28 October 2011 by Web Bureau
When a business optimises its website to make it more visible within the search engines, the keywords it chooses to compete on often relate to the services it offers, for example, in the case of our own company, The Web Bureau, we may select the terms ‘web design’, ‘web development’, ‘internet marketing’ and ‘seo’ but many companies in the UK offer these services and your target market may largely be your own region, so how do you get your company noticed?..... Local Search!
From a local search perspective, it’s often essential for businesses to include local terms, known as “geo-modifiers” within their site content and link building activities. By adding a location to your keywords, for example ‘web design Belfast’ or ‘SEO Northern Ireland’ you indicate your location or the market you are targeting with your products and services. Google needs to know where you are located and which areas you serve in order to return your business as a search result for a relevant, local search.
Localised search terms have particular relevance for Northern Ireland businesses.
If you don’t localise your search terms, Google may make an assumption about your location using the IP address which your search query originates from. IP addresses are usually assigned to internet service providers within region-based blocks, therefore an IP address can often be used to identify the
region or country from which a computer is connecting to the Internet.
As Northern Ireland forms part of the UK, often our IP address identifies us as being somewhere in England, therefore a general search for ‘web design’ on Google UK will not produce the local results you were looking for from Northern Ireland businesses.
Ask yourself the following questions:
How do searchers go about their search for local businesses?
Using The Web Bureau as an example, a potential customer who requires a website often searches using terms such as ‘web design Belfast’. How do we know? Research on Google’s Keyword Tool tells us this. When deciding on key terms to optimise your business for, don’t guess or make the mistake of using internal or industry jargon, do your research!
Do most searchers use local modifiers or not?
There is no simple answer to this question. It may sound like an easy way out but it depends on your business. For example, if you are a solicitor, a butcher or a hairdresser in Belfast, it is often essential to use localised keywords. There are on average 27,100 exact searches in the UK each month for ‘solicitors’, compared with 590 for ‘Solicitors Belfast’ and 110 for ‘Solicitors Northern Ireland’.
There are 2 key reasons why it is necessary in these instances to localise your search, the first being that it will be more difficulty to compete for a page 1 listing for the generic term ‘Solicitors’ and the second is that even if you could get to page 1, you will probably not be local to many of the searchers who find you. If you target the words ‘Solicitors Belfast’ and can over time achieve a good page rank, you at least meet the criteria of those who reach your site via the search engines.
Do searchers expect to get local results for a generic, non-local search term?
Some do but this can differ across genders and target audiences. If your business targets a younger audience, focus more on generic search terms (and let Google handle the localisation) rather than track search terms with local modifier. If your business targets older consumers, then the opposite is true: focus more on search terms with local modifiers. Optimising for a town name and city name should deliver more traffic.
As it stands today, the majority of local consumers are more comfortable using local search terms within their searches, and hopefully it delivers the results they’re looking for. As location-based services become more widespread and consumer adoption grows, it is likely to have an impact on people’s expectations of “localisation”. In the future, people will expect Google to know where they are, without having to tell them.
For more information about keyword selection and seo, contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org