Pest control is the perfect example of a business that would benefit from content marketing and SEO. It’s a local service in high demand, and most potential customers use Google and other internet search providers to locate a pest control service when they need one.
Potential customers can rarely tell the difference between two pest control companies, because consumers are generally uninformed about pest control services. They make decisions based largely on whether or not the site showed up first in search engines, and how they feel on that website.
The Content Marketing Investment
Pest control SEO, then, becomes the most important tool you can use to market your company. It’s better than newspaper ads, it’s better than word of mouth, it’s better than the Yellow Pages, and it’s better than hoping people see the advertisement on the side of your truck. There are many ways to brand yourself, but online pest control branding is simply the best investment.
Despite all of this value, most pest control companies don’t engage in SEO and website content. Most stick with traditional lead generation strategies, and many that do try to compete in the online marketing world do so by renting websites from companies that design websites in bulk that neither rank well nor generate any leads.
Beating Your Competition – An Introduction to Content Marketing
Content marketing is a style of SEO that search engines themselves – including Google, Bing, and Yahoo! – have stated is the one form of search engine optimization they prefer. It’s the most effective way to craft a website that ranks higher than its competition, and it’s the only way that also builds a relationship with the customer, which is something that will turn those leads into clients.
Content marketing is the act of filling a website with content. Content includes:
These pages have to be unique and written specifically for your website. Quality and quantity are both important, and ideally they serve to inform those that are interested in your services or provide value that helps people find your company.
Few pest control websites do this. Most consist only of a webpage and a few service pages. Some use copied content. Most sites that pest control companies rent are filled with copied or stolen content, and those types of websites are never going to rank well in search engines, if they are included in search engines at all.
Rarely do pest control companies utilize content marketing, but those that do almost always rank on the front page of Google, often at the very top of search engine ranks. If you’re willing to make the investment, you can potentially compete with some of the top local pest control companies in your area.
How Easy It Is to Compete
Certainly there are a few highly competitive cities, but if you search for your city and an industry term, like “pest control,” you’ll see opportunities right away. In order to examine this further, we engaged in a little research project designed to show how little it would take to compete in your area.
Since Anthony currently lives in Staten Island, we decided to target “Staten Island Pest Control” as a keyword – a location with over 450,000 residents. Variations of keywords are common, so “Pest Control in Staten Island” and “Staten Island Exterminators” are keywords that produce similar results, but we’re going to focus on the individual keyword for the purposes of this analysis.
Running the inquiry, we’re going to exclude a few websites because they aren’t private websites owned by a pest control company, and thus do not truly represent the competition. So the results from Angie’s List, New York Yellow Pages, and Facebook are excluded.
Note that there are ways to compete on these websites as well – getting customers to add reviews, creating incoming links to your directory page, etc., would all potentially improve the likelihood that your company shows up first in those directories. But for the purpose of this research, we’ll focus on the pest control specific companies your main website would be competing with.
That leaves five websites when we run the search, along with 7 separate websites that show up in the middle of the search engine’s local business results section. Let’s focus on the five websites that show up in standard search results, however, as these are your direct SEO competitors.
The first thing you will notice if you review the pagerank of these websites is that they’re not very high. In fact, they’re generally low. Some of them do not even have a pagerank at all. A quick analysis provides the following information:
- Average Pagerank: 0.75
- Average Alexa Rank: N/A
This basically means that, of the five websites, at least one of them doesn’t even have a pagerank, and the others are extremely low. A pagerank of 2 or 3 isn’t necessarily difficult, and yet not one of these companies has a pagerank over 2, and two of them do not even have a pagerank at all. None of them has an Alexa Rank.
But that doesn’t tell us much. So what we’re going to do now is analyze each of the five sites one by one, and provide notes about what they’ve done well, what they’ve done poorly, etc. We won’t refer to each website by name, but you can run the search yourself and get a pretty good idea of what sites we’re talking about.
#1 Pest Control Website in Google
- Pagerank: 0
- Total Backlinks: 96
- Total Pages: 500+
- Keyword Targeting: High
- Location Pages: Yes
- Informative Articles: No
- Blog: No
- Unique Content: No
At first glance, this website appears to do many things right. It has hundreds of pages. It has numerous backlinks. It keyword targets various areas, including locations, and the site itself is visually appealing with a fast load time. 500 pages is a significant investment, so at first glance, this website would be difficult to compete with.
But then you notice that pagerank of zero. How could a website that seems to use pest control SEO and content marketing tactics appear to be so poorly ranked?
Everything else. This website represents much of what Google is now punishing. It’s a rental website – created so that desperate pest control companies can rent it out and receive a steady flow of hits. We spoke about many of the problems with renting a website in the past – most rental websites cut corners in a way that is going to punish you later, and this one is no exception:
- Copied Content
All of the content on this website has been “spun” and used on hundreds of other location based pest control websites owned presumably by the same company, possibly even thousands. Spun content is content that has been put through a computer program that replaces words and sentences with synonyms and unusual sentence structures so that it reads like new content.
Spun content is terrible. Simply awful. It reads like it was translated by someone that doesn’t speak English, and Google’s algorithm almost always punishes it accordingly. In fact, we ran a random page through Copyscape – a plagiarism checker – and found 116 nearly identical results from that one page alone.
Google almost always wipes out spun and copied content from their search engine ranks. The fact that this one still ranks well at all just means that the algorithm hasn’t caught it yet. 500+ pages of content is a lot, but when it’s all been recopied to and from hundreds upon hundreds of websites, it becomes essentially useless – not to mention, as it stands now, it is essentially unreadable, so those visiting the site are unlikely to stay, and Google itself will likely punish the site for poor quality content (if it hasn’t already). This website may rank well now, but it will soon be either wiped out or quickly replaced.
- Incoming Links Are Mostly Low Quality
Incoming links are an important part of SEO. Search engines believe that websites that get a lot of links (called backlinks) are likely more valuable than sites without them, so they reward websites with quality links.
But the keyword here is “quality.” Nearly all of the incoming links to this particular pest control website are other websites owned and operated by the exact same company. In nearly all cases, Google simply ignores those links.
And the other links? Mostly article directories that allow spun content. Article directories are slowly being weeded out and ignored by search engines anyway, and spun content rarely provides any link building value. So while 96 incoming links is a lot, approximately none of them are natural links, guest posts, or other links of value. As a content marketing company, we find these links low quality that would be easy to beat.
- No User Value
The reason that content marketing has become the cornerstone of SEO is because search engines want to reward authority sites – websites that have informative that is valuable to the reader, not only sales pitches.
This website has none of that. No informative articles. No blog posts. It’s not an authority site. It’s a website with hundreds of articles with various location keywords, and nothing more.
When we first saw that this website ranked first in Google, we were honestly shocked. It uses every tactic Google hates. It’s unreadable – it would never help anyone get leads, since the quality of the content is so poor – and it has no user value.
But what that means is that it would be extremely easy to rank above. The pagerank of zero indicates that Google is aware of how poor the website is, and so the fact that it ranks number 1 speaks volumes about the websites below it.
Our goal with this research was to show you how easy it is to rank on the front page of Google, not necessarily the first result. But after running just this first analysis, we may have set our sights too low. #1 in Google for Staten Island Pest Control doesn’t seem that difficult.
#2 Pest Control Website in Google
- Pagerank: 1
- Total Backlinks: 6
- Total Pages: 28
- Keyword Targeting: None
- Location Pages: None
- Informative Articles: No
- Blog: No
- Unique Content: No
It would be nice if we could say that this website wasn’t plagiarized either, but a CopyScape search shows that it clearly is, with over 37 websites sharing the exact same introductory text.
The site does have a pagerank of 1, however, which is better than a pagerank of zero. And the writing at least consists fo good grammar. It’s nice to see that if they’re going to copy content, at least it’s better grammar.
Copied content, no pages, few words on each page – almost all of their incoming links are from YellowPages.com, and most are a no-follow (which means search engines don’t “see” them). The website itself is messy and uses low-quality graphics. This site could use a lot of work.
We’re off to a roaring stop. Our hope when we started was that at least a little effort would be needed to compete with these websites, but so far it seems like they all reuse content and throw their sites together, and the only reason they’re on top right now is because no one else in Staten Island has used content marketing SEO strategies yet.
#3 Pest Control Website in Google
- Pagerank: 0
- Total Backlinks: “310”
- Total Pages: 95
- Keyword Targeting: Yes
- Location Pages: Yes
- Informative Articles: Yes
- Blog: No
- Unique Content: No
This website utilizes location pages and informative articles, which are both incredibly important on a website. It’s also a fairly well designed site and user friendly.
Everything else falls victim to the same trap. Most of the content was stolen from Wikipedia, which may actually be against the law. It’s copied on multiple websites, and 309 of the 310 incoming links are from other pest control websites they own with the same content. There’s a reason that even with 310 incoming links and 100 pages of content this website still doesn’t have a pagerank.
It’s almost frustrating as a content writer and marketer to see all of these websites on the front page of Google. The only reason they’ve managed to make it to the top is because no one else in Staten Island has done the work necessary to compete. This is yet another company that is taking advantage of other pest control companies by creating a website that has no unique content and will eventually fail to bring them any leads.
#4 Pest Control Website in Google
- Pagerank: 1
- Total Backlinks: 0
- Total Pages: 6
- Keyword Targeting: No
- Location Pages: No
- Informative Articles: No
- Blog: No
- Unique Content: YES!!!
Finally, unique content! This website is the first website to use unique content, which is fascinating. It’s also a fairly clear website as well, and easy to read. With the 4th placement in Google and one of the only websites that’s actually clean, there’s a good chance this site manages to generate a lot of business.
Few pages, no keyword targeting, no additional informative articles, no blog, no backlinks. This is the type of website that likely never received any marketing, which makes a #4 ranking all that much more telling (for the other sites on this list).
