City pages can be a powerful way to connect with new clients in surrounding cities.
In fact, over the last 5 months we’ve increased one of our law firm client’s search traffic to their website by over 70% through the use of city pages.
The truth is, your business is surrounded by many smaller (or even larger) cities.
But with local SEO, you can only verify your physical location in Google Maps.
Local SEO takes care of your traffic and rankings for the city where you are physically located.
But what about the 10 surrounding cities where you are also trying to reach customers?
This is one of the more frustrating points we see with all of our local business clients.
It doesn’t matter if we’re talking to a plastic surgeon, personal injury lawyer, or dentists. Every local business wants to find a way to connect to more customers in surrounding cities.
Today I’m going to show you a way that almost guarantees you will rank higher in Google and drive more search traffic to your website from surrounding those surrounding metro areas.
City Pages: Your doorway to surrounding cities
When it comes to reaching customers in your surrounding cities, the traditional path of local SEO isn’t an option.
The traditional local SEO strategy is to verify your business address and optimize your GMB listing for rankings in Google maps.
And when someone searches for a particular lawyer in your city, your verified GMB listing will appear in the Google Maps search results, like this:
This of course assumes an effective local SEO strategy has been implemented.
But what if you don’t have an address to verify in all of your surrounding cities and zip codes?
How are you suppose to compete in Google in all of those markets?
That’s where city pages comes to the rescue.
This is a powerful way for your law firm to start ranking in dozens of surrounding cities for your targeted practice areas.
And today I’m going to show you the exact 4 step process we use with all of our client’s city pages.
And by the way, this doesn’t just work for law firms. We have clients from all types of businesses effectively implementing city pages to reach more customers.
4 Step Process to creating city pages that rank fast
City pages allows your law firm to create content that’s relevant to a particular city and practice area.
For example, let’s say your law firm is located in Atlanta, Georgia
But you have clients coming from cities like Marietta, Sandy Springs, and Roswell – which are cities within the greater metro Atlanta area.
City pages can help your law firm get traffic and exposure in Google, and connect to new clients, in these surrounding cities without the need to verify additional Google My Business listings in Google Maps.
Here’s the 4 step process we use to build city pages for our clients that rank fast in Google search:
Step 1: Identify one practice area for your targeted city page
Your law firm may have multiple practices areas such as DUI, personal injury, estate planning, and business litigation.
To increase your chances to compete at the top of Google search and connect to new clients in surrounding cities, you need to target only one practice area an city per page.
According to the Metro Atlanta Chamber, there are 29 municipalities making up the greater metro Atlanta area.
Check this out:
And since I live in this area, I can tell you that the expansion of metro Atlanta goes well beyond this map.
We live approximately 1.5 hours east of Atlanta in Athens, Georgia. And every day it feels like we are becoming more a part of the sprawling urban expansion of Atlanta.
One to one targeting of city pages
So if your office is located in downtown Atlanta, but you want to reach new clients searching for car accident lawyers in, let’s say, Stockbridge (a city south of Atlanta) then you’ll need to create a city page optimized for the following keyword phrase:
Stockbridge Car Accident Lawyer
Your entire page, from the title and description tags, down through the body of the content, needs to be hyper focused on the city of “Stockbridge” and the “car accident lawyer” practice area.
To unlock the ranking power of this city page, you cannot inter-mingle competing topics (practice areas or cities).
For example, you don’t want to talk about your DUI practice area in Marietta within the content of your Stockbridge Car Accident Lawyer page.
Hyper focused, one to one targeting for your city pages is how you’ll unlock the relevance factor and page authority that your city page needs to drive higher rankings and more traffic from Google.
Step 2: Long form content: mastering LSI
Research shows that a direct correlation exists between an article’s word count and its ranking position in Google.
In the image below from Backlinko, you can see the impact of this relationship:
The more words you include in your article, the more likely it will be seen by Google as an authoritative piece of content, and the higher it will rank in Google search.
Word count alone isn’t enough.
You also need to include high quality, well researched content around your specific topic.
That’s where the power of LSI (Latent Semantic Indexing) comes into play.
Here’s a great definition of Latent Semantic Indexing from Search Engine Journal:
Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) is a mathematical method used to determine the relationship between terms and concepts in content. The contents of a webpage are crawled by a search engine and the most common words and phrases are collated and identified as the keywords for the page.
Google’s semantic algorithm looks to first identify the core topic of your content. In our example, that would Stockbridge Car Accident Lawyer.
And from there, LSI starts to identify additional topics that are related to your core topic.
And it analyzes the depth of your content surrounding those correlated keyword phrases and terms.
As you might imagine, when you create long form content (3,000+ words), the ability to increase your LSI relevance becomes much easier.
The more content you write produce around your core topic, the more naturally you’ll include many LSI related keyword phrases.
