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Keyword Variations:  “Subs & Soda” or “Grinder & Pop”?

This article discusses how to select specific keyword variations to target people by age, location and gender and outlines why it is important to ensure that your targeted keyword phrases, your website and your text copy all work together to increase conversions and sales.

To aid in understanding this article, I will target potential visitors interested in a sub and a soda… or should I say a grinder and a pop?

I first looked at soda, soda pop, pop and soft drink to determine which phrase is more popular by location, age and gender.

I also took a look at subs, submarines, grinders and hoagies to uncover how the phrases differentiate based on the searcher’s age, gender and location; and how, as a website owner, you could be missing the mark if you fail to complete the proper research to find the proper keyword variations for your target market.

The Online Business Plan

Before most companies open up a brick and mortar business, they usually create a business plan.  Within that business plan, they outline their target markets:

  • Businesses or Consumers
  • Gender
  • Age
  • Location

This information is generally heavily researched and decided upon to ensure the company’s success.

However, when most people have a website, they seem to only worry about how much traffic a keyword receives, not whether it is reaching the same targeted market that matches their online business intentions. Often times when I speak with business owners they provide a handful of keywords that they say are a must to sustain their online business.

Their chosen keyword phrases are usually the generic or broader term keywords that tend to attract anyone and everyone, whether they are a potential customer or not. Keyword variations are generally overlooked.

It’s important for website owners to give as much attention to their online business plan and business model as they would to their offline business to ensure that their website can be another successful marketing force for their company.

Keyword Research & Selection Tools

When Search Engine Optimization companies (SEOs) first began completing keyword research for clients, the tools were limited and we did not have a large amount of information that was available to us.  We were usually only able to obtain an estimated number of searches for a given phrase, and the number of competitors for that phase.

A lot has changed in a few short years and now many of the search engines are providing much more information; far more than ever before.

  1. Google Adwords Keyword Suggestion Tool provides you with the average number of searches and last months’ estimated number of searches for a specific phrase. Additionally, you can receive a list of related keyword variations based on your website’s content.
  2. MSN AdCenter provides geographic and demographic information which allows you to ensure you are targeting the right searchers.
  3. Spyfu gives PPC and competitor data for both organic and paid search marketing. You can also receive a list of related keyword variations that your competitors are paying for on Google Adwords plus terms that are achieving top rankings within Google’s organic listings.
  4. provides you with traffic patterns for your competitors’ websites, the top phrases they are using to bring in that traffic and information that tells you how much of their traffic comes from specific search phrases.
  5. provides you with a complete list of top search phrases; plus Wordtracker & Yahoo! Search Marketing search estimates

Keyword Variations Based on Age, Gender & Location

All this valuable information, as provided by these online sources, will allow you to select keyword variations that target visitors by age, gender and geographical locations, which can make a significant impact on your conversions; and ultimately you’re ROI.

It is important to know your targeted market and the keyword variations used before selecting your keywords phrases for your SEO campaign.

Selecting Keyword Variations by Location

When targeting search visitors by location, website owners commonly put actual location in the keyword phrase; such as “Tampa SEO Company”.

There is nothing wrong with doing this, however if you offer your products and services on a national level then you’ll need over 6,700 keyword variations to target all the cities within the U.S.

The truth is that people from different geographical locations tend to phrase things differently, even within the United States. Often times the terms we use when talking are the ones we use when searching as well.

Subs, Submarines, Grinders & Hoagies

If you’ve ever gone to Philadelphia and asked for a sub, most likely they looked at you funny and said, “You want a what?”  They will then correct you and tell you that they call it a hoagie!

Although you were not wrong, people in different geographical locations may use specific terms that are not used in other parts of the world…or country.

    • Pennsylvania, Delaware and New Jersey use the term “hoagies” more often
    • Ohio, Michigan, Illinois Missouri and Utah use the term “grinders” more often
    • Nevada, Florida, Arizona and South Carolina use the term “sub” more often.

Soda, Soda Pop, Pop & Soft Drink

When I visited Pittsburgh, people would ask me if I wanted a pop.  For the life of me, I kept thinking do you mean a soda?

When visiting South Carolina, people asked me if I wanted a Pepsi. When I said yes, they would ask me “what kind?”  I would say, “What kind do you have?”  They would say, “Orange, Sprite, Ginger Ale…”  It would seem that in South Carolina a soda is considered Pepsi and the name Pepsi isn’t actually being used as a brand.

