in Lawn Care business. We've been building citations for them and have done some minor SEO work on their site along with having optimized their Places/G+ Local listing and ensured that it's 100% complete. We've installed a KML and GEO Sitemap on their site and submitted through Webmaster Tools. I'd say we've built at least 100 citations over last 3 months.

Their listing went from not being listed at start to #3 spot in blended SERPs on page 1 for main 2 keywords - "lawn care" and "lawn maintenance"

The top 2 spots are businesses much further from city center point, these listings have not been claimed and their websites are not optimized in any way.

I cannot seem to get my client's listing to spot 1 no matter what. Given the factors mentioned above for the top 2 businesses in the SERPs, does anyone have any insight/feedback/advice?
Hi, I don't know how much I can help but figured I tell you what I deal with as well.
I see this challenge at times with some of my local clients in Austin and Park City UT.

I have found that by continuing to hammer out citations and insure my clients site(s) are rock solid we eventually creep ahead of them. of course, it doesn't always work out that way at least not in the old system.

I am hoping with Google+ Local that listings as you have described will not even be a factor in coming months. I know it may be wishful thinking but I feel Google knows the importance on making local search as good as it can be.


yes, your reply does help... at least I know we just need to keep on keeping on and it's always good to hear it from others in the game. thanks!
Great questions and this is exactly the type of stuff I would hope we could all brainstorm about.

This is the type of thing in the private forum which is bound by confidentiality, you could post a link to the results and we could all jump in, analyze the competition and try to figure it out. But I realize some people would hesitate to post specifics in a public forum.

So it's hard for me to say without seeing the results. BUT when I'm in a situation like that I use Places Scout or GPscraper to analyze the competition. Then it usually becomes very obvious what the top 2 have that my client is missing.

But working blind, not being able to see the sites/Places it's hard to guess.

What I can tell you is if it's a blended search result then it's mainly about organic ranking factors.

Try this. Go to my tools page:

Below the blue box is a free tool I call the Catalyst Google Organic SEO Simulator. Plug the search query in there to see the PURE organic rankings. If the other 2 come up on top there, then that pretty much tells you it's the organic strength of their site.

Have you done a backlink comparison yet?
Additional Data as requested

Linda thanks for your response... ok so here's some data as requested:
  1. My client is "Prime Cut Lawncare"
  2. Their G+ page is:
  3. Search Result #1 -
  4. Search Result #2 -
  5. Search Result #3 -

Based on what I've seen and learned recently, we are going to build some high quality links for them using "Lawn Care Brandon" as one of the keywords which also happens to be the search #2 above. In that search it is clear that their competition is better at the organic ranking for that term. The other 2 searches is more ambiguous.

I've added a new reviews page to the client's site tonight as well.

Looking forward to any additional feedback, insight and dialogue!

I will be checking out the tools you recommended tomorrow. Thanks!
Oh good thanks for sharing. I'll dig in later tonight and see if I can spot anything that may help.
SO sorry, was swamped last night. Today am really booked up with training sessions. But I promise to dig into this when I can.

Anyone else spot anything that could help?
OK sorry for delay. Digging into this one now.

Your client is ranking #2 or 3 most of the time, not bad. But he could easily be #1 with a little work.

There are 2 main competitors above him A+ and 4 Affordable. Both are outranking in part due to violating guidelines.

You said: "The top 2 spots are businesses much further from city center point, these listings have not been claimed and their websites are not optimized in any way."

Maybe I'm seeing diff results but the top 2 I keep seeing both have claimed listings. Plus 4 Affordable site is built by SEO company and IS optimized plus has tons of backlinks.

A Plus has a major violation that's helping him rank. Name on Place page is just Lawn Service. That's just keywords, not his real name. You could do a map edit and change to the real name and it would get approved. (Don't be logged into client's account as the name could show on the edit and you don't want his name to show.)

4 Affordable that usually often outranks your client has major violations. AND city in cats is part of what's helping him rank high. I'd try doing a user edit on maps and change his listing. (Don't be logged into client's account as the name could show on the edit.)

Plus I think they both are home offices and are in violation for showing their address. I have NO problem editing KW stuffed listings that violate the guidelines. I think of it as helping to level the playing field and clean up spam. BUT if you report them for violating the hide address rule they will get deleted. Even though it's a guideline violation and even IF I wanted to knock someone out of the rankings, I personally could not do that to someone after all the pain I've seen it cause in the Google forum. But they ARE in violation and COULD eventually get removed by Google even if you don't turn them in..

Backlink comparison:
4 Affordable has a TON of backlinks.

BUT HERE'S the thing - if those guideline violations were cleaned up and if you just did some good solid onsite LOCAL SEO with all the right Local hooks that could push your guy right to the top, likely even without building backlinks.

There a lots of problems and missing elements with the Local SEO on your client's site. Granted the other guy's sites aren't ideal either, but totally optimizing this one I think would make all the diff.

I train hard core highly skilled SEOs all the time that say I backlinked the hell out of this listing and built a ton of citations and I can't get this client to rank. I do my Local SEO training and show them how to REALLY optimize a site for local search and that's the missing piece of the puzzle.

If you take my Local SEO course I'll show you some tricks that will really help this one AND your other clients as well. :) Plus my Local SEO Automated Template system takes all the guesswork out of it for you and boils about 3 hours of work down to 10 minutes flat. :) (Not so subtle plug, but seriously not trying to sell you, just letting you know my training would really benefit you.)
Hey Linda,
Where can we find detailed information (format, costs, etc) about the Local SEO courses that you teach?

Hey Joe,

Very general info is here: Google Places Help, Consulting & Training

But shoot me an email request at: linda AT catalystemarketing DOT com and I'll send you a word doc with detailed info about all the different options, what's included, prices, etc.
I think the good news is both those competitors that Linda was talking about have pretty crappy websites. Their home pages don't have a ton of content. Yours doesn't appear to either but if you were to change that, you'd definitely have a gain on them. The word "lawn care" is actually on your home page only once. I would add some details, descriptions, list of services etc to your home page in a way that's not spammy that will get more keywords on there. One way to do it that's natural is to do something similar to what 4affordable did and add a contact form on your home page. In the contact form you can have a drop down box for "subject" that lists the services you offer (aka keywords). As long as you always have an "other" category as well, the customer will find this box useful and Google will read it and see all the keywords.

I would recommend taking Linda's course as well. Especially if you have a lot of clients you work on. I took it and would highly recommend it. I learned a lot of things from it, which when I applied, really helped out my clients.
Thanks for the extra tips and insights Joy!

FYI you took my Advanced Places training which wouldn't help him here much in this case. But thanks so much for mentioning!

My other training - the Local SEO training is what he needs in this case because it teaches all the on-site stuff that controls the blended algo and some special secret sauce stuff that Google LOVES for local.
Hey thinkbig, did you see all our comments? Was that helpful?
I usually use Scout. Have not used GPScraper for awhile so not sure how it's keeping up with all of G's changes. (It may be I just don't know.) Sorry Russ. :eek: You know how limited on time I am these days. :(

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