Building keyword lists with location names
If you are in a local market catering to a local clientele, then location names are going
to be big money keywords for you. Internet users seeking products and services
near their home or business quickly learn that a search phrase with a location name
returns more relevant results than a search without a location, just like the “Pool
cleaning Las Vegas” example earlier.
Learning how customers engage in local search
Search volume statistics demonstrate very reliable and common search patterns for
locally-based searches. In nearly every niche from medicine to lawn mowing the
high volume, big opportunity local search keywords follow the following patterns:
• Product/service description followed by city name (Dermatologist
Jacksonville); this is generally the most-often used search order
• City name followed by product/service description (Jacksonville
• Sometimes, but not always, the full state name or state abbreviation is
included (dermatologist Jacksonville FL)
Let’s take a look at some actual search volumes that illustrate these principles.
Daily Search Volumes for Dallas Dermatologists:
dermatologist Dallas 12
dermatologist in Dallas Texas 11
Dallas dermatologist 9
Sure enough, the product-city pattern enjoys the highest-search volume followed
by the product-city pattern with the state included. Finally, the city-product pattern
enjoys a lesser, but still respectable, amount of traffic. This is a generally reliable
standard for local search queries. Naturally, we will measure specific search volumes
before fully implementing a keyword strategy, and we will learn how to undertake
that research later in this Article.
Bearing in mind what we have learned about local search usage, a great opportunity
presents itself to the WordPress webmaster: long tail searches in local markets.
This is an underutilized approach that can reward aggressive and diligent website
owners. Experienced webmasters and SEO professionals use this approach and earn
big gains. Here’s how to do it.
In both major cities and local markets, there are always surrounding communities
and towns that represent both customer opportunities and keyword opportunities.
In the city of San Diego, for example, there are dozens of surrounding towns (Del
Mar, National City, Chula Vista, Imperial Beach, Solana Beach, Encinitas, and so
on) as well as neighborhoods (Pacific Beach, Old Town, Mission Bay, Bird Rock, La
Mesa, Clairemont, and many others).
To a business owner, these additional geo-markets are all great keyword
opportunities, especially for WordPress site owners. Long tail theory applies to
smaller communities: because the communities have smaller populations, the search
volumes in those areas will be light. However, the conversion rate in a smaller
community will be higher, because the keyword is more closely focused on the
And, with WordPress, you can quickly and easily build out extra pages to capture
this extra traffic. Finally, the icing on the cake: most other business owners won’t or
don’t bother with optimization for smaller communities. Either they are too busy,
too uniformed, or their website platform is too unaccommodating to easily modify
or build out the extra content to capture this low-hanging fruit. If you cover enough
towns and neighborhoods, your ultimate reward can be to completely dominate an
There’s a wrong way to go about this, however. Some webmasters and less
sophisticated SEO “professionals” will simply stuff a list of cities into the bottom
of a page. That’s wrong for two reasons. First, it’s clearly keyword stuffing: the
intentional inclusion of keywords in batches without regard to content solely for
the purpose of infecting keyword results. Keyword stuffing is against Google’s
webmaster guidelines. Second, it’s just not effective. You need more than one or
two words at the bottom of a page to rank for anything meaningful.
The superior approach is to build out pages for each geo-market. With this approach,
you can use the town’s name in the title tag, body text, and other HTML elements—
with this extra power, you’ll rank soundly for searches that include that town name.
Also, the individual pages you create will speak more directly to members of that
community, so you’ll out-convert competitors as well.
In the following screenshot, we can see WordPress at work dominating Dallas area
pool cleaning: several mid-sized cities and smaller towns are represented in the
sidebar navigation (each with its own destination page) and this site ranks extremely
well in nearly all of these geo-markets: North Dallas, Plano, Garland, Farmer’s
Branch, Carrollton, Coppell, Allen, McKinney, Frisco, Addison, and Richardson, TX.
Each city has its own page that is effectively optimized for pool cleaning service.
Following the people, following the money
When building your keyword list, you’ll always want to return to the question “Who
is my customer?” If you are a deck builder, pool builder, or plastic surgeon, your
customer is a homeowner (in the case of home services) and a person of financial
means (in the case of home services or plastic surgery). It’s obviously helpful to know
where the people with the money live. If the residents of a town or neighborhood
aren’t able to afford your product, you’ll obviously not want to market there.
Similarly, you’ll prefer to put your efforts into high-population areas over low-
population areas. This same approach can apply to other demographics that might
impact your bottom line: where are the families with children? Where do the senior
citizens live? These inquiries are basic demographic questions that you can use to
focus your keyword strategy.
For most, you’ll have a sense of your own community: where the population centers
are, where the wealthier people with disposable income live. There may be other
variations: areas with new home construction underway are a gold mine for home
services like window blinds, alarm companies, and pool builders.
If you don’t have a true encyclopedic understanding of the demographics of your
region, or you simply want to deepen your understanding of the local marketplace,
there is a great web-based tool that can help you “follow the money.” The tool is
Webfoot Maps and can be found at http://maps.webfoot.com/. Webfoot has
created a collection of demographics-based Google Maps mashups that visually
represent demographic data like the population density and household income as an
overlay over a standard Google Map. With this tool, you can zoom into your town
and see where the population centers are and where the high-income folks are living.
Webfoot Maps are currently only available for North America and Australia.
The site offers a tremendous amount of data and it can be very helpful in crafting a
keyword strategy. The census data upon which the site relies is from 2000, but it will
likely be updated soon when the new 2010 census data becomes available. To use
the tool, browse to http://maps.webfoot.com/ and follow the link for “US 2000
Census.” From there, you can select any of the following demographic criteria:
• Median Household Income
• Population density
• Median Owner-occupied home value
• Median age
• Median home value/median income
• Percent White
• Percent Black
• Percent Hispanic
• Percent Asian
• Percent Native
• Percent Female
• Percent Male
• Percent of owner-occupied housing units
• Percent of renter-occupied housing units
• Percent of vacant housing units
• Average household size
• Average family size
• Percent with college degree
• 2008 Unemployment Rate (county)
• 2007 Unemployment Rate (county)
• Unemployment Rate Change 2008-7
Webfoot Maps present sensible graphical data for each default selection, but you can
adjust the Value parameter to display, for example, you can display only areas with
incomes above $100,000 per year.
Here’s how Webfoot’s demographic Google Maps mashup works at displaying
household income in the geo-markets including and surrounding Kansas City.
Darker areas indicate higher income levels. Areas with higher incomes can present
excellent web marketing opportunities for some businesses.