The following is a guest post by Jeff Howard. This is an introduction post to a 5 part series on his blog about local search for higher education. Jeff is a SEO consultant, and works independently out of www.catchsearchmarketing.com. He has been involved with various higher education marketing projects touching SEO and Interactive Applications. Jeff writes regularly on SEO topics at his blog and can be contacted best using e-mail, firstname.lastname@example.org.
First off, I’d like to thank Kyle for profiling my posts. I hope what I have written here and on my blog is able to provide the right foundation for success with local search. I’ll do my best also to keep up with any questions that might arrive through e-mail, or comments below.
From my experience even the thought of optimizing a university website can come as an insurmountable task. After all, normally university sites encompass hundreds of pages usually administered throughout various departments of the university. However, if the scope of SEO is narrowed to select keyword phrases and pages the entire process becomes much easier to manage / measure. Doing so will isolate your SEO efforts into smaller pockets, and one such pocket I recommend to start with is local search.
Local search marketing fits the bill as a good starting point because generally results are easier to achieve and it will only demand SEO skills at an entry level.
What Is Local Search?
Local Search refers to phrases entered into Google, Yahoo and other search engines that include geo specific qualifiers. For example, “Miami Movers,” or “Pittsburgh Gyms.” In fact, 30% of all searches across the internet are for localized information. If you’re a university marketer, ultimately your goal for the most exposure would come from a top ranking map spot, organic spot and if desired PPC spot, highlighted below.
For universities the question is simple. Are people searching for us using local terms? The answer is Yes!
Check out these search estimates:
- kansas city area colleges – 290
- washington dc colleges – 604
- milwaukee colleges – 459
- colleges and fort worth texas – 73
- boston colleges – 798
Here is a further breakdown for just Boston related phrases…
- boston area colleges – 145
- boston colleges – 798
- colleges in boston ma – 129
- colleges in boston – 97
- boston universities – 161
- colleges boston – 97
- colleges in boston Massachusetts – 129
- boston colleges universities – 40
Keep in mind you can use most any keyword research tool to find phrases with traffic. For these estimates I used wordze.com. Metro areas will inevitably receive more searches, but while the volume will be lower for smaller towns or rural areas there is probably some traffic occurring month to month. One additional point to make about these search terms is that wordze.com reported only 65% are US based, conservatively speaking that signals to me you can expect at least 10% of all traffic to be international exposure.
I hope this brief post helps uncover the very basics of local search. Below are the links to each of my five posts covering the topic. Combined all 5 should act as a suitable guide to help your department get started and succeed in local search.
- Intro & Discovering Search Terms for Higher Education Local Search
- How to Optimize Google Map Listings
- How to Deal with & Optimize College Aggregate Websites
- How to Create Local Search Landing Pages for Your University Webpage
- How & When to Use PPC for Higher Education Local Search