If you travel from your home or office to serve your customers, rather than them coming to you, your business is a single-location service area business (an SAB). Your business has a dedicated street address and a local phone number, but your customers don't to come to you at your location.
The Local SEO City Pages technique is perfect for SAB's, but it is also effective for businesses with more than one location who want to rank in cities where they have no physical presence.
Google will not show your business in the map results for a city if you are not geographically close to that city.
Here's the Issue...
When your business address is in one city, it can be difficult (pretty much impossible) to rank in the Local 3-Pack in other cities.
Because your business address is not geographically the closest to those other cities.
Google wants to return the most relevant results to users, and when they are looking for a business "near them", Google takes that seriously.
Having a well-optimized Google My Business page with lots of reviews will help you move up the ranks in the 3-Pack, but if your field has any competition at all, it is extremely unlikely that your business will appear in the 3-Pack map results for a city where you have no physical location.
What to do instead: Target Local Organic Search with City Landing Pages
If you want to rank in a particular city, the best thing you can do to is to actually have a physical location in that city, but barring that, the next-best thing to do is to target the organic search results for target cities by creating City Landing Pages.
This tactic is well-suited to a "Service Area Business" who has an address in one city, but serves clients in many of the surrounding cities.
This helps get your website into the organic search results for a local search. It's not as great as being in the 3-Pack map results, but it does gain exposure for your business in that market.
How it Works
Optimize a unique/high quality page for each city or market in your service area to increase the likelihood of ranking in organic results for your search terms in that city.
These city landing pages are tricky and need to be written so that they contain information relevant to that city. I really can't stress this enough.....City landing pages with thin or duplicate content for each city can actually penalize your site, so thought needs to be put into these pages!
There may be a lot of cities you want to target, but I recommend starting with the most important. Spreading it out over time will be easier on the budget and have the added benefit of demonstrating activity on the website over some time...showing that it's growing and you are providing more content.
What to Include on a City Landing Page
Here are some ideas for inspiration on what might be included on a city landing page (some of these are courtesy of Moz's Landing Pages Guide:
- Showcase completed projects or events in each city, using text and photos.
- Publish customer testimonials from customers in each city, encoded in Schema review structured data markup. (See also: How Structured Data Helps in Search Rankings)
- Offer city-specific specials or coupons on the city page.
- Share advice and news regarding laws, codes, weather, terrain or issues that are important to a specific community and relevant to your industry.
- Provide unique do-it-yourself tips for things customers can do on their own.
- Share details of your involvement in specific cities, such as events you participate in or organizations you sponsor.
- Embed a Google map of the city location or other custom map
- If you are a member of the Chamber of Commerce for that area, include the logo and link to it.
- Link to other local organizations or related Meetups in which you participate in the target city.
Yes, Do These Things with your City Landing Pages
- Include the city pages in the main navigation. We often set up a 'Service Area' page or menu item and then list the city pages as sub menu items under that. If you don't include the city pages in your main site navigation, you risk Google perceiving them as 'doorway pages' which can negatively impact your site. (See How do you change menu navigation in WordPress?)
- Avoid putting a giant block of text anywhere on your website listing a lot of cities or zip codes. Google's webmaster guidelines cite this as a spammy practice.
What NOT to Do with your City Landing Pages
- Don't "keyword stuff" it full of the city name.
- Don't use an identical layout or verbiage on every city page.
- Don't target too many cities! Try to keep it to no more than 15 important cities. It becomes unrealistic to rank 'locally' for too many locations if you have no physical presence beyond your home base.
- Don't target more than one location from a page.
Creating unique and high-quality city pages for each of your locations is not easy and takes some thoughtful effort. It can definitely be worth the effort when a highly targeted page begins getting you exposure in the market you are targeting.
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There's a plan for that! Local SEO City Pages can be covered by a maintenance plan.