One of the most common questions I get is:
“How can I get my business found in multiple cities and surrounding locations in Google by people who are not located in main city?”
This is a great question!
Because when it comes to Local SEO and Google Maps optimization, you can really only leverage your Google My Business listing.
This means, your GMB listing will only help you get found (in most cases) within the city where you have an office.
But what about the dozens, or even hundreds, or surrounding markets where your customers live?
This is where the power of city pages comes in.
City Pages and associated search optimization strategies are one of the fastest growing products that we offer here at Bipper Media because business owners are realizing how big the opportunity is to get found in Google search in surrounding cities.
So keep reading below to see how city pages can help your business get found in surrounding cities, and ultimately help you to grow your business.
Here’s a podcast (audio version) that I did on city pages last year… have a listen!
Get your business found in multiple surrounding locations in Google.
It’s 2019, which means it’s time to upgrade your local SEO strategy!
City Pages are a unique strategy that allows your business to get found in surrounding cities and adjacent metro areas relative to your primary location.
Most local SEO agencies will give you a standard response to improving your local rankings in Google Maps such as verifying your Google business listing, building relevant citations, etc…
But in 2019, these fundamental strategies may no longer be enough!
In today’s article, I’m going to show you a local SEO strategy that’s relevant for 2019, and one that goes beyond the local SEO fundamentals that you’ve been reading about.
LSI: Latent Semantic Indexing
Ref: Image from GoBloggingTipc.com
Perhaps one of the greatest advancements in Google’s search algorithm is the move toward topical relevance.
Topical relevance goes beyond specific keyword phrases, and looks to the overall relevance of a particular topic.
One look at the organic rankings for Wikipedia pages will give you an idea of the power of topical relevance.
Today, Google uses LSI technology to determine the overall authority of a page based on topical relevance.
So instead of focusing on just one keyword phrases, Google looks at the content to see how many other “topically related” terms or phrases are used throughout the content.
LSI & City Pages for Local Business
For any business looking to rank in Google for locally targeted keyword phrases, you’ll more than likely need to implement city pages into your marketing strategy.
City pages takes you beyond just your Google business listing for local SEO.
With GMB / Google Maps listings, you are limited to only one primary business category and only one specific address or location.
But with city pages, you can now target any combination of product or service and metro area.
For example, let’s say my business is located in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
I would obviously want a Google business listing verified for local Google Maps rankings.
But what if I also wanted to reach customers in the hundreds of other cities between Fort Lauderdale and Miami, as an example.
Or better yet, what if my business is actually located in a small city somewhere near Fort Lauderdale, where my Google business listing is verified, but I want to reach customers in Fort Lauderdale?
This is where city pages comes into play.
And when you create city pages in your website to compete in Google search in surrounding cities, you need to create pages that have a lot of authority.
For your city pages, the more LSI related keyword phrases your content mentions, the more likely it is that you’ll produce a high quality page that will rank well in Google.
How to gather up LSI keyword phrases for your local rankings
The tool I use for LSI research is LSIgraph.com. You simply enter your targeted keyword phrase into the search bar, and LSI graph will give you a whole list of topically related keyword phrases.
These are the keyword phrases you can now use throughout your city page content.
When using the LSI graph tool for planning your city pages, you do not want to use city names in the tool.
For example, let’s say I’m a car accident lawyer in Chicago and I’m wanting to create a city page targeting Naperville, IL., a suburb of Chicago.
I would turn to the LSI graph tool and enter only the phrase “car accident lawyer”.
You do not want to enter “car accident lawyer in naperville”.
The reason, if you use the metro area in your LSI graph tool, you’ll get a lot of keyword phrases that you absolutely do not want to include in your content, such as direct competitors.
Let me show you can example of what I’m talking about using the keyword phrase “car accident lawyer”.
When I enter this keyword phrase into the LSI Graph tool, here’s what I get:
- auto accident checklist
- geico what to do in an accident
- youtube auto accidents
- car accident with no police report
- auto accident
- accident lawyers
- auto accident checklist pdf
These are all high quality, topically relevant keyword phrases that I want to use throughout my city page.
