Case Study: Getting a Local Site in a Competitive Niche from Page #5 to Page #1

We own a local business in what we believe is a competitive niche: the cleaning industry. We want to rank on page 1 (#1 would be ideal!) for “carpet cleaning [city] [state]”. We currently rank #46. We’ve done all the on-page we can do without over-optimizing, so what next?

We decided to put together a little case study on how we are going to get to page 1 of Google. Local SEO is a different game than national SEO. One thing hurting is us that we don’t really have a physical address, and the one we do have is just a storage unit where we can’t receive mail AND it’s technically outside of the city we are targeting.

What We’ve Already Tried

Prior to this experiment, we’ve primarily focused on on-page SEO using best practices. At one point we went internal link crazy (like way overboard) which could have hurt the site. We’ve also done some commenting on industry-related forums which resulted in some natural backlinks. We also have social profiles on Google+, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn. We’ve tried to be very “white hat”, we are a respected business that runs off of referrals, our customers love us, and we have been rewarded position #46 in the SERPs. Thanks, Google!

What We’ve Not Yet Tried

We’ve not yet tried getting local citations, Yelp reviews (we don’t like the nature of Yelp reviews nor do we want to open up the door for a competitor to write a nasty review because the industry unfortunately is like that), link building, paying for social media likes or building a PBN.

Data On The Top 7 Competitiors in Google

Here is what the metrics look like for the top 7 competitors in Google. We have pulled together the page authority, domain authority, citation flow, trust flow, social metrics and reviews. Our site metrics are at the top.

According to this data, it seems that our site is competitive enough to be ranking on page 1… but it’s not!

What we DO know about these other websites…

Because we’ve been associated with the industry and our competitors for quite a while, we know that most of them are paying DEX for their SEO services. We also know that they go through domains like crazy which means whatever methods their SEOs are using are causing their domains to be penalized. There is a lot of 301 redirecting going on and many of these businesses have many domains we’ve found, either current domains or redirected domains.

We’ve checked the authority of some of their social media sites and haven’t seen anything exciting. The conclusion we’ve come to is that they’re doing SOMETHING to get ranked highly that Google is clearly rewarding.

What We’re Going To Try

We don’t necessarily want to do whatever it is that is ranking these other sites because we value our domain and don’t want to trash one domain after another. We want to be better than all the other sites and have lasting results for years to come.

Here is what we’re going to do in the order we are going to do them until we are ranked.

1. Build links to our social media sites.

First, we’ve turned on a campaign in GSA to start building links to our Google+ page, Facebook and YouTube video. The idea is that this will increase the authority of those pages and those pages will pass link juice to our page. We will be linking only to the root domain in hopes that by having a strong root domain, all of the other pages should come up in the SERPs more easily for not just our main keyword but all of the other keywords as well.

Update: 2015-01-26: We have begun dripping article, web 2 and wiki links to the FB, G+ and YT channel. We’ll keep you posted on rank changes.

Update: 20015-02-15: Total links built in 3 tiers is about 200 with approx 30 on tier one. For anyone wondering the tiers look something like this.

Tier 1 Contextual: Articles wikis and web 2’s (scraped with Wicked Article Creator) / Links to social profile etc.

  • Tier 1 Kitchen Sink: Blog comments, image comments (created using Wicked Article Creator) / Links to Tier 1 links
    • Tier 2 Contextual: Articles wikis and web 2’s (scraped with Wicked Article Creator) / Links to Tier 1 Contextual etc.
      • Tier 2 Kitchen Sink: Blog comments, image comments (created using Wicked Article Creator) / Links to Tier 2 Contextual links
        • Tier 3 Contextual: Articles wikis and web 2’s (scraped with Wicked Article Creator) / Links toTier 2 Contextual
          • Tier 3 Kitchen Sink: Blog comments, image comments (created using Wicked Article Creator) / Links to Tier 3 Contextual links

You can see that about 2 links a day is a modest velocity we feel shouldn’t raise too many suspicions from the algorithm.

Overall increase on the most competitive term so far has been 15 spots. It did take a small dive at first and has since recovered nicely to have an overall increase. A few terms have dropped off as much as 10 spots, but this appears to just be an initial algo fluctuation. We’ll keep you posted if those rankings don’t increase.

2. Build out a small PBN & 301 an aged domain.

We are working on buying up a handful of quality, clean expired domains in this niche. We will rebuild the sites, bulk them out a tiny bit, and then use them to link back to our main domain. We’re also going to add in a 301 to the home page here to see what the effects will be there. We’ll build a few high PR links (profiles like adobe etc) to the 301 domain using a Fiverr service.

Update: 2015-01-26: We’ve scraped and found several great niche specific domains we’ll be building a small 5 site pbn with to use if we aren’t able to gain SERP changes using the above linking to social pages. We’re we even lucky enough to fine a former competitors domain abandoned as well as a regional directory domain that was available with lots of local links to chambers and such. Should be an interesting test.

Update: 2018-02-15: I’ve already setup the registrar level 301 on a great niche relevant aged domain we found. I’m guessing that it won’t have a fast impact so we’re going to order 30 high pr profile links using this Fiverr Gig.

3. Get more social likes for our page.

It seems this is a missed opportunity in this niche. We already have some social activity, but we will pay $5 on Fiverr to get a little bit more.

4. Build citations.

We hear that citations are great for local SEO but haven’t gone down that path yet. If the three above steps don’t work, then we will start building local citations.

5. Reassess things and see where we’re at.

Once we do all of the a bove steps, if we STILL aren’t ranked on page 1 or #1, we will reassess things. At this point, we would probably continue building our our PBN and linking back to site until we are there.

Here is what we foresee our ranking machine to look like…

Here We Go!

So this is our plan to finally get this site to page 1 after 3+ years of being in business. We will report back on how things are going and once we get to page 1, we will let you know what worked. Hopefully we can duplicate this process to get our other local business ranked #1.

What do you think? What are your experiences with local SEO?

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