Daydreaming of a new local SERP tracking strategy? The Long-Distance Dreamer is here to turn that reverie into a tracking reality.


As the great Benjamin Franklin once wrote, “in this world, nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes and the need to track local search.” (Okay, so we might’ve taken some liberties there, but you get the point.)

And while local search matters more than ever for SEOs, your local SERP tracking strategy still starts with the searcher. That’s why we put our heads together and knocked out seven searcher-centric tracking patterns for our guide, Strategies for local SERP tracking.

We constructed our patterns around hard SERP evidence — device type, geo-modification, location — which allowed us to infer the intent behind each type of local search.

In this post, we take a closer look at the Long-Distance Dreamer search pattern.

The Long-Distance Dreamer

This search pattern is distinguished by the difference between the user’s whereabouts and the location being searched.

These factors make up the Long-Distance Dreamer local search pattern.
These factors make up the Long-Distance Dreamer local search pattern.

The Long-Distance Dreamer

These factors make up the Long-Distance Dreamer local search pattern.

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We’ll investigate the mismatched locations, the search scenario, who should track the Long-Distance Dreamer, and then get down to the nitty-gritty details of hybrid search intents and mixed signal strengths.

The search scenario

As the name suggests, the Long-Distance Dreamer search pattern is usually performed by people who are located in one place and looking for content about another.

It’s a characteristic pattern for commuters, tourists, trip-planners, and the like, who are eventually heading somewhere else. An example would be a North American undergrad finally planning that backpacking trip through Europe.

The Long-Distance Dreamer has been thinking about that post-grad Euro-trip for a while and is ready to make it a reality.
The Long-Distance Dreamer has been thinking about that post-grad Euro-trip for a while and is ready to make it a reality.

The Long-Distance Dreamer

Our searcher has been thinking about that post-grad Euro-trip for a while and is ready to make it a reality.

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As for the device type, both desktop and mobile are in play. This person could be riding the bus and reading hostel reviews on their smartphone, or booking bedbug-free lodgings at home on their desktop.

Who should track this pattern?

This pattern should be tracked — and pronto — by industries where the discrepancy between business and searcher location exists. That can include travel, hospitality, tourism, shipping, logistics, media, news, and so on.

Dividing and defining intent

By determining and tracking the different types of search intent that bring traffic to your site, you can optimize to meet those specific needs.

As we’ve mentioned previously, the three most common search intents have traditionally been referred to by SEOs as navigational, informational, and transactional. In it’s newest Quality Rating Guide, Google classifies them as Website, Know, and Do queries, where transactional intent receives a bit of a facelift with its new Do name.

“When every search is performed with a specific action in mind, getting into the mind of your searcher is key.”

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Instead of being restricted to purchases, “[t]he intent of a Do query is to accomplish a goal or engage in an activity […] The goal or activity may be to download, to buy, to obtain, to be entertained by, or to interact with a website or app. Users want to Do something.”

This added layer of nuance reflects the nature of the search more accurately, helping industries that measure alternative conversions (it’s not always all about the Benjamin’s) create a more precise SEO strategy.

That said, it still doesn’t go far enough for search types like the Long-Distance Dreamer pattern, which actually straddles the divide between Know and Do search intent.

Sliding down the dreamer’s funnel

Using our earlier example, our future backpacker wants to purchase plane tickets and book hostel rooms, but not before gathering oodles of information first. Since the search intent is split, it’s difficult to label the query as either Know or Do.

Examples of other commercial investigation queries
Examples of other commercial investigation queries

Commercial Investigation

Examples of other commercial investigation queries. (Source: Moz)

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Thankfully, the Wizard of Moz, Rand Fishkin, named a fourth searcher intent — commercial investigation — for just this kind of SEO quandary. Rand describes commercial investigation queries as not “directly transactional, and may never result in an exchange of goods, services or monies, but they’re not purely informational either.”

To hit our Long-Distance Dreamer, whose vagabond shoes are longing to roam, an online travel company would want to target the entire search funnel, from top to bottom. This means building and tracking extensive keyword sets that cover everything from early research to price comparisons to post-arrival resources.

By looking at a mass of keywords and segments for both the Know and Do aspects of the Dreamer’s queries, the travel company is able to craft content that will keep the Dreamer coming back at every stage of their journey.

Interpreting mixed local intent signals

Since search queries often have more than one search intent at play (even if that first intent is a hybrid), it’s time to dive into the local intent of the Long-Distance Dreamer — which has a mixed signal strength.

We call the intent signal mixed because this pattern includes everything from low local intent informational searches [cities to visit in Italy] to high local intent transactional searches [booking hostels near Trevi Fountain].

“The stronger the signal, the more likely the searcher intends to buy or do something locally.”

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Here’s where segmentation comes into play.

Let’s say you work for a popular hostel website. You want to be the go-to resource for all of a backpacker’s travel-needs so that when it comes time to book a place to rest their head, your site is their first and only stop.

Segmenting your keywords by signal strength will help you determine what level of local intent lead your site is attracting best:

Low local intent informational searches

Here, our backpacking Long-Distance Dreamer is at the top of the search funnel and the beginning of their trip planning.

  • [how to backpack through Europe]
  • [staying in European hostels]
  • [cities to visit in Italy]

Mid-to-high local intent commercial searches

Our trusty traveler is now starting to narrow down their route, becoming more specific with their queries.

  • [best neighbourhoods to stay in Rome]
  • [best hostels in Rome]
  • [landmarks to see Rome]

High local intent transactional searches

Finally, with the heart of Rome and Trevi Fountain calling to them, they’re ready to book a hostel for their in-person visit.

  • [available hostels in Rome]
  • [cheap hostels in the heart of Rome]
  • [booking hostels near Trevi Fountain]

Ranking well for high local intent transactional searches means more conversions. But a top SERP spot for earlier steps in the search funnel ensures that you’re attracting the Long-Distance Dreamer throughout their entire search journey, eventually gaining that final conversion.

It’s important to note here that this local search pattern isn’t just about big-ticket global travel. It also covers everyday movement like a daytrip to a neighbouring town.

In fact, the closer the place is to a searcher’s physical location, the stronger the intent signal becomes. Why? Because people may daydream for many years about backpacking Europe without ever taking action, but are much more likely to hop in the car and head for a nearby city.

But wait! There’s more!

If you’re keen on more keyword strategy for the Long-Distance Dreamer and what the other local search patterns are serving up, download the full STAT Guide: Strategies for local SERP tracking.

STAT guide(PDF)

Stay tuned for our next search type, the Metropolitan. And if you’re a little tardy to this local search series party, you can catch up on our earlier patterns, the Armchair Researcher, Mobile Time-Killer, and “I want it now.”

Want to hop on our big data bandwagon and into the minds of your searchers? Say hello and request a demo!