And this tells Google that your article on Stockbridge Car Accident Lawyer is in-depth, well researched, and provides a lot of valuable information around that topic.
Which ultimately means Google sees this page as a valuable piece of content that deserves to be ranked at the top of Google search.
LSI and long tail keyword phrase variations
The power of LSI goes beyond just presenting a well researched piece of content.
It also opens the door for your website to rank for a wide range of long tail keyword phrases.
When people are searching for a car accident lawyer in Stockbridge, Georgia, they may execute that search using many different phrase variations or topic variations.
Here’s a list of few different ways someone may search for a car accident lawyer in Stockbridge, Ga.:
- auto injury lawyer in Stockbridge
- accident attorneys in Stockbridge
- auto accidents with injury in Stockbridge
- ambulance lawyers in Stockbridge
- auto accidents claims with insurance in Stockbridge
- and so on…
When you include a wide range of LSI keyword phrases and topics around your core topic, your page will start to rank for these many different keyword phrase variations.
And this can result in hundreds, or even thousands of new visitors to your website that are highly relevant to your core topic “car accident lawyer in Stockbridge”.
In fact, research shows that the majority of search volume is actually found in the long tail phrase variations of core keyword phrases.
Even though the most search volume for any given keyword phrase may be found in the core phrase, when you add up all of the search volume in the long tail phrases, you exponentially increase the traffic potential from Google search.
How to build a list of Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) keyword phrases for your content:
You can quickly build your list of LSI keyword phrases to use in your content by visiting LSIGraph.com.
In this example, I’m looking for topically related keyword phrases around the core topic of “car accident lawyer”.
I’m not using the metro area of “Stockbridge” because that might be too granular to see strong LSI related keyword phrases.
Instead, I’m looking for high quality LSI related keyword phrases first, and then I’ll integrate the metro area along with the LSI phrases.
Here’s what I get when I run “car accident lawyer” in the LSI Graph tool:
- auto accident checklist
- geico what to do in an accident
- youtube auto accidents
- car accident with no police report
- auto accident
- car accident lawyers bakersfield
- car accident lawyer columbia sc
- car accident lawyer in maryland
- broward car accident lawyer
- oakland car accident lawyer
- pa car accident lawyers
- car accident lawyer chicago
- accident lawyers
- what to do after a car accident
- what to do in a car accident
- what to do in an accident checklist
- truck accident checklist
- auto accident attorney
- auto accident checklist pdf
- auto accident investigation checklist
- injury investigation checklist
- workers compensation investigation checklist
- what happens after a car accident
- workplace accident investigation checklist
- car accident lawyer
- accident checklist
- printable auto accident checklist
- geico reporting an accident
- geico insurance report an accident
- geico after an accident
- geico accident claim
- geico time limit to file claim
- claims geico report claim aspx
- how to deal with a car accident
- minor accident no police report
- auto accident no police report
- minor car accident
- youtube car crash
- youtube truck accidents
- youtube auto accident videos
- car accidents videos youtube
- car accident claims
- videos of car accidents
- youtube car accident
- car accident videos youtube
- accident youtube
- russian auto accidents youtube
- youtube wrecks
- accident but no police report
- insurance claim no police report
- car accident no police called
- accident with no damage
- no accident report no problem
- car accident without police report
I went the through the list and identified some LSI keyword phrases that might work well in my page that’s on the topic of Car Accident Lawyer in Stockbridge.
I especially like the references to things like car accident videos youtube, truck accident youtube videos, etc… because this gives you the opportunity to include rich media (i.e. videos) in your content.
And people love videos!
Including rich media in your content will give your readers something more to look at as they read your article.
And this increases the overall time spent on your page, which increases user experience factors such as time on site, which increases the overall relevance factor of your page, which in turn increases your Google rankings and traffic (yes… there’s a lot of factors that go into rankings).
- Read more about how User Experience influences domain authority
I went to Youtube and quickly found a video you could use in your article on Car Accident Lawyer
When you embed the video in your article, be sure to use at least an <h2> subtitle tag above the video like this:
Youtube Videos of Truck Accidents
Adding the subtitle above your video gives you the opportunity to use one of your LSI related keyword phrases. Better yet, you can use it an <h2> subtitle tag, which is even more powerful!
The power of Q&A’s for LSI targeting
Along with rich media such as videos, another powerful way to increase your LSI ranking factor is to include questions and answers around your core topic.
Again, the LSI Graph tools provides some great examples of Q&A’s to use in your content:
- how to deal with a car accident?
- what to do after a car accident?
- what to do in a car accident?
- what to do in an accident checklist?
Answer these questions with a paragraph or two, and you’ll quickly increase your LSI ranking factor.
Plus, you’ll find it easy to dramatically increase the word count and overall quality of your article.
