Better to put City Before or After Keyword

Kristen

Forum Member
I'm interested in what others' opinions and experience is on putting a keyword before a keyword versus after a keyword. It seems like, based on much of the keyword research for various markets I've done, the keyword comes first and the city comes second.

Is this a keyword/industry specific type of thing? Since most local keyword research doesn't show exact searches for the smaller cities my clients are located in, it's tough to decide which order is better.

Looking forward to hearing what everyone thinks!
 

Linda Buquet

1
Staff member
Moderator
Hi Kristen,

Where are you asking about putting the phrase? In title tag or just on the site in general.

You took my Local SEO training right? In training and the in the Local SEO template I lead the title tag with City KW for a number of reasons, largely because I think that normally gets the most searches, but then I also work KW city in, in case people search that way.

Since we don't know how everyone searches, I think you should do both as much as is reasonable and without over-optimizing or looking spammy.

But in my research (admittedly limited) in the past it seemed to me more search city + KW. But I'm sure it varies based on market and KW.

If it's a big city I think maybe you can see the difference in search volume using Google Trends.

What does everyone else think about this?
Which do you think gets the most searches?
 

Kristen

Forum Member
Hi Linda,

Yep, I did take your training. I just wondered if anyone had any input because as I was searching keyword + city and then city + keyword, I found that I ranked higher for city + keyword (since that's how I had it optimized like you said in the title and throughout the page).

However, you also mentioned that if the search phrase isn't getting a lot of searches, there will often be less local place pages that display.

For city + keyword I saw 2 place listings and for keyword + city, I saw 7 listings. I've done everything according to training, just thought I would tap into the wealth of knowledge of this forum and see what others' had any input either way.

Thanks for your quick replies - as always!

Kristen
 

Linda Buquet

1
Staff member
Moderator
Well and it's still a great question that I hope will create more discussion because it's one of those things that's sort six of one, half dozen of the other.

Interesting you've got a search term where G shows 2 results one way and 7 the other. That tells you something. Normally I see the same results either way.

Here is a little research I did back in 2011 that in part resulted in me thinking City 1st is more popular: Important Google Places SEO Group Research re GEO Modifiers, Search Behavior and Rank Tracking - Google Places Optimization Blog

Here are his September Adwords Express impression stats. So this is not how people ?SAY? they search (as in Myles? study) but the actual stats showing how many searches where ACTUALLY DONE various ways.

Keywords | Impressions (Sept Stats)
dentist 2430
city dentist 586
dentist city 483
dentists 376
dentists city 119

(Note: Above stats are from a small ? medium sized East Coast city)

So 4 times MORE searches were for KEYWORD(s) without city. This makes sense to me if you think about the ?average? consumer. We live in a search world and know about modifiers and everything. But I bet Betty Sue soccer Mom looking for a new dentist types just Dentist. Then possibly if she does not find what she?s looking for she?ll refine her search with City + keyword. But if you just type Dentist it WILL show you a pack of local results with a map.

Since I don?t have any other clients on Adwords I could not check more stats. So reached out to a Plumber I helped awhile back who dropped off page one. Back then I had not discovered the proximity lockout and could not figure out why she dropped. She reached out to lots of local pros and no one could figure it out. Now I can plainly see it was a proximity lockout and everything I mentioned above is similar for her. So anyway I know her well enough that I could ask her to check her stats for me. Here are her September Adwords Express stats.

Keywords | Impressions (Sept Stats)
plumber 3353
plumbers 2496
city plumbers 1320
plumbers city 298

(Note: Above stats are from a large East Coast city)

Almost 3 times more searches for plumber(s) than city plumber(s).
Also more search for city 1st than keyword 1st.
NOTE: The point of the post above was how many search WITHOUT city at all. But in both cases above more that search with geo modifier search city 1st.
 

Nick.SEOSpark

Local Search Pro
Ah. This is always a tough one to answer, and many recommend using Google Trends to look specifically which combination is more popular.

