KW [city] vs KW in [city] searches


Robin

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Hi guys,

First of all thanks for activating my account. This is truly a great forum for anyone interested in local SEO!

I have a question about two different queries: 'KW city' vs. 'KW in city'

I've been working on a case and have seen a nice boost in the local pack for the second query, but the first hasn't moved (yet).

The case is for a locksmith who ranks #1 organic, but due to a big NAP mess (I think) isn't ranking for the KW + city query in the local pack. But for the 'KW in' query he's #1 in the local pack and i'm not sure what the difference in Google's eyes is. Can anyone explain the difference to me? (sorry if this topic has already been discussed).

Robin
 

Linda Buquet

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Hi Robin and welcome to the forum.

There's usually quite a difference between keyword only, keyword city and keyword in city. But I'm not really sure what accounts for the variation. Just different algorithms I guess.

But per your specific question... Locksmith city would be the most competitive because that's what most people optimize for. Locksmith IN city would be easier to rank for.

Curious do they have "Locksmith IN city" anywhere on the page? A sentence like:
"If you are looking for a Locksmith IN city, then we have you covered?"
 

Robin

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Hi Linda,

Thanks for replying!

I bet there's a lot more competition for the KW city query, but I find it odd that in the local 3 Pack, the're is such a big difference between 'KW city' vs 'KW in city'. For both searches my client ranks #1 organic, but in the local pack there's a huge difference (#15 vs #1). I'd say the user intent for both searches is the same :confused:.

They do have 'KW in city' on their page by the way.
 
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JoyHawkins

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Hey Robin,

From what I've found "keyword + city" is more based on organic signals. So if your site is really optimized for "Locksmith Dallas" and ranks well organically for that, you will most likely rank in the pack (although I have seen a couple stupid/frustrating/annoying cases that don't).

"keyword in city" or "Locksmith in Dallas" is really the same as doing a search for just "locksmith" from Dallas, TX and this is based more on location signals. I would say things like proper Schema, duplicates, closed listings, & mapping issues would impact this.
 

mborgelt

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I agree with that ranking for "keyword + city" usually requires an more of an organic approach. I would closely examine the top three local results and compare their assets (both on-site and off) against your own. I have seen that in these cases (ranking organically but not in local) it's usually a strong organic signal that is the barrier to entry. With these more competitive keywords marketers are becoming more and more inventive so finding that differentiating factor often takes a deeper dive.
 

JoyHawkins

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Michael,

" I have seen that in these cases (ranking organically but not in local) it's usually a strong organic signal that is the barrier to entry. "

Can you give some examples? What signal?
 

mborgelt

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This mostly has to do with links but one that comes to mind immediately is a client that we had in the Maui travel space. We went above and beyond the competition but couldn't crack the pack. A further dive revealed that the top three results all had links in blogs from a Maui travel directory.

Also, we have seen strategies that relied almost solely on the continual creation of Youtube videos and their distribution allow sites with very little else going on for them buoy up to the top from nowhere (very clever play).

In another case we found that overtly uniform internal link structure was a huge play across a mountain shuttle market.

Keep in mind that a lot of the things you find in this area don't work 1:1 across the board but if you can find out what tactics that others are using to "finesse" Google in these situations then that's a great step in the right direction as opposed to knocking on the 3-pack door with the same tactics everyone else is using. Organic-based strategies are usually a good start but really competitive environments require you to go even further.
 
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Robin

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Hey Robin,

From what I've found "keyword + city" is more based on organic signals. So if your site is really optimized for "Locksmith Dallas" and ranks well organically for that, you will most likely rank in the pack (although I have seen a couple stupid/frustrating/annoying cases that don't).

"keyword in city" or "Locksmith in Dallas" is really the same as doing a search for just "locksmith" from Dallas, TX and this is based more on location signals. I would say things like proper Schema, duplicates, closed listings, & mapping issues would impact this.
Thanks for your reply Joy! Hopefully this is not one of those frustrating cases.. I have been cleaning up a lot of NAP inconsistencies lately and removing duplicate pages, perhaps I'm being a little bit impatient as well..

@Michael: Thanks for your insights! I'll be sure to look into any differences in organic ranking signals. Still find it odd ranking so bad in the KW city query, while ranking consistently #1 organic.
 

Robin

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Just a quick update. The locksmith has been ranking #1 in the local pack for some time now. Seems I was impatient. Case closed i guess. Thanks for all the advice!
 

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