Explicit and Implicit Searches Govern Local SEO – What Do You Know About Them?

In the world of SEO, the distinction between short-tail and long-tail searches is a well-known concept. However, regarding local SEO, there’s another layer to this dichotomy – explicit and implicit searches. Understanding and leveraging these two types of searches can significantly enhance your regional search strategy and drive better results.

  • Implicit vs. explicit search in local SEO: How do they differ?

Explicit searches are those where the user specifies a location in their search query, such as “car accident lawyer Philadelphia.” In contrast, implicit searches do not include a location modifier, like “car accident lawyer.”


In simple terms:

Implicit search is akin to a short-tail or general search.

Explicit search is a location-modified, long-tail search.

What’s critical to grasp is that Google tailors its search results significantly based on the presence or absence of location modifiers in user queries and the user’s actual physical location during the search. While the difference might be less pronounced in organic search results, it becomes pivotal in Google Maps searches, making it essential for local SEO practitioners.

  • Why do implicit and explicit search matter?

The importance of distinguishing between these search types stems from how Google handles local search results, influenced by specific local ranking factors:

  • Relevance: This factor assesses how well a business aligns with the user’s search intent. Google considers information available on the business’s Google Business Profile (GBP), website, and other online sources. A skilled digital marketing agency Dallas will help you in determining the above.
  • Distance: This measures the proximity of the business’s location concerning the user’s search location, with a more significant impact on implicit and “near me” searches.
  • Prominence: This factor evaluates how well known a business is, both online and offline, including review count and ratings.

While relevance and prominence can be influenced to a certain extent through marketing efforts, distance is a fixed factor unless the business relocates, which is usually an impractical solution. Proximity to the searcher is the most crucial local search-ranking factor, particularly emphasized in the 2016 Possum update. Ranking for implicit keywords across a wide region or in a prominent city is nearly impossible.

The game changes when a user adds a location modifier to their search. Google then centers the location search on the added search rather than the user’s location. This diminishes the influence of proximity and allows for more strategic keyword targeting.

  • Identifying Dominatable Keywords

A valuable metric to employ is Share of Local Voice (SOLV) to maximize your local SEO efforts. It determines how frequently your listing appears in the Map Pack within a given radius. The greater your SOLV, the more visible your business is in local searches. This metric can also help assess your competition’s performance for target keywords.

  • Putting it into Practice

Share of Local Voice is an invaluable metric to set realistic expectations for local SEO results for clients and yourself. Educating clients about the possibilities and the potential impact of local SEO efforts is crucial.

Instead of pursuing elusive keywords, focus on explicit, long-tail keyword strategies that do not conflict with implicit head terms. Optimize content for both to maximize visibility and generate more leads for improved traffic and business.

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