Always Greener: A Case Study of Success in a Competitive Market

Background

Firestarter SEO serves a growing landscaping company in the Denver area.  This client provides landscaping design and sprinkler installation and repair to both residential and commercial properties.  One of the foremost challenges lay in their competitive landscape. There is no shortage of sprinkler or landscaping companies in Denver.  This kind of market saturation typically indicates a longer period of time before results are really seen, depending on the starting point of the campaign.

Fortunately, while the competition certainly had a head start, it was clear that their strategies had not heavily involved SEO.  Keyword targeting on their site was decent, but not stellar. Their link landscapes were also very mediocre, as evidenced by the table below.  Bottom line: there was a significant opportunity.


Beyond those first page rankings, there were a quality number of keywords ranked on the 2nd – 5th pages.  These did have search volume, and represented our opportunity keywords for this campaign.  When the client initially reached out to us, there were several first page rankings.  However, further research showed that very few of these top-ranked keywords actually had any search volume.  At Firestarter SEO, these are often what we call “junk keywords,” as it feels great seeing yourself at the top of that search, but the absence of any search volume means it won’t really benefit your business by targeting it.

  • Page 1: 27 (3 of which had any search volume)
  • Page 2: 10 (5 with search volume)
  • Pages 3-5: 6 (3 with search volume)

Their search traffic wasn’t ideal – with 103 organic visitors in the first month of the campaign and 0 conversions.  Ultimately, the goal was to increase traffic and conversions in order to help scale their business.

The Strategy

The start of the strategy was very clear from the beginning: we needed to implement a better keyword strategy.  As evidenced by the lack of search volume for keywords they had targeted, we needed to identify search terms that were relevant, had quality intent, and search volume.  This would lay the entire foundation for the strategy moving forward.

From a technical standpoint, the site was fairly sound, with a small number of errors needing correction.  Their link landscape, however, was non-existent. There were no external links, and very few internal links throughout the site.  Link acquisition, therefore, would be an immediate priority for our campaign.

Finally, in order to expedite results and increase the effectiveness of the campaign, we began a PPC campaign after a couple months of service.  Doing so allowed us to maximize visibility for our target keywords, and also generate quick results for the client.

SEO process of accumulation

The client saw an initial bump in results after implementing basic SEO elements with the new keyword strategy.  In the 3rd month of the campaign, they received 74 Organic calls and 29 calls from PPC.  A key benefit of running both SEO and PPC was the maximized exposure.  From a sheer numbers perspective, if a client is running PPC for a keyword and shows up at the top of the SERP, and also ranks on the first page for the same keyword, their exposure and credibility skyrockets.  As Boostability explains, this is a powerful combination.

Links remained a significant element in our strategy.  As a local SEO campaign, directories played a big role.  We also utilized guest posts for relevant sites as well. The ongoing application of links, on-site optimization, and content continued driving rankings, increasing traffic, and boosting quality leads on a monthly basis.

Final results/successes

Our client’s campaign has been one of ongoing, consistent growth.  SEO & PPC have become a cornerstone of their marketing strategy due to the tremendous success of the campaign.  At the time of writing, there were 17 keywords with 1st-page rankings, and 23 with 2nd-page rankings. Organic Traffic for the previous month sat at 1,096 – a 964% increase from the first month of service.  All of this leads to the crowning statistic of the campaign: 206 conversions in one month, with 190 phone calls.

Thanks to SEO & PPC, they have been able to grow significantly, and scale their business in a way they never thought possible.


Hitting The Links: How Link Building Transformed a Golf Client

Firestarter SEO provides monthly services to a company offering premier golf instruction to people throughout the United States.  With a focus on individual training versus group instruction, their mission is to provide personalized, first-rate training from professionals who boast over 350 years of collective golf experience.

The Starting Point

In October 2014, the client reached out to Firestarter SEO to see how they could improve their online visibility.  They had a big vision for the growing company, but didn’t know how to bridge the gap to reach that vision. At the time, our client’s rankings looked like this:

  • Rank #1-3: 4 Keywords
  • Rank #4-10: 34 Keywords
  • Page 2: 21 Keywords
  • Pages 3-5: 22 Keywords
  • Not in top 5 pages: 13 Keywords

They were getting just over 800 visits per month to the site from organic traffic.

The Strategy

In the beginning of the campaign, a relatively standard strategy was pursued.  This involved a combination of on-site optimization (implementing target keywords in titles, descriptions, alt tags, etc.), technical seo (resolving crawl errors), and off-site optimization. Within the first month of service, rankings began climbing – evidencing the power of simply getting the basics right.

Further into the campaign, most technical issues and on-site optimization had been resolved.  At this point, they had seen steady growth, though they were beginning to plateau in both their rankings and their traffic.  (See Charts below)

After reviewing the data, a determination was made to pivot the strategy going forward.  The strategy would revolve almost entirely around link building.

It is crucial to understand the parameters used for targeting quality & organic links, as they played a large role in the success of the campaign.

    • Relevance – First and foremost in determining which links to pursue was relevance.  In many cases, quality opportunities presented themselves with more generic sites, but they were overturned by sites relevant to the golf world.  
    • Type – Acquiring a wide variety of link types was also important, as it introduced a diverse portfolio of links for Bird Golf.  Some of the link types are below:
      • Press Releases – A press release served as a valuable tool for times when the client would introduce its services at a new premium golf course, or in a new state.
      • Guest Posts – Many opportunities presented themselves for guest posting.  With simple manual outreach, multiple guest posts were acquired as a result.
      • Sponsorships & Events – With a wide array of golf-related events, and an almost countless number of golf-related businesses, sponsorships were easy to come by.  These were great ways to improve awareness while still capturing the link value.
    • Authority – An ideal link would involve a highly relevant site to the golf world, which was also very authoritative in terms of Domain Authority.  Of particular note was in most cases, relevance trumped domain authority in the targeting of a link.
    • The Eye Test – The final factor in the evaluation of link opportunities was the eye test.  We would simply ask ourselves “Would our client be proud of a link to this site?”  Boiling it down further, if a site looked and felt valid, legitimate, and at least somewhat quality, we would consider it worthy. 

With all these parameters in place, outreach efforts began and the link building strategy was underway.

Results

Upon implementation, results came slowly.  This was a test of the principle that SEO is truly a process of accumulation.  Sure enough, a few months into the process, rankings began to climb further. As we remained consistent with our efforts, the client’s rankings continued to soar.  In November of 2016 – 2 years after beginning the campaign – they ranked on the first page for 94 different keywords, nearly tripling their 1st page rankings from the start of the campaign.

It got better.  Over the next one and a half years, links remained a constant in their campaign.  The result was more of the same. Traffic improved, with organic traffic increasing by over 40% compared to the previous year.  The rankings continued shooting up. Final Rankings at the time of writing were as follows:

  • Rank #1-3: 82 Keywords – Increase of 78 from the start
  • Rank #4-10: 41 Keywords – Increase of 7 from the start
  • Page 2: 19 Keywords – Decrease of 2 from the start
  • Pages 3-5: 7 Keywords – Decrease of 15 from the start
  • Not in top 5 pages: 6 Keywords – Decrease of 7 from the start

The evidence was resounding – 123 rankings on the first page, more than 3 times as many compared to the start of the campaign.  While rankings continue to grow, link building remains the core of the campaign, as it has served as the unquestionable catalyst to our client’s success.