It may seem strange that the first website that avoids things Google punishes shows up lower than the three that copy content and use spam-like SEO tricks. But the reason for this is that there is simply not enough on this website for Google to reward.
Google wants to reward websites that have words. Words serve two purposes:
- They show you offer value to readers.
- They tell Google what your website is about so it knows it’s relevant.
This website doesn’t have quite enough content. There are only 6 pages. There are no incoming links. The pages that are here have very, very little text. How is a search engine supposed to know that you deserve to be higher ranked if it can’t tell what your website is about or whether or not it’s valuable?
It would take only a small investment in SEO for pest control, and that website would likely skyrocket above the three ahead of it. If more pest control services marketed online, it would probably not even be on the first few pages.
#5 Pest Control Website in Google
It’s not even worth showing the stats for this one. It’s spun content, the front page is riddled with spelling errors – tons and tons and tons of spelling errors, to the point of being almost unreadable – and the website is not at all user friendly.
How to Compete With Other Pest Control Services Using Content Marketing
When we started this research project, the goal was to show how easy it would be to compete in a busy market like Staten Island with its 450,000 residents.
We know for a fact that many companies rent their sites from websites that steal content or spin content and that they receive no leads from them. We know for a fact that very few exterminators invest in SEO or content marketing, And we know for a fact that pest control businesses tend to invest more in traditional marketing tactics.
So we assumed it would be easy to compete, but we didn’t know it would be this easy. It appears it would be possible to reach the front page of Google with only about 20 pages of unique content, if not less.
Nevertheless, let’s assume you wanted to create a website that continued to draw in leads – a website that could not only compete in Staten Island, but also in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, and even New Jersey. Let’s say you wanted to create a website that couldn’t be beaten, even if some other company decided to utilize content marketing. What would you do?
Step 1: Unique Basic Content
It all starts with generating unique content for your website, and populating it with core pages. We’re talking about content like a home page, service pages, and location pages – targeted pages that are at least 300 to 400 words long, are excellently written, and are unique to your website.
Ideally you would have roughly 10 to 15 of these pages. Give every type of service its own page, along with every location (if applicable). In Staten Island, these alone may be all you need to rocket to the front page of Google, but let’s pretend your city is a bit more competitive. These are still important to create the core of your website content.
Step 2: Start a Blog
Blogs provide you with a tool that you can use to share news and write out pest control thoughts. Blogs are important because they provide you with a place to update content regularly. Google likes to see two things:
- That your website updates. Stale websites tend to do worse in Google.
- That your website has pages. Each blog post is its own page, so every time you make a post you’re adding to your website content count.
Don’t worry too much about updating yet. Great Leap Studios can craft a host of content for you in advance, and you can post them once a week or once a month as necessary. Content would include articles like “5 Tips to Stay Safe From Bed Bugs” and “Do Mosquitos Carry Disease?”
Any time you have news about your company you can post it, and any time there is something to report in the news about pest control you can report it as well. Blogs will help make your website larger, which will catapult you in Google search engine ranks.
Step 3: Add Informative Articles
Once all of those are up and active, it’s time to turn your website into a valuable resource. That means adding “informative articles,” also known as website content. The goal of these articles is to inform – not necessarily to sell a product or service, but teach others about pest control in your city.
It’s tempting to want to steal information from Wikipedia, but remember that originality is crucial. So while you can use the internet as a reference, the content always needs to be unique to your site. If it’s not, the page may be punished and your website won’t get value from the content.
Step 4: Generate Incoming Links
Creating a giant resource of knowledge is the most important step in SEO. But there is one additional step that doesn’t take place on your website – generating incoming links.
Finding ways to link to your site is extremely valuable, as long as none of those ways are scams or spam. Examples of how you can do this without resorting to unwanted tactics include:
- Guest posting on other blogs.
- Press releases on pest control websites.
- Making sure your link is active in directories like Yelp.
These types of strategies will go a long way towards making sure your website is generating incoming links. You’ll also find that the unique content you add to your site will naturally attract links on its own from other websites. That’s a secondary value of great content marketing.
Step 5: Continue Adding Content
In locations with weak competition like Staten Island you could probably stop adding content for years and still show up on the front page of Google. But ideally, you want to expand your reach – target more search terms, more locations, and make sure that if someone else does decide to invest in pest control online marketing, your website continues to beat them.
So from there, simply keep adding content on a monthly basis. More content is always better, and while there may be diminishing returns after you’ve reached the top of Google search engine ranks, there are still many reasons that adding content can continue to provide value.
Any Pest Control Company Can Benefit From Content Marketing
If you are looking for pest control lead generation help, there is no better way to attract business than with content marketing and SEO. Google, Bing, Yahoo!, and other major search engines all state outright that the key to ranking well in their listings is to add value-filled pages to your website, and since nearly everyone that contacts a pest control company uses these search engines, that means you need to be the first website they find.
Exterminator SEO is affordable, it’s effective, and in some locations (like Staten Island), it’s easy. If you’re interested in learning more about how and why it’s time to invest in content marketing, contact Great Leap Studios right now.