Category: Author: David Hall
Will your website be found if people search by zip code? And how much priority should be given to optimize you by zip code?
This is a complex issue, and goes beyond just creating a page with the word “dentist” and a zip code as keywords and then using our optimization strategies for those keywords.
Let’s start by looking at how often people search by zip code. And you will get different answers to this question depending on how you go about getting your answer.
Search Engine Land addressed this question in an October 2011 survey of their panel of “local consumers.” They’re fuzzy about how they got this panel, but they say the consumers are based in the United States, and they are a “broad mix” of ages, gender, and location. Since they made no reference to them being a statistically accurate representation of all consumers, I assume they are not scientifically balanced.
Here is a chart of the responses:
They don’t give the specific question they asked, but from the text of the article, it appears that they asked whether or not the consumers included the specific parameter in their search. (This interpretation is consistent with the arithmetic of their results – the total of all responses is 133%.) So approximately 40% of their consumers include a zip code in their search.
The number of people who search exclusively by zip code appears to be considerably smaller. I did my own calculations using the Google keyword tool. According to this tool, the most frequent consumer search by zip code is for movies. But when I total all the zip code searches for movies in Phoenix, for example, compared with searches for simply “Phoenix movies,” there are twelve times as many searches for “Phoenix movies” or “movies Phoenix” as for all the zip codes in Phoenix combined.
But the most serious complication to trying to optimize a client for a zip code search occurs with how Google interprets the search. Try a search for the keyword “dentist” combined with any zip code. You will more than likely pull up a map and a list of map results. Google rightly interprets your search as a consumer search for dentists within a particular zip code, and it will deliver results of dentists that are actually located in that zip code, whether or not any pages on their website are consciously optimized for including the zip code as a search term.
If you include both a city and a zip code, Google delivers a blended result of websites optimized for the particular city your are searching, with other websites of practices that are physically located in that zip code. And they may include, in their map results, practices in nearby zip codes if those websites are particularly strong.
The bottom line is that it is difficult to “game the system” and try to show up for zip code searches for locations other than your office location. And from what I know of how Google operates, trying to work around this could actually compromise the strength of your website and listings for all of its other search terms. Strong attention to the basics – a website that is strong in Google’s eyes combined with attention to all the details that comprise a strong business listing – this will give you a #1 ranking for your own zip code and will help you show up in blended results for neighboring zip codes.
Links: Please notice Infinity Dental Web’s recently launched social media department.