The following is an excerpt (with some recent modifications and editorial comments) from our book, WordPress Search Engine Optimization. You can buy the book at Amazon.
Follow the People, Follow the Money
When building your keyword list, you’ll always want to return to the question “who is my customer?” If you are a deck builder, pool builder, or plastic surgeon, your customer is a homeowner (in the case of home services) and a person of financial means (in the case of home services or plastic surgery). It’s obviously helpful to know where the people with the money live. If the residents of a town or neighborhood aren’t able to afford your product, you’ll obviously not want to market there. Similarly, you’ll prefer to put your efforts into high-population areas over low-population areas. This same approach can apply to other demographics that might impact your bottom line: where are the families with children? Where do the senior citizens live? These inquiries are basic demographic questions that you can use to focus your keyword strategy.
For most, you’ll have a sense of your own community: where the population centers are, where the wealthier people with disposable income live. There may be other variations: areas with new home construction underway are a gold mine for home services like window blinds, alarm companies, and pool builders.
If you don’t have a true encyclopedic understanding of the demographics of your region, or you simply want to deepen your understanding of the local marketplace, there is a great web-based tool that can help you “follow the money.” The tool is Webfoot Maps and can be found at http://maps.webfoot.com/. Webfoot has created a collection of demographic-based Google Maps mashups that visually represent demographic data like population density and household income as an overlay over a standard Google Map. With this tool, you can zoom into your town and see where the population centers are and where the high-income folks are living.
The site offers a tremendous amount of data and it can be very helpful in crafting a keyword strategy. The census data upon which the site relies is from 2000, but will likely be updated soon when the new 2010 census data becomes available. To use the tool, browse to http://maps.webfoot.com/ and follow the link for “US 2000 Census.” From there, you can select any of the following demographic criteria:
- Median Household Income
- Population density
- Median Owner-occupied home value
- Median age
- Median home value/median income
- Percent White
- Percent Black
- Percent Hispanic
- Percent Asian
- Percent Native
- Percent Female
- Percent Male
- Percent of owner-occupied housing units
- Percent of renter-occupied housing units
- Percent of vacant housing units
- Average household size
- Average family size
- Percent with college degree
- 2008 Unemployment Rate (county)
- 2007 Unemployment Rate (county)
- Unemployment Rate Change 2008-7
Webfoot presents sensible graphical data for each default selection, but you can adjust the “Value” parameter to display, for example, only areas with incomes above $100,000 per year.
Webfoot’s demographic Google Maps mashup at work displaying household income in the geo-markets including and surrounding Kansas City. Darker areas indicate higher income levels. Areas with higher incomes can present excellent web marketing opportunities for some businesses.