Natural Search Blog


Ultimate Local SEO Tactics

After I earlier wrote some Extreme Local Search Optimization Tactics, one of my SEO coworkers, Steven Spaulding, “out-extremed” me by joking that one could go even further by getting a custom city name made from beneficial keywords! For example, one could end up with a street address like:

257 Viagra Drive, Cialis, Texas

Map Illustration for Ultimate Local Search Optimization

(Ugh! I’m probably going to regret using those keywords in my blog posting!)

Until Steven joked about this, it just hadn’t occured to me to even consider using a city name for keyword optimization purposes. It’s undoubtedly far-fetched, but I began to wonder, is it within the realm of possibility? Actually, I think it is. So here’s this post – an addendum of sorts on my previous article. Here’s two more local search optimization strategies which are so extreme, so over-the-top, that I’ll label them “Ultimate Local Search Optimization Tactics”. Someone with enough money and desire might be able to pull one of these off!

So, read on if you’re morbidly curious, and don’t worry, Dave Naffziger, these are so extreme that they’re unlikely to cause you to lose any sleep!

Rename a City for Your Keyword Optimization 

When I first started thinking of the possibility of using a city’s name for passing keyword text, I immediately thought of the small town of Braselton, Georgia. For all you other children of the eighties, you may recall that Braselton was the town that the actress, Kim Basinger, bought back in 1989. I seem to recall that the town sorta put itself up for sale in hopes of getting some major capital influx to renovate the place, and Basinger, along with Ameritech Pension Fund, ganged up to buy it. Unfortunately, Basinger’s involvement went up in smoke pretty rapidly since she was having separate financial problems, and the plans to reinvigorate the town as a tourist attraction with movie studios and a film festival have sadly faded.

Braselton’s marketing plan was actually a great idea, though! There’s tons of old, faded little towns in America which have a major desire for economic renewal, and perhaps selling off the town name to a major sponsor could be a win-win situation for everyone involved! The company gets more exposure and the town gets a much-needed influx of development capital. Stadiums, amphitheatres, and arenas all over the country have moved to a similar name-sponsorship arrangement, so it naturally might work for cities as well. How many of you reading this live near a Verizon Wireless Music Center or Theatre in the US?

Right here in the Dallas-Fort Worth metro area where I live, we have a number of these major name-brand-sponsored venues:

While most companies operating under “Marketing 1.0″ might unimaginatively want to rename a city by their brandname, those wishing to leverage keywords for web search and local search optimization might instead choose to name the town something beneficial, and make sure they have an office presence in it. If targeting for local search, they might also want to find a town near to a major metro area for this purpose.

So, okay – finding a small town that would be willing to sell up their namespace as a sort of billboard could be hard to accomplish. And expensive. But, there are so many smalltowns in America that it might instead be possible to locate one which already has a name that’s optimal for one’s business, depending on how imaginative you are, and how easy it would be to find terms that would be applicable to the business.

When the Citizens Bank of Windsor opened up a branch in the small town of Tightwad in Missouri in 1984, they had no idea that they were about to tap into a niche banking market that no one knew existed. They opened the branch, naming it the “Tightwad Bank”, and word of the humorous name slowly began spreading across the country, viral marketing-fashion. The bank managers evidently played into the joke by making their logo depict a fist clutching a wad of dollars. Initially, as newspapers spread word of the bank through their filler columns and such, many people wrote or called into the bank to open accounts. Apparently, if someone lost a bet and wished to pay it or other bills off, they’d obtain checks from the bank with the tightwad fist printed on them, and express their contempt while paying off the debt.

In January of this year, the Tightwad Bank closed its doors after 22 years. After the novelty wore off, the town dwindled and business at the bank dropped off as well. But, the Tightwad Bank is still a good example of how a town’s existing name could give enhancement to a business’s marketing efforts. Here’s just a few I’ve seen that could potentially be used for marketing purposes:

Accident, MD – convenient name for attorneys specializing in personal injury?

Christmas, FL – good location for Xmas seasonal businesses?

Romance, WV – shouldn’t Match.com open up an office there?

Belcherville, TX – a town that really should be sponsored by Gas-X.

Carefree, AZ – “carefree” somehow makes me think of ads for feminine pads or deodorants or something.

Prosperity, SC – apropos for retirement investment firms?

Grapevine, Tx – neighboring town to mine – perhaps good for wine industry, no? It’s likely a case of a town named after its industry, since there are a few wineries there.

There’s also a number of town names which would rather lend themselves to the adult-oriented industry. Ahem!

So, after considering the use of city names in addresses as a way of getting keyword optimization, we have to now consider another extreme tactic. What’s left?!?       

Rename Your Country for Brand/Keyword Value!

By now you’re rolling your eyes, and you’ve justifiably written this off as the ludicrous ravings of a poor, in-house SEO who’s finally lost his tenuous hold on sanity. Hold on! Sorry, but I didn’t exactly invent this particular tactic, either!

