If you are marketing a local business, you know your online content has to be relevant for your chosen location. You want your website to attract the right type of visitors, i.e. people looking for information, services or products related to a specific city or region.
What you need in this case is a way to let search engines "understand" that your content is tailored to that location. At the same time, you should create a meaningful piece of content, not just something you put together for the sake of having your site indexed. How do you do that?
The Bigger Picture
As Google algorithm becomes smarter and smarter, it makes no sense to approach this issue from a "SEO writing" point of view. Even though I'll show you a few "tricks" to implement in your writing for a specific location, it's essential to understand that your overall success in the search engine game depends on a wide range of factors.
The role of content has grown dramatically in the last 10 years. Top search engines realised that if they want to offer users an excellent service they have to find a way to understand the real quality of websites, and rank them accordingly. This ultimately depends on the value they provide: the higher it is, the better its site will rank. Easier said than done! Evaluating content quality is a tricky matter not only for robots, but also for humans.
Nonetheless, it is important to think about the bigger picture: not only focusing on one article or page at a time, but devising an effective content strategy that:
- helps the site rank higher for its target keywords (e.g. emergency plumber Philadelphia)
- provides real value to visitors, converting them into prospects/customers
So how do you do that? Let's start with a few words of caution.
It's Not 1999 Anymore…
More than a decade ago it was quite common to see sites ranking very high which were basically doing one simple thing: stuffing their pages with keywords. If a decorator in Newcastle wanted to show up among the top results, having several mentions of "decorator Newcastle" in its copy, no matter whether the phrase was contextually relevant or not, would be enough.
Fluffy, grammatically incorrect, empty content which tried to speak to search engines only. Something like this:
Here at company X, we provide excellent decorator Newcastle services. With our wide range of products, our decorator Newcastle services set a higher standard of quality in our field. If you need a decorator Newcastle…
Today, keyword stuffing is the easiest way to be penalised. It's ok to provide the user geographical information, but if you fill your pages with such indicators without providing real value, search engines are going to reduce your authority and visibility.
How To Create High Quality, Geotargeted Content
Here a few guidelines to make your content relevant for your geographical area. Please keep in mind that these alone won't work unless you focus on quality and consistency across your website.
Just say it
The no keyword stuffing rule should not prevent you from communicating clearly. Ask yourself: "Is this helping my readers/users/prospects?" If yes, go ahead! You should describe clearly what you do, and where you do it. Do not be afraid to mention several locations if you offer something different in each.
Pages, Not Posts
It's quite funny to read "blogs" from companies all over the world trying to force themselves into a search engine marketing machine, and fail miserably. Just to keep our "decorator Newcastle" example, I often see titles like:
How to choose a good decorator in Newcastle
Why a decorator Newcastle can help you
7 Reasons to hire a decorator Newcastle
This approach is counterproductive because it tries to use a blog for the wrong purpose. This is why it's important to keep things clear. Pages are the best tools to describe your services, while blog posts are meant to provide news, entertainment, updates to your audience and create a community around your business.
So a scenario like this is much better:
- Page: Interior Decorator in Newcastle Services
- Blog post: How to decorate your kitchen on a budget
Less is better
Inside the page, it is good to keep hierarchy of information clear with the use of H tags. H1 will be the main concept, H2 a subparagraph, and so on. The best practice in terms of making your content relevant for the location is not to overuse the geographical term. Rather than repeating it several times across the page, it is better to use it only once.
If your business is based on one location only and you want to publish several service pages, just make sure the homepage has enough geographical information, but do not place it on each one. In other words, do not give the reader/user more information than (s)he needs.
On the other hand, if you operate in more than one location, or you want to target small areas inside the main one, it is ok to post local optimised pages for each one. This is recommended especially if you work in a big city (people will probably look for search results related to their town or neighbourhood).
SEO title and Meta Description
If your CMS allows you to do it, you should optimise both SEO title and meta description of your pages. One mention of the relevant location in each of them is optimal.
Your address and phone number
All pages should have your business local street address and telephone number (crawlable, written text rather than images!): this is an excellent signal for search engines. In case your site does not have a footer it is good to report this type of information only where it's relevant.
Embedding a Google map is another great way to provide value to your visitors and give search engines information about your location. Always remember to either offer a map with the address of your office or main location, or strictly related to the content you are publishing. Some SEO professionals recommend also a so called "geo sitemap", but it's probably better to keep things simple!
Go long tail
The last piece of advice if you want to optimise your website for local search: find longtail keywords, i.e. longer, more focused versions of your main keyword. Use Keyword Planner to see whether searchers are interested in "Newcastle professional interior decorators" instead of "Newcastle decorator". Why is this useful? It will allow you to win over your competitors and provide more targeted information.
Dan is a content marketing specialist with a passion for language learning, search engine optimization and chocolate. He oversees Massive PR International proactive reputation and content strategies.