For those working in the world of search engine optimisation, we hear it all the time: “I would love to be able to target neighbouring areas or these locations”. Business owners naturally want to spread their net as wide as possible but this can be a little tricky, especially when you don’t have a physical office in these locations. Enter local landing pages. You may be aware of local landing pages but you may not be aware of how beneficial they can be in boosting location-specific SEO, nor might you be aware of the potential pitfalls associated with these pages. Fear not, we are here to help.
Local landing pages are indicators of the geographic locations for a business
To be clear, local landing pages are indicators of the geographic locations for a business. They are generally set up to highlight the areas of service or various physical locations in which a business operates. Rather than just listing these different areas on your homepage, it is a good idea to create individual pages for each location. Why do we do this? Well we need to make it clear to Google that we operate in these areas with location specific content and also provide value to users trying to find your product/service within a specific area.
On the surface it appears to be an extremely simple way to boost search result rankings – create a few additional pages, add a few locations and result: rankings boosted! However, if it were that easy then everybody would be doing it perfectly and there would be no need for this blog series. Unfortunately, it is not as straightforward as just creating a number of location pages, with content that is essentially the same but with the location name swapped out each time. This will be considered duplicate content and is not particularly practical for the user; as a result your rankings could suffer. Nevertheless, as long as you are fully informed about the purpose and potential pitfalls of local landing pages then you should be in a great position to make full use of them.
For those that are not au fait with local landing pages, it is the practice of creating pages on your website that have content specific to areas which you want to target/or are already operating within. In basic terms, the theory is that this content is far more relevant and specific to those searching for a good or service within a certain location than the potentially generic and non location specific content on your homepage or inner pages on your website. The problem is that it is all too easy to make them spammy, low quality and ineffective. Furthermore, as we know, there are more factors than just keywords that are taken into account by Google when ranking a page!
Different types of local landing pages
No two businesses are the same and individual businesses operate differently in terms of which areas they operate in, which services are specific to which locations and so on. In other words, some businesses are run from a physical location or multiple physical locations, whilst others offer a service across an area or a variety of areas but operate from a single physical location. The kind of business you are will depend on how you build your local landing pages to make the most of search traffic.
Service area business
A ‘service area business’ is generally characterised as one that offers a service in which they travel to the customers as opposed to the customer coming to visit them at their office or shop. Whether you are a plumber, carer or freelance journalist, quite often these businesses lack a specific physical location due to the fact that they conduct their jobs at the customer’s location. This is also likely to be the case if you are self-employed or operate your business from your home address and would prefer it to not be publicised on the web.
Despite not having a physical location, it is nevertheless of paramount importance that you let potential customers know the areas in which you operate. It is not necessary to have a physical address in order to set up a location page. However, a lack of specific location information does make it harder to differentiate each page substantially but it is nevertheless vital that the location pages offer unique, area-specific information. We will expand on ways to do this in a future post in this Local SEO series.
On the other hand, a brick-and-mortar business has a tangible location with a shareable address. This can include single premise business but also multi-location businesses with various physical addresses. Examples of multi-location businesses include a retail company with several branches, a restaurant chain or a travel agent with multiple offices. As with the service area businesses, it is important to ensure unique content on each location page. The added benefit of having physical addresses is that you have ready-made content unique to each location and can verify the location on Google My Business (or whatever they rename it to tomorrow!), more on verifying locations in a later post. These pages should focus on the value for the user, so an example of location specific content might be directions to a particularly hard to find office.
There will also be businesses which are a cross between these two types – a business with one physical location that operates a service across multiple areas. The same rules apply and there is nothing wrong with having location pages for the areas serviced as well as the specific physical location of the business.
NAP & Citation consistency
NAP and citation may sound like complex technical terms, to be understood only by the SEO geeks of the world, but they are actually very straightforward concepts. Firstly, NAP stands for name, address and phone. It is essentially your contact profile on the web and plays a really important part in improving your rankings in local organic search results. Often it is expanded to NAP+W to also incorporate the web address. Citations are any references or mentions of your business across the web and usually feature part or all of the NAP. These citations include listings in reputable directories.
For example, the below image shows a Yellowball citation in the well-known directory Yelp and it consists of our NAP+W. In other words, the information includes our name, address, phone number and website.