Hope is a beautiful thing, but if you’re holding onto the dream of ranking for competitive national keywords, it’s time to let that one go. It’s not that you can’t do it; in theory, anyone can.
But the reality is, SEO is a super competitive practice, and ranking for top keywords requires a marketing budget you probably don’t have. If you’ve been working with a marketer who says otherwise, they’ve taken you for a ride.
There’s a reason cars.com, Carmax, Time Magazine, and Disney’s webpage for the movie Cars are among the first results when you search for “cars” on Google. These companies that own these websites spend billions of dollars on advertising and are regularly visited by the most Internet users.
You can’t compete with the keyword “cars” because the rank is already well established among the world’s most popular websites. For the average business, the competition is more than fierce; it’s unapproachable.
Instead of diving into a sea of competition where you have to go big to win, you’re much more likely to score going small. By implementing local SEO and marketing to local niche markets, you’ll reach your customers and clients faster and cheaper.
This practice is known as hyperlocal marketing, and it’s a strategy you need in your toolbox.
Hyperlocal marketing is the original advertising strategy.
Before television, radio, and the Internet, advertisements were placed in local newspapers and pinned to bulletin boards in shops around town and your county. Direct mail marketing was used to get flyers into people’s homes and onto the kitchen table.
This ostensibly old-fashioned form of advertising is where you can make your splash. It’s the original style of niche marketing, but it still can garner significant results. The smaller your demographic is, the easier you can appeal to its desires and needs.
Since most advertisers focus heavily on digital marketing, which has become a $43 billion market, there’s plenty of room for direct marketing efforts of this sort.
Support your SEO efforts with local optimization strategies.
If your website isn’t coming up naturally in local searches where you think it should, start using hyperlocal advertising strategies like optimizing your Google My Business listing to trigger your site to pop up. Deal sites can bring in a flood of new customers, and Facebook is perfect for targeting a specific set of niche demographics.
You should also spend a chunk of time generating reviews for your business. Studies have shown that roughly a quarter of consumers will post a review when they’ve had a good experience.
The point is to spend your advertising dollars reaching people in your community.
Keyword ranking has lost its meaning; it’s time to walk away.
What does it mean to “rank” for a particular keyword? In 1999, search results were fairly objective. Everybody who searched for the same keywords saw the same results listed in the same order.
Today, search results are rarely the same for any two people and are personalized in multiple ways. Google has admitted to using some of these 200 ranking factors compiled by Brian Dean, and each one has multiple variables due to personalization.
”Ranking” for a keyword is no longer an objective achievement. It’s a subjective result that’s largely relevant to only one search performed by one user. Ten minutes later that same search might turn up different results, due to personalization factors outside the user’s control.
For instance, using Google, web pages visited by a user’s friends will show up on the first page of the search results. So will pages published on a domain name the user visits frequently.
The user’s zip code determines whether local results are displayed, and latent semantic indexing (LSI) returns pages with keywords that connect to the phrase that’s been searched.
Keyword research hasn’t been accurate for years.
Years ago, Google’s keyword database was available to the public. Users could see which keywords were being searched every day.
Contrary to popular belief, Google’s Keyword Planner has never been a tool to discover that data. Actual Google searches were stored in another database, and accessed through tools like Market Samurai.
Google’s Keyword Planner is relevant only to keywords used in other advertising campaigns. It was a mistake to rely on it for keyword research before, and it remains a mistake today.
SEO is about more than keywords. The best way to optimize your website for search is through local optimization techniques.
Local advertising is your gold mine.
Local advertising is an opportunity to reach people with demographics you can identify. In the physical world, you might place ads on shopping carts and pharmacy bags. Online, local advertising might be a dance between optimizing your Google My Business listing and using PPC ads to target demographics you know well.
Make hyperlocal marketing your primary focus for SEO, and you’ll never have to obsess about ranking for national, competitive keywords.