Understanding search behaviour by identifying your business type

When searching for a product or service that they want to visit or call, most people search using local terms. If you're in a business that services a local area (mechanics, hairdressers, and other service-based businesses) then it makes sense to localise your website to attract customers from your local area, right?

To do this you will need to localise your website and give search engines enough information to understand that your website and therefore your business is 'located' in a particular city or suburb. The type of business you have will also impact on the strategies you use.

Let's take a look at some of the business types that will result in different localised SEO strategies.

What type of business do I have and what local SEO strategies do I need to employ?

The first thing you need to establish is what type of business you have and how users' search behaviours relates back to the keywords they use to search with. Let's take a look at the main types of businesses on the web - local, regional and national.

Local service-based business

These are businesses that service a local area. For example: repair shops, mechanics and retail outlets (fish and chip shops, hairdressers, bottle shops etc). Typically these types of businesses service people within a certain geographical area and it's unusual for people outside these areas to visit the store or venue unless they have great service, excellent customer loyalty or a product that no-one else in the region stocks. The main reason these businesses service an area is that in the next suburb there's another type of business just like theirs.

Typical search behaviour
When people are searching for these types of businesses they do it on a micro level, so they refine their search behavior to get an exact result of what they're after. For example, "TV repairs Aspley".

Usually I find people will type in a broad term followed by a geographical indicator. If a user doesn't get a relevant result using a suburb, they may use a greater region such as 'north Sydney' or 'Redlands Shire'.

Possible SEO strategy
If you have a website that falls into this category you will want to ensure you have your suburb and surrounding suburbs listed somewhere on your website. Preferably this can go in a footer area or somewhere in your website's template so that it shows up on every page.

Along with this you can research higher level keyword terms and add your suburbs after them. The reason you will want to do this is typically keyword tools won't drill down this far and give you a lot of results for terms such as 'massage therapist Redcliffe' etc. So, you can look for the term 'massage therapist' and gather associated keywords and then add your suburb to the end of these.

Regional based business

These are businesses that people will travel a little further to when purchasing a product or service. For example:-

  • a specialised service or store (hobby shop, wholesaler or antique store)
  • a distinct customer type (a Hyundai service centre, real estate agent or vegan restaurant)
  • have a more generalised product or service (insurance broker, sports centre or a gym)

Typical search behaviour
Usually when people search for these types of products and services they tend to broaden the areas in which they search, for example they might use a region or major city centre such as 'Hyundai service centre Brisbane' or 'storage Sunshine Coast'.

Possible SEO strategy
As with the previous strategy you're able to leverage broad keyword terms and incorporate your closest city centre or regional location into these keyword phrases. You will then incorporate these keyword phrases into your website.

Online or national business

If your website or business sells products that are in competition with local businesses 'on the ground' then you will need to incorporate both methods as outlined above. This can be tricky as you can end up optimising your site for broad terms like 'baby clothes' and also trying to rank for terms like 'twin pram rentals Highgate Hill'. If done properly this can be successful, but you will need some smart developers working on your website.

Hopefully this article has given you a little insight as to how people change their search behaviour depending on what business type they're looking for, and will assist you in optimising your website to get the most targeted customers you can.