More threads by MiriamEllis

Jul 23, 2012
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I'd like to start a discussion on this topic today, as it's an FAQ I've seen in various fora.

When optimizing a site, local business owners and local SEOs want to know whether they should be putting focus on city+keyword or keyword+city.

My advice is to use both, of course, but there are some nuances to this that deserve further discussion, I believe.

First of all, while keyword research tools can't really be relied upon to deliver accurate numbers when geo phrases are included in the search terms, you may have noticed that tools like Google's Adwords Keyword Tools will often yield identical numbers for:

chiropractor san jose
san jose chiropractor

Not always, but often. So, that's an interesting thing to note.

However, when writing titles and copy, it's usually easier to make good sounding sentences out of the second version. For example, this sentence:

Call The San Jose Chiropractor Who Can Straighten Out Your Life By Straightening Out Your Back

...reads more naturally than:

Call the Chiropractor San Jose Who Can Straighten...etc.

You could, of course, fix this awkwardness by adding 'in' (i.e. Call the Chiropractor in San Jose), but then you're actually dealing with a different search phrases and, as you have probably noticed, Google sometimes brings up altered SERPs for searches that include the word 'in'.

So, what have you noticed about this situation of word order? Do you give preferential treatment to city+keyword or keyword+city? Why? I'd love to hear your thoughts on this - and - when doing your own local searches, how do you type queries into Ye Olde Google Search Box? City or keyword first? Or are you leaving off city altogether more and more these days, relying on Google to know where you are?

Hope you have something to say on this subject, because it's one that comes up every day in the life of the Local SEO :D
Whoohoo, GOOD ONE Miriam!!!

I have SOOOOO much to say on this and train a lot around how to perfectly craft local title tags so no matter which way a consumer searches (city KW or KW city) you have a shot at high rankings.

PLUS have been working on a post about a local SEO keyword tool that helps with this specific example. Which gets more searches "chiropractor san jose" or "san jose chiropractor"

Plus examples show things like which get more searches in LA "Personal injury attorney" or "Personal injury lawyer" AND if your client is in New York you see how the OPPOSITE is true about searches from that market.

However strapped for time today. AND that keyword tool post keeps getting delayed. Had all the screenshots done last week, then they updated the software so I need to start over.

Hopefully others will weigh in and I'll try to circle back later today.

Great topic!

What do you guys think???
Fantastic!!! Can't wait to hear more from you on this, Linda, and my little ears have pricked up at your mention of the tool. :cool: I'll be eager to read more!
Will try to get the local KW tool post done for tomorrow.
Oh and re City 1st or KW 1st. Copying some research I did at one point below.

IMPORTANT TO NOTE - AND NOT ENOUGH LOCAL SEOS PAY ATTENTION TO THIS -But TONS more consumers search KW only without city! My upcoming KW tool post confirms this too and the research comes direct from Google.

Important Google Places SEO Group Research re GEO Modifiers, Search Behavior and Rank Tracking (FROM A YEAR AGO - So not this past Sept.)

So then in thinking about how consumers search and wondering how many even use a city modifier, it occurred to me I NEVER (or seldom) see City + Keyword in my client’s Places stats. You know where it shows the top 10 keywords? All my clients just show dentist, teeth whitening, cosmetic dentistry, without city. So it really made me wonder how often Joe surfer even adds a city modifier.

THEN I DISCOVERED ADWORDS EXPRESS STATS! This is where I need your help, if you have clients using Adwords or Adwords Express, please read on.

I only have one client using Adwords Express. I’ve never recommended it, set it up or even checked out the stats. Turns out the client on AE is also the Dentist suffering from the proximity lockout. He felt FORCED to sign up for AE to compensate when Google dropped him out of his high ranking blended spot. What I discovered when I checked his stats blew me a way a little. And directly opposed the study posted on SELand above.

Here are his September Adwords Express impression stats. So this is not how people ‘SAY’ they search (as in Myles’ study) but the actual stats showing how many searches where ACTUALLY DONE various ways.

Keywords | Impressions (Sept Stats)
dentist 2430
city dentist 586
dentist city 483
dentists 376
dentists city 119

(Note: Above stats are from a small – medium sized East Coast city)

So 4 times MORE searches were for KEYWORD(s) without city. This makes sense to me if you think about the ‘average’ consumer. We live in a search world and know about modifiers and everything. But I bet Betty Sue soccer Mom looking for a new dentist types just Dentist. Then possibly if she does not find what she’s looking for she’ll refine her search with City + keyword. But if you just type Dentist it WILL show you a pack of local results with a map.

Since I don’t have any other clients on Adwords I could not check more stats. So reached out to a Plumber I helped awhile back who dropped off page one. Back then I had not discovered the proximity lockout and could not figure out why she dropped. She reached out to lots of local pros and no one could figure it out. Now I can plainly see it was a proximity lockout and everything I mentioned above is similar for her. So anyway I know her well enough that I could ask her to check her stats for me. Here are her September Adwords Express stats.

Keywords | Impressions (Sept Stats)
plumber 3353
plumbers 2496
city plumbers 1320
plumbers city 298

(Note: Above stats are from a large East Coast city)

Then in comments Joy added some stats from 2 of her clients:

Anchorage – Insurance October, 2011
Car insurance – 675
Auto insurance quotes – 515
Auto insurance anchorage – 376
Car insurance anchorage – 310
Car insurance companies – 144
Cheapest car insurance – 55

Westminster, CO – Insurance October 2011 (note no GEO searches at all, only KW)
Home insurance – 1581
Homeowners insurance quotes – 147
Home insurance cost – 64
Homeowners insurance rates – 57
Home insurance coverage – 7

So re the Q city 1st or KW 1st - I've always told people more search with City 1st and this kinda confirms it, but I'll have more data in my local KW tool post.
Hi folks,

I?d like to comment that "car insurance" or "home insurance" companies in my opinion are not comparable with "plumbers" or "dentist". From the practical view it doesnt matter how far away you live from an insurance company to get what you want (email, post - voila!) but a dentist should be reachable such as a plumber should be able to go to your house without driving for hours. It would be interesting if Google sees that as a factor for proximity lockouts, too.
Ive started to do some PPC for a few clients and can confirm the kw without the city modifier is used a whole lot more than I would have thought.

A few years ago, im guessing Google might not have been as efficient as determining what is a local search or not and so people would search more frequently with kw + city...but now, its pretty standard when searching for a local biz, you type in kw only. i know i do it unless i want results not always close to me and im sure most people dont have a clue that when typing in kw only, that it will only get results closest to you.

And doesn't this really benefit Google bc now if businesses want to really target a whole metro big city area, they'll need to do some PPC.

Hi members,

Good to see the post which really makes a great difference if not properly used. I had worked on this aspects too but didn't get proper result which can let me know yes THAT'S IT.

I would like to share my views on this with all of you members.
I have checked google ad-words to see where more traffic goes. Result came both are same. I changed the way and went with number of searches on Google it again came the same.
But when I discussed the same with SEO fellowers, they came out as city+keyword is tough to rank. Didn't get HOW?

But in local it does not effect if you use city+keyword or keyword+city. But I use to prefer Keyword+city for my work and also for self search. This also help us to prepare a good website title which also shows some sense rather then senseless.

Pankaj Kumar

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