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Geo-Containment: Practice and Examples

By February 22, 2015Blog

In our last article, we introduced the concept of Geo-containment and provided a description of how SEO and content teams can work together to understand the level of a website’s geo-containment and start building our knowledge on how to improve it.

In this article, we’ll take a look at examples of good and bad geo-containment and share some tips on how can we improve our geo-containment. Let’s start with the bad example.

Example of Bad Geo-Containment

Below is a real-life example. The website’s identity is preserved for privacy. In this first example, a company focuses on customers in the Tampa-St. Petersburg, Florida, area. The loosely moderated geo-targeting efforts resulted in search engines sending a widely ineffective audience. Only 13 percent of the traffic was from Florida, with only 8 percent of it being from the Tampa-St. Petersburg metro area.

As the content was directed to customers in that metro area, the out-of-geo traffic showed very low engagement levels, resulting in what we can call “low-quality traffic.” This low-quality traffic ultimately negatively impacted the website’s web presence and overall organic performance and conversion.

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Figure 1 | Only 13% of total site traffic was relevant for the target region (Florida)

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Figure 2| Only 8% of total site traffic was relevant for the target metro (Tampa-St. Pete)

Example of Positive Geo-Containment

Now let’s take a look at a successful geo-containment case. Positive geo-containment results in search engines sending a narrow and effective search to a local audience. This kind of geo-focused traffic usually results in high engagement levels and conversion rates. Our positive geo-containment example is for a website that targets an audience in the Atlanta metro area with a special focus on the city itself.

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Figure 3| Over 73% of site’s organic traffic was relevant for the target region (Georgia)

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Figure 4| Over 56% of site’s organic traffic was relevant for the target metro market (Atlanta)

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Figure 5| Over 26% of total site traffic was relevant for the direct target market (Atlanta)

Geo-containment KPI: How to Measure?

The most effective way to measure Geo-containment is through the use of audience segments in Google Analytics. By segmenting target location session data and dividing it by the total number of sessions to the site, an SEO can derive a simple Geo-containment score.

Geo-containment = Number of sessions from target locations ÷ Total Sessions

geo-containment

Geo-Containment Performance Tips: SEO + Content + Social

The more signals we can send a search engine, the better it’ll understand our target audience. While optimized content is the most powerful and effective method to help define our target locations, we can also use other techniques such as using local citations and links from local directories to send signals of what our target audience is. Additionally, as social media becomes more integrated into ranking algorithms, having audiences from a predominant location should also help geo-contain our website through the use of optimized content, meta tags, and Google Places.

  • SEO Tips: Include location on on-page, local link-building
    Where is our target audience? Are those locations both on the page and in the meta title and description? Have we achieved local citations and links which list our address? Have we created appropriate geo-based inter-links to direct traffic to pages?
  • Content Tips: Use location as a character, talk to local audience
    There is a delicate balance when trying to create beneficial content that Google and other search engines will value as authoritative and will therefore share with a wider audience, and producing content that will attract and audience that is beneficial to the purpose of the site.
  • Social Tips: Geo targeting paid, talking to local audience

The SERP Factor: Why Should Google Take Notice?

Respectively, Google and other search engines reward websites when they provide high-quality content that serves a positive experience relevant to a user’s search query. Good content deserves to be shared as Google deems necessary to satisfy any user’s search experience; however, shouldn’t the creator of that content be rewarded by having their work reach their intended audience. At what point does the reward for the effort of a local business become diluted and begin to tarnish the desire to develop quality content if the results aren’t local and may possibly have a negative site-wide effect.

When strong local content (containing the appropriate geo-containment modifiers) doesn’t reach the intended audience and is instead shared with outside markets who will not be able to use or have interest in the site, it creates an imbalance between marketer and search engine. As a result, all three parties lose – the content creator is punished, the search user is dissatisfied, and the search engine fails to answer a search query.