There’s a fundamental problem with local business SEO!
That is, the challenge of growing your business and reaching new customers in surrounding cities and in multiple metro areas.
Traditional local SEO allows you to verify your Google My Business location (i.e. Google Maps listing) in the city where you have an address.
But what about the dozens of surrounding cities where you also want to reach new customers?
How can a local business reach new customers who are located outside their primary city where they have a verified Google Maps listing?
In today’s article, I’m going to show you how to build a local business SEO campaign that’s focused exclusively on reaching new customers in surrounding cities.
We’ve been having a lot of success with local business SEO campaigns leveraging what we call city pages.
City Pages for Local Business SEO
City pages are individual pages of content that are optimized for [city name] + [product or service].
For example, let’s say you are a personal injury lawyer in Sandy Spring, Georgia which is located about 20 miles north of midtown Atlanta.
The address to your law firm is Sandy Springs, GA. and you have a Google My Business listing verified in Google Maps.
This works out well for you in the Sandy Springs market as you may be ranking high in Google Maps for “injury lawyer” related keyword phrases in that market.
But what about the hundreds of surrounding cities that make up metro Atlanta? Or even the dozens of cities that make up the northern suburbs of Atlanta such as:
- Cobb County
- and many others…
This is where city pages can help you implement a local business SEO strategy to reach new clients and customers in those surrounding markets.
Google will crawl and index your city page, see the relevance to a particular metro area, and then favor that page in the search results as people from that metro area search for products and services.
Local pages appearing for global keyword phrases
There’s a trend in Google organic search results where Google is showing locally relevant pages for globally targeted keyword phrases.
And I’m the not the only one noticing…
Here at Bipper Media, we have a client that runs sports camps and a private school. Their customers (sport camp attendees) come from all over the world, so their SEO strategy involves targeting global keyword phrases.
Last year we started noticing the influence of locally relevant pages based on the location of a person searching these globally targeted keyword phrases.
For example, since I’m located here in Athens, Georgia, if I search the global phrase “tennis camps”, notice how Google shows a high percentage of pages that are specific to this market:
In the screenshot above, that’s search result #1, #4, #6, #7, and #8.
And the search term I typed into Google was the global keyword phrase “tennis camps”.
Test it out: go to Google right now and type in the global keyword phrase “tennis camps” (without quotes), and see how many search results are relevant to your specific location. The search results will more than likely include pages relevant to your city or state.
Let me know in the comments below how many page 1 search results are relevant to your city…!
This trend is consistent across all of our client’s most profitable, global keyword phrases.
Here’s a quick percentage of front page / top 10 search results that are showing based on my location.
And I’m searching global, top tier keyword phrases in an incognito browser session from a desktop computer:
- keyword phrase: tennis camps / 60% localized
- keyword phrase: baseball camps / 50% localized
- keyword phrase: soccer camps / 30% localized
- keyword phrase: boys soccer camps / 50% localized
- keyword phrase: girls soccer camps / 70% localized
- keyword phrase: football camps / 60% localized
- keyword phrase: basketball camps / 40% localized
- keyword phrase: lacrosse camps / 40% localized
- keyword phrase: golf camps / 30% localized
That’s the percentage of front page search results that are relevant to my location.
Strategy for Localization
In response to this trend, here’s some suggestions for how to respond.
The goal is to publish pages based on key local / geographic areas that are important to your specific business category.
However, these pages need to consist of high quality content that’s relevant to the user.
So my first thought was to start pulling data across the sports camps and looking at the key geographic areas where the majority of students are coming from.
Then, based on that data, we can start publishing pages that target some of these more popular demographic markets.
For example, let’s say we pull tennis camp attendee data for the last 12 months and find the following geographic markets stand out:
- Los Angeles, CA
- Houston, TX
- Miami, FL
For each of those locations, we can create a new page of content that highlights the demographics of the students coming to IMG Academy.
Here’s an example of what the meta data structure can look like for Tennis Camps + Los Angeles, CA:
Title: Los Angeles Tennis Camps Demographics at IMG Academy
Description: Los Angeles Tennis Camps Demographics at IMG Academy – See the data on our tennis camp attendees from Los Angeles, California
And the on page content can proceed to share the demographic data of the attendees from Los Angeles over the last 12 months.
These pages do not have to be long in word count, just high quality data points for each geographic market.
This strategy could be implemented for each of the geographic markets that are optimal for the business, and can be applied at the metro area, state, and country / international level.
Each of these pages can be also be sitemap listed on a main demographics page. For example, we could have a page that says something like “Where students are coming from that attend IMG Academy Tennis Camps?”
Again, this is just an idea and example of what we can do, and I realize we’ll need to discuss this strategy in more detail to come up with something that works.
But ultimately, the search results in Google are changing to feature more localized content based on the searcher’s location.
And I believe there’s a substantial opportunity for IMG Academy to get ahead of this trend compared to our competitors, and gain traffic and exposure at the localized level.
The advantage we have with this type of localization strategy is the domain authority of the website. Meaning, any new localized page would be feeding directly off the brand and domain authority of IMGAcademy.com – which is substantial.
