For businesses, such as restaurants, that draw their clientele from their immediate area, selecting and implementing the right local keywords will drive relevant traffic to those client websites. For ecommerce businesses who draw their customers from anywhere, implementing the correct national keywords will attract the most prospects to their sites. Remember, when it comes to ranking on the SERPs, businesses are not ranking for keywords, they are competing for industry relevance. The right keywords and skillful and continuous SEO campaigns and initiatives will ensure that your clients receive their rightful market share.
What Are Local and National Keywords and Why Do They Matter?
Keywords are an integral part of any Search Engine Optimization (SEO) campaign. Before we delve further into keywords, let’s agree that without an SEO campaign, an online business is essentially not in business. Without continuous application of SEO initiatives, including keywords, those searching online for your goods and services will not be able to find you. So whether you’re using them within website content or for PPC, keywords are used to reach your target audience. Did you also know that a keyword is not always just a keyword? Keywords can be used effectively as part of a marketing strategy to target a specific demographic in a given location. Not understanding that keywords can be localized or nationalized means that you may unintentionally be targeting the wrong website users.
(Very) Short History Lesson
Search engine results pages (SERPs) are the pages that are shown after a user types a term or words to locate something on a search engine, then clicks the search button. This is called a query. The search engine runs a process to pull all the entries that are related to the query and then presents them to the user as a results page. Over time, the bots have become more intuitive in the way that they can find the results for these pages you were actually looking for. The websites that the bot pulls as matches are found across multiple dimensions. The main dimensions are:
Words – are the words you searched for on the website
Location – is the phrase that you searched for geographically based
Intent – is the phrase as it is implied or is there a secondary or third influence to the query
When search engines were first created, the most they could do was match words from your search query to the words on a website. Once websites became more mainstream, people wanted to be able to find local businesses easier, so the search engines evolved to be able to return geographically based results. To find these listings, users had to enter their queries in the following manner:
[search term] [city] [state]
italian restaurant hauppauge ny
This only worked so well, though, as website owners listed as many cities and states that they could think of servicing on their site. As Google is wont to do, they started learning. They implemented a tool off of their search box which allowed for users to pick the location they wanted to search from. While this tool was implemented, Google learned which queries were actually location based and which ones were less so. Today, the search engine has removed this search feature and automatically serves SERP content based off of whether the query was found to be a national or locally-based. For those trying to find items or services in locations other than their own, Google will continue to honor the old location syntax in use before the location tool was implemented.
Okay, My Head is Spinning—Just What Does this Mean for My Business?
It means that keywords should be reviewed for reach (local or national),as well as for relation to the website they’re being associated with. Just because keywords have a city and state appended to them does not mean that they will automatically work for localized SEO. This is due to the search volume.
By adding the city and state to a keyword, you’re actually creating a new keyword. (This is why a keyword is not always just a keyword.)
Let’s use italian restaurant as an example. The keyword italian restaurant currently has 165,000 average searches per month. However, this keyword is one that returns a localized SERP, which means that users will find local restaurants. If we choose to initiate a local search originally using italian restaurant hauppauge ny the average monthly search volume is 30. Therefore, by pursuing the keyword italian restaurant hauppauge ny you are cutting your chances to receive users by 99%.
A local keyword is a keyword that returns results from the surrounding geographical area. An example of a local keyword is “italian restaurant”. This query will return local business listings that are close to where you initiated the search from, and allows you to find a great bowl of pasta quickly.
A national keyword is a keyword that returns results from the rest of the country. An example of a national keyword is “white board marker”. This query will return listings to help you learn about what you searched for, without regard for location.