A Good Starting Point for SEO – Local Search

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, jeff@catchsearchmarketing.com.

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

This post was written by:

Kyle James

Kyle James - who has written 227 posts on .eduGuru

Kyle is currently the Customer in Residence at HubSpot, a Co-Founder at nuCloud and  formerly the webmaster at Wofford College. Kyle is an active contributor in the social media spectrum. Although his background is technical, he claims to know a thing or two about marketing, but mostly that revolves around SEO, analytics, blogging, and social media. He has spoken at multiple national conferences and done countless webinars on topics ranging from e-mail marketing to social media and Web analytics. He's definitely a fairly nice guy.

Ways to Connect with Kyle


13 Responses to “A Good Starting Point for SEO – Local Search”

  1. Avatar image
    SEO GTA Says:

    One of the best marketing tool:
    - It is free
    _ Instant exposure
    - Comes higher than the organic results most the time
    - Still relatively new so there is still some low hanging fruit


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    Heather Teague Says:

    Great tips! Thank you for the SEO insight. I’ll keep checking back for ideas!


  3. Avatar image
    BenjArriola SEO Says:

    A colleague of mine who worked on local SEO told me about this, but I also notice similar to your example above, that Google one-box with all the local business center listings is not always on top of the organic results, it can slide down a bit 3 spots down sometimes.

    So you know what triggers this so we can do optimization efforts to keep the maps on top?


  4. Avatar image
    Julie Says:


    First want to say that I really enjoy reading your posts, Im a fan of your writing style. I’m doing a bit of research into SEO for higher education and really enjoyed this post. Since you seem to be pretty approachable, I have a question that I have been unable to find the answer to. How do colleges and universities get the index to appear beneath the meta description in the search results? Is it part of the description itself or something different?

    I hope this falls into you realm of knowingness :) , if not can anyone else help me out as to where I can answer this…




  5. Avatar image
    Toronto SEO Says:

    been using it for a while help many of my clients its free and its very powerful but the thing I hate is many companies have over 5 to 7 listing on the local search result.


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    blogs dofollow Says:

    Great tip ! Thanks a lot !


  7. Avatar image
    Jow Says:

    I’ve been successful with this system also.


  8. Avatar image
    Organic Web Source Says:

    If you are promotion a product or program in a specific location, local search should always be your first priority. People search smarter these days and usually look for local resources.


  9. Avatar image
    Toronto SEO Says:

    Great starting point and something that you should do with all localized businesses.


  10. Avatar image
    Gale Throssell Says:

    Hi, I can’t understand how to include your web site in my rss reader. Can you Assist me, please


  11. Avatar image
    Gale Savell Says:

    Excellent submit! I certainly come to an agreement.


  12. Avatar image
    peter Says:

    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.

    Your biz



  1. Affiliate says:

    Affiliate Crunch…

    I saw this really great post today….

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