I’ve been watching a site, as have many of us in Manchester, focused on ranking number 1 on the Google for the term “SEO Manchester” It’s quite a remarkable effort. The domain is young but keyword rich and it doesn’t have great link equity. Yet it ranks. I’m in two minds whether to link out to it as it’s doing well enough already, thank you very much. But you can see some good technique in play from the chap who delivered it. However, the question that you must ask is, is this a useful term or a vanity term? Do people actually use the term “SEO Manchester” to find search engine optimisation services? It’s an issue that we come up against constantly with clients: understanding the terms that your (potential) clients are actually using to find services like yours as opposed to the terms that you imagine that they use. Clients often want vanity terms. The great thing about what we do is that we can measure and test supposition against actual results. What do we think potential client around Manchester will use to find search engine optimisation services? What do they actually use? and crucially, what converts into an enquiry? It’s the conversion that matters most to us. In many ways, selling rankings is a disservice to the client. A ranking in itself is useless. A meaningful conversion is everything and a relevant search ranking that leads to that conversion has purpose.

Using Googles External Adwords tool, we can get some data as to what is used to find a broad range of SEO services. Here’s a completely inexhaustive list using a small set of seed terms with no regional qualifier:

Keywords Local Search Volume: June Global Monthly Search Volume
internet marketing        165000 1500000
online marketing 90500 823000
search engine optimisation 90500 165000
search marketing 90500 550000
search engine optimization 74000 823000
search engine marketing 60500 368000
web marketing 33100 368000
online advertising 33100 301000
seo company 27100 135000
seo services 27100 165000
internet advertising 27100 201000
website marketing 18100 135000
seo consultant 14800 40500
seo marketing 14800 60500
web promotion 12100 135000
website promotion 12100 165000
google seo 9900 60500
web seo 9900 74000
web advertising 9900 74000
free seo 8100 49500
website seo 8100 40500
internet marketing seo 6600 12100
optimization seo 6600 60500
seo expert 6600 40500
seo search engine 6600 40500
internet marketing company 6600 33100
best seo 5400 33100
google marketing 5400 33100
organic seo 5400 18100
search engine optimisation company 5400 6600
search engine optimisation services 5400 6600
internet marketing services 5400 40500
search engine placement 5400 74000
search engine positioning 5400 33100
seo agency 4400 18100
seo companies 4400 22200
seo service 4400 40500
seo specialist 4400 14800
search engine promotion 4400 27100
affordable seo 3600 22200
internet marketing online 3600 60500
internet marketing search engine 3600 18100
online marketing agency 3600 9900
search engine marketing company 3600 14800
search engine marketing services 3600 14800
seo advertising 3600 1600
seo blog 3600 40500
seo experts 3600 12100
seo site 3600 22200
seo web design 3600 33100

Interestingly, SEO doesn’t appear in any phrase until position 9. Internet Marketing appears to generate the most queries. Whether it converts into enquiries is another matter. It is a familiarity of terminology and perhaps a vanity of our own industry that we want to be King of SEO in Manchester. But does the potential client care?

  • Kay

    🙂 I havent checked the seo manchester rank for quite some time. I had a chuckle at this.

    The rank demonstrates what has irked me and other professional SEO’s for some time; that spam can and does continue to rank in the SERPs. But you make a very valid point Simon, how competitive is that actual term anyway?

    The fact is that it is simply one of the ranks that some service providers feel obliged to achieve because of the all too common accusation “you aren’t even ranking for your own industry terms”. To put it simply, going for terms such as ‘SEO Manchester’ we are competing with each other to get traffic from nobody BUT each other.

    Regarding the ranking site in question.
    1. Built with wordpress. Well done for picking up that wordpress is a ready made well optimised CMS.
    2. Keyword rich geographic domain name. Well done again! It’s no secret that domain names still have power. I have a few domains with nothing more than a holding page that hold solid ranks on page 1 for a particular phrase. I didn’t even have to set up all those tags and make keyword laiden posts.

    And how many SEO companies ONLY want to provide a service in Manchester? Freelancers maybe, not companies who want to grow. Hence they chose a more generic domain. Also, many SEO companies offer more services than just SEO, hence their website will not be as tightly focussed on ‘SEO MANCHESTER’. And they will probably rank for a hell of a lot more terms (and attract more potential customers).