But if I include my targeted city name along with the keyword phrase in the LSI graph tool, here’s what I get:
- steven b levy lawyer
- chicago car crash lawyer steven levy
- steven levy lawyer naperville
- personal injury lawyer naperville
- illinois accident lawyer steven levy
- steven levy attorney
See the difference?
If I include the metro area in the keyword phrase, I’ll end up with competitors that I probably wouldn’t want to include in my content.
So when you use the LSI graph tool to create your list of topically related keyword phrases, make sure you only use your core keyword phrase related to your topic or business category.
Creating Long Form Content for City Pages
There’s been a ton of research that proves how long form content ranks better in Google search. However, the content must be great… because great content does not always equal long form content (ref: Moz).
Not sure where the idea that “great content” = “really, really long content” came from, but we need to dispel that myth.
— Rand Fishkin (@randfish) March 30, 2016
So when creating your city pages, it’s imperative that you take the long form content approach, but do so with high quality content.
Luckily, when you write content that includes a lot of LSI related keyword phrases, you’ll typically end up with 2,000 – 3,000 words of content quite easily.
Using LSI Keyword Phrases as Sub Titles
The way to use LSI keyword phrases to help build out long form content is to use unique LSI keyword phrases as sub titles in your content.
Let’s look again at the LSI list above for “car accident lawyer”:
- auto accident checklist
- geico what to do in an accident
- youtube auto accidents
- car accident with no police report
- auto accident
- accident lawyers
- auto accident checklist pdf
Looking through that list, and it’s only a small portion of the entire list generated by the LSI graph tool, you’ll quickly see some great sub titles that you can expand upon in your content.
I could easily include sub titles such as:
- Youtube Auto Accident Videos
- Car Accidents With No Police Reports
- Auto Accident Checklist
Under each of these subtitles, I would then use approximately 500 words or more to dive deeper into each section.
Rank High in SEO in Towns Your Business Isn’t Located In around Surrounding Cities
Post update from: December 12, 2017
The process of getting found in Google search within the city where you have a business address is called local SEO.
With the right local SEO strategy in place, customers in your market will find you in Google local / Google Maps as they search for your business, products, or services.
Local search results, or Google Maps search results, look like this (via mobile search):
But what if your business address is located in a smaller city that’s just outside of a large metro area, and that larger market represents hundreds or thousands of new potential customers?
One of the most common questions we get asked here is how can I get my business found in Google in cities and locations where my business isn’t located?
Or better yet, what if your pool of potential customers includes the large metro area and dozens of smaller suburbs surrounding the large city, including the one where you have a business address?
Does this dilemma sound familiar?
Here’s a picture of that is might look like when you have a business in Miami, but you want to get found in many of the surrounding cities.
One of the most common questions I get from both current clients, and normal conversations I have with business owners, is “how can get found by new customers in multiple cities?”
You can’t go the local SEO route because that would require you to have a physical address in all of those surrounding cities.
And you can’t just publish a list of dozens of cities on your homepage where you also serve customers.
Well you can do that, but I strongly recommend against it because you would end up diluting your relevance for the main city where you have a business address.
In order to get your business found in multiple surrounding cities, you have to leverage what we call City Pages and understand the dynamics of how they work and they value they can add to your business.
Time tested city page strategies
After building out hundreds of city pages for clients, we’ve seen first hand how quickly city pages can rank high in Google search, get found fast by new customers, and drive strong growth and ROI for literally any type of business.
From commercial roofers, to lawyers, dentists, and carpet cleaners… and even large enterprise corporations, city pages are by far the most effective way to reach new customers in multiple cities.
But what makes up an effective city page?
An effective city page has 4 characteristics
From our experience, an effective city page that ranks high, gets found fast in Google search, and drives growth in new customers has these 4 characteristics:
- city pages provide detailed information about your target city or target geographic area
- city pages always provide valuable information about your business, products, and services
- city pages are always structured to convert visitors into paying customers
- city pages that include detailed Schema language / structured data
High quality information about your target city or target geographic area
City pages can be optimized to target an entire metro area, or even as granular as an intersection or exit on a highway.