Is it reasonable or even possible that someone might be able to buy their way into getting an entire country renamed for the purposes of keyword optimization or brand name promotion?

Well, recently, a company/collective called Pirate Bay attempted to purchase an entire island, Sealand, with the intention of renaming it their brandname. For those who’re unfamiliar, Sealand is a man-made platform that Great Britain used for defensive purposes in World War II, and which they later abandoned. A man named Paddy Roy Bates took over the structure in 1967 and declared it an independent principality, declaring himself, his wife and son to be the “royal family”. In more recent history, Sealand and an ISP, HavenCo Ltd, set up internet access and hosting on Sealand, gaining a lot of interest from internet privacy and security buffs for providing hosting that is highly independent from oppressive government restrictions.

Fast-forward to the present, and we have The Pirate Bay, a company/collective that has gained underground fame on the net as the world’s largest bittorrent tracker/directory. American movie studios (MPAA) and other concerns have been campaigning to shut Pirate Bay down, reacting to the perceived threat in a manner very reminiscent of the fight against Napster. Last year, Swedish police raided Pirate Bay and closed it down, but after a short stint, they were back on line. Considering the ongoing threat, Pirate Bay is looking to find a data haven where they can’t be shut down, so they’ve spoken of purchasing an ultra-small country like Sealand, or Ladonia.

According to one report, part of Pirate Bay’s motivation was also that they wanted to see their name on Google Maps – indicating that they’re not only seeking data haven, but are also intending to rename any country they might purchase in order to gain brandname optimization in local search to a degree:

“We have 20,000 to 25,000 dollars to spend and we are looking at some alternatives. Really we just want somewhere we can name The Pirate Bay, so we can look on Google Maps and find ourselves there.”

As it turns out, Pirate Bay’s play for Sealand hasn’t panned out, since they’re far short of the 750 million euros price tag. Even if Pirate Bay’s unserious purchase attempt was little more than a publicity ploy, they’ve attempted an ultimate local search engine optimization tactic that others will surely consider. There’s lots of little islands around the world, potentially much cheaper than Sealand, and someone’s going to buy one and rename it for the prestige, if not the keyword potential.

Should I play this Extreme game any further by wondering about the potential for using planets or satellites for the purpose of marketing and optimization?

I’ve previously posted a joke blog about optimizing “roof ads” for the satellite pics in Google Maps and other mapping systems, but that tactic is now turning serious with Pirate Bay’s goal and actual ads like Yum! Brand Inc’s KFC space ad that’s spread across the desert near Area 51. My friend, Lana Davis, is going to snort now as I mention her company, Yum!, yet again. Yum! company’s Pizza Hut intended to use a laser to beam their logo onto the face of the Moon way back in 1999, much like how the Gotham City mayor or police chief will beam the bat-symbol onto the clouds whenever they need to get Batman’s attention for some crisis.

Okay, so I won’t count Planet Optimization or Moon Optimization, yet, since they’re perhaps technically infeasible at the moment. But once you see companies using City Name Sponsorships or buying entire countries for the sake of Brand-Building, you can just count on the fact that the marketing arms race will continue to escalate up into planetary scale.

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4 comments for Ultimate Local SEO Tactics »

  1. MyAvatars 0.2

    OMG, this is genius. Although, the spammers are going to have a field day with this sneaking their made up towns into the Google maps of the world.

    I thought it would be interesting to see how many new cities are created per year, I did some searches, but to no avail. Does anyone have data on this?

    Comment by phil — 3/2/2007 @ 10:03 am


  2. MyAvatars 0.2

    Great creativity.

    Local SEO presently has two outputs: Local Search and Web Search. The search giants only integrate local results into web search only for precise geo-term specifications. While it would be creative to rename a location, it would not likely be included in web search if that isn’t what the average user intended. Google, for example, is quite good about figuring that out if the query explicitly intended for a local search result or not.

    Search giants still requires the user to select the local tab since there are these location versus keyword ambiguities. A couple more good examples that we often encounter are: “Money”, which is a city in Mississippi and “Paris Hilton”, which Paris is a city in several states.

    2) Change in location information is not well supported and will likely take a long while. We had one business listing rejected by Google Base for months because they didn’t have the most recent Zip code data. That brings up a very minor last aspect… if my product is an SMS Short Code (which is 5 digits), I would optimize by moving to that U.S. Zip code area, presuming it exists! Which would put my last developed SMS product in Clinton, MN… (LOCAL)

    Comment by David Rodecker — 3/10/2007 @ 6:18 am


  3. MyAvatars 0.2

    Very interesting post – I would never have thought of this!

    I recently did a successful local search campaign for a client. Here is everything I did:

    http://verusnova.com/blog/index.php/2007/03/22/10-easy-steps-to-awesome-local-internet-traffic/

    Comment by Mike — 3/22/2007 @ 9:16 am


  4. MyAvatars 0.2

    i bet that most of the seo/sem will take advantage of the opportunity of hitting two birds with one stone.

    Comment by Google Local Searches — 7/23/2009 @ 10:25 am


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