I personally believe "Keyword - City" to be used more, however this is not based on research so I wouldn't believe it. You can look at it from a phycological point of view: the searcher types the service they want (as in "I want this") and then they put the city name to get the relevant results.

However, having said all that, I haven't included research to back that up.

On a more positive front, it looks a lot more natural to have "city keyword" first....I get the feeling that this method may be more "future proof" with Google, which shows I should really start going for "City - Keyword" (as the great Linda does!!) and get out of my bad habits!! :D
 

Linda Buquet

1
Staff member
Moderator
On a more positive front, it looks a lot more natural to have "city keyword" first....I get the feeling that this method may be more "future proof" with Google, which shows I should really start going for "City - Keyword" (as the great Linda does!!) and get out of my bad habits!! :D
LOL. No this is one of those things where there is no clear right answer or wrong answer. More just personal preference and mine is based in part on the stats above and other things, but in no way is it conclusive.
So would love to explore all sides and hear what others think.
 

Nick.SEOSpark

Local Search Pro
One of the main reasons I want to start using "City - Keyword" (as you do Linda) is that it looks so much nicer to the customer. It doesen't look like an SEO'd site, and yet still (arguably) provides the ranking benefits. I just need to kick the habit!! :):rolleyes:
 
Hi Linda,

I'm brand new here and was just reading through some posts. I see you mention giving local search training onsite. Do you offer anything online?


Thanks,
Laurie
 

Linda Buquet

1
Staff member
Moderator
Hey Laurie, welcome!

Oops sorry, just realized that "on-site" could be misinterpreted. When I say on-site training I'm talking Local SEO changes ON the client web site. (Not on-site at your location.)

I have to differentiate because I have 2 courses. 1 is about Google+ Local (more the Google Place side of the house and the changes and optimization you do there). The other is Local SEO and the optimization you do "on-site" on the client web site.

But in either case the courses are delivered remotely via phone by me personally, not online and no videos or canned content. They are both packed with tons of content and recorded so you have it for review/refresher if needed.

Email me at linda AT catalystemarketing DOT com if you'd like me to send you some info.
 

Nick.SEOSpark

Local Search Pro
I had some training from Linda last year and thought it was fantastic! I took the "Organic Local SEO Hooks" (aka Secret Sauce) training and gained so much from it. Even though I thought I was pretty good at "On-Page", I learnt a lot of new things from Linda that has benefitted my clients immensely. Also, loved how well organised it was, great delivery and lots of training documents + recording to take away. Thanks Linda. I'm still raving about the training as you can see.:D
 

Linda Buquet

1
Staff member
Moderator
Oh awesome Nick. Thanks! So glad you enjoyed training and got benefit from it!

I LOVE doing training. Have my 1st Local SEO group training session this year coming up next Friday, so am excited for that.
 
I personally believe "Keyword - City" to be used more, however this is not based on research so I wouldn't believe it. You can look at it from a phycological point of view: the searcher types the service they want (as in "I want this") and then they put the city name to get the relevant results.
That is exactly what I was thinking Nick. I don't have any concrete proof to back it up either. There are some searches that go one way in google trends, and others that go the other. So I guess like Linda said, it's a toss up.

Linda's training helps to cover both bases, but still an interesting discussion.

Thanks for your input everyone!

Kristen

---------- Post Merged at 04:03 PM ---------- Previous Post was at 04:00 PM ----------

I had some training from Linda last year and thought it was fantastic! I took the "Organic Local SEO Hooks" (aka Secret Sauce) training and gained so much from it. Even though I thought I was pretty good at "On-Page", I learnt a lot of new things from Linda that has benefitted my clients immensely. Also, loved how well organised it was, great delivery and lots of training documents + recording to take away. Thanks Linda. I'm still raving about the training as you can see.:D
I also took both of Linda's courses and I would highly recommend them even if you have a lot of experience in local SEO. There are so many 'experts' giving you ways to do things, Linda's methods to me were very helpful and cleared up unanswered questions I had for a long time.