    To put it bluntly, this guy achieved nothing to write home about and he probably spent WAY too much time doing it. The sad fact is he will impress some people (who don’t know any better) but I sure as hell hope he doesn’t think that strategy is appropriate for a real site with real products and real visitors. If he does, I’d hate to see the conversion rate.

    It reminds me of the forum posters who think they know it all because they reached #1 for “low cost insurance quotes in morecambe” just by adding 20 words to the meta keywords tag.

    I wanted to be nice about it, I really did. And if he were a trainee or colleague of mine I would be supportive and saying well done, you are learning but you have some time to go before you understand REAL seo. But I would have to give him a virtual slap on the back of the legs for this:

    “It just goes to show that by simply using fundamental SEO techniques it is possible to get a site to rank highly….Just makes me wonder what all the other so-called SEO gurus and experts in Manchester are doing who are languishing behind me?”

    Ermmm…While I’m not a self proclaimed ‘guru’ or ‘expert’ (merely a consultant) I’m not languishing behind him. I’m actually sitting behind my net curtains tutting and shaking my head at the effort he put into such a silly task. That and achieving converting ranks for my clients of course.

    I think he could very well be a controversial blogger/link baiter in the making 🙂

  • Haha nice one Simon. Had a blog post ready and waiting to go about this myself but looks like everything has been said here.

    May as well add this chucklesome pic that @DelaneyPaul sent me:


  • Checking the SERPs today, looks like I-Com have weighed in to spoil the party. Shifted a couple authority links across perhaps?

  • Ben

    Its vanity for sure. I’ve been front page for SEO “mycity” for months and only ever get Indians offering to help me outsource my SEO. I put Adsense on mine. Just about pays for the domain name.

  • Agree with Kay, the domain is an exact match of the search term, hardly and impressive SEO performance. No links and only 44 pages cached on the site as well, hardly an authority!

    We recently purchased a premium commercial property domain which went immediately on page one of Google for the exact words in the title, with no links or content.

    According to the keyword tool there are at least 3,600 searches for “SEO Manchester” so it might yield some enquiries should it be turned into a proper website. Not sure the .org.uk extension will do the site any favours, will it really be perceived as a commercial operation?

    Agree with the point about rankings and conversions!

  • TheJiggaboo

    If you want to see who/what/where/why it’s here – http://seogadget.co.uk/how-to-get-a-job-in-seo/ & look for ‘Mark’

  • Sorry about that but I couldn’t help myself. Someone had to do it. LMAO

    Hi folks just thought I would introduce myself. Chris from Essio Marketing in St Helens.

    Good article Simon. I remember seeing this SEO manchester website a few weeks back. I haven’t looked for a while and still refusing to look just because of this blog. However one of the key things about getting a site to the top of any rankings is its ability to have some commercial value and in all fairness this site’s is a fat zero.

    I haven’t looked at it too much but I bet if it had to be structured for commercial purposes ie pertinent content, structure etc etc I would be intrigued how it would fair then.

    In regards to whether its commercial vanity or not going for a term like ‘SEO Manchester, I guess we will all keep that close to our chests. If you lot are anything like us, our own website comes last in the pecking order of priorities, and referals are a key ingredient to our progression.

    Take Care folks, will keep my eye on your blog. We have a new site up in about 2-4 weeks time, with a blog etc.. Would appreciate you popping around and making some positive contributions.

    essio marketing

  • Interesting post Simon and Kay is pretty much spot on with her appraisal of the SEO techniques used.

    Maybe the term “SEO Manchester” is vanity to some extent in that it may, or may not, generate traffic but I guess the only way to effectively answer that is by checking individual Analytics and server logs.

    However there is also the arguement that by ranking affectively for the longer tail local search terms over time you will begin to rank more effectively for the larger more generic terms and that the search engines will begin to recognise this?

  • This is a common problem for businesses that they often have a poor understanding of why potential customers may approach them. The irony is that this is SEO we are talking about.

  • Katrina Gallagher

    Well found TheJiggaboo, so he’s trying to get a foot in the door – he’s certainly got the attention of a number of SEO companies in Manchester – but perhaps for the wrong reasons!