Regardless of the target market, you’ll need to include detailed information specific to that geographic area.
One strategy we like to use is what’s called location signals.
Location signals is where we include outbound links to prominent landmarks, businesses, or other geographic features are specific to that target area.
Location signals help make your city page hyper relevant to a specific geographic area.
Along with location signals, we also include several paragraphs of original content and research that’s also relevant to that specific geographic area.
High quality information about your business, products, and services
Along with providing detailed information about your target city or geographic area, you must provide well written, detailed information about the products and services you provide.
Including detailed information about your products and services will help tailor the search results to potential customers.
For example, if you provide pool services in Tampa, Florida, then you’ll want to include helpful information that explains how you help your customers with their pool cleaning needs.
Including customer testimonials in this section is also valuable as it provides what’s called social proof, i.e. how other customers feel about your services.
We’ve written before about the power of the LSI index (Latent Semantic Index), which you can use to find additional related keyword phrases and topics to include as you talk about your products and services.
You can learn more about latent semantic analysis (if interested) here.
You can find the LSI tool we use here.
One way to optimize your hyper local city page content with rich, detailed information is to include many of these LSI topics and keyword phrases, along with supporting content that discusses those topics.
How long or how many words should your city page be?
We’ve also talked about the length of your content and how long form content can be leveraged for local SEO.
In order to give your city page a chance to rank in hyper competitive markets, we shoot for around 2,500 words for the content length.
Backlino has a great article that talks about content length.
This is a lot of content indeed, but that’s where the LSI graph can come in handy to help you talk about several related topics around your core product and service.
Location Signals within your city page content
Finally, you should include what’s called Location Signals within the content for your page.
Local signals are outbound links pointing to authoritative landmarks, businesses such as popular restaurants and hotels, and other key websites that represent your hyper local area you are targeting.
For example, below is a group of location signals we included in one of our client’s car accident lawyer city pages:
In order to generate these lists of businesses, we simply go to Google Maps > search the city name > click the “NEARBY” icon > then use the top recommendations from Google Maps for things like hotels, restaurants, and other relevant resources.
Each of these outbound links help to increase the relevance of your page in a specific geographic location by using links out to other authoritative resources that are also in that market.
Here’s what these local recommendations look like in Google Maps:
Then you would simply click one of those recommendations (Restaurants nearby, Hotels nearby, Bars and pubs nearby, etc…) to get the most relevant and authoritative recommendations.
When I click “Restaurants nearby” for example, I get the follow list of restaurants in Atlanta:
City pages designed to convert visitors into payment customers
Your hyper local city page has to be structured to convert new customers.
We’ve found that for most local businesses, getting a phone call from a new customer is the most effective form of sales conversions.
In fact, recent research shows that 70% of mobile searchers call a local business directly from the search results (via Google Inside Adwords blog).
Face it, when someone searches for a local business, they more than like want to simply call to get their questions answered about your products and services, or to schedule an appointment.
And Google knows this, so within the local / Google Map search results, you will mostly see one action for a user to take which is to call the local business.
Take a look at the very first image I posted at the top of this article of the Google mobile local search results… notice how the only button available is the “Call” button.
But for the visitors who do click through to your website, they are most likely wanting to call your business. So having a prominently displayed call button is critically important on your mobile site.
Here’s a few examples of client city pages we created. As you can see, these pages are focused heavily on mobile since the majority of search traffic comes from mobile, and they are designed to get a visitor to quickly place a call in to the business:
Again, for a city page to be effective you must get visitors to call your business or request information from your business through a lead generation form.
Lead generation and new customer acquisition is at the heart of an effective city page or geographic targeting campaign.
Being patient with City Pages and geo-targeted pages
Getting your city page found by customers who live in your target city doesn’t always happen overnight though.
How quickly your city page gets ranked in Google search and found by prospective customers is mostly a function of websites’ current level of domain authority.
The more domain authority your site has, the faster a new city page will shoot up to the top search results in Google for keyword phrases related to your business, product, or services.
