Startups in the home services industry have a hard time getting noticed. They can’t compete on years of experience, their portfolios are less impressive than established brands, they have little or no reviews, and referrals are slow or non-existent in the beginning. Most new businesses can’t afford to advertise much, if at all.
Woodchuck Stumps, LLC found itself in this position. The owner had dreams of working on major landscaping projects, building custom patios and flagstone gardens. But homeowners are reluctant to invest many thousands of dollars in a new company with only a few employees. To make matters more challenging, quotes are only provided after inspecting the job site and consulting with the homeowners about their project, as site conditions influence the price. And even if an estimate is delivered, it’s not unusual to see a close rate as low as 30% when bidding on major projects, like patios. This meant that as many as 7 out of 10 leads were wasted time and money delivering estimates that never turned into a sale.
The client wanted to rank for services like stump grinding, land clearing, and custom patio installation. These terms did not have much search volume associated with them, which reduced lead volume. The few potential customers that reached his site and browsed his service pages were not calling.
We had two problems. One was getting found and the other was getting a foot in the door.
The aha! moment
As a full service landscape provider, Woodchuck Stumps was cutting down trees, hauling them away and turning them into firewood. The owner shared with me that he was asked to repair a driveway after he delivered a cord of firewood. It turned out he was a great in-person salesman, and once he was on a client’s property he could advise them when he noticed other work that needed to be done around their home. This was the insight we needed.
I quickly checked the search volumes for all the keywords associated with the business owner’s services, but this time I added “firewood for sale” to the mix. This was originally excluded because the owner claimed that there was “no money” in firewood. Across the U.S., searches for patio installation max out at 1,900 searches per month, but searches for firewood for sale average 33,100 searches per month.
After consulting with the owner, it was agreed that firewood deliveries could be an excellent method of driving sales of more expensive services. We decided to target this keyword by developing a firewood guide for the local area, and optimize him as a firewood supplier. After initially creating the content, the format was changed multiple times, meta-data updated, and consistent improvements to the content were made until eventually Woodchuck Stumps hit page one, position one for “firewood for sale manassas va”.
The result was over 400 leads driven in three years. They had to raise the price of their firewood to the most expensive in the area, and sold out in spite of it. Sales of firewood helped develop relationships with customers who later contracted Woodchuck Stumps for large ticket projects including custom paver patio installations, flagstone walkways, complex tree removal jobs, and detailed excavation work near fragile foundations.
It turns out this was the only keyword Woodchuck Stumps needed to rank to achieve growth. Not including the other work that came as a result of a firewood delivery, the ROI on this campaign for sales of firewood alone is over 108X. That’s what happens when you execute an SEO strategy tailored to the business’ capabilities and unique needs.
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