Can You Rank in Google For Both Portland and Vancouver Keywords?

This map tells it all.

The distance between downtown Portland and downtown Vancouver is a measly 9.6 miles. Not far. 

Naturally, businesses based in Portland want to perform well in SEO for both Portland-based keywords AND Vancouver-based keywords. And vice versa. But, is that possible?

In this guide, we share if it’s possible to increase SEO performance to drive leads from both Portland and Vancouver. Scroll down to learn more.

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The distance between downtown Portland and downtown Vancouver is a measly 9.6 miles. Not far. 

Naturally, businesses based in Portland want to perform well in SEO for both Portland-based keywords AND Vancouver-based keywords. And vice versa. But, is that possible?

In this guide, we share if it’s possible to increase SEO performance to drive leads from both Portland and Vancouver. Scroll down to learn more.

Contents

First, You Need To Know How Localized Searches Work

Real Examples

Here are just a couple of localized searches that people might be doing in both Portland and Vancouver:

When you’re looking at these, just see what you notice. Don’t worry about getting the “right” answer. Just observe!

“Lawyer in Portland”

“Lawyer in Vancouver, WA”

“Dispensary in Portland”

“Dispensary in Vancouver, WA”

But let’s take it even further, since as we learned above, people don’t just search locally. They search hyperlocally which normally involves long-tail keywords.

“Yoga studio in NE Portland with female instructor”

“Yoga studio in East Vancouver, WA with female instructor”

“Modern tattoo artist in downtown portland”

“Modern tattoo artist in downtown Vancouver, WA”

The point? Sometimes it’s going to be impossible to rank for these hyperlocal keywords because 1) you may not be the best fit (such as being a female massage therapist when someone searches for “male massage therapist) or 2) you’re not located there (your office might be in downtown Portland when someone is searching using “St John’s Portland”).

It Depends on the Industry You’re In

Not all industries are created equal.

Some industries may allow you to rank in both Portland and Vancouver while, for other industries, it’ll be impossible.

Hypercompetitive, Brick & Mortar Industries

Let’s start by explaining what “brick & mortar” means: Basically, it’s any business that requires you to come in to do business with them. Things have changed because of COVID, but the principle of brick & mortar (from Google’s perspective) stays the same:

Businesses like:

  • Dentists
  • Yoga Studios
  • Restaurants
  • Chiropractors
  • Golf Courses
  • Tattoo artists
  • And more…

These businesses mainly do their business in person at their location.

Let me share a quick example:

Everyone and their mom has a dog in Portland. My wife and I do. We’re even one of those folks that has a doodle (no judging, she’s adorable).

The other day we called multiple dog groomers and nearly every single one was booked out for MONTHS. Yes, months. I guess it’s all those pandemic puppies.

Anyway… As you can imagine, the dog grooming space in both Portland and Vancouver is competitive. It’s also hyperlocal. 

Google’s smart enough to know that someone looking for “dog groomers” likely wants to find someone that’s 1) trustworthy, 2) does good work, but most importantly 3) is located nearby where they live.

The same is true with MANY hypercompetitive industries:

  • Gyms/fitness: People prefer finding a clean gym that’s either 1) near their home, 2) near their work, or 3) somewhere in between.
  • Hair salons: Many people are particular about who does their hair. But again, Google isn’t going to organically rank a hair salon located in Vancouver if you specifically searched for “hair salon in Portland.” 
  • And many, many more.

Non-Competitive, Non-Brick & Mortar Industries

Non-competitive, non-brick & mortar industries are the industries that have the highest likelihood of ranking in both Portland and Vancouver.

These are often businesses that come to your home to provide a service. Mainly contractors.

For example, there may be a very, very niche type of contractor out there. Let’s say they specialize in “custom outdoor fountains” – pretty niche.

Because there may only be a handful of contractors that operate this service in both Portland AND Vancouver combined, Google has no option but to give the user the best results. In this instance, if someone types in “custom outdoor fountains contractor near Portland” Google has chosen to rank a contractor that’s actually in Vancouver.

A huge win for that contractor!

It’s important to note that these instances are few and far between. For 99% of businesses located in Portland, you will not have the luxury to rank in both Portland and Vancouver.

The Legitimate Workaround

To rank for Portland-based keywords, you’ve gotta have a physical location in Portland.

To rank for Vancouver-based keywords, you’ve gotta have a physical location in Vancouver.

You’re probably catching on to what I’m about to say next.

The BEST way to rank in both Portland and Vancouver is to (drumroll…) have a physical location in both Portland and Vancouver. 

You can get creative with this:

Google does NOT allow you to use a P.O address for a location. But what Google DOES allow you to do is to use a co-working space for a location.

There are many co-working spaces in both Portland and Vancouver that you can get for as low as $100-150 per month. For certain industries, having the ability to rank in both Portland and Vancouver (and therefore dramatically increase leads, sales, and revenue) for only $150/mo is absolutely worth it. 

Don’t overlook this strategy!

The Good News

Most businesses that I speak with who say something like:

“I’m based in Portland but I have clients in both Portland and Vancouver. So, I definitely want to rank in Google for both Portland and Vancouver keywords.”

I respond, “Okay, that’s logical.”

But here’s where the interesting stuff happens:

After I wave my magic SEO wand and look into their data, I find that they’re not even ranking and performing well in Portland. Yet, they want to rank in both Portland and Vancouver.

For many Portland-businesses, they’re not even capitalizing on the city that they have a location in. They might only have 3-5% of the SEO market share. 

My recommendation for all Portland-based businesses. DOMINATE Portland first when it comes to SEO and see if you even have time to take on new business in Vancouver.

The Workaround to “Ranking” In Both Portland and Vancouver

The answer, as you might have guessed, is paying for Google Ads.

With Google Ads, you can do something that you can’t do with SEO:

  1. You can guarantee “ranking” in the SERP by paying for traffic
  2. You can localize where you want to show up

The second part of that is the important part. You can choose to ONLY run ads in Portland or Vancouver. As a Portland-based business, if you’re looking to get more leads, phone calls, or sales from Vancouver, you can pay for Google Ads so that they only show up to people who are located in Vancouver.

Again, this isn’t really “ranking” using the traditional SEO definition of ranking. However, you’re still showing up in the SERP and getting in front of your target audience. And that’s what you want, right!?

Joey Randazzo

Joey Randazzo

Founder and CEO of Portland SEO Growth

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