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Thread: Local Searches by zip codes.

  1. #1
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    Local Searches by zip codes.

    I've totally missed the boat here. My sites are optimized for a variety of state and city names in my region and via content we show up highly ranked for a great number of nearby town names.

    But frankly I haven't done a thing with zip codes. I wonder how many people search on this basis.

    While looking through keyword phrases I focused on 5 searches that found us with a variation of our business terms and the zip code....something like dog walking service 07045; or optician 43212.

    Interesting.

    It wasn't many....but then my site is vulnerable to searches of this type.

    Off the top of my head I don't see an elegant way to do this for content...other than a spammy or inelegant way to list every town, zip code, etc. within a 50 mile radius. Ugh....spammy.

    The only searches that reached us came through google....so I looked at the search phrases relative to google.


    First: Each such search in organic google turns up a onebox Maps inserts. It appears competitors/listed businesses are ranked primarily by proximity to the zip code. If that is the case there is nothing to do about it. (other than opening more locations) see this blog to learn about google maps.

    My site doesn't show at all for organic searches under the onebox--though references to my site do show--whew. guess I gotta expand local directory links/advertising to get more exposure.

    PPC is a great alternative. I can list all the relevant zips--connect the zips w/ the relevant business phrases...and while I'm sure it won't cost much....it will increase visibility.

    Actually I do have a content opportunity wherein zip codes can show. We are adding content now with a new design that will describe our service throughout the region and breaking it down by subsections. That won't be too bad.....

    While I don't anticipate lots of additional traffic.....I do anticipate growth in the most relevant traffic....and it appears I've been missing the boat on this dramatically.

    Dave

  2. #2
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    One idea to add content that's zip-code specific is add zip-code specific promotions. Like "get 25% off if you live in 90210" (the only zip code I know in the USA ). Create a series of those pages, drive traffic via PPC, run local newspaper ads, and hopefully Lord G of SERP will figure it out.

    Pierre
    eKstreme.com - Are your keywords buzzing?
    Blog of science - learn something new today!

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by eKstreme View Post
    One idea to add content that's zip-code specific is add zip-code specific promotions. Like "get 25% off if you live in 90210" (the only zip code I know in the USA ). Create a series of those pages, drive traffic via PPC, run local newspaper ads, and hopefully Lord G of SERP will figure it out.

    Pierre
    That is a cool idea.....in fact very cool. I'm gonna use it!

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    Quote Originally Posted by earlpearl View Post
    That is a cool idea.....in fact very cool. I'm gonna use it!
    I get 10%
    eKstreme.com - Are your keywords buzzing?
    Blog of science - learn something new today!

  5. #5
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    I've been wondering when Google might start using the ideas mentioned in this patent application:

    System and Method for Identifying Bounds of a Geographic Area

    I can't tell for certain that it is what is causing what you are seeing, Dave. But it's an avenue worth exploring. The document uses an example throughout of how this would impact paid search, and which advertisements are shown, but it could as easily be applied to local search results.

    For example, someone searches for a restaurant using a specfic street address, thinking that a restaurant is at that location. There is no restaurant there, but instead of not showing a map, Google might recognize that there is another restaurant on the next street over, within the same Geographic Bounds of the same neighborhood (or City, or metropolitan area, or State), and show that. It might be using lat/long coordinates to use for a demarcation of that boundary, or it could even use zip code, which the patent application mentions as an alternative.

    If zipcode was used to mark the boundary, the URL for the search might show the zipcode, even though the zipcode wasn't part of the query.

    While the description of the patent focuses upon showing ads in the geographic boundaries, the claims section doesn't mention ads at all. Instead, they focus on defining these boundaries, so that they can be used in a number of ways. One of them might be to determine that different businesses within category business types in the boundary might be relevant for searches for similar types of businesses (or businesses in similar or the same categories) at other locations within the same boundary. It's the display of the zip code that causes me to think that - all of a sudden people start searching using zip codes? I don't believe it.

  6. #6
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    Thanks for the response Bill. I checked your review of patents from an email and looked at that patent referenced above.

    There is an enormous world of shifting local advertising. Its in the billions of dollars on the aggregate and all sorts of smart organizations are chasing it as the web is sucking the local advertising money out of the old traditional sources such as newspaper classified and other advertising, local radio, local ads on tv and the local versions of YP. All of them are losing traction to the web.

    I used to know many advertising agency chiefs in the DC region which was scarcely a source for national advertising. But on top of the media the aggregate of the local agencies generated many millions of dollars of fees for creating the ads that landed in local media. All told there are a lot of dollars there.

    Imagine the growth of possibilities on the web for attracting logical advertising for web viewers. Especially consider the consequences for combining personalization with localization.

    John Doe is a DC region home owner who has been scanning the web for purchases for furniture, home repair, his lawn, clothes for his kids, etc.

    He happens to be viewing a funky google earth or maps feature or virtually looking for anything....and in the ad spaces allocated on that web page there are ads running for a price break special from Bills Furniture shop that is located only 5 miles away.

    That is the future...and highly powerful. How great is that. Technology combines knowledge of John Doe's interests and a great product solution.

