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-mailjeff@catchsearchmarketing.com.

First off, I’d like to thank Founderfor 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

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

  1. 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

  2. Says:

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

  3. 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. 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. 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.

  6. Says:

    Great tip ! Thanks a lot !

  7. Says:

    I’ve been successful with this system also.

  8. 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. Says:

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

  10. Says:

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

  11. Says:

    Excellent submit! I certainly come to an agreement.

  12. 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….