The fact that you can actually talk to Linda, get the latest on local and ask her questions rather than buy an 'out of the box' course was one that I found extremely valuable.

Kristen
 

Nick.SEOSpark

Local Search Pro
Yes, I agree with you John.

I have done a lot of testing recently and found that (nowadays) it seems far more beneficial to go for "City - Keyword". It is better in every way. It looks better to customers, seems to get better ranking points from Google and doesen't feel like you are rigging the system. I've gotten sick of seeing title tags that don't read well.
 
I'm not sure how I missed this thread but it's an interesting one. Here's what I do...

I always optimize my pages for both versions: "keyword + city" and "city + keyword"

When it comes to the title tag, IF I'm not going to run a quick and dirty PPC campaign (which I always try to do - more on that in a minute), I'll first see what the SERPs look like themselves doing a search for both versions. I'll take what I find there into consideration and then I'll try to determine what sounds best.

Example:

If I'm working with a landscaping company in Minneapolis, I'll likely use something like this in the title tag:

Looking for an Experienced Landscaping Company in Minneapolis?

or I might use something like this depending on what the current search results show me:

Looking for an Experienced Minneapolis Landscaping Company?

I tend to approach the title tag the same way I do a PPC ad. I try to make it engaging and natural.

Regarding the PPC test I mentioned, the only way you'll ever know which version gets the most searches is to run a quick and dirty PPC campaign. These are really cheap and simple to do and provide invaluable information. You want to bid just enough to get on the first page (like the 10th spot on the first page) and you don't want the ad to be a good ad...lol (because you don't want people clicking on your ad during this test). Run the ad with your keywords as phrase and exact matches and you'll know for sure what people are searching for!

My experience has shown that "keyword + city" always gets searched the most - and this is across different cities and different types of businesses. I have found most people search as Nick originally said..."landscaping Minneapolis" vs. "Minneapolis landscaping."

Travis Van Slooten
 

Phil Rozek

Top Contributor
The rub here is that many times Google will rewrite your title tag. I guess there's something to be said for having it read like a PPC ad, for the times Google leaves the title tag alone. My thinking and experience on best-practices for title tags has evolved over time, and I'm sure it will continue to evolve. But right now I generally tend toward having it read keyword + city.
 

Linda Buquet

1
Staff member
Moderator
Even though she re-writes title tag on the fly at search time, I think she still reads the title tag to determine which sites have that specific query.
 
I have to be honest...I rarely see Google rewriting title tags for the specific keyword and city we are targeting. I'm sure Google is rewriting them on similar keywords and cities nearby but I don't sit and run a bunch of searches to see. If I'm targeting "landscaping company" in "Minneapolis" Google rarely (if ever) rewrites anything because my title and descriptions are a perfect match. And it's this keyword and city I care the most about.

To that end, for my primary keyword and city, I want my title and description to read like one giant, engaging PPC ad. Like I said, I treat my meta data as PPC ads so my title tags and description are just one giant ad:

Looking for the Best Landscaping Company in Minneapolis?

Those types of title tags stand out so much more than the usual:

Bob's Landscaping Company in Minneapolis

or

A1 Landscapers | A Landscaping Company in Minneapolis

Travis Van Slooten
 

Linda Buquet

1
Staff member
Moderator
I have to be honest...I rarely see Google rewriting title tags for the specific keyword and city we are targeting. If I'm targeting "landscaping company" in "Minneapolis" Google rarely (if ever) rewrites anything because my title and descriptions are a perfect match. And it's this keyword and city I care the most about.
Travis, Looking at landscaping company Minneapolis - every title tag in the pack is over-written as Google always does with the local listings. Every listing's title tag is replaced by company name. Some have good title tags too. But does not matter what's in the title tag, Google seems to want to only show company name in the pack.

Maybe you were talking about organic? We were talking, or at least I was talking about the pack. Although she does re-write organic title tags sometimes, not nearly as often.
 

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