Friday, September 14, 2007

Local Search: Optimizing Your Page Titles

I taught two lively SEO Training Classes in Atlanta, GA this week for the Association of Video Professionals. One of the more interesting revelations from the student case studies was that while all of the video service companies were trying to attract clients from their local area, few understood the importance of including their City and State in their page titles.
I may soon write a new case study that looks just at Search Engine Marketing for Video Professionals. For now, I'm going to repost an article from last year that discusses effective page titles for local search. While this case study is about landscaping, you can easily translate it to video services, neighborhood florists, or any business using their website to attract local customers.
Local Search Case Study: Landscaping Marketing
It has come to my attention that search engine optimization has not exactly caught on fire in the landscaping world. I know this because I’ve been searching for a local residential landscaper for my home in North Carolina. My search frustrations stem from landscaper’s lack of understanding local search.

Residential landscaping is local or regional by nature. A landscaper in Raleigh, NC may find parts of Durham (15-20 minutes away) out of their area. It is imperative for landscapers to include your service areas in the text of your web sites. Not just for SEO purposes, but to save you from having to follow up on out-of-area inquiries that will never convert to sales. Remember, sometimes you want to exclude potential customers.

Local search rule #1 is to include your service area in your page title. SEO experts agree that the title is the most important factor in determining you search engine ranking. Consider the following example page title:
AAA Landscapes – Homepage
Based on this title alone, this page isn’t likely to rank well for anything other than the company name – AAA Landscapes. If this page was lucky enough to rank well in the search engine results pages (SERPs) for my search on “residential landscaping in durham”, it is still missing three key elements: service area, keywords, and compelling marketing language. Now consider this revision:
AAA Landscapes – Award-winning Durham, NC Residential Landscaping since 1981

Look at what a difference a few words make:
  • Service Area: By looking at the title, I can see this company is located in my area, Durham, NC (and not Durham, England – a very prominent other “Durham” in search results.)
  • Keywords: Now our keywords “residential landscaping” and “durham” are right in the title. This company now has a better chance at ranking higher in the search engine results pages for their target customer base.
  • Marketing Language: We can quickly see that this company has won some awards and has been in business for 25 years. Sounds like a reputable company.
Landscapers of the World, you have some work to do:
  1. Get a web site (if you don’t already have one).
  2. Perform keyword research to uncover the most popular search terms for your business.
  3. Include those keywords – along with your service area – in your page titles and content.
  4. Include clear contact information on every single page of your web site.
  5. Consider pay-per-click advertising on Google, Yahoo! or MSN.
That should keep you busy for now. Contact me if I can be of service…