Google's algorithm is forever trying to find the optimum mix of good local results and quality keyword specific search results. Often times the local results for any given search query will dramatically change from market to market. If you're not aware of this, try performing a search for a keyword on Google. Google will take into account your GPS position and skew the results to provide you the best local information first. Now try performing the same search in a different metro.
Google Searches are Hyper Local, But Changing Metros Isn't Easy
Um, "how do I change my metro for a Google search?" you may be asking. Google took away the ability to easily change the locale of a search quite some time ago. The process to do it now is not as easy as it once was and is now a convoluted journey involving multiple steps.
BrightLocal makes it easy to perform local searches
Not to fear, there are still services you can utilize like BrightLocal which allow you to perform a local search and change the location to see what the results look like in another market.
Let's search for Commercial Real Estate Brokers as a test
In Sacramento, searching Google for "commercial real estate brokers" returns one set of search results. Loopnet comes up #1 in a search for that keyword in my market.
However, search results as we know vary from market to market, so if I actually want to see who holds the top spot for "Commercial Real Estate Brokers" in New York, NY - I'm going to see a different set of results entirely. I change the location of my search query on BrightLocal and not suprisingly, see something totally different than in my local market.
Odds are, if you've tried this little test, the results you saw on Google in your own local market, to what you saw in a different market are vastly dissimilar. More often than not, Agents and Brokers assume that their #1 rank in their local market is also a #1 rank elsewhere, this couldn't be further from the truth.
See what you look like in other markets using: BrightLocal - Local Rank Search Tool. This tool is the real deal, it's free and gives you tremendous insights as to your local rank in other markets and helps you keep your SEO guy honest.
In order for you to get an accurate assessment of where your website currently ranks for the keywords and search phrases most valuable to your business in a variety of different markets, you need a sophisticated SEO analysis tool like Ahrefs. This analysis tool provides me with a wealth of information such as Domain Rank, Domain Authority, Reputation Score, Backlink Authority, and most valuable Keyword Positioning in a variety of different markets.
I run a digital agency called PoolMarketing.com. Here is a keyword search for the term "pool marketing" that I'm tracking in Ahrefs all over the country for just that one term. You can set different locations to see how your search query performs all over the country.
It's easy to get deluded by local ranks and if your web guy is only providing you with one set of stats, it's real easy to assume that your website is performing better than it really is.
Why do I rank #1 in one market and #37 in another?
When looking at search traffic and your rank it's important not to look at it through rose colored glasses and take an objective and analytical approach to seeing where the shortcomings lie in other markets. Hey we all have them. I built a website for finding Pool Contractors near me that ranks #1 for the keyword Pool Contractor in some markets and on page 2 or 3 in others. It's a struggle we are all going through as we get our content to rank in search - these types of audits are healthy and encourage you to evaluate what is working and what isn't.
How to build local rank authority for the keywords you already rank for:
- Local citations and directory listings with a local address - if you don't have one - consider a virtual office.
- Basically you want to increase the number of backlinks you have from regional authority from sites like Google, Mapquest, Yellowpages, Yelp.
- Create content that has a stronger emphasis on regionality and internally backlink to it within your cornerstone content.
Ok, so that last one involves some forward thinking strategy. Say I have a website that ranks well locally for commercial real estate in Sacramento, but doesn't rank well in New York. The first thing I would do is create a few content pieces that have to do with commercial real estate in new york, and go back to my cornerstone content article that ranked well and add a few links to the articles that I wrote. I would also build backlinks on lower authority websites (DA 20-30) to the articles I wrote as well as the cornerstone article (DA 50-60).