Since the inception of search engines and SEO, businesses have used local keywords to improve their ranking and attract online customers. Though search algorithms have been regularly updated, and new best practices evolved over the years, the value of local keywords has never changed.
But have are you aware of the fact that the value of geo-modifiers isn’t exclusive to SEO?
What are Geo-Modifiers?
A geo-modifier is simply a specific keyword that communicates to search engines the local intent of a search query. So when someone searches Google for an auto repair shop, the search engine notes the user’s location and provides relevant results within the immediate neighborhood and region.
Thus, an auto repair shop in Austin, Texas would want to include the following geo-modifier in its content: “Auto repair shop in Austin.” That’s the keyword + geo-modifier.
Moving Past the SEO Benefits
Most businesses assume that geo-modifiers and local keywords have value only in the sense of optimizing content for search engines. But common sense and a little knowledge of human psychology indicate there’s an additional benefit.
Have you ever considered how much inherent appeal lies in calling someone by his or her name and having that person refer to you by your particular name? As writer Luke Davis explains, “When you say someone’s name the next time you greet them you have told that person they were important enough to remember, they were special enough for you to take note of them.”
The same principle holds true for areas that people regard special, such as the town in which they live. As health and psychology writer Julie Beck puts it, “The first thing we ask someone when we meet them, after their name, is where they are from, or the much more interestingly-phrased ‘where’s home for you?’ We ask, not just to place a pushpin for them in our mental map of acquaintances, but because we recognize that the answer tells us something important about them.”
But what might this have to do with SEO? Well, it indicates that there’s more to geo-modifiers than simply getting a higher ranking on Google.
Every time a business uses a local keyword, that name or phrase resonates with most of the other people who call the town, city, or state their home. It turns a general topic into a personal topic that instills an instant sense of connection — of identification.
The law firm of Mushkatel, Robbins & Becker provides an excellent real-life example. For most people, the word “Surprise” refers to an emotion or unsuspected event, but for the residents of Surprise, Arizona, the word resonates with a sense of home.
That’s where they’ve raised their kids, accumulated memories, and forged business and personal relationships. So in addition to using the geo-modifier “Surprise” for SEO purposes, Mushkatel, Robbins & Becker integrates the word throughout its onsite content — such as this page — in order to raise familiarity and build trust with the target audience.
Can you see the dual benefit of using geo-modifiers? Yes, there’s a substantial amount of SEO benefit, but a human psychology component goes along with it. When people see the name of a geographical location that means a lot to them, their interest level automatically rises.
Account for Human Readers, Too
Coming from a digital branding perspective, it’s easy to fall for the idea that SEO is only about keying into search engine crawlers and algorithmic equations. That’s an undeniable part of it, but you can’t overlook the human visitors who will also be exposed to the content.
A failure to develop content with the human readers in mind will never result in anything more than technically sound material that delivers minimal (if any) value to your target audience. Geo-modifiers are great because they empower you to satisfy the search engines yet simultaneously engage your audience.
Are you utilizing local keywords to your best advantage?