Q: What are the main goals of location/city landing pages?
A: Location and city landing pages can best be thought of as a form of customer service. These pages have dual goals; one is to achieve high visibility in the search engines for specific branches of your business, and the other is to engage page visitors so that they are inspired to patronize the location being featured.
Too often, business owners take shortcuts and only focus on the first half of this equation, resulting in the publication of large numbers of uninteresting, duplicative pages that are over-optimized with blocks of keywords (like city names and zip codes) and have little to offer human visitors. Sitewide signals like Google’s Helpful Content Update don’t reward websites that have a habit of publishing low-value content. If you keep it firmly in mind that you want these pages to inspire real people to choose your business, your logical next step is simply to choose amongst the many options we’ve covered based on what you believe will be of most help to your community.
Q: How much content do I need on my location/city landing pages?
A: You may not need all 20 types of the above content on a given landing page, and you may also have other forms of content I haven’t listed that are the right fit for your business and community.
Some elements are essential, like your name, contact info, and hours of operation. Beyond this, think about what is popular in your industry — is video content a fabulous fit, will photos help sell your business, do you need to build up reviews to become competitive in Google’s local packs, do deals play a significant role in how your customers shop? Your answers will be unique to your business and customer base. Don’t be afraid of experimenting. For example, lots of videos may not seem like an obvious match for the plumbing industry, but watch Joy Hawkins’ interview of a local plumber who saw outstanding success via a YouTube marketing strategy. Read about “shelfies” and how these photos can bring in customers whose confidence has been boosted by seeing your inventory. Consider how showcasing your sustainability efforts offers local guidance that can set your business apart. There is so much you can tell customers about why they should choose you!
Q: How do I optimize my location/city landing pages?
A: As mentioned above, over-optimized location and city landing pages have been a longstanding problem on the web. Read I Want To Rank Beyond My Location: A Guide to How This Works to determine what approach to these landing pages is actually suitable for your business model, and in creating this set of pages, avoid the temptation to stuff them with keywords. An approach with more appeal to human visitors will be to naturally incorporate your most important location and product/service keywords into your:
Main body content
You don’t need to hit a magic number of words or repeated keywords. Focus on customer service, and write as you would speak to a live customer, honing in on their needs, the language they use and understand, and answering all the commonest questions they might ask.
Q: Should I be worried about duplicate content on my location/city landing pages?
A: If you’ve encountered information around the web about a “duplicate content penalty,” please ignore it; Google has repeatedly confirmed that this concept is a myth. On your set of landing pages, it is totally normal if some elements are identical from page to page. For example, your customer guarantees are likely the same across all your branches, as might also be brand-wide specials, news, or product/service information. There is no need to be concerned about this same text appearing on more than one page of your website.
With that fear banished you can instead focus on the positive direction of making each page useful along the lines of Google’s Helpful Content Update, mentioned above. The good news is it’s really easy to localize most of these landing pages because certain elements will automatically be unique to the locality. For example, your contact info, location-specific reviews, images, and videos will all be unique if they are about Branch A instead of Branch B. You can also experiment with creating unique deals and specials for each branch and custom guidance related to a specific town or city. The only thing to avoid is taking a slap-dash approach and tossing up a large volume of these pages with nothing helpful on them, as this could weaken the overall quality of your website.
If you truly don’t have the time/resources right now to invest in creating a unique page for each branch that will contribute to the overall quality of your website, you may be better off using a map-based location finder widget instead for now.
Q: What navigation should I use for my location/city landing pages?
A: If your brand currently has only half a dozen or so locations, you can likely link to them via a dropdown in your main navigation menu labeled “Locations”. If you have more branches than this, you should likely implement a text or maps-based store locator widget so that customers can enter a town or street name or find themselves on a map to be taken to the appropriate landing page. If your model is a Service Area Business, a more detailed map can help customers understand which branch to contact for the area within which they are located. To ensure proper indexing of all your landing pages, it’s a good idea to list them out in an HTML sitemap page on your website.
Q: Are location/city landing pages a set-and-forget task?
A: In most cases, no. At the bare minimum, you should be auditing these pages periodically to ensure that the hours of operation are accurate at times of the year when change is common. For example, you should update your pages to reflect holiday or seasonal hours. And, of course, you will need to update these pages any time core contact information (like addresses or phone numbers) changes so that your local business listings across the local search ecosystem match what is on their respective landing pages. But, if you determine that you’re going to make the most of these landing pages, there are many areas you can keep fresh, including:
Google has a long history of emphasizing freshness in their results for certain queries, and by keeping your pages lively, they will also appeal to customers who will understand that your content is current and trustworthy.
Q: Should my local business listings link to my location landing pages?
A: The best answer is that this is up to you. You can either link all your Google Business Profiles and other local business listings to your home page, or you can link each listing to its appropriate landing page. To make a wise decision for your business, weigh these pros and cons: