Think Local - Manage Your Search Optimization

Mar 1, 2013 | Search Engine Optimization

One of the critical factors that impacts the expense of an SEO campaign is the degree of difficulty in getting ranked for specific search terms (keywords).

Local Search Optimization

Which mountain would you rather climb? On the right, we have a mountain that is 100 feet tall, and on the left another that measures in at 1,000 feet. Add in that time is money, and you are competing with thousands of others to get to the top. In many ways creating an SEO program is a lot like managing a mountain climb - you start by picking the peak you would like to conquer.

The Power of Localized Search

Let’s say that you are a plumber and you want to get found in the search. You open a Google search window and type in ‘plumber’. Ouch, there are over 50 million results fighting to get found for your profession! But wait, you only care about helping people in your own town so you change the search to ‘plumber cedar rapids’. That’s better, only 119,000 results. That mountain will be much easier to climb so you put the full force of your search engine optimization behind this term.

This example illustrates the power of localized search. If your services can be defined within a geography such as a city or a state you are in a good position. Rather than tackling the entire world using broad search terms like ‘plumber’ you can narrow scope and work hard at getting found for ‘plumber cedar rapids’ and have a much better outcome.

The key here is in appreciating that every search is global. Organic search results aren't usually returned based on where the searcher is located - unless the searcher includes the location name in the search term. The good news is that searchers are increasingly using localized terms in their searches when they are looking for goods and services. They want to find someone within driving distance in their own community, not a provider hundreds of miles away.

Search Volume Matters

Now you are a bankruptcy attorney. Once again you want to be found in search so you start by taking a look at the competition on Google or Bing. The term ‘bankruptcy attorney’ has over 28 million results, each result competing for the attention of your target audience. Another example of a big mountain to climb. On the other hand, you try a search for ‘bankruptcy attorney cedar rapids’ and would you look at that! Only 51,000 competing results come up in Google – a mere foothill compared to the original generic term.

But wait just a minute... We have to tell you that this last example represents a tricky situation. And the trick is this – there may be only 51,000 competing results for ‘bankruptcy attorney cedar rapids’, but further investigation reveals that the term is only used in search fewer than 20 times each month. Getting yourself up to the top of the search list for ‘bankruptcy attorney cedar rapids’ it turns out is like getting your website all dressed up for a date that isn't going to show up.

Using localized keywords to power a search optimization program is a great way to limit the required effort (and therefore expense) of the optimization process. However, you have to find out if the target audience you are pursuing is big enough to make it worth the optimization budget.

Informatics takes a look at many aspects of the search equation – including the number of competitors in the results and the number of times the search term is actually used - before recommending an action plan. We don’t want to make anyone King of the Mountain if it turns out that it’s a really lonely place to be.

OK, we left our bankruptcy attorney out there on his lonely peak. So what is the answer when it comes down to a choice between an under-performing localized search term versus a hugely expensive generic term? One option is pay per click advertising. But this decision point brings up a whole slew of other subjects that we will cover in greater detail with later entries, so stay tuned!