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Optimizing for lots of phrases and geo descriptions
Check the geo phrases every which way.

 1:36 am on Jan 5, 2006 (gmt 0)

I'm new here but have been practicing local search for about 2 years for my business and others.

Caught this thread from October '05 which IMHO gets to the crux of effective local search results, Currently....http://www.webmasterworld.com/forum108/202.htm

All about keyword phrases for a business. A great question and very revealing response...again IMHO.

I referenced in two earlier posts about the volume of responses that visitors utilize to find a local business.

For my business; regional to Washington DC, Maryland and Virginia I need to capture phrases that describe my service and related geo words like DC, D.C., Washington DC, Maryland, MD, Virginia, VA; in VA, Maryland, DC etc.

In fact of the top 300 search phrases that hit my site 169 were relevant geo/service phrases. Way to many to individually track.

Just found this info which stunned me...but the probable (hopeful) solution is easy.

Checked the log files for most used words for 2005 versus 2004. Overall search traffic was up nicely. Major industry phrases were way up. Google, where I rank high and advertise was up nicely for relevant geo words.

But Yahoo and MSN were both down significantly for the relevant geo words...even as search traffic for both engines was up.

Checked the advertising hard. Even as my site ranks at 1 or 2 in both engines for virtually all the geo phrases I checked competition was advertising heavily for those phrases w/Y and MSN PPC.

Easy solution is to advertise aggressively in those engines also.

My experience and that of others I speak and interact with on local search sites/businesses to aggressively show for a huge variation of related phrases that can capture many regional searches...as referenced in the above thread. It works like a charm.



Robert Charlton

 7:55 am on Jan 5, 2006 (gmt 0)

Dave - In conjunction with the thread you reference, you might also be interested in my comments in the following thread about including local descriptors on your page....


And yes, your logs are going to be a much better source of descriptor information than Wordtracker is.


 1:59 pm on Jan 5, 2006 (gmt 0)

It was true in 2003 and even more true today.

My current experience is that the geo descriptions are vital.

My site ranks high for the generic industry terms and the geo terms. I'm fortunate (and worked hard) for the industry terms...but it is the GEO terms that convert!. They are critical.

The variety of searches for a topic ie. used cars, used auttos. etc. is enormous. The variety of geo terms can be very wide spread; Houston, Houston Texas, Houston Tx, Houston Tx. , Western Texas, Texas Gulf Coast, in Houston, near Houston, etc. etc. etc.


 4:02 am on Jan 7, 2006 (gmt 0)

>>like a charm

yes and it has worked like a charm for a long time.

local seo best practice requires the identification of geo-keyword derivations to direct linking and publishing strategies.

there are neat geo-mashing kewyord tools that bring together all local derivations for keyword phrases from cities within dma's to area codes - zips, counties, etc and mashes them together for local kwyd derivations.

there is a nice long tail in local seo. its good stuff dave and can guide a dedicated and best practice organic local seo stragtegy.

for most small businesses, however, the maintanace of this strategy is a long-term and ever more uncertain proposition. especically considering the continued creation of local authoritative business aggregators, ala craiglist, citysearch, your newspaper, our iyp, etc. this is why i strongly advocate a new form of local seo which can rest upon the practices of tradional local seo, but also seeks to leverage and optimize performance within authoritative local advertising and publishing channels.


 4:11 pm on Jan 7, 2006 (gmt 0)

for most small businesses, however, the maintanace of this strategy is a long-term and ever more uncertain proposition. especically considering the continued creation of local authoritative business aggregators, ala craiglist, citysearch, your newspaper, our iyp, etc. this is why i strongly advocate a new form of local seo which can rest upon the practices of tradional local seo, but also seeks to leverage and optimize performance within authoritative local advertising and publishing channels.


That may be Chicago. For now my experience is that best results come from focusing on aggressive local optimizing.

I look at the results for my business and those of a number of other local businesses. My experience is based on reviewing activity off of log files. I operate both my business and oversee some other local web sites. We (mine and others) advertise in various aggregators.

Currently we see most traffic coming from the following areas:

Local optimizing; PPC (with a lot of emphasis on local phrases) Focused links from local sites - more that are business/site related than the aggregators; industry related niche directories; and then the many varied aggregators.

To date the combination of local optimizing, PPC and industry related links each on their own far outweigh the aggregators.

