Whether you provide landscaping or asphalt contracting, lawncare or snow removal, you will often be faced with one simple question… how do I find my next customer? Only in this day and age, the better question may be… how will my next customer find me?
It’s a simple fact that more and more consumers are turning to internet search engines like Google to find their service professionals. Your competitors know this too, and they may already be advertising online and optimizing their websites for search.
Learning From The Competition
Search for your service on Google. How many competitors are already advertising there? And where do you stand in unpaid “organic” search results? How do you compare to the competition?
If your competitors advertise or rank above you over and over, you can bet they’re paying good money to be there. So what are they learning from it, and what could you learn from them? Fortunately, there’s a lot you can learn from what your competitors have already done.
Digital insight companies track and record search engine results, then offer this data through paid subscriptions, but you can get some of this information for free if you know where to look.
With that in mind, here are three online marketing tools you can use to get free reports about your competitors and what they’re doing to advertise and promote themselves online.
Tool #1 Spyfu
Spyfu is a paid software product that tracks which search terms are performing for specific company websites.
If your competitors advertise, you can see an estimate of their budgets and what keywords they buy. It also provides information on the search terms working for them in organic search. Spyfu gives you free access to some of this information as a demonstration of their capability. You’ll only see a summary report and some top results like in the sample image above, but this alone can provide valuable insight.
To test it out, go to http://www.spyfu.com/ and enter a competitor’s website where it says “Step 1”. You’ll get a detailed report on your competitor’s online presence including paid and organic search results and a comparison to up to three competitors.
Spyfu hopes you’ll then sign up for a $79/month subscription, but they’re already giving you valuable insights on how your competitors go to market.
Tool #2 Keywordspy
Keywordspy is another site that offers limited access to their service as an unpaid sample. From www.keywordspy.com, use the search bar at top to research keyword traffic by domain, keyword, destination, or Ad.
Keywordspy lets you research specific keywords, then shows you results for this and related searches. For example, knowing that “Snow Plowing” actually gets 20% more searches than “Snow Removal” in the USA and 63% less than “Snow Removal” in Canada is a valuable insight into how your customers use search terms when seeking this service. Knowing this, you also know how to target them with your own site, using the words they use most.
Keywordspy wants to attract $89/month subscribers, and the free sample only provides partial data. But you can get some valuable info just for looking.
Tool #3 Google Ad Preview & Diagnostics Tool
A unique tool for understanding search engine traffic comes from Google themselves. The Ad Preview tool lets you see how google ads are served in different places and for different devices, which is a great insight for service businesses that tend to focus on a specific city or region.
Google determines where each search originates and what device makes it. So doing a normal Google search from the desktop system in your office won’t always tell you who advertises on the other side of town. Using the Ad Preview tool, you can search like you’re across town, in another state, or in another country, just by selecting a location. You can also see ads meant only for mobile users from your computer.
Google does this to help their advertisers, but you get it for free at: https://adwords.google.com/d/AdPreview/
Check out these three sites to see if they provide value. They all offer services you can buy, and if you’re focused on digital advertising, a paid subscription or a jump into adwords advertising might be worth trying.
But no matter who you are, you can get some valuable insights into how customers think about and search for your service just by taking the time to look.
GIS Dynamics, Go iLawn and Go iPave are in no way affiliated with the companies and websites mentioned in this article.