Clearing the Canopy

Climbing to the Top of the Puget Sound Tree Care Industry

When you plant a tree, you clear out the brush.

Otherwise, the brush will limit its growth and starve it of nutrients.

Well, that’s what Jim and Susan Fay needed to happen for their tree service business in the Puget Sound region just north of Seattle. The “brush,” their competition, was limiting their business’ growth and starving it of new customers. 

Their competitors were taking up too much real estate on Google…leaving Jim and Susan’s 4th-generation tree care business little ability to expand and gain more clients. 

That where we came in. After talking to Jim, it was clear some digital “pruning” was needed to get him to the top of those Google rankings and let his business grow.

How would we do this? Well, we made a point to make sure we treated Jim the same way he and his family had always treated their customers…giving them the right answer the first time.

We took our time, did our research, and we found they weren’t far off from completely dominating their rankings. They weren’t unfathomably far from the top – but their competitors were edging them out of the “Top 3” – forcing their rankings out of prime growth positioning.

The problem was clear. We needed a plan to jump-start their website and help them climb up the rankings to the coveted Top 3. Even a 1-2 position increase would mean BIG things for them (Get this – A study by Backlinko shows that 75.1% of ALL clicks on Google choose one of the top 3 results, with an average of over 6% difference between positions 1, 2, and 3. That’s major!)

We knew what we had to do…So, we grabbed our digital “chainsaws” and virtual “chippers,” determined to carve out a path to the top!

Here’s exactly how we did it:



Just like you might use a lattice for your garden or a stake to support a young tree, Jim and Susan’s site needed a strong framework to grow.

 In the SEO world, this takes the form of a website structure custom-tailored with pages designed to support the end goal of ranking for multiple keywords. In Jim and Susan’s case, we took his 1-page website and built out an additional 23 pages

These weren’t fluff pages – each one was filled with specific keywords and locations, allowing Jim and Susan’s business to dominate the local area for every service they offered. These pages also expanded their reach into less-serviced (but vital) areas that needed their help.

Structuring a website like this allows both Google’s algorithm and potential customers to easily navigate the website and find exactly what they’re looking for. 

In Google’s case, it’s simply looking for one major keyword per page, so that it knows exactly what search to rank that page for. Too many keywords confuse it, and it won’t rank either page at the top (wouldn’t you be confused if you saw an apple AND an orange growing on the same tree?) in what is called Keyword Cannibalization

For interested customers, keeping it simple and logical is best. If they needed a dangerous tree removed that was threatening to fall on a patio and ruin their summer barbeque paradise, they knew exactly where to go. 



Now that we have a stake to support our small tree, it can grow roots with the help of water and sunshine. In the case of SEO, our “water” is backlinks and our “sunshine” is website traffic.

 Water (Backlinks):

To Google, links are the lifeblood of any authoritative website. When quality websites link to a particular site, Google recognizes this as authority. The higher the quality of a website website that links to yours, the more authority it passes. As the number and quality of links increases, it becomes a steady stream and eventually a flood of authority into the website. Luckily, Google knows the difference between a website and a tree, so we started opening up the floodgates for Jim and Susan’s website.


Sunshine (Website Traffic):

Once you have backlinks, Google wants to see a website getting exposure to “sunlight”, by having great blog posts and driving tons of traffic to the website.

Blog posts can be a big part of an SEO campaign. When researched and written correctly, the blog posts themselves can rank for keywords – driving traffic to your website. As people share these blogs, they can collect authority-boosting backlinks over time – making “water” and “sunshine” go hand in hand for growth – just like with a tree.

Here’s what it looked like on Jim’s site:



At this point, Jim and Susan had a “fully-grown” website that was producing the sweetest of all fruit – New customers. Metrics started shooting up, and they noticed a rise in customers saying they’d found their business on the web, rather than word of mouth! We were all ecstatic.

In the last few months that we’ve been working with Jim and Susan, they’ve seen a 82% increase in calls to his business from Google Maps alone, even with the COVID-19 Pandemic tearing through the economy!


Honestly, drastic increases like this aren’t always the case, although they are always our goal. SEO is isn’t a “get-rich-quick” scheme. It takes dedicated and consistent attention – a lot like pruning a tree so that it can reach its full potential.

In Jim and Susan’s case though, when we look at the original rankings from the beginning of this study, we may have set a Guinness World Record.

As it stands today, Jim, Susan and the Puget Sound Tree Care team are growing strong in their newly cleared industry landscape. As they grow, Rank First Marketing will be there to help keep those rankings pruned!

Interested in Starting a Campaign?

Our team loves ranking websites. We’re nerdily passionate about algorithms. Tell us a bit about your website, and within 24 hours, we’ll let you know what it would take to outrank those competitors!