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How Users Search Locally

How Users Search for Local Services

We have a number of local clients that provide services to a finite area and it’s incredibly important for us, as digital marketers, to understand what their top keywords are.

I recently found myself disagreeing with a client who insisted the only keyword of note on his account was a variation on a main keyword with city and state appended at the end. I insisted that no entire website should focus on a single keyword (which is true), as each page of the site is an opportunity to rank, and furthermore, I had a hypothesis that women, who make up 75-85% of his target callers, do not use that high degree of specificity in their search queries. So I reached out to my audience and came up with some interesting notes.

First, think about local services: carpet cleaner, plumber, housekeeping, etc. In most cases, the person making the initial contact is female.  Whether that’s because husbands don’t want to admit that they really don’t know how to fix that pipe or that women are more likely to need to call a professional, either way, female callers make up more than 75% of the call volume, making their patterns more important to note.  Not that we should focus on women to the detriment of all men, nor should we pander to women with “female-friendly” messaging that only ends up being insulting. Rather, it becomes more important to note how women use search in order to focus attention and content on what catches their attention.

The fact that 40% of respondents would use the variation of “City Service” or “Service City” is pretty telling.  Of that 40%, more than 80% were female.  That is overwhelmingly the target market of users who search for local services.  Men were more likely to use city and state, zip code, or neighborhood modifiers than women, but women were overwhelmingly more likely to just search the basic term (like “Knoxville plumber” or “plumber Knoxville.”)

In addition to the qualifiers of geo-targeting, we observed that 11% of respondents use words like “Best,” “reviews”, and “top” to qualify their initial query.  This has caused us to start recommending to title pages that had been marked as Testimonials, now as Reviews and ensure the content reflects that.  Our sample size is still comparatively small and I plan on continuing my analysis to ensure that we’ve examined all angles, but in general it’s beneficial to consider your audience first, then figure out how they use search in order to maximize the exposure to the right audience. Let us know if you want a free site evaluation and keyword analysis to see if you’re on target with your top keywords.