Step 3: Meta Data Structuring: [metro area + practice area]
Once you’ve written 3,000 plus words of super high quality, LSI filled content, it’s time to look at what I call “site structuring“.
Site Structuring is the strategic use of high quality meta data structuring within your website and web pages.
There are 3 core areas I focus on for web page site structuring:
- Title Tag / <h1> tag
- Description Tag / <desc> tag
- Image alt tags <img alt=> tags
Optimizing your Title Tag in City Page
Within any page in your website, including city pages, Google will give the most weight to the first instance of your title tag on that page.
The title tag is indicated by the <h1> tag in your code. If you use a platform like WordPress, the title of your pages and blog posts are automatically considered the title tags.
You can see the <h1> or <title> tag by right clicking anywhere on a page and selecting “view source”.
Here’s what it looks like from a recent blog post on Bipper Media:
Since my site is built on Wordpress, you can see the <title> tag being used instead of the <h1> tag.
In this case, the <title> tag is the same thing as the <h1> tag, and this is where you’ll include your most important keyword phrase in the first instance of the tag.
Front Loading your Title Tag
With city pages, I recommend front loading your title tag first with the city name and then the practice area like this:
[city name] + [practice area]
Using the example of a car accident lawyer in Stockbridge, Georgia, here’s what a front loaded title tag should look like on your city page:
Title tag: Stockbridge Car Accident Lawyer
By adding the city name first and then your practice area, you will help to reinforce the metro area signal to Google
This is important because if, for example, someone is physically located in Stockbridge, Georgia and opens their Google search app and searches for “car accident lawyer”, Google will detect their location by the IP address of their phone.
And when Google sees you are located in Stockbridge, the search results will favor pages that indicate they are relevant to that geographic area.
Here’s an example…
I’m currently located in Athens, Georgia and I just typed the phrase “car accident lawyer” into my Google app.
Notice how the search results favor Athens, Georgia even though I never typed “Athens” into the search bar:
The second organic search result for this query is a law firm located here in Athens, Georgia.
Notice also how their title tag is front loaded with the term “Athens Georgia” first, followed by “Car Accident Lawyer”.
The purpose of city pages is to get found by people searching in your surrounding metro areas, and this is why front loading your title tag with your city name first will help reinforce this action.
Optimizing your Description Tag in City Pages
Next is the description tag <desc>.
The description tag is said to not carry any weight in determining your rankings.
However, it can be a powerful way to increase the click thru rate to your website.
And user experience signals such as click thru rate is definitely a strong ranking signal.
In fact, when you look at the organic search results for any query, you’ll find the description tag to be one of the most influential factors determining which page someone clicks on.
Coming back to the example above, here’s the description tags highlighted for the search results from “car accident lawyer” that favored Athens, Georgia (again, because that’s where I’m located):
I think it’s easy to tell which websites actually took the time to create a unique descriptions and which ones are relying on Google to automate the description based on content from the website.
Pretty much any description tag you see with ellipses “…” at the end are either too long for the search results, or Google went ahead and automated the tag from the on-page content.
How to write a strong, compelling description tag for your city pages:
Search Engine Land wrote up some great tips on writing compelling description tags that will increase click thru rates.
Here’s a summary of their recommendations:
- Be descriptive
- Be persuasive
- Inspire curiosity
- Use the right words
- Make them the correct length (standard being 156 characters long)
Coming back to the Stockbridge Car Accident Lawyer example, here’s a description that might work well using the recommendations above:
Injured in a car accident in Stockbridge, Ga.? Call Joe Smith, Stockbridge, Georgia’s premiere car accident lawyer, today!
Optimize your image ALT tags
The final part of Step 3: Meta Data Structuring, is to optimize your images with your targeted keyword phrases.
This is achieved through the use of image alt tags, which look like this in the code: “alt=>”.
Here’s a live preview from the source code of the same article I referenced above:
One look at the image alt tag will tell you what keyword phrase I’m optimizing this article for – seo strategies more google traffic.
In the example of optimizing your city page for Stockbridge Car Accident Lawyer, the image alt tags within the images on your page should look like this:
atl=”Stockbridge Car Accident Lawyer”
Image alt tags help to reinforce the targeted keyword phrase and give more relevance to your city page.
And every little thing you can do to increase relevance and page authority will help the page to rank higher and drive more traffic from your targeted metro area.
Step 4: Internal linking: high quality structures
The final step we use to create high ranking city pages for our clients is the use of internal linking structures.
Let’s face it…
Most websites out there are a big, hot mess when it comes to the organization and structure of their links and pages.
When your pages and links have no logical structure or flow, the visitors to your website will have a less than stellar user experience.
And again, user experience is a huge ranking factor when it comes to getting the pages in your law firm website to rank higher.
