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Monday, August 18, 2008

Blogging for business -- a case study


The top image is a royalty free image from istockphotos.com (I am certainly not messing around with copyright for this blog entry.) Left is Keith Bloemendaal of Raleigh Fence Contractors LLC (from his linkedin.com profile) and right is Ken Plain at The Raleigh Fence Company (from his website). The Raleigh Fence Company appears to have top billing in search engine rankings for the Research Triangle in North Carolina, although Keith is maintaining/observing best practices regarding blogging -- and earns a permalink here as a result.

Oh, for the virtues of local competition -- it brings out the best of everyone and advances the state of the art, whether it be fence contracting, or blogging!

Yesterday, our North Carolina publisher Bob Kruhm (if you are in NC you will want to read his own blog) referred me to Keith Bloemendaalof Raleigh Fence Contractors LLC for his excellent fencing blog, RFC Blog. I like what I see here -- and suggested I meet Keith during a planned visit to Raleigh in early September. Last night, Keith invited me to join his linkedin.com network (impressive) and I noticed this worthy posting on contractortalk.com:

I have found Wordpress to be awesome! Had my site professionally designed, but I manage it myself. To me, blogging is what separates me from my competition and of course the built in SEO is what originally attracted me to it to begin with. The downside, is it can be a huge time hogger! It has been the deciding factor for many of my customers recently, as it establishes your "expertise" in your field.
If you look at his blog, you will notice how Keith combines opinion, factual discourse, and relevant keyword usage to help his business status on the search engines. He also draws relevant traffic and links through referencing, observations and postings through forums, relevant social networking sites, and A-list experts. All of this serves to attract more traffic and visibility.

Fair enough. I decided as part of the final checking before posting this blog to conduct a Google keyword search for variations relevant to "Raleigh Fencing", and discovered that top spot for local fencing on the search engine (at least when searched from Ottawa, Canada) belongs to The Raleigh Fence Company, which has its own blog, with this most recent interesting posting dated August 11, 2008.

I was referred to you by a friend from work. When I was searching through the Internet for your company, I came upon a myriad of fence companies. Several of which seemed to be knock offs of your web site. I even found one who uses Raleigh fence company more often then you do. I guess they must be envious of you, because their site has many similar things on it. . . . ( the posting goes on to observe things about deposits, which is beyond this blog's scope.)

Ken Plain responds in a comment:

Thanks for your letter. I will be happy to answer your questions. First and foremost, yes there are a couple of companies in the Raleigh area who have decided to blur the lines as much as they legally can to confuse potential customers. When I began my company web site I purchased the domain www.raleighfences.com. Within a couple of months a competitor went out and purchased raleigh-fences.com. A coincidence? I think not, particularly when a month or so later he purchased the domain raleigh-fence-company.com. Prior to this he had not one time mentioned the words Raleigh Fence Company or Raleigh Fences on his web site he has had for over two years prior to my site coming online. I can easily understand how someone could get confused. They even added a personal picture on their front page within a few days of when I did.
Intriguing. What can we read into this stuff? I note that the Raleigh Fence Company Blog, while well established, hasn't been maintained or updated with any frequency -- thus, it cannot (as yet) be included in my bloglinks under the criteria I use. However, Keith Bloemendaal's Raleigh Fence Contractors LLC blog is updated on a frequent and regular schedule, provides independent and relevant information, and so is worthy of a permalink. (Raleigh Fence Company can earn the same treatment if I see consistent updating for several weeks -- this will require more than one posting every few months.)

However, I also sense that Keith is playing a catch up game here -- in a technologically savvy market (Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill is known as the "Research Triangle" for good reason!) --and this process is resulting in the use of Search Engine Optimization and blogging approaches more sophisticated than found in many other areas of the U.S. or Canada. So, if you are a local contractor outside of this region, you might want to look at these websites and blogs to determine your own best practices; and adapt their approaches to your own business model. You'll probably achieve impressive market results, rapidly.

2 comments:

Keith said...

Mark,

I find the credibility of the "other" blog you mentioned to be nonexistent. I checked to see what Ken had written, and it appeared he is very upset with a certain company using his name. I don't feel that using the words Raleigh and fence in my company infringes on Mr. Plain's trademark, and furthermore, if wants to be sure no one can purchase anymore domains with the words Raleigh and fence in them, he is more than welcome to purchase all of them.

I went back to reread his post dated August 11 and it has been removed, along with the comment he made in response. His last actual posting dated November of 2007, he explains the difference between paid ads, and search results. I don't count the post in April of 2008, as it was written by someone else, and copied and pasted to his site.

In conclusion, if you were to compare our sites, you would not be comparing apples to apples.

Keith Bloemendaal
Raleigh Fence Contractors, LLC

Mark Buckshon said...

Keith, I also noticed that the other company had removed the more recent post and comment shortly after I wrote my own blog entry. I haven't heard back from them -- I try to communicate with everyone when they are mentioned in this blog.
Generally, I am respectful of competitive dynamics; when blogging is used primarily as a Search Engine Optimization resource, it loses the value that occurs when the blog is written from a sincere and useful perspective (and the higher search engine rankings are a welcome bonus.) Of course, the readership of this blog is national (or international, for that matter) so I handle local competitive issues within this framework. Regardless, I enjoy your blog and have granted it a permalink.