    • Utah, Washington Wisconsin, Connecticut and Missouri use the term “soda” more often
    • Iowa, Nebraska, Oregon and Utah use the term “soda pop“more often
    • Kentucky, Louisiana, New Jersey and New York use the term “pop” more often
    • Alabama, Tennessee, Indiana and Georgia use the term “soft drink” more often

The end result is that although they are all trying to find a sandwich and a drink, they are all utilizing different words to accomplish the same end.

If you are attempting to attract a specific state or sub-region to your website, it is important to ensure you target the keyword variations that state or sub-region are likely to use.

If you are not trying to target specific areas, then you would not want to limit yourself by selecting only soda, or only subs; ensure that all the keyword variations are available within your content; essentially providing you maximum exposure.

Locating this type of information is becoming easier than it ever has been before, with the help of trend data from Google Trends.  This information can be used to find keyword and phrase trends throughout the world.

Note:  Please keep in mind that although I provided state specific information, your research may need to be city specific.  I live in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania and I order a sub, however in Philadelphia it is a hoagie.  Additionally, I drink soda and in Pittsburgh it was called pop.

Selecting Keyword Variations by Gender & Age

I believe it is important to know the Gender and age of your targeted market BEFORE you actually create your website.  Your website design and website copy represent you to your website visitors.  It’s important to know who will be seeing and reading your website.

Note:  If you were to create a website with senior citizens as your targeted market, you would want to ensure you incorporated the Website Usability recommendations for Senior Citizens; created by the Nielsen Norman Group.

Soda, Soda Pop, Pop & Soft Drink Variations

Below is the information I was able to research regarding gender and age for searches on Soda, Soda Pop, Pop & Soft Drink.  You’ll definitely see that there is a big difference within the genders and the ages.

•    More women used the term “soda
•    More men used  the term “pop

•    More People age 13-18 use the word “soft drink
•    More people age 35-50 use the word “pop
•    More people 65+ use the word “soda pop

So now that we know that women love soda and men love pop; but middle-aged men and women love pop, let’s see what we found for subs.

Subs, Submarines, Grinders & Hoagies Variations

Below is the information I researched for both men and women of various ages who search for subs, submarines, grinders and hoagies.

•    More men use the term “submarines
•    More women use the term “hoagies


•    More people 18-25 use the term “hoagies
•    More people 25-35 use the term “grinders
•    More people 65+ use the term “submarines

Seems like women love hoagies and men love submarines while the 20-30 crowd enjoy grinders.

Now subs and sodas aside, if you apply this information to your own website and do the proper research you will begin to look at your keywords, your website content and website design a little differently; ensuring they are geared towards the market you are looking to target.

If you wish to use keyword variations that target a specific age or gender you can download MSN AdCenter’s Excel 2007 Ad-on.

Popularity Keyword Search Trends

As new technologies emerge, so do new products, brands, companies and more.  Knowing what keyword searches change based on trends is important to sustaining your online business.

Google Trends provides trending data and history that will allow you to visually see how specific keyword variations have decreased or increased in popularity over the years.

It’s important to ensure that you take this information into consideration before you do your keyword research as well as throughout the year in order to keep up with new emerging trends and incorporate the proper keyword variations into your website.

Below you will find additional information I researched, which has some pretty interesting results.

Trends for Pop, Soda Pop & Soft Drinks

    • Over the past four years it appears that searchers are decreasing the number of searches for the term “pop”.
    • Although there are more spikes in 2007, people seem to use the phrase “soda” in 2008 as much as they have since 2004.
    • Over the past 4 years there appears to be a gradual decline in searches done for the term “soda pop”.
    • A fairly significant decrease can be seen for visitors who use the search term “soft drink”.
    • Although we see a decrease over the past 4 years for visitors who use the term “pop”, it is still much more popular than “soda pop”, “soda” and “soft drink”.

Trends for Subs, Submarines, Hoagies & Grinders

    • The use of submarines has seen a tremendous drop in searches over the past 4 years.
    • The use of grinders has been roughly the same, a few ups and downs but no real large drops or increases.
    • The term hoagies was nearly non-existent in 2004, but has grown in popularity over the past 4 years
    • The term subs has had a large increase over the past 4 years as indicated in the screenshot shown on the right.

Note:  Over the past four years, searchers have increased their search for subs.  Based on MSN Adcenter, this has grown due to both men and women ages 18-35.  I personally would like to believe that it is because more restaurants are putting up websites, uploading their menus and providing delivery information. Additionally Google is delivering localized results based on your IP address, as well as Google Maps providing maps and directions based on these types of searches.

