How Geo Mapping SEO Data Can Support Your Local Marketing

Companies like Just Eat, Autobutler, Agera and most national chains are all examples of companies that get tons of traffic from searches like “product/service + location”. Most of them however have no clue where they are exploiting the market and where they are leaving marketshare on the table… Sure, they guessed that the biggest cities send more traffic than small cities but that’s usually about it.

In this post I will show you how to get on top of things by geo mapping SEO data and use that knowledge to strengthen other marketing channels.

The art of data visualization

Confused client does not understand dataI was sitting in an important meeting with a client last week and I was going through some data about where in the country people are searching for their services in Google. I could see in their eyes that they didn’t quite get it, and it reminded me of how my colleagues usually look at me when I start ranting on about geographical search data.

Data visualizationThat got me thinking: “What if I could geo map this data to make it a lot easier for my clients and colleagues to understand?”

So after the meeting I started where everybody would – Google. Now I know that you can find services to add pins to a map, but sadly, there are no software easily available that offers geo mapping if you want to add a second dimension.

So what did I do? I decided to build it myself.

I had several ideas on how to do this but the option I went with was to use coordinates to geo map my data. It only took me around an hour in Excel before I had a fully working system in place to geo map pretty much any data, as I will show you later in the post.

Why visualization is so important

Data is great, but data in columns and rows isn’t easy communicate broadly inside an organization and it definitely isn’t something you can decode in a heartbeat. This is why data analysis and visualization of data is an art. How to take complicated data and be able to explain it with a foreseeable graph or diagram.

So when I send that dataset down to Adwords, Paid Social or anywhere else, they will understand the data, and thus be able to act on it.

Geo mapping of business opportunities

We could start by mapping the monthly search volume around the country. This would show us where people are searching for our services or products. In this post I use an imaginary RFQ (typically get 3 offers from…) company focused physiotherapy and chiropractic as the example.

So in the example below we can see where people are searching for physiotherapy – the bigger the bobble the more people search in that area.

Geo mapping of potential

Then we can add another dimension. Where are we not exploiting the potential and leaving valuable marketshare up for grabs? When I know how many people are searching for a keyword as well as how we rank on average I can estimate fairly precise metrics for traffic. Below I still kept the potential traffic on the map but added a solid color corresponding to our share of the potential organic traffic in that area.

Data mapping of our SEO efforts

Where in the region, country or world are people searching for certain subcategories? We can, once again, geo map where people are interested in each type of service. This gives us a chance to differentiate between areas for certain service. Orange is chiropractic and blue is physiotherapy. I’ll get into why this might be interesting later on.

Geo mapping of categories

We know we have some interesting data. How might we be able to intelligently use this to data to assist and improve other marketing channels?

Bench your sales data against the search behaviour

SEO has it’s limitations. If people are not searching for our products or services in City X then we will never be able to reach them – at least not in Google. Imagine that we benchmark our sales data with our SEO data. We would be able to find areas that buy a lot of certain products or services but aren’t expressing that interest in Google.

Sales around the country

This would mean that they are in the market but we can’t use Google to reach them. We need to think of ways we can expose them in other channels.

Programmatic buying

If you are doing programmatic buying you’ll be able to adjust your bid in local areas. It would be a valid hypothesis to assume that a higher bid would still be lucrative in these areas. Don’t assume it, however, always test it.

Area targeting on Facebook

Area specific facebook advertising. Place a pin in an area with high sales numbers but low search volumes. This is a very valid area and tactic to test. Qualified campaigns like these sometimes ends up generating many sales for your business.

Target an area with Facebook Pins

Depending on the data you have collected you might even have data to support using social media posts against certain cities and not others. The possibilities are endless but they might not all be lucrative in the short run or on a low scale.

Improve direct mail targeting

If you are using direct mail, which some of our clients are, then this can help you understand regional interests, needs and pain points. We usually have external data giving us insight into the areas we send mail to but it definitely wouldn’t hurt to see this data – it sometimes helps us with the theme/topic/messaging of the letters.

Where to setup shop next

Depending on your line of business you might find unexploited areas where you should have already setup shop – at least based on SEO data. This data can, for obvious reasons, not statistically significantly prove that this area will offer customers, but it definitely is a good metric to use if the alternative is gut feeling.

Add the places you have shops already to see where you most likely aren’t available.

Where to setup shop

Know where to save Adwords spending

Should you buy Adwords on keywords you rank well for? Some Adwords specialists recommends not to buy Adwords on a keyword if you rank top 3 for example. As my colleague, Martin Meier, Head of Search at QUISMA, also pointed out that there rarely is a great reason not to advertise and get organic traffic at the same time, if it is a relevant profitable keyword.

Unless! You might not have budget to buy everything you want.

Going for maximum volume

When we conduct SEM and SEO experiments we almost always see and an incremental amount of traffic/sales added on the top. The synergies are just there, even if we can’t explain them very well.

Pleasing your stakeholders

If you are any of the companies I mentioned in the start of the post you might want to please your local stakeholders. If your are getting 100% of your traffic to 10 out of 30 cities then you probably aren’t keeping the stakeholders in the last 20 cities very happy.

In the case of limited budgets this localization tool can show you where SEO is doing pretty good at capturing the searching users and therefore where it might be best to save some of your Adwords budget. This gives you a tool for prioritization when the budget isn’t infinitely deep.

Essential takeaways

Although there are many takeaways from this post. I think there are two very important lessons.

First one. No matter your field of work, you need to make your data easy to decode and understand for others – everyone will be more likely to get behind the idea if they understand the data and the logic.

Get out of your little black box! Stop and think for a minute… “Who might be able to do their job better if they knew this or had this data?”

In this post I showcase how SEO data can help improve Adwords, Paid Social, choosing physical locations and sending out direct mail – while being valuable to the SEO department. We need to think omnichannel and exploit the synergies between channels.

P.S. I use Denmark as an example in this post, but you can use geo mapping for any area. It doesn’t matter if you are in Singapore, all of Europe or 7 States in the US.

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Christian Højbo Møller

Christian Højbo Møller

Christian er CMO i sin start-up Candidlab som i dag er ekspanderet til 11 lande. Han har tidligere været Lead- og Senior Konsulent i verdens største mediebureau gruppe, GroupM. Samt arbejdet med spændende kunder som HBO, Ford, Just-Eat og Toyota.

Connect på LinkedIn eller send en besked.

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