When folks are in a jam, they call service providers at the top of search results. Make sure you’re up there.

Dan Cotter — Contemporary Marketing Concepts 

It was late in the evening, but I was still up multitasking and making progress with chores around the house. In fact, I was on a roll just before I lost all momentum.

After I moved a third load of laundry from the washer into the dryer, I tapped the button. And as I turned to walk away, I was a bit startled when nothing happened. A few more futile taps produced nothing. Opening and shutting the door, nothing. Checking for whether clothes or lint had somehow become tangled in the mechanism produced nothing. Plugged in? Nothing. Breaker tripped? Nothing.

My dryer up and died right in the middle of laundry night!

After scouring the manual for troubleshooting tips and FAQs, I checked the internet for hints on what might have gone wrong. When none of it helped, I was left with one last chore. Finding someone who could fix this problem.

Of course, I’d been in this situation many times before. Through the years, whenever I needed a service provider — such as when the furnace stopped working on one of the coldest nights of the year, when my gutters were failing and causing water damage, when a window broke, when an electrical circuit went on the fritz, or even the time when bats invaded my living space and I needed help from whoever the heck gets rid of bats from houses — I’d eventually find myself in search of a (hopefully) reputable service provider. And that’s just for my home. In business, I also faced similar situations when I needed some type of service, such as legal, accounting, consulting, or other professional service, but didn’t know who to call.

It happens to everybody. These types of situations don’t come up often, but when they do, you need a good service provider right NOW. You’re unfamiliar with your options, but you hope to figure out which one is the best choice.

In the old days – that is, prior to ten years ago — I’d just pull out the Yellow Pages. Best bet was to call the company with the biggest ad. But today’s equivalent of the Yellow Pages is Google. Today you just pull out your phone and do a search for whatever type of service provider you need. Then you review the website of the company that comes up first, or on the first page anyway, tap the number and you’re connected to make an appointment.

What that means is if you’re a local service provider of any type, it is absolutely critical that your business comes right up in the Google search at that critical moment when a potential customer is searching for someone, anyone, (hopefully) YOU to come fix the problem.

And it’s a competition, a zero-sum game. These customers in their time of need are going to hire someone. If it’s not you, one of your direct competitors will get the business now, and probably establish a loyal customer who will buy again in the future. After all, when you bail a customer out of a jam, it tends to inspire satisfaction and a sense of loyalty.

But here’s the problem. Consumers usually only look at the first or the first couple of listings they see in their search results. In fact, at least 7 in 10 just click on a company on the first page. If your business doesn’t pop right up at the top of the first page when potential customers are looking for a service like yours, you’ll most likely miss out on getting their project and establishing that new customer relationship.

Where your business shows up in the search results is essentially a function of how good your website is, especially in terms of how easy it is for Google to recognize your business as the best option for people who are searching for the services you offer. No matter how good your work really is, if Google can’t tell with a quick glance at your website, you’ll come up on page two of the search results or worse. And of course, very few consumers (less than 10%) look past page one.

That means that you need to optimize your site so that Google will recognize your true strength and list you higher (Search Engine Optimization SEO). And/or, you can “pay your way to the top” by buying an ad that mimics a search result listing that will appear in a premium position on the first search results page (Search Engine Marketing SEM).

Go ahead and do a quick test. Simply Google whatever search terms or keywords you think your potential customers would use if they ever need the services you offer (for instance, “dryer repair near Woodstock, VT”). See where your business comes up in the search results? Are you first? Are you close? Are you even on the first page? Be sure to note which companies come up ahead of you.

And then compare websites with your competitors. Ask yourself honestly, at the moment of crisis, if a potential customer was looking at your site and your competitors’ sites, who are they going to call? If it isn’t you, it’s time to tune up your website and consider adding some SEM or SEO to make sure you have a fighting chance when someone in need could use your help.

Luckily, the Standard now provides these types of digital marketing services for local service providers of all types, and it’s effortless and affordable for even the smallest business. We can help you determine the best course of action and we’ll execute the entire plan. Just contact us for more information.


Dan Cotter is publisher of the Vermont Standard. In its effort to provide local businesses with a full spectrum of traditional and contemporary marketing services, the Standard has established a partnership with one of the nation’s best digital marketing service providers. Business owners who would like to have a free, no-obligation discussion to explore whether they could benefit by using some of these digital marketing techniques are invited to contact Mr. Cotter directly at (802) 457-1313 x102 or [email protected].