Surprises from our Local Keyword Ranking functionality
We recently launched some great new functionality that we are very excited about. For quite a while now, search engines have been presenting different results based on where a searcher is physically located. So, if you’re looking for a hairdresser in Houston (unlikely I’d ever need to) or a dentist in Detroit, the search engines want to present you with just that. For the most part, they’ve had that figured out and so have we. The tricky part has been if you are in Houston and search for “hairdresser” or “hair cut” or if you are in Detroit and search for “dentist.” Unless you change your search settings to make it seem as if you are physically located elsewhere, your results will not match someone searching from that location.
We’ve been using various techniques to “spoof” locations and that’s proven somewhat effective, but it was never quite right. So this latest improvement was needed and sought after by lots of customers.
We knew for sure what impact most of these changes would have, but we had a few hunches too. The astounding part has been some of the unexpected positive consequences. I think it will be most helpful if we outline the benefits that this new data provides and we’ll map the feature to those:
- You can show your client (or your boss) how you’re ranking in various locations
- You can better understand your sphere of influence as you move farther from your local area
- You can find LOCAL competitors
- You can find Keywords that your LOCAL competitors are ranking for (and where you are not (yet))
- You can find lower hanging fruit by finding keywords you’re ranking for in your local market
- You can find LOCAL influencers
- You can find Local Universal Results opportunities – and you can see better overall Universal Ranks.
Before we begin, let me explain that there are a few ways to configure your “local” search engine(s). As Matt explained in our v5.4.0 launch announcement, we support 40,617 towns and cities worldwide. That means that you can add up to 20 “search engines” per campaign. If you have an existing campaign, then, yes, you can add a local search engine alongside your existing engines. That will give you “many” of the most expected benefits. Where the real fun begins is when you use a local engine as a “primary” search engine in our platform. Basically, that means that you could (and perhaps you should) begin a new campaign with a local area as the FIRST search engine on the list. For most businesses, that will be the right solution. For businesses with multiple locations, it’s likely you’ll want multiple campaigns (one for each location). We can help you sort this out if you’d like. We have excellent support and a few great Pro Services packages that you may opt for.
When you use a local search engine as your primary search engine, you’ll gain a variety of additional benefits as I’ll explain.
1) Now you can show your client (or your boss) how you’re ranking in various locations
This one we knew. It’s the primary solution to the biggest problem.
Regardless of what order your search engines have been loaded in, you’ll get visibility into your rankings and you can sort based on different ranking ranges. For instance, let’s say you what to know which keywords you’re ranking on the first for in Dallas but beyond the first page globally. No problem! Here’s an example of how easy that is! We’ll even show you your ranking URL (on your primary engine) for each keyword.
2) You can better understand your sphere of influence as you move farther from your local area.
I set up a few local campaigns in an effort to test out some of what we thought we’d built. Along the way, we also discovered some of these hidden gems. This particular benefit will require a bit more investigation, but the early signs seem to indicate that we can help you understand your local, regional, national, and even global influence for important keywords. One such experiment was with a car dealer.
At least in the US, I don’t know of too many dealerships that care too much about having a first page rank for their car brand on a global basis. Most do want to be ever present for their car brand, their dealership brand, and every make and model combination they can think of within their local area. Now we can help the local dealer understand how they are ranking in their own backyard, in their rival’s backyard, and in the growing markets they may have been contemplating for years. It’s too early for a great screen shot, but we can certainly show you how to set this up.
3) You can find LOCAL competitors
For quite a while now, we’ve shown our customers how to use our Marketplace Potential report to find competitors. To do this, we look at the keywords you’re targeting and we can figure out which sites are potentially getting more traffic than you for those same keywords. The example I’ve often used is that if you were to think about your top competitors, or if your terrestrial bricks and mortar client were to list their competitors, they’re likely to list other “local” competitors. What they are not likely to realize is that they might also be competing against Yelp or Yellow Pages or Angie’s List, etc. When you are using a localized search engine, you’ll get a much better picture of the LOCAL marketplace. It really is the best of both worlds.
4) You can find Keywords that your LOCAL competitors are ranking for that you are not (yet)
Similarly, in our Competitive Keyword Rankings report, now we can show you keywords that your competitors are ranking for locally. Now you can piggyback on your competitors local rankings. When you add those keywords into your monitored keywords list, you can reap additional rank tracking benefits – further expanding your local, regional, and global dominance.
5) You can find lower hanging fruit by finding keywords you’re ranking for in your local market
In our quite robust, extremely capable Keyword Research toolkit, you can find keyword opportunities in a number of ways. We’ve offered Google and Bing suggest integration along with mashing in SEMRush data for quite a while. Now, when you’ve selected a local search engine as your primary engine, many (but not all) of the data uses local results in the research table. That means you can find keywords that with only a little extra effort, you could rank for locally.
- These same keywords might take a whole lot longer to ever rank for regionally, nationally, or globally.
Also, by tracking keywords that you are already ranking for locally, you can easily build a reasonable expansion plan.
6) You can find LOCAL influencers
When you’ve set up a “Local Search Engine” as a primary search engine, you can also find influential local authors. If your strategy includes a content plan, you are likely to be much more interested in a blog down the road than on the other side of the world. It is certainly possible for bloggers to be influential both globally and locally, but there may be a group of local influencers that might not have otherwise hit your radar otherwise.
7) You can find Local Universal Results opportunities and you can see better overall Universal Ranks
This benefit is my early favorite. I did expect this to help, but I believe this will generate even better results than even I originally expected. If you are managing any kind of local presence, this should excite you!
In the testing I did, I was able to compare keywords – all with decent search volume across a campaign set up in Google Global and a localized “version” of Google. In our keyword research area, we can show you what the first page of your primary search engine “has on it” in terms of Universal listings. In other words, if there are 3 organic listings, then 3 places listings, then a few news listings, we will show you that order of results. You can even click to see the page we’ve screen captured.
One big challenge has been trying to figure out how to optimize places (Google+) pages. Which keywords should you include in your video title? Are there any images for this keyword? Maybe you could get a product image onto the first page? Well, now we can help answer that question – locally. Anyone who has studied this issue has likely struggled to figure out how Google decides when to display a universal listing rather than just a “ten pack” (or even just 7 “blue links”). We make quick work of helping you to sort this out so you can execute a strategy around improving your rankings for various keywords.
But wait! There’s more! Now when you’ve been able to optimize locally, you’ll even start to see a better overall “Universal Rank.” We define that as the rank of the first result you appear in, including all search result types (e.g. video, images, shopping). So you can get an overview of how effective your efforts have been and continue to improve your organic search dominance locally, regionally, and globally.
As always, if you need our help, we’re here to help. We get high marks for our responsiveness. If you’d like to schedule a session for some help configuring or reconfiguring a campaign, let us know. We are now offering some excellent professional services packages that might be just what the doctor ordered, especially going into the New Year. We can help you fine tune your implementation to help ensure your long term success. Of course, if you’re not a customer yet, there’s no better time than the “present”! Let this be a Christmas “Present” to your company and you’ll be able to pile up loads of success into the New Year!
By: Dennis Hart, President at Analytics SEO (US)