Are you looking to find Charlotte, South Carolina? Keep looking because Charlotte is actually in North Carolina.
I understand the confusion- many people haven’t been to this part of the country and might make this mistake. Even those who might have been here could get confused because Charlotte sits right north of the border with South Carolina. Besides- aren’t both those red-neck states the same anyway? (I dare you to say that to anyone from either of these states!)
Don’t worry- you’re not the only one who makes this mistake. A lot of people mistakenly search for Charlotte, SC. We know this because Google tells us so.
Google is more than a search engine- it is in the business of selling advertising. The primary way Google makes money is through selling ads to people who want to be found for a particular product or service they offer. Now, it is important to make the distinction between these, paid searches (also known as “Pay Per Click” or PPC) and the natural searches (also known as “organic search”). Google makes money as people bid for the PPC ads they offer, but doesn’t make money from the natural search results (the ten other websites) they list after the paid ads (which are designated by a colored block that says “Ads”.
In order for people to which search terms to bid on, Google helps provide an estimate of how many people search for a particular term. This tells someone which terms have the most searches (and are potentially worth a higher bid) and which ones have a lower search volume (and might not be worth so much). The practice of looking at considering which keywords you want to bid on (or attempt to rank for, in the case of natural search) is called keyword research. You can find this information for free in Google’s own AdWords Keyword Tool. Since the potential keywords a business might be interested in bidding on is really limitless, Google provides search volume for almost every phrase you could consider- including Charlotte, SC (even if Charlotte is not really in South Carolina).
Now there are different ways to get the information from Google, using this tool. You can ask for a broad match, phrase match, or exact match.
“Broad match” means, “Tell me how many people search per month for any of these words.” If we were to enter “Charlotte, South Carolina” (without the quotes- this is important) into the keyword tool under “broad match” this means we are asking for how many people search for any search phrase that contains either the words “Charlotte”, “South” and “Carolina”. This would tell include “South Charlotte North Carolina” or “How far is Charlotte from South Carolina?” and many more.
“Phrase match” means, “Tell me how many people search per month for a string that includes this phrase.” For example, if we were to enter “Charlotte, SC” (again, without the quotes)” asking for a “phrase match” this wold tell us how many times people search for phrases like “hotels in Charlotte, SC” or “Is the DNC in Charlotte, SC”- notice in each of these cases, the potential phrases returned include the exact “phrase” “Charlotte, SC”.
“Exact match” means, “Tell me how many people search per month for only the exact phrase with no words before or after it or any variations.” As you can imagine, when you request an exact match, you will have a lot less searches per month than a broad phrase match- because the exact phrase match is only that specific phrase, and the broad can include any of the words you mention. The number of searches for phrase matches will fall somewhere in between the two.
When you provide a phrase and choose the type of match to Google’s keyword too, Google will return some numbers to you. These include “competition,” “global monthly searches,” and “local monthly searches.” The “competition number is between 0 and 1 and is a rough estimate of how many people are bidding on the keyword- the closer to 1 the number, the more people are competing for it and the more you might expect to spend if you were to bid on the term. The last two numbers represent an estimate (extremely rounded) of how many people are searching for this phrase throughout the world (“global”) or within your own country (“local”).
If we enter the phrase “Charlotte, South Carolina” and “Charlotte, SC” (under a phrase match) this is what we will see: you aren’t the only person who is looking for “Charlotte, SC”- about 4,400 other people (from the United States) are right there with you (as compared to the more than 3 million people who paid attention during their geography lessons).