    That is a little more involved than merely the geo description you alluded to but they do go together. There would be many more mundane uses.

    But delivery of ads at that time and place to John Doe is far more powerful than paying and delivering ads all over the region including 100 miles away through radio, newspapers, YP, etc.

    All of these patents have extraordinary implications.

    My discovery was so much more mundane and smaller.

    1. There are some local searches done with zip codes rather than town, city, county, or state names.
    2. I didn't realize that nor did my site(s) (my business and some others) capture any of that traffic.
    3. G maps and Y and MSN local do capture those searches within their geo oriented algos.
    4. Organic search doesn't capture that information.

    I also doubt many users substitute zip codes for town names.

    But as a business operator I subscribe to a far better source than my own findings--those of Jake Baillie, who spent a couple of years as the head of TrueLocal (a small geo oriented search engine) and was seeing thousands of geo searches every day.

    My own experience absolutely mirrors what he suggested to the SEO world.

    He suggests very very wide expansion of keyword usage. That includes keyword expansion on all the secondary terms available for a business service and it includes wide expansion of geographic terms. Not only city and town names but local references to areas....like the Loop for Downtown Chicago, etc.

    Further as a business operator I've seen that by expanding that keyword basis from city and state names to town, county and regional names I dramatically increased the numbers of searches for the MOST relevant and qualified buyers. Those are the ones I want.

    The dramatic increase is the result of the AGGREGATE capture of all the wierd such searches which typically show in one's and two's per month for the several businesses I check.

    Here is where they are valuable. Each logical combo of an appropriate geo description and an appropriate business term tends to convert at 3 to an almost infinite basis better than some of the content on the site that we don't monetize but attracts search traffic.

    The individual number of searches using a zip code and a business service may be no greater or dramatically less than the searches that might reflect local small town A, B, or C. Regardless if they are relatively close.

    In fact on a quality basis a nearby zip code search will be incredibly better than a search using Virginia as a geo term....when the searcher is located in the SouthWestern tip of the state and a four hour drive from my business.

    It's an added reflection of relevance and that turns into conversions and sales.

    I dramatically value the AGGREGATE value of the logical relevant searches. Zip codes are a term I never addressed nor never saw until the power of G Maps moved some traffic to my site and I happened to notice them.

    I will start addressing that and get a sense of its impact.

    Like you I don't suspect there will be many searches....but from the perspective of the business operator I have seen that the aggregate value of all the one percent little steps adds up to enhanced sales.

    Let me just add that for a long time and until today I had serious doubts about the value of G Maps versus organic G. Today is the straw that broke the camel's back and I see its value.

    Now if I can get more of the aggregate 1 per centers up to something like 180% than I'll be doing real well and can afford to buy you a beer!!
    Last edited by earlpearl; 07-25-2007 at 05:06 PM.

  7. #7
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    Bill:

    I looked at a month's worth of google traffic-about 4 k search terms. About 1/3 were combo's of local and regional terms--probably 1200-1500. (stopped counting somewhere in the long tail of individual terms.).

    There were 11 searches by business service and zip code; just under 1% of the local/business service total.

    On the other hand--the bulk of my geo searches are more regional w/ state and city names. I wonder how this would compare w/ an observer in a more rural area, such as mike who would see more searches w/town names.

    On the other hand there were a little over 100 searches w/town or county names. Those are primarily the result of simple content sprinkling w/in the site.

    I'd guess that in my urban region people searching by zip code is a pretty rare thing. I'll still add the content. I find value in relevant content expansion.

  8. #8
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    Dave, sorry to go offtopic, but what are the other geo terms you get in the 33% except town and county names, since you say they only take 2.5%?

    Thanks.
    Yura

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by A.N.Onym View Post
    Dave, sorry to go offtopic, but what are the other geo terms you get in the 33% except town and county names, since you say they only take 2.5%?

    Thanks.

    Yuri:

    For this one business, which is a service, rather than products; the major geo phrases are state or city. Then I get a smattering of town names, counties, regional or neighborhood words. There is some level of brand recognition which includes both business name or service w/ a geo term that recognizes exactly or virtually exactly where the business sits in a suburban site outside of Washington DC. The two relevant states and city dominate the searches.

    On the opposite side of the spectrum, Mike Blumenthal sees the data of many clients in a decidely rural region with no big cities. He sees most geo oriented search terms dominated by town names--the opposite of what I see.

    I can imagine that a 3rd alternative, within the states might be dominated by county names. For instance if I lived in a suburb of New York City I might search for Westchester County (business/service) or Bergan County dentists, etc.

    In those regions the towns have relatively small areas, the region is densely populated from town to town....and it matters little whether you are traveling 2-3 towns over for a service.

    Some of the geo stuff depends on where the business is located and the type of business.

    at least in my experience and opinion.

    Now Miriam may have completely different experiences. She does stuff in Northern California. The closer to San Francisco, possibly the more you'll see city or specific names. Possibly the further from san francisco and the more rural/remote/distance separated--possibly one would see town names. I'd be interested to see how she describes it.
    Last edited by earlpearl; 08-07-2007 at 05:14 AM.

  10. #10
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    Thanks, Dave.
    Yura

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