How to Exploit Regional Demographics in SEM and SEO
Browsing Google with my nifty SEO extension for firefox (thankyou Aaron Wall!), I decided to look at where searchers were when they typed in a client's keyword. I did it for curiosity, but two potentially great applications immediately came to mind.
First, in writing the copy of SEM ads and in designing landing pages, it might be worthwhile to name-drop the searcher's locality. For example, if most of the people searching for parrots lived in Florida, Texas and the Carolinas, your SEM ad copy could include "Texan looking for a parrot?" or "Want Toucan Sam to brighten your Florida condo?" I support this idea based on my experience talking to groups. When you ask if 'someone' can do 'task A', people tend to assume someone else will do it, and the result is that it doesn't get done. But if you say "John, will you please take care of 'A', John will usually do A. So this might prove useful to increasing response rates and making your offer seem more targeted. Note: Google (not sure about Yahoo and MSN, but I think so) enables geo-targeting of your SEM efforts, so you can avoid having your Florida ads shown to Texans.
The second use of regional data is in getting links from the appropriate link neighbourhoods. It's common knowledge that Google and others return different results depending on a user's location. Therefore, it might be an idea worth considering to target a few of your local markets in your keyword strategy. Additionally, you can look for links 'up the feeding chain.' This idea is derived from a post by someone at SEOMoz (Orion? Egol?). Though I can't recall the post just now, a great technique suggested by one of the Mozzarelas was to go get your potential client's attention on sites up and down the marketing chain. For instance, a car parts manufacturer might get links or place ads on a custom-car garage or on a. This takes the concept one-step further and suggests that you find links on sites relating to clients' regions. Potentially this might improve rankings in region-specific SERPs.
Another twist is to reverse engineer the regional data you have and look for other topics of interest in that region. If you're a shoe-store in Washington DC, perhaps you get some links from politics websites? Or if you're a shoe-store in Toronto, you could try for links from boring, colourless websites... Ok, ok, I'm sorry, boring, colourless and soulless. (Can you tell I'm a Montreal SEO?.)