Local optimizing and PPC on their own outweigh the impact of all the aggregators together.

Certain well connnected relevant links might outweigh all the aggregators combined also.

This is based on reviews of about 6 sites...not a lot ...not teeny...and it represents a variety of types of businesses.

This is based on current observations and study. It could well change over time. I'm certainly not making predictions.

Ultimately it depends on the users themselves.

Aggregators, including the engines/local will ultimately need to get visitors/users to use their services. They will have to advertise heavily or do something to get users to switch from putting in phrases like *Chicago area SEO firm* to particular aggregators. How and if that occurs is anyones guess.

I look at this as both SEO practitioner and business owner who pays for a variety of aggregator services, measures advertising effectiveness for aggregators and paid links, measures existing print advertising, print YP and other sources etc.

It is a difficult and a challenging long term game. Possibly your firm has the right idea.

Frankly I think that advertising agencies/local SEO have a huge opportunity in front of them. The work must be done efficiently and effectively.

I guess you are attacking it. I'm sure it would take lots of sales work to effectively win clients.

I'm interested in the long term game and the effectiveness of aggregators. Will any of them become the YP of the web? Time will tell. I think it will take lots of money and time.


 5:31 pm on Jan 7, 2006 (gmt 0)

>> best results come from focusing on aggressive local optimizing

i would agree.
for webmaster's local seo is fundemental.

speaking from a webmaster's position is different then servicing small business, small budget, adoption, and scale. and it is also fair to say that most small business owners are not webmasters.

in so far as we can talk about local seo relative to the benefit it brings webmasters and small local sem agencies, it is a great topic that frankly we should explore more in this forum.

let me ask you then-

lets say you have identified 10 logical derivations of your target geo just for a single money term. how do you optimize?

Do you mix up external anchor text which geo derivations?
Do you change global footer text to geo derivations?
Do you create new geo pages?
Do you just tweak existing content or titles?

Or is that too much - and what we are really talking about is including a few geo derivations within your traditional seo strategy link building and content creation.

What is your strategy for >>aggressive local optimizing?


 9:30 pm on Jan 7, 2006 (gmt 0)

I thought I had responded.

Good questions Chicago. I'll respond later in some depth.

A lot of what I do is trial and error and continued learning.

I'd also like to hear how you service clients of different sizes and needs.

Maybe all this requires two different threads...what do you think?


Robert Charlton

 8:12 pm on Jan 8, 2006 (gmt 0)

Do you mix up external anchor text which geo derivations?
Do you change global footer text to geo derivations?
Do you create new geo pages?
Do you just tweak existing content or titles?

Completely depends on how competitive the geo modified phrases are, and also on the type of site. A directory structure, eg, would favor geo pages. On a products or services oriented company site, a great many identically targeted geo pages are harder to add naturally.

As I mentioned in the thread I cited above, for some geo modifiers (say for big city hotels), you might need a dedicated site for a particular city, with dedicated pages for neighborhoods. For less competive product areas, global footer text works just fine... or at least it does now.

Keep in mind, though, that Google considers proximity heavily in its algo, so global footer text might be far removed from target phrases in your paragraph structures. On competitive searches, therefore, global footers might not be enough.

Also, if you go the global footer route (which is a natural way for a company site serving a metro area to incorporate geo targeting), searches involving main communities within the metro area are likely to get increasingly competitive over time. Ultimately, pages targeting your most competitive phrases... competitive products in competitive locations... may also need geo modifiers in titles or links.

If you have a site covering a wide metro area and a wide range of competitive products or services, creating pages to target all the combinations begins to get awkward. On company sites, the geo page approach for me is the most difficult. I've found it very challenging, after a point, to create unique content for a great many geo pages all targeting the same products and services.

Prioritization therefore becomes very important. You've got to scope out in advance what product and geo searches are likely to be the most competitive and the most productive, and to put these in the most prominent pages in your hierarchical structure.


 2:22 am on Jan 10, 2006 (gmt 0)

Let me try and respond to Chicago's points and add a little history as to why and how we do what we do w/our site and others.

We primarily learned off of our site. It was set up in '96 and via dumb luck our url is keyword1-keyword2.com, the #1 phrase for our industry.

During early 2003, despite not doing anything on our site we recognized our site was working well and becoming a major source of leads and sales for our local/regional business. It was approaching traditional print and other sources as a major source for leads.