One other thought is that more people may use their cell phones to do this type of search and Google requests your zip code to help show relevant results.  Let’s face it; there is no purpose in showing me sub shops in California if I live in PA.

Conclusion About Keyword Selection and Target Market Behavior

As you can see, it is important to use any data available to you when selecting the keyword phrases and the keyword variations you will be using for your website, but in order to do so you need to know your target market, by age, by gender and by region.

You need to know who is searching and how they are searching. The tools to accomplish this are now readily so use them often and use them wisely.

To learn more, visit our SEO Keyword Research Page, contact us Toll Free at 1-888-262-6687 or Email our SEO Consultants.

During financial difficulties, the first thing businesses typically cut back is their marketing budget.

While seemingly a logical step, the reality is that continued marketing during a recession can mean the difference between long term success and failure.

In the past several weeks we have been bombarded with updates on the current economic outlook. Intensified stress in the credit markets, falling equity, increased unemployment, and a completely destabilized stock market.

With each news update the economic situation looks increasingly grim. Already the typical consumer has “tightened their belts” because of a lack of confidence in the economy; budgets are being lowered on both personal and business levels.

“Recession” is the term being used to describe the present economy and there have already been whispers of “Depression”.

While no one is “immune” during a recession, often it is the smaller businesses (local retailers and services professionals) that tend to suffer the most mainly because of their “lack” of marketing.

Faced with the current economic crisis, far too many smaller companies are adopting the “wait and see” approach yet, from a marketing perspective (based on historical data) this is a mistake.

When the economy is good and sales are plentiful, losing a few sales is something that can usually be tolerated affordably. It is during an economic downturn when one simply cannot afford to lose sales that as a business, you have the greatest opportunity for online marketing success.

Only a finite number of sales can be made at any given time. For every dollar in sales you make, it means your competitor is not only losing that sale to you but they can’t replace that lost revenue.

Therefore for every dollar in sales you gain, you move ahead of your competition by a factor of 2.

And, since many of your competitors are cutting their online marketing budgets during a recession, your opportunities for marketing successfully are compounded. Because of marketing (or the lack of marketing) the gap between a successful business and an unsuccessful one widens considerably during a recession. There is historical evidence to back this up.

Looking back at the Great Depression we are able to see some solid advantages to maintaining or increasing marketing strategies during a recession. Companies that maintained their marketing budget, increased in visibility significantly compared to their competitors who slid out of public sight.

This knowledge indicates that a recession actually presents the opportunity to move your company ahead of your competition in ways that would otherwise be unobtainable.

John Quelch on predicted the current economic situation.

Six months earlier, Quelch stated: “This is not the time to cut advertising. It is well documented that brands that increase advertising during a recession, when competitors are cutting back, can improve market share and return on investment at lower cost than during good economic times.”

Dave Chase with iMedia Connection did some research using data provided by Rod Polasky with In his article he covers in more detail the impact on advertising and the accompanying rise and fall of businesses during the great depression.

I encourage everyone to read Dave’s article for some fascinating history on some very recognizable Brand names who owe their success in part at least, to marketing during the Great Depression.

The facts presented show people do not stop spending during a recession; they just spend more time looking for a better deal. If you are not visible to your online customers, then your competitor will make the sale. A sale you cannot afford to lose.

While the rules stay the same for marketing during a recession today, the actual strategies have changed significantly.

When people research for better deals, they tend to research online nowadays, since it’s much easier than reading junk mail flyers or browsing through phonebooks, catalogs, newspapers or magazines.
In a time when your competitors have already started cutting their online marketing budget don’t miss your greatest opportunity.

If you are planning on delaying search engine optimization, or planning on cutting back on your marketing budget, take note of such names as H.P., Disney, Kellogs & Microsoft; all underdogs who previously took advantage of their Recession Opportunity…and they remain on top to this day.

Market wisely…but market you must.

Now is the opportunity to step up and be seen. Now is your opportunity to take sales away from your competitor and solidify your business as a leader in your industry for the future.

Is it really essential to receive top listings on the major search engines and directories?

Pose that question to business owners and most respond, “yes, it’s very important.”

Follow that up with, What are you doing about it? And the most common response is, “nothing.”

You see, they think that just because they have a website they are already visible to the search engines and directories. Sorry to say, but there’s a lot more to making your website visible to search engines and directories than just having a website. And even if they do know that it exists, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to get top listings.

Why should you care?

