A while back a friend of a friend who owns a small business in a little town (let’s call it Ennville) in the Midwest reached out to me with an SEO question. He was looking to outrank his competitor and reach the top of Google’s search results for a certain query.

The fact that another company occupied the first page on Google results for that one query bugged him enormously, so he went out seeking SEO advice to settle things with his competitor. By the time he pinged me, he knew a lot about content optimization, linking, and other factors that influence rankings.

I asked him about his business, his competition, and the query that he wanted to rank for, trying to understand the intent. The keyword that was top of mind for him was … “Vista Windows”.

He owned a small window installation shop named Vista Windows, and his competitor that occupied the first page of Google was a “small” software company from Seattle, Washington.

I broke the news that he wouldn’t be able to outrank his competition for this term and should focus his efforts on local, nonbranded terms like “window installation in Ennville” instead. He should also consider several other Web resources besides his website to help drive business from search—Yelp listings, Google Places, Yahoo Business, etc.

The key takeaway for me was that online marketing managers should understand distinctly the value of keywords that they pursue, the value of ranking for these terms, and the intent of the prospects who are searching for these terms.

The last I’ve heard of my friend of a friend was that he hired an agency to help him achieve the top ranking for Vista Windows. I wish him the best in that difficult endeavor.