Local keyword variations – thoughts from trip to London

Down in London over the last few days meeting clients, existing and new. It’s good to have face-to-face time as despite our good use of tech from skype to extranets, a face to face does provide an opportunity to pick up nuances and subtleties that help us do our job better. Being in the room is hugely useful.

An extension of this came up with regards to keyword research. This area is really the salt mines of SEO – figuring our audience behaviour and demand. Getting it right is crucial and very hard work. In two meetings we had some interesting results for local differences in searcher behaviour.

Local keyphrases differences – and how to capture the advantage

In the first, there were some very interesting differences in phrases as you traveled across the UK. A north and south divide was very evident. The result is that in order to increase visibility for a company with a huge inventory there is an interesting opportunity in terms of optimisation.

We had realised that the creation of bespoke titles and descriptions was going to be impractical in terms of both resource and budget for the client. A pragmatic opportunity was required… cue concatenation schema. This is  the creation of title and description (but not exclusively) syntax variations which are assigned to content across the site. Within the syntax, keyphrases including product attributes, names and calls to action are assigned.  These are mixed up across the site based on fields which for this client are part of a consumed xml feed.  After our meeting we also added a further refinement i.e. the change of keyphrases based on location and  local search demand.  It’ll be interesting to see how much additional traction this element adds in terms of driving relevant, valuable traffic.

Local keywords aren’t always clearly logical

The other local keyphrase issue came from a meeting with a client in a completely different sector. The issue here was that in taking four neighbouring counties around London and looking at search volumes for the client’s services, one of the counties had  no  reported search volume while the other three had  ok levels of demand. What caused this difference? Do people in Buckinghamshire not require this client’s particular service? is the market sewn up by a competing brand?  was our tool acting up or perhaps the folks in Bucks consider themselves more London than Surrey, Middlesex and Hertsfordshire and use “London” in their searches? It’s not something we’ve got to the bottom of yet.

Takeout: Doing keyword research is hard work if you do it properly but it doesn’t end at the drill down. Having local knowledge and being able to apply it to a solution can ensure that you get that extra bit from your keyword strategy.

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