The internal linking structure of your city pages, and how they fit in to your overall website architecture, is very important.
Creating an organized internal linking structure for your city pages
From our experience, the most effective way to create an organized internal linking structure is by inter-linking all of your city pages with an embedded / sub-navigation menu.
Let me explain…
Let’s say you have 5 city pages within your law firm’s website.
You could create one page that acts as a main sitemap landing page for your 5 city pages where you also include a link to these pages.
Here’s what your main sitemap landing page might look like:
- Main sitemap landing page
- City page URL 1
- City page URL 2
- City page URL 3
- City page URL 4
- City page URL 5
Internal sub-navigation menus
But you can take this structure one step further by embedding the sitemap within each city page in the form of an internal sub-navigation menu:
- City page URL 1
- City page URL 2
- City page URL 3
- City page URL 4
- City page URL 5
You can take your list of city page URL’s from your sitemap and embed them on each individual city page.
So no matter what city page I’m on, I have quick access to any of the other 4 city pages.
And include this internal sub-navigation menu ONLY on your city pages.
You shouldn’t include this internal sub-navigation menu on any other page within your website, other than the 5 city pages.
By having a top level sitemap page, and including the sitemap URL’s as an internal sub-navigation menu on each of the 5 city pages, you create a high level of relevance surrounding your targeted city pages.
By linking all of the city pages together internally, you will help shore up relevance, authority, and ranking bouyancey to these pages.
In essence, the internal linking structure will become a self-perpetuating relevance factor for each of your targeted city pages.
Internal City Page Linking Structure for Dentists
Here’s an example of this in action, so I’m going to diverge a bit and show you one of our more recent projects where we included an internal navigation element with a dental practice.
Below are links to several of their city pages, and then notice at the bottom of each page the internal sub-navigation element that links all of the pages together:
- Same Day Dentistry in Athens
- Bridges and Partials in Athens
- Dental Implants in Athens
- Crowns in Athens
Here’s a screenshot of the sub-navigation menu:
Although the design and integration may vary based on each client’s website, this is in essence the same structure we use for all of our clients, law firms and more, when creating city pages.
Bonus Step: Tracking data & analytics on your city pages
I wouldn’t be giving you the best advice on how your law firm can leverage city pages to get higher rankings and more traffic from search without discussing data and analytics.
Client’s pay us a lot money to build authoritative city pages for their business, and we invest a lot of time, energy, and effort in producing those city pages and getting them ranked in super competitive markets.
So it would be a travesty if we never tracked how well those city pages performed for our clients, both in rankings and traffic.
How to track data and analytics for city pages
There are two core elements to our data and analytics tracking for client’s city pages:
- Rankings for each targeted keyword phrase + metro area
- Organic search traffic
For each of these elements, we take note of the data the day before we start working on our client’s city pages.
This means we mark the law firm’s current rankings in Google for all of their targeted keyword phrases.
In the example above, the targeted keyword phrase would be stockbridge car accident lawyer.
And here’s how we start with organic search traffic data:
We turn to Google Analytics and isolate their “Organic Traffic” channel.
The Organic Traffic channel will give you traffic data that’s coming only from search engines (i.e. Google search).
We mark the law firm’s current level of organic search traffic overall.
It’s so much of a big deal getting this data before we do any optimization work because you can always reference historical data in analytics.
Creating the base for traffic and ranking performance
Now that we’ve marked their data, we can move forward with producing and optimizing their city pages.
At the end of each month, we’ll create a report for that measures organic search traffic and rankings vs. the data we marked at the beginning.
This gives us a true sense of the impact city pages are having on our clients.
We also keep a running log of the data, which gives us a month over month view of their traffic and ranking performance.
Over time, we are able to produce three valuable reports for our client’s regarding the performance of their city pages:
- Month over month (MoM)
- Year over year (YoY)
- Year to date (YTD)
Month over month data: this shows our client the performance of their city pages from month to month. If we were to send you a report today, the month over month data would show you how your city pages performed this month vs. the previous month.
Year over year data: this data shows the different between the current period (for example, the last 30 days) vs. the same period one year ago. So if I ran a report of December, 2016 organic search traffic, to get the year over year comparison, I would compare it to December, 2015.
Year to date: the way we run year to date reports is by first selecting December 31st of the previous year. Then we select the date of the last full day, or previous day. This will give us the year to date growth / decline of organic search traffic.
Finally, we take these reports and send them to our clients on the same day each month. This helps our clients stay up to date on the overall performance of their city pages, and the impact they are having on traffic and rankings growth to their websites.
Now it’s your turn!
What do you think of city pages?
Do you agree, or disagree, with the viability of city pages as a way to get higher rankings and traffic from multiple surround metro areas?
I look forward to seeing your comments and questions below.