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State Abbreviations and SEO

State Abbreviations and SEO
19 Jun 2014

What’s better for SEO?

With search engine optimization (SEO) techniques, your business can connect with customers who are searching online for what you offer. If your business targets your products or services to a local audience, you’ll want to use some local keywords that include your city and state. This way, your website will show up for your local customers who are searching online for the keyword plus their city and state. But many people want to know whether it’s better for a site’s SEO strategy to include an SEO keyword with the whole state name or the abbreviation: Connecticut or CT? We’re striving to help you figure it out.

They Are Interchangeable to Google

State names and abbreviations are treated as keywords in SEO, so Google will take note of them along with the search keyword. Google is able to tell that the abbreviation is short for the state, and it also knows the abbreviation for the whole state name. So in the case of Connecticut, Google will recognize that CT is the same as Connecticut and vice versa. Therefore, if someone is searching for “keyword Connecticut” or “keyword CT,” they will likely get the same search results.

Don’t Forget About Ranking

Nonetheless, thousands more consumers will type in the abbreviation instead of the whole state name, probably because it’s so much quicker to type. Google tries to find the best match that fits the person’s search, so it will rank search results based on the match. If the person types in the state abbreviation, SEO keywords that include the state abbreviation are likely to do better than the ones with the state name spelled out. Since more people are searching for the abbreviation, it will generally be a closer match. So if you use “keyword Connecticut” in your title tag (for example) your website might still come up in the search results, but if you use “keyword CT” will most likely rank higher.

But don’t necessarily follow this rule 100 percent of the time. You need to perform some research to see which search phrase (abbreviation or full spelling) is more common for your particular business and area. It will probably be the abbreviation, but research will help you confirm that. It can change depending on your area, since people in one state might be likely to spell out the whole state name whereas the abbreviation might be more common in another state. In Massachusetts many people search using “Mass” which is neither the official state abbreviation nor full spelling. Factors might be a shorter state name versus a longer one and two-word state names that are always abbreviated like NY for New York. So do some research particular to your area before you decide.

In some situations, you might even want to use both instances. This can help you reach both search terms and clear up confusion for Google so it doesn’t think MD stands for medical doctor. You could also solve this using semantic data tagging.

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