Study: Zip Codes in SEO Titles Have Limited Impact

Zip Code SEO Title (Blog Cover)

As the founder of DataPins – a Local SEO software designed to boost rankings in specific cities, towns, and zip codes, I’ve tested every Local SEO tactic in the book, including inserting zip codes into SEO titles.

Zip codes in SEO titles were used relatively often, starting around 2013 and gradually becoming less common.

However, the tactic is still used occasionally, especially by contractors who work in expanded service areas.

What The Data Says About Using Zip Codes in SEO Titles

At DataPins, we took five popular industries (plumbing, roofing, painting, pest control, and electrical) along with ten of the most popular zip codes in the United States to test the impact of this tactic on SEO success.

Zip Codes in SEO Title (Data Chart)

Keyword Volume

We first measured the estimated search volume of keywords, including zip codes, to see if these terms were worth targeting from a traditional SEO standpoint.

Here are the results:

Zip CodePlumberRooferPainterPest ControlElectrician

Out of 50 tested keywords, 11 registered search volumes. Of the 11 with search volume, only five had a search volume above 3.

What this tells us is that users searching for zip code queries is a rare occurrence but does happen from time to time.

At DataPins, we also understand that search volume is an imperfect metric as it is estimated and does not account for nearly 50% of “hidden queries” on Google Search Console.

However, DataPins’ internal data confirms that zip code queries are relatively rare, even in those “hidden terms.”

Keyword Rankings

It’s one thing for users to include zip codes within their search queries, but how Google interprets those queries is another matter.

We know that Google uses Natural Language Processing (NLP) to understand the intent of keywords. As a result, Google may interpret a zip code as the equivalent of a city name since that’s what the user intends to find.

We tested this by measuring the amount of top-10 rankings for these queries that include the zip code within their SEO title.

Here’s what the data says:

QueryTop 10 Rankings with Zip Code in SEO Title
plumber 799360
plumber 900110
plumber 6062910
plumber 906501
plumber 902013
plumber 770841
plumber 923350
plumber 785211
plumber 774490
plumber 785720
roofing 799360
roofing 900110
roofing 606291
roofing 906501
roofing 902017
roofing 770841
roofing 923350
roofing 785210
roofing 774491
roofing 785721
painter 799360
painter 900110
painter 606295
painter 906504
painter 902017
painter 770840
painter 923353
painter 785210
painter 774490
painter 785722
pest control 799360
pest control 900110
pest control 606293
pest control 906501
pest control 902013
pest control 770841
pest control 923350
pest control 785210
pest control 774490
pest control 785720
electrician 799360
electrician 900111
electrician 606295
electrician 906502
electrician 902015
electrician 770840
electrician 923352
electrician 785210
electrician 774490
electrician 785720

Of the 50 test queries, precisely half (25) featured at least one top-10 ranking with a zip code in the title tag. Of those 25 queries, 14 featured more than one ranking with the corresponding zip code.

Yelp results accounted for many of the rankings, leading to inconclusive analysis because of the platform’s premium domain authority, which allows it to rank despite zip code insertions rather than because of them.

Volume and Ranking Correlation

Next, we looked at the correlation between top-10 rankings and search volume for each query.

Here’s what the data says:

QueryVolumeTop 10 Rankings with Zip Code in SEO Title
plumber 7993600
plumber 9001100
plumber 60629110
plumber 9065001
plumber 9020103
plumber 77084231
plumber 9233500
plumber 7852101
plumber 7744910
plumber 7857200
roofing 7993620
roofing 9001100
roofing 6062901
roofing 9065081
roofing 9020117
roofing 77084271
roofing 9233500
roofing 7852100
roofing 7744901
roofing 7857201
painter 7993600
painter 9001100
painter 6062905
painter 9065004
painter 9020107
painter 7708400
painter 9233503
painter 7852100
painter 7744900
painter 7857202
pest control 7993600
pest control 9001100
pest control 6062903
pest control 9065011
pest control 9020103
pest control 770841301
pest control 9233500
pest control 7852100
pest control 7744930
pest control 7857200
electrician 7993600
electrician 9001101
electrician 6062905
electrician 9065002
electrician 9020105
electrician 7708400
electrician 9233502
electrician 78521240
electrician 7744900
electrician 7857200

No clear correlation emerged within the data regarding a zip code’s search volume and top 10 rankings. 

For example, the highest volume query, “pest control 77084,” only produced one top-10 ranking with the zip code in the title tag, while the one search volume, “plumber 60629,” had the most top-10 rankings (10).

Multiple queries with zero registered search volume had numerous top-10 rankings. Conversely, several queries with registered search volume lacked any top-10 rankings.

Other Considerations

Google is a powerful machine with complicated AI-driven algorithms that are much more intelligent than any human test. As a result, each query is unique in Google’s ecosystem, meaning there is no one-size-fits-all answer to an open-ended question. 

With this in mind, it’s essential to consider other factors that influence the impact of zip codes on an SEO title tag.

User Intent

Despite a lack of correlation between registered search volume and top rankings, user intent is a factor in all search queries. This is true not only of zip codes but also of county names, township names, and other local identifiers that may be unique to a region or location.

That’s why contractors looking to succeed with Local SEO should learn the nuances of their service area, the clientele, the culture, and the dialect. Reflecting this knowledge within your web content is the best way to demonstrate a unique local expertise.

Spam and Algorithmic Violation

The greatest potential danger of implementing a wide-ranging zip code SEO strategy is producing spam content and violating Google’s Helpful Content Update algorithm.

Mass-producing location pages for every zip code in your service area violates Google’s Helpful Content guidance, as these pages are produced exclusively for search engines rather than offering unique value to users.

Because cities can have multiple zip codes, producing pages on a zip code basis creates more unhelpful content, increasing the likelihood of your content being filtered as spam.

SEO-Friendly Alternatives

Aside from the negligible benefits of inserting zip codes in a title tag, there are better alternatives for Local SEO. One example is DataPins, which populates location identifiers, including schema markup and geo-coordinates to your site’s most relevant pages.

These local signals come from your real-life jobs, demonstrating social proof of your company’s work in the field. DataPins adds local relevance to existing pages, so they continue gaining unique content based on your performance.

Final Verdict

Like most things in SEO, the answer is “it depends.” However, using zip codes within the SEO title is not a viable strategy at scale. In some cases, zip code insertions in the title can benefit rankings, but they are anecdotal circumstances requiring granular analysis and execution.

The dangers of using a large-scale zip code insertion strategy are clear, as this tactic violates Google’s guidelines and dilutes the value of your site’s content. A better alternative is using DataPins to populate valid location signals onto your pages, using schema markup and geo-coordinates.