Because a major benefit of getting top rankings is that they help CUSTOMERS FIND YOU.

Increased exposure = increased visitors = increased revenues!

Search engines are used by people to help them LOCATE INFORMATION on products and services that they want or need.

Businesses that understand this, design their websites strategically to increase their visibility to the search engines. Some businesses try and do it themselves, only to discover that the process is more difficult and specialized than they realized.

To get good results consistently, you have to understand how search engines work and how they present their results to the end-users. Once you possess this knowledge you need to develop a strategy to capitalize on it. That’s where Website Promotion comes in.

Website Promotion is all about finding ways to optimize your website so that it receives high rankings.

A good Search Engine Optimization strategy should take into consideration the following key components:

  • Head, title, and meta tags (include descriptions, keywords, and copyright info)
  • Incorporating body text that supports targeted keywords
  • Converting dynamic web pages to allow reading by search engine robots/spiders
  • Reducing source code without compromising website functionality
  • Improving/ fixing html code, and broken links and tags
  • Rewriting or copywriting to ensure the content supports the keyword phrases
  • Ensuring sufficient keyword concentration/placement on a page to achieve high rankings with the major Internet search engine

The above factors are extremely important because those are the kinds of criteria search engines consider (What Search Engines See) when retrieving and indexing their results.

Levels Of Search Engine Optimization

Search Engine Optimization generally falls into three-categories:

They all work, but the degree of success with each is very different.

Submittal Services: This type of service ONLY submits your website to the search engines. They do not recommend, alter, or change website pages in any fashion. Their sole purpose is to get the URL submitted to the search engines and directories on a regular basis. They will often use an automated process to submit your site, and usually, will only submit one URL or page. The value of just submitting your website is questionable, since in most cases the major search engines already know your website exists. The cost for this services is anywhere from $19-$49 per-month.

Meta Tag Promotion: This type of service develops meta tags and then makes submissions to the search engines. Sometimes, they will allow clients to choose the keywords, and once the meta tags are updated, the website is submitted once-a-month via automated software. Some search engines use meta tags as the description they display for listings. Meta tags are only one of a number of factors considered by search engines and so it is difficult to get good listings based solely on them. Search engines like Google, DO NOT use meta descriptions or meta tags when indexing websites. The cost for this service is anywhere from $49-$150 per-month.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO): This type of service entails making your website search engine friendly. It can be thought of as the creme-de-la-creme of Website Promotion. SEO ensures your website has a greater chance of receiving HIGH RANKINGS in the returned results. The process involves designing and executing a strategy based on the previously mentioned ‘key components’ of Website Promotion.

The companies providing this service should work closely with you and your webmaster to maintain the continuity and flow of your website, while still satisfying the criteria required for high rankings. They should also develop a list of ‘keywords’ (Keyword Value) that are relevant to your business. Once the optimization has been completed, they should submit your site to all the major search engines and top directories. It is better to manually submit all of your optimized pages and follow each search engine’s guidelines and rules to ensure the site does not fall into disfavor with it. Once a webpage is indexed there is no advantage in resubmitting it. It is a common misconception that you need to keep resubmitting your website. A number of search engines have indicated that they will penalize websites that over submit. The other areas they should provide assistance with are where you want customers to enter your website (Website Entrance) and the best way to present information to both search engines and your customers (Product Introduction Pages). While the cost of SEO may seem high compared to the others, the results you get are very impressive. They will help you to realize the full potential of your website. The cost for this services is anywhere from $250-$600 per-month based on 10-20 keyword phrases.

Which Is The Best Option?

That depends on what you trying to do with your website and Internet Marketing campaigns and what you expect to get from them. If your website is just a source of information and you don’t really expect or want to have lots of visitors to it -then the Submittal and Meta Tag Promotion services might be just what you are looking for. If on the other hand, you want to utilize your website as part of an Internet Marketing/ Website Promotion strategy, or to increase your company’s exposure, or to actually get business off the Internet -then a Search Engine Optimization service is probably your best option.

It is important to understand that proper Website Promotion involves considering many factors that are usually only provided by the full-service Search Engine Optimization companies. Search engines are very sophisticated mechanisms that utilize mathematical algorithms to list their search results. To get consistent results you have to understand how they work and how to make your website visible to them. And therein lies the inherent value of working with a full-service company. That’s what they do, that’s their specialty.

If you found this article useful and would like to discuss how your website can benefit from Website Promotion using Search Engine Optimization, please email us at // or call toll free 1-888-262-6687.