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phaithful

Zip Code Range Optimization

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I was wondering if anyone had any practical knowledge to know if any of the search engines would optimize for a range of zip code?

 

For instance, if I had a page, with title, meta, and content talking about Los Angeles, CA and I used "90000 - 91000" in my content to designate a range. Would that also optimize me for someone searching for content on "Los Angeles, CA 90210" ?

 

I know that you can search on Google with ranges ... but I wasn't sure if it worked the other way around.

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I'm really not sure that most search engines would recognize that as a "range" of zip codes when trying to grab information from a site. We are fortunate if they recognize zip codes as geographic location information in the first place. They might. There's a little discussion on that in this thread:

 

Assigning Geographic Locations to Web Pages

 

This patent from Google also focuses upon addresses, but doesn't describe the ability to understand a range of zip codes like you might hope it would:

 

Address geocoding

 

 

Some other pending Google patent applications on geography and search:

 

Systems and methods for clustering search results

 

Methods and systems for improving a search ranking using location awareness

 

While both look at zip code information, neither of them seem to be able to make that intuitive leap that what you are displaying is more than one zip code within an area encompassing multiple zip codes.

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Bill, as always, you have been extremely help full and insightful. I'll read those documents in full.

 

It's unfortunate that there isn't a good way to range zip codes. Individual zip codes target such a small area.

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You're welcome.

 

I hope those give you some ideas on how to accomplish what you are attempting.

 

I'm not sure that it would be attractive to people working on search engines to figure out a range of zip codes. If someone just uses Los Angeles, CA as part of their search queries, then they should get places which include LA on the page.

 

If a user of the search engine performs a search for a specific zip code, they are likely trying to find something just in that zip code. If a search engine allowed for ranges of zip codes, wouldn't that make results more likely to be less relevant in a lot of cases?

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I'm sure that Google will, if not already, implement zip codes in their search. I know that in different areas of the world the search results are different depending upon location in Google's attempt to make the search engine better.

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I'm not sure that it would be attractive to people working on search engines to figure out a range of zip codes.  If someone just uses Los Angeles, CA as part of their search queries, then they should get places which include LA on the page. 

 

If a user of the search engine performs a search for a specific zip code, they are likely trying to find something just in that zip code.  If a search engine allowed for ranges of zip codes, wouldn't that make results more likely to be less relevant in a lot of cases?

 

 

it's true, most people looking for locations within a larger area would probably use the city name and those looking for a specific area would use the zip code.

 

However, my dilema is: say i own a local pizza place in an area that has a smaller sized cities, and I deliver to 4 cities all of which have a different range of zip code (90000-90100). I want to be able to optimize my site so that anyone searching for "pizza 90050" will also be able to see my site listed in the SERPs.

 

It's true some may just search for "pizza + 1 of the 4 city names", which is easier to optimize for, but I've determined through some keyword analysis that zip code search in my market is not just a niche market, but a growing competitive market; and I don't want to lose out on those customers.

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That's a good point.

 

Wondering how I might address that particular problem, here's one way I might.

 

You could focus upon the visitors, and make it easy for them to understand where the pizza shop will deliver to by actually listing the relevant zip codes.

 

Our Hunting Park, California shop delivers to the following areas:

 

Vernon, California (zip code)

Bell, California (zipcode)

Maywood, California (zipcode)

Southgate, California (zipcode)

 

Would it be too much for each shop to have its own page? I like that approach because it allows for multiple entries in local search directories, which may increase the likelihood that those pages rank well in a local search through Google or yahoo! or other local search.

 

And this could also make it easier for users of the site to determine which shop is the correct one for them.

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definitley great insight, but what about cities like Los Angeles. If the pizza place delivered to all of the Los Angeles area, then all the possible zip codes in Los Angeles would be considered relavent.

 

And building separate pages for each group of zip codes would probably look spammy to most search engines... with the only content changing is the zip code.

 

Would I end up with a site like: Zipcodes and Plant communities for Los Angeles

 

At some point it would be nice if search engines would be able to understand that "Los Angeles, CA 9000-90090" encompass my services.

Edited by phaithful

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I'm active in the local search effort. (I try and scarf up everything Bill prints referencing that.) From a variety of log files I just don't see hardly any zip code inquiries. They are the tip of the tip of the iceberg. Do any of you see searchers using zip codes to any great extent?

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I am a very small sample, but I can tell you I've never seen a zip code in log files.

Rarely, I have seen phone numbers or street names. I'm guessing that these would happen when someone knows the address or phone number without being able to find the web site by business name.

 

I'd be interested in what others have seen.

 

Zip code ranges might be a good way to organize a database, though...

 

Elizabeth

Edited by AbleReach

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I usually search by zip code. It's faster to type. :)

 

I know I have read that Google is working on number ranges to ilude in their search. They've been applying this mainly to dates, but I recall them saying something about area/zip codes as well.

 

It's a real catch-22 for a web developer. Build for each zip code or town within your radius and risk a duplicate content penalty and posibly confuing your viewers.

 

I think Google Maps and Local Search are steps in the right direction to solve these issues.

 

Still, it would be nice if they hurried up a bit, don't you think?

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Those of us in the US know the 90000's are west coast. Why not search engines? It wouldn't be all that hard for a SE to filter the first few of five digit numbers and pull out a range of zip codes that are at least in the same state, in the same way that they pull out words within www.domainnameslikeths.com

 

Dollars to doughnuts someone in the local search department is looking at what would make that kind of guestimate accurate.

 

Elizabeth

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Do any of you see searchers using zip codes to any great extent?

 

 

For my site, zip codes are a used search term. Obviously not the majority, however, I don't want to exclude visitors like AbleReach.

 

I've also read and used the Google date range search... but that's more on their end. It would be nice to be able to optimize my pages for a range and when someone search for a particular zip code in that range, my page would come up in the SERPs.

 

But as the dilema stands, if you build a page for each specific zip code you'll be labeled as a spammer for sending in duplicate content. But if you build all the specific zip codes on 1 page, then you'll probably have better SEO but I'm sure it won't make for a very usable page for the visitor.

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ebay has a good method for doing this, it lets you search for items with X (user specified ) miles of a certain post /zip code.

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Sure, but do those results come up in the SERPs?

 

For example could I type "sacramento widget" or "95660 widget" and see the ebay page? I doubt it (haven't seen it so far).

 

There is a strong advantage for small local businesses over their larger corporate competitors when it comes to this sort of thing. But as mentioned if you serve more than one area you get screwwed.

 

It would be nice if the SEs understood that Sacramento, North Highlands, and Citrus Heights are all the same place, or at least the same geographic area. And that I could type any one of those and get results for the others based on relevancy.

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Elizabeth: I've reviewed about 60,000 search quiries for 3 businesses.

 

Say about 25% are for the business w/ a geo description. Probably less than 5 have had the zip code in them. I do see searches with a business name/street but relatively unusual...though more frequent than zip codes. I see about as many searches for phone #'s as zip codes.

 

The geo searches I see are generally region wide/state name/section of a state (ie northern califfornia) or town wide. Typically indications that the searcher knew where the business was located will result in a tighter geo description such as a street name.

 

dave

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