It’s hard to know when to use location pages on your website. Here is some advice on how to handle it.
David: You asked me to talk about location pages. What are the best practices? When do we create them? Is it for businesses that have physical offices or stores, or also businesses serving larger areas? Any light you can shed is beneficial. Anything you’d like to add to that?
Lidija: That’s pretty much it. I actually never thought about adding locations until recently when I watched some videos. And I’m wondering now, that’s a whole area that could potentially improve ranking, right?
Tricia: Especially when you’re saying location pages, that local SEO aspect of it. Location pages can be really important.
David: Yeah. I think the first place I’d start, Lydia, with location pages is the keyword research process. So, one of the steps of the keyword research process, I think I call it the clarity step, is to really ask if your customers are located in a specific location. And that’s where you will learn things like, I have a business, and it is in Charlotte, North Carolina, and I can only serve people in Charlotte, North Carolina. So, that means everything keyword research-wise is in light of Charlotte, North Carolina. However, there are some businesses where they might have one website, but they serve several different geographies. I have an office in Charlotte, North Carolina. I have an office in Chicago. I have an office in Atlanta. Right? If that’s the case, the strategy is very different because it’s no longer a site-wide strategy. But we need to have parts of the website focusing on each of those geographies. And I will add that sometimes it’s valuable to consider geography, even if a business is not limited geographically. For instance, Reliable Acorn, my main company, can serve people all over the world. But I mentioned Charlotte, North Carolina, on my site. And it’s not that I want to limit myself to Charlotte, North Carolina. It’s that it’s a whole lot easier to show up in Charlotte, North Carolina, than it is to show up worldwide. Right? So, strategically, I have very few clients in Charlotte, but it’s easier to reach those local clients. So, I go ahead and talk about my local area, but in reality, I don’t have a lot of clients in my area. I get clients all over the United States. So, that’s just a strategic thing. So, considering that as part of the keyword research helps me determine do I need to, just throughout my website, relate every one of my pages to my geography or do I have several locations or divisions of my company that are in different locations that will need to have optimization for that area? Right? And I will add that I have seen an old-school SEO tactic where someone tried to build a particular page based on every geography they could think of in a region. And I’d say that strategy does not work anymore. That would not be a recommended strategy.
Stephanie: That’s still very popular.
David: It’s very popular, right? It’s popular, I think, because SEO companies say, I’ll charge you for another page. I’m going to build a page for Baxter Village, another page for Langston, another page for Fort Mill, and another page for Rock Hill, and I’m just going to charge you for all those pages. But in reality, it’s not really helping you. Are you thinking of a particular client, Lidija, for this?
Lidija: Well, actually, I was thinking broader than one client’s case scenario because I’m thinking of different clients. So, actually, the example of your business, right? You would love to position yourself broader than where you are or, let’s say, a business that’s operating in one area but delivering maybe in a region. So, what are those case scenarios like? When would I go for maybe creating several location pages specifically? And how do I go about businesses that are operating too broadly, who are online, let’s say?
David: So, that’s what the keyword research process will help you start to identify. During the keyword research process, I am asking you to play with either the town that you live near or use the word near me in your search queries. And so near me is one of these special phrases with Google where Google hears someone’s ask for a service near me, and Google will determine what is near the person asking. So, if you, in your keyword research, find out that people are searching for a service near me, you know that Google thinks there’s local intent behind that, and you really need to have the city stated explicitly on the page because it helps us see that this is a geographically modified phrase. In Google’s mind, it expects to have a geographical modifier. If you can’t find data for the word near me as it describes your services, then you can decide: do I want to start by focusing on a city, or do I want to focus more generically and not limit myself to a city? And that’s a strategic question that I’ll have with clients. But sometimes clients get a little bit testy about this, so they’ll be like, wait, why are you limiting me to this city? And in reality, I’m just getting started there because it’s a little easier to reach that audience, not because we are trying to say we only serve people in this city. So, I would always use the data to determine how people are searching for what I have to offer, and then with that data, decide what pages need to be built and if I need to have a different page per location or I need to have a site-wide geographical focus mentioning that this geography, site-wide.
Lidija: Thank you, David.
David: Does that help give you clarity?
Lidija: Yeah, definitely.
David: Okay. It’s a good question, and it’s a really good opportunity, right? To make sure that we’re not just… Eventually, we might be able to show up or rank for a very competitive phrase, but why are we working so hard? Let’s help our clients have some success locally first and move them there.
Lidija: Thank you.
Stephanie: Can I piggyback on that real quick?
David: Please do. Please do.
Stephanie: For businesses that have locations spread out like hospice providers, people are looking for these services near them. Would the strategy of creating individual location pages be the way you would go? I understand that it’s kind of like you’re playing an SEO game. What would be a better strategy for that?
David: I would try to use data as much as possible to be the decision-maker. One of the things with this is we have to avoid being too granular about locations. Plumbers are a really good example of this. Plumbers in a city might want to focus on neighborhoods, and they might be tempted to build a landing page per neighborhood within a city. That might be too granular. But if they are a very large plumbing company and they provide service in Charlotte, Raleigh, Asheville, and Wilmington, which are hours away from each other, then I probably would have a page per location per service. But the key is super important, and every page has to be completely distinct. We are not just putting the same content and subbing out the name of the page, or Google will ignore it. And we’ve talked about this in the past where it’s just like, there is something different about being a plumber in Wilmington than there is in Asheville, North Carolina. I don’t know what it is. It has to do with frozen pipes and hurricanes. But you should probably mention that on those two pages. Now, if this were hospice, that’s a lot harder. It might be something about demographics, retiring people, retiring to…
Stephanie: Yeah, they don’t have anything right now. They don’t have anything right now.
David: Right. And that’s the key. A lot of people go wrong and basically just say, Wilmington plumbers are the best plumbers, and we’re the best plumbers in Wilmington. Then the same thing applies to Asheville plumbers. Take the time…
Stephanie: It’s pretty much like a contact page right now. I tried to go a little bit deeper, but the client never did anything.
David: Well, this will be really interesting because when you build those pages, you could go into Search Console, look at pages crawled or discovered but not served, and you can see the pages Google’s ignoring because it’s basically the same stuff.
David: And you can say, look at this missed opportunity.
Tricia: I want to add one thing. If they have separate individual physical locations and they’ve got separate Google Business Profiles, I would have it work towards doing individual ones for each specific location. And you’ll want to then have that as the URL in their Google Business Profile. Google, especially on local, when looking at the Google Business Profile, that’s really important. And having things specific, like David was talking about, about that location. So, with that location, is there something different that they do? Anything like that. But especially if they’ve got locations, I would work towards that because of their Google Business Profile and local SEO.
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