Contractor Website Tip: Keywords & Your Competitors

contractor-website-ideasI recently noticed a competing contractor website design shop who claims “they only work with contractors” but in reality work with everyone, basically stole all of my keywords on my site and used them on theirs.

That’s fine…it’s not creative, but it’s fine

It got me thinking; a clever way (and more creative) to use the Google Keyword Tool is to find out what keywords your competitors are using, then coming up with your own as well as some industry standards that everyone should use inside their vertical.

To do this you need to start with a normal Google search for your main keyword. Use your local search site if your target market is outside the U.S. and you also need to have an Adwords account, but you can set that up for free.

Now that you have your results, copy the full URLs of the top few results of the search. How many you decide to check is up to you, but the more you pick, the more choices you’re giving yourself.

Go back to the Keyword Tool and paste the first URL into the “website” field, leaving the “Word or phrase” field blank. When you “reverse engineer” keywords like this, uncheck all the boxes under “Match type”, and make sure that the “Keyword Ideas” tab is clicked. Then see which keywords might work well for your website and repeat the process for all the URLs you copied.

Contractor Keywords & Synonyms

In the “bad old days” of SEO, you were told to use your keyword as often as possible. It had to go in the article title, in tags and categories, and then stuffed into the text at every friggin’ opportunity you could find.

You had to use it in the first paragraph and the last paragraph. You had to bold it, underline it, and italicize it. Include it in a headline 1 and a headline 2. No wonder you guys don’t want to write!

Anyway, it wasn’t out of the norm for a 500-word article would to have its main keyword 50 or more times. Don’t laugh, I’ve seen lots of cases where this happened, including one page that was doing very well for its owner in the pre-Penguin Google by using the main keyword phrase 47 times in a single 350 word article.

Problem is, it made very little sense and sounded as if it had been written by a robot with a stutter. The whole intention of this kind of writing is simply for SEO and to rank highly in search engine results. Providing value to the visitor was still a radical idea to most webmasters.

Thankfully, things have changed

The British author David Lodge teaches creative writing in universities. In a 1991 article – nothing to do with SEO – he advises writers:

“The traditional model of good literary prose requires ‘elegant variation’: if you have referred to something more than once, you should try to find alternative ways of describing it; and you should give your syntax the same kind of variety.”

This simply means that you should find other ways of saying a word or phrase, rather than just repeating it. Good advice, and now Google agree. This is how real people write articles about real things, and more importantly, how Mrs. Jones wants to read!

If your keyword is “plumber in Cleveland”, you can spin that to include “Cleveland plumber” and “Cleveland plumbers”, plus “plumbers in Cleveland”, “plumbing in Cleveland”, “Ohio plumbers”, “plumbing in Ohio”, “Cleveland plumbing companies” and so on. You just have to make your text sound natural and don’t try and include any phrases just for the sake of it. In the new world of Google SEO “less” is the new “more” but good writing has always been in style. Make sure your content isn’t flowing over the rim with words that only search engines can read.