I was privileged last week to attend the World Equestrian Games in Lexington, KY. Let me just say now that it was an experience of a lifetime, that Kentucky is undoubtedly the most beautiful and the friendliest state in the Union. I loved everything about the Bluegrass State and can't wait to go back.
But attending the games made me think about search engine optimization. Yes, I am sort of crazy like that.
I have some lovely horses on my farm, I truly do. I have one off-the-track Thoroughbred who sort of resembles one of the finest breeding stallions currently living at Claiborne Farms. Of course, Pulpit earns some $5 million a year in breeding fees and, well, Cooper is a gelding, so ...
I also have a retired dressage horse who truly resembles the great Vigo, the chestnut Warmblood that Phillippe LeJeune of Belgium rode to win the world showjumping championship. From my seat, high atop the bleachers, Vigo looks incredibly like my very own Elijah. Really. He does!
But I know that Cooper would never win a race against the great Pulpit, and my dear Elijah could not keep up with Vigo for even one round around the jump course.
I am quite proud of both horses, but the competition at the World Games is just way too steep for either of them. Meanwhile back on the farm, however, they far outclass anything here in Miami County, KS. Hands down!
What does this mean to you?
If you pick highly competitive terms for your website optimization strategy, you are likely to lose -- and lose badly at that!
Here's why: Your website cannot be "optimized" for everything. The very nature of optimization means that your website has a focus -- and success depends upon narrowing that focus appropriately to attract your target market. Remember, there are only, on average, 10 results displayed on Google's page one. You will have to knock someone off of page one in order to get there ... and then you will have a target on your back as others try to knock you off as well.
The trick is to win at LOCAL search. Your goal should be to dominate the geographic area containing the most clients who are most likely to come to your office. Usually, this is no more than a 10-mile driving radius from your office.
Agreed that SOME people will drive farther, even much farther, to meet with an extraordinary attorney. And while you would like to capture the attention of those folks willing to drive 25 or 50 miles ... or more ... to meet with you, the "sweet spot" of your marketing efforts is much closer to home. This is particularly true if you practice in an enclave of a large city, a suburb, or a small town.
Since the World Equestrian Games were held in Lexington, KY, let's use Lexington as an example. Lexington, population 400,000 (or so) is a mere 78 miles from Louisville, population 700,000 (or so). Louisville, proper, is larger than Lexington, and Louisville's MSA (metropolitan statistical area) is even larger -- at well over 1 million.
If you were an attorney practicing in Lexington, you might well desire to tap into Louisville's larger market. You might convince yourself that 78 miles is an easy driving distance. You might then ask your webmaster to optimize your website for Louisville (and Jefferon County), thinking this would be a stellar marketing strategy.
And you would be very wrong!
Here is why.
Dominating the Louisville market for online search will be next-to-impossible for a small law firm in Lexington. Even if (and that's a big IF) tiny David were successful at whipping the mighty Goliaths in Louisville and managed to land on Google's Page One for the search string "Estate Planning Attorney Louisville, KY" -- it's still quite unlikely that the ranking will bring any new business. Louisville residents will see they have many fine choices right there on the same page. Choices that are much closer to home. In fact, they probably know someone who knows someone who knows the Louisville attorney. But they don't know anyone who knows you, 78 miles away in Lexington.
Meanwhile back in Lexington ...
People are going online to find an estate planning attorney with an office nearby. They are searching for "Estate Planning Attorney Lexington KY" and ... you are nowhere to be found. Why? Because you wasted your search engine capital optimizing your site -- not for Lexington, but for Louisville! And no, you can't do both.
The savvy fellow across town who chose to optimize his site for Lexington is getting TONS of new clients from his website ... while you wonder why you spent all of that money on marketing.
I wouldn't enter my beloved Cooper in a match race against Pulpit ... nor would I ask Elijah to jump a course around against Vigo. Yet, we're all fat and sassy right here in Miami County.
The thing is, you have to pick your battles if you want to win the internet marketing war!