We had Zero programming or web experience. We learned that google depended on backlinks, learned about them and started adding backlinks galore. We learned about this in forums.

All our efforts were on industry phrases...not geo/industry phrases.

We started looking at all aspects of this and started our log analysis files very closely.

Over time we saw that geo/industry phrases converted at far better rates than straight industry phrases.

We were fortunate (and worked hard) to obtain quite a bit of 1st page rankings for the industry. (The industry would be rated as medium competitive).

We started on geo phrases later as we learned of their importance.

The site is set up with address and contact information on the global footers.

The title(global header) provides our name with the geo region area Washington DC Virginia and Maryland.

We left all of that as is.

Currently, on my business site we sprinkle geo phrases throughout the content on all relevant pages that describe our services. We have added pages that reflect different ways visitors search for the service. The volume of phrases is surprisingly high and diverse. We have added industry phrases over time using keyword phrase tools, and also by scrutinizing competitor sites for their content and running searches on those phrases. Frankly we have copied phrases, tested them to see if they draw traffic, and if they work tried to provide anchor text bls for those phrases to grow in the engines.

Adding geo phrases within the content has worked sufficiently to date to appear high for local/industry phrases.

If the competition is more fierce we need to step up the effort in a variety of ways.

One thing to consider is that the 3 major engines treat geo ranking differently and phraseology differently.

For instance, Y and MSN pick up more from the URL and interior page names than does Google. They also pick up more from Meta tags...so I still focus on them even as google has reduced their importance. Similarly, google is more refined to pick up stemming (turning a singular into a plural and vice versa). Y and MSN seem to require more focus on that.

I make sure the content has some mention of both the full regional names and initials. So at least once on each page for our area I'll try to get in all geo descriptions on each page (i.e. Maryland, MD, Virginia, VA, Washington DC, Washington, and DC.) It might make the content a bit cumbersome and all the descriptions are not on every page...but I've got to have them for every important phrase.

Since this site covers each of three major regions I've dedicated regional pages with descriptions of the services applied in each jurisdiction. It is a little bit of a stretch but it works well. In those pages I've got each geo description covered in meta tags, headers, within the content, I have some localized addresses and of course in the footer. That has been a big advantage.

For a chain I want an individual page for each location. That covers a lot. I add some slight description on each one with of course the address.

While the service is regional we attract traffic with the searches that give town name/service.

We have tried to attack that in the following ways.

Instead of using Mapquest or some other service for directions we include written driving directions from all directions, North, South, East and West. We start the directions with a group of town names. Consequently we can pick up service/town names search traffic. (there are some nice tools that allow you to pick up all sorts of town names in a radius of your business, attach service/business phrases to them and apply them to ppc).

Adding town names to the service gives additional valuable coverage. I'm surprised at the number of searches that come in w/town names.

Of importance we work ppc hard with regional phrases and also cover industry phrases in google with a geographic approach.

Of interest, most of our traffic comes during work hours from peoples places of work. We have only recently found that a fair number of larger businesses have servers outside of the region. This means that our ppc for the regional phrases is missing.

We are currently experimenting with this to stretch our visibility. Fortunately our competitors are also missing on this basis.

Finally, as much as high serps rankings are importance we find 2 other areas that are also vitally important; PPC and highly topical links, either industry related, locally related or optimally both.

Both PPC and related links work extremely well. On the other hand we see little value to date from Local on any of the engines or our investment in YP on the web or some other aggregators.

This is an ongoing process in which we are constantly learning, evolving, changing, and updating. On top of that the engines change which will effect strategies. If any aggregators gain widespread use that will dramatically effect these efforts.

None of the sites I've worked on have yet to face brutal competition for local phraseology.

When starting fresh I focus on bls for the major industry phrase(s) and the relevant geo descriptions. I've found far better conversion statistics from service/geo descriptions than from the best industry phrases alone. I work hard on bls with the geo names in the phrases. That also means spreading the geo phrases around. For instance my business covers Virginia, Maryland and DC. Anchor text for a phrase for keyword1 keyword2 Virginia carries more weight than the keyword phrase all 3 regions or with all 3 initials.

I've spread them around w/both...but that is a lot of variations on anchor text...so that is difficult. On the other hand it is difficult for all competitors also so it just takes work and ingenuity and effort ( and money).

Chicago: How do you see the intersection of a business working on all this and an SEM/SEO provider?


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