Danielle Haley, Co-director at FSE Online Ltd, explains why traders in the capital need to focus their search strategies on the local market
Many of our clients are based in or around London, and naturally, they all wish to rank well for ‘London’ searches. The problem with this strategy is that London is simply too big, so they’ll struggle to make any reasonable gains in search early in a campaign. With a population of over eight million, London is larger than some European countries.
London is one of the most competitive cities in the continent, too. Greater London’s population is larger than that of Switzerland, Denmark, Finland and Norway. A new plumber in Switzerland has more chance of ranking in Google for ‘Swiss plumbers’ than a London-based company has of ranking for ‘London plumbers’. In a further comparison to Europe, London’s most populous borough is Croydon, with a population of around 373,000; Zurich’s population is only a little higher, at 379,000.
However, this is not all bad news for London-based businesses, because very few people will actually search all of London for a trader or other company. People search locally, so London companies should first market themselves to their immediate geographic region.
To accomplish this it is important to learn how different parts of London identify themselves. For example, some people will identify their region based on a town, such as Stoke Newington; others on a district, such as Bromley or Camden. Also, many people will search for services close to a main road, such as Whitechapel Road or Oxford Street.
Checking search volumes on local keywords
If you search for [plumbers in London], Google will return around 1,380,000 results, so getting your page to the top position will be a huge challenge. A search for [plumbers in Bromley] returns 395,000 results, which is still very high. But Bromley is comprised of 43 districts, so let’s get even more local.
Search for [plumbers in Crystal Palace] and the competition is reduced down to 93,400 results. While this may seem high, with a good SEO campaign it will be possible to rank well for local searches within a few months of setting up business.
For anybody operating from Petts Wood, the competition is reduced to 15,600 results. JB Plumbing & Heating Services appear to have cottoned on to this and rank well for the local area. The Petts Wood area of Bromley has a population of 13,627, which is a sizable market for a local trader.
Companies could even drill down further into the user’s intent and optimise pages for service-based keywords. Aquatek Plumbing has adopted this strategy, targeting search terms like [boiler repairs Barnet], a phrase which is highly specific yet still searched enough times a month to warrant inclusion.
SEO for London
Therefore, when developing an SEO campaign for London businesses, you should first focus on the local area and understand how local people think how they search. For businesses that are owned by locals this is easy, but if you are setting up a business in an area you are unfamiliar with, it is a good idea to do some thorough research to better understand the local market. This is, of course, the first rule of marketing – to know who your market is and how they associate themselves with your services.
Businesses that focus on the local market will find that they get noticed sooner than those who chase after the broader and much more competitive ‘London’ keywords. A well planned local London SEO campaign can produce excellent results on a modest budget, encouraging sustainable growth within the client’s business.