There are 3 key components to effectively implementing city pages into your local business SEO strategy:
- Meta data optimization (or site structuring)
- Long form content
- Highly localized data points
Meta data optimization for local business SEO
The meta data of your city page has to be highly structured (i.e. site structuring) to the one city you are targeting. Using the example of a personal injury law firm in Sandy Springs, Georgia that wants to be found in Google in a surrounding city like Brookhaven, your city page meta data should look like this:
- Title tag: Brookhaven, Ga. Personal Injury Lawyer
- Description tag: Brookhaven, Ga. Personal Injury Lawyer – For An Experienced Injury Lawyer, Call Today: 678-555-1212
- Image alt tags: brookhaven ga personal injury lawyer
- Slug / URL: brookhaven-personal-injury-lawyer
These meta data elements will ensure that your city page is highly structured and targeting one specific city (Brookhaven, Georgia) and one specific product or service (Personal Injury Lawyer).
As Google crawls and indexes this page, it will be clear what the page is about and what metro area the page is targeting.
Local form content for local business SEO
Our goal with city pages for clients is to reach 700 – 1000 words of content.
However, there’s a lot of research that shows content length of 2000 words or more can help your pages rank higher in Google search.
The content length strategy is really dependent on the competitive environment of your target market.
The more competitive your market, the more content you should have on your city page.
Let’s say, for example, you are wanting to target geographic areas beyond a metro area such as an entire state or country. So instead of “personal injury lawyer in Brookhaven” you want to go after “personal injury lawyer in Georgia”, or even a global level keyword phrase such as “personal injury lawyer”.
In order to compete at this level, you will definitely need to reach the 2,000 – 3,000 word level of well researched, high quality content in order to compete.
And within your long form content, you want to include many topically related keyword phrases as Google now uses LSI (Latent Semantic Indexing) as a ranking factor.
You can find a lot of LSI related keyword phrases and topics to use in your content by using an LSIGraph.com. Just enter your core keyword phrase, such as “personal injury lawyer”, and you’ll get a list of topically related keyword phrases that are highly relevant to the core phrase. Use these keyword phrases as sub titles in your content and expand upon then with additional information.
This strategy will not only increase the LSI factor of your content, but it’s a great way to naturally increase the word count of your article and leverage the benefits of long form content.
Here’s an example of LSI related keyword phrases for the topic of “personal injury lawyer” using LSI Graph:
- personal injury lawsuit loans
- car accident lawyers
- best personal injury lawyer
- compensation personal injury lawyers
- personal injury claims
- personal injury settlement calculator
- personal injury case
Again, you can use these related keyword phrases to include as sub titles and sections throughout your content, and then provide further information on each as it relates specifically to your targeted metro area.
Highly localized data for local business SEO
Finally, throughout your long form content, you want to include a lot of data points that make your page highly relevant to that specific city.
One of the best ways we do this for clients is to use the Nearby tool in Google Maps.
Just enter your target city in Google Maps, and you’ll see the Nearby tool in the top left of your screen… like this:
When you click on the Nearby tool, you’ll have options to see related business categories such as restaurants, hotels, and bars & pubs.
You can also Google “landmarks in brookhaven ga” (replacing Brookhaven with your targeted city) to get other key landmarks to include in your content.
Here’s what you get when you search “landmarks in brookhaven ga”:
When you add localized data components to your city pages, you want to keep them grouped together so as to maintain symmetry throughout your content.
I like to give these sections in our client’s city pages their own title like “Nearby Restuarants in…” or “Nearby Hotels in…”
Here’s a screenshot for one of our car accident lawyers with an office in Cumming, Georgia:
Leveraging local relevance for local business SEO
Including nearby businesses and landmarks in your city page helps to increase the relevance (location awareness factor) of your page. So as people are searching for your products or services in your area, your page will be seen as a more locally targeted and relevant page to present in the search results.
Again, the goal is to get your website’s city page to rank naturally in the search results as people in your target market are searching for your products or services.
As your locally targeted landing page increases page authority and rankings, it will start to appear higher in Google search for both locally targeted keyword phrases (where the user includes a location), or when people are physically located in your target market and searching a global variation (without a specific city mentioned) keyword phrases.
Call to action on your website city page
Finally, no local business SEO strategy would be complete without a strong call to action!
In most cases, local businesses have three main calls to action:
- Call / phone #
- Lead generation form
In the screenshot above, the you can see multiple instances of a the attorney’s phone # for his city page, along with a Free Case Evaluation form.
These call to action elements are also present on the mobile version of the city page where a “tap to call” button is featured.
Here’s a screenshot of the same city page on a mobile phone:
On mobile phones, it’s critically important for local businesses to include a tap to call button above the fold.
People on mobile phones are less likely to scroll through and read and bunch of content.
Instead, since they are already on their phones, they will be much more likely to simple tap the call button, along with providing a better user experience to the visitor on your site.
And user experience helps to increase domain authority, which contributes to higher rankings in Google search.
I hope this article was helpful as you look for ways to reach more customers in nearby cities and metro areas.
If you have any questions or comments, let me know in the comments below!