Creating City Pages To Rank for City + Service Keyword Phrases
#1 ranked city page for keyword phrase “ac repair in atlanta”
If you own a business in the suburbs of a large metro area, you might be frustrated because you wish your website ranked in Google for your product or service in that large city, not just in your suburb neighborhood.
For example, I have a friend that owns a carpet cleaning business in Sandy Springs, Georgia (suburb of Atlanta), but he desperately wants to rank for the keyword phrase “Atlanta carpet cleaners”.
The problem is:
- he doesn’t have an Atlanta based address, so local SEO / Google Maps optimization is out
- he hasn’t yet grasped the concept of creating an amazing city page for his website targeting “Atlanta carpet cleaners”
If you are located in the suburbs of a large metro area, but you want to rank for your service in the main city, the only way this will happen is by creating an amazing city page on your website.
Or, you could always go to the midpoint of the large city and rent a small office space to secure an address. This is actually quite a viable solution. And although I mention it jokingly quite often, the more I think about it, the more viable of a local SEO strategy it becomes. The only concern here is that when / if you do rent the office space in mid town, make sure to Google the exact address to see what sort of history exists for that specific location.
But I digress…
Unfortunately, most businesses get the idea of creating city pages in order to gain traffic and exposure in the adjoining large metro area. And once they get the idea, they start pumping out city pages like rabbits… but that’s a huge mistake!
Why? In order to rank the city pages on your website, you have to produce a more valuable page of content than the city pages that currently rank in Google.
It’s a bit more complicated than just mass producing a bunch of city pages in the hopes that Google will rank you above everyone else.
It just doesn’t work like that.
Google is getting better at ranking the absolutely highest quality page of content for any given query, which includes your “city name” + “product or service”.
As such, you have to create a page of content that’s valuable, both at the city level and metro area level. And this takes some work…
In this article, I’m going to show you the top 3 mistakes that businesses make as they attempt to rank city pages. And I’ll follow up with another article on the top 3 tips for creating amazing city pages that will rank in Google.
But let’s start with the mistakes most business websites make on city pages. And make sure you read through to the end, because I’m saving the biggest, most costly mistake for the last…
Mistake 1: Weak City Pages
Let me quantify, using my own standards, as to what makes a WEAK city page. This will give you a general rule of thumb to follow as to what to avoid as you create your city pages. A weak city page consists of the following:
- your city page has less than 500 words of content
- the city page is stuffed with your targeted keyword phrases such as [city + service]
- there are redundant sub titles through your city page targeting your [city + service]
- you failed to mention key attributes throughout your city page such as landmarks, zip codes, and historical or contextual references unique to that city
In order for your city page to compete in the top 1 – 3 search results in Google, here’s my counter list of suggestions on what makes up a STRONG city page:
- Your city page has at least 2,500 words of high quality, unique content
- Your city page uses a wide range of topically related keyword phrases, other than your targeted keyword phrase
- Compelling, relevant sub titles are used throughout your city page content in order to bring relevance and ease of reading to your visitors
- You researched your city page’s targeted metro area extensively and included numerous references to landmarks, zip codes, and other key historical attributes.
First, you must avoid the plague of keyword stuffing, which is probably the number one characteristic of a weak city page, and the most common, natural approach that most business owners take when creating city pages. Google’s algorithm will quickly pick up on your strategy of keyword stuffing and as such, you’ll immediately throw a signal of low quality content.
Again, in order to rank your city page, you have to provide more value to your visitors than any other page you are competing against.
Finally, one of the best ways to make a strong city page is to include attributes, or data point references, that are unique to that specific city. As mentioned, this includes major landmarks, zip codes, and other historical references that will help you drive home the relevancy factor for your target market.
Mistake 2: Thin City Pages
The next major mistake made with city pages is the creation of too many pages that are spread too thin. For example, if you create a new city page for every variation of your product of service targeting your large metro area.
Let’s say you are a heating and air company in Sugar Hill, Georgia (a suburb of Atlanta), but you want to compete in the Atlanta based search results. The mistake of creating thin city pages would look like this:
and so on…
If you take this approach, you will create a batch of city pages that are way too thin to compete in a hyper competitive market like Atlanta.
This is what I’m calling “thin city pages”.
Ultimately, Google ranks pages first according to the domain authority of the top level domain. If your website doesn’t carry a substantial amount of domain authority, you cannot support a large number of city pages with enough power to rank.
And this is how you spread yourself too thin with your city page strategy.
On the other hand, if you aggregate the variations of your services by using strong sub titles and rich content, you’ll shore up all of that domain authority into one specific city page.
And this one city page will have a lot more power for ranking in Google for your many variations of products and service in your large metro area.
Mistake #3: Competing City Pages
Like I said, I’m saving the best – or the biggest – mistake that business owners make with city pages for last! From my experience, this is the most common mistake business owners make when trying to compete in the large metro areas for their products and services.
The best way for me to describe competing city pages is to show you an example.
Someone left a comment in an article on Local Visibility and was wondering why they never seem to gain traction for their city page in Google search.
The city page the person was trying to rank was this:
And the meta data / <h1> title tag on this page is as follows:
Computer Repair Wilmington NC | Fast Same Day Service
However, one look at the their homepage meta data / <h1> tag revealed the following title tag:
Computer Repair Services Wilmington NC | PC Medics On Call
As you can see, these two pages are in direct competition with each other. How? Let’s break it down…
Targeted metro area = Wilmington, NC
Targeted service = Computer Repair
In essence, the city page is optimized in for the same [metro area + service] as the homepage.
Since the homepage is usually the most authoritative page in any website, and since Google ranks pages according to domain authority, the homepage on this site will always outrank the city page for their targeted keyword phrase.
One look at the search results for computer repair wilmington nc will show you that the homepage for this site is sitting in the #4 organic search result. And the targeted city page is basically nowhere to be found.
The lesson here is that if you want your targeted city page to rank in Google, your city page must stand alone amongst all other pages in your website.
If you optimize your city page for the same, or related keyword phrase for any other page in your site, your are setting yourself for failure – especially if you optimize your city page for the same keyword phrase as your homepage.
Your strategy for a city page should be singular. Meaning, when you create a city page to rank in Google, everything about that page (meta data, onsite content, outbound links and references, etc…) should be 100% unique to that specific city page.
Otherwise you’ll dilute the ranking potential for that page and all relevant [city name + service] related keyword phrases.
I hope this article in city page optimization was useful!
Let me know if you have any questions.
Or contact us to help you build an effective city page strategy for your business.