If your website is currently lacking domain authority, then you’ll need to be patient as Google crawls, indexes, and associates value and authority to your page.
Of course there are always ways you can go about building the domain authority of your website and location authority of your presence in local markets.
But once domain and / or location authority is established, then your city page will hit a tipping point and start producing traffic, leads, and sales for your business.
And as we’ve seen many times, this tipping point can produce exponential growth in website visits and phone calls from your target city.
The growth factor can be even greater when you start targeting many surrounding cities.
We recently finished a city page project where our client wanted to target 103 cities in south Florida.
And within just a few months, we started to see these city pages shoot to the top search results in Google and start producing strong ROI for our client’s business.
Here’s a screenshot of the exponential growth one of our dental practice clients saw as a result of the growth in their location authority:
Notice the take off that occurred from October 2015 to November 2016.
This is what happens once you hit a tipping point in your location authority.
Schema markup language within your city pages
The future of search is already here!
And the future of search optimization – things you can do to help your business get found in these new paradigms of search – is structured data.
And structured data is driven by Schema language.
You can learn more about Schema and structured language here.
Things like voice search, AI, and knowledge cards in Google search are already taking precedence and changing the behavior of the way people search.
Platforms like Siri, Alexa, and Google voice search are not just the future of user interface… the future is already here as we are seeing the growth of voice search and AI driven results take off.
Check out some of these growth stats on voice search.
Stats on voice search, mobile, and AI:
- Google announced at at their I/O 2017 conference that 20 percent of all U.S. searches are now voice search.
- 50% of B2B search queries today are made on smartphones (Boston Consulting Group, Oct. 2017)
- By 2020, 50 percent of all searches will be voice searches (ComScore research via Campaign)
- 20% of a mobile search queries are now voice searches (Campaign)
- The Google search app gets 30X as many action queries by voice as by typing (Think With Google)
- Voice search is significant factor in the future of search (Hilton’s Melissa Walner, GeoMarketing by Yext)
- 58 percent of all question queries have voice search results in Google (iProspect)
For any given city page, you can layer in JSON-LD / Schema markup language to help search engines and apps better understand the context of your page.
The more structured data you implement (i.e. Schema / JSON-LD) the more detailed your content will appear in the new age of intelligent search. And the more presence and exposure your pages will have in these search results.
Hyper local SEO: Going beyond the metro area with your city pages and targeting more granular geographic areas
We’ve learned that city pages can be leveraged for much more than just targeting a particular city.
We are now producing “city pages” that target more granular geographic segments such as:
- zip codes
- major interstate intersections
- exits on major highways
- neighborhoods within parts of a city
One example of this is a brain injury law firm client that has two offices in the state of Wisconsin.
This law firm wanted to 20 city pages targeting the 20 largest metro areas in Wisconsin with their “brain injury lawyer” practice, and then 20 additional city pages targeting the busiest interstate crossing (where multiple interstates come together) for their “truck accident lawyer” practice.
When you start producing city pages for major interstate junctions, you know you are getting hyper local with your SEO strategy.
But the results have been amazing for this client, and they continue to realize strong ROI from their investment in this city page strategy.
Hyper local SEO for city pages means detailed knowledge and understand of your target area
In order to implement effective hyper local SEO for city pages, you must have a strong understanding of the specific demographics you are wanting to target.
You literally have to know the detailed demographics at a neighborhood, zip code, or intersection level.
We’ve been talking to another law firm that wants to leverage city pages to blanket an area around one major exit on a highway in metro Atlanta.
In order to do this effectively, we will end up driving to the exit to take detailed notes, pictures, and even talk to some business owners in that area, in order to get a deep understanding of what makes up the demographics of this one exit.
The more detailed and granular your understanding is for a target market, the more effective you can make the content for your hyper local city page.
Effective content means higher quality city pages, and higher quality city pages ALWAYS results in higher rankings and more new customers for your business.
I hope this article was valuable to you as you look to implement city pages for your business.
As always, let us know if you have any questions or comments by posting a comment below are contacting us today.
Of if you’d like a free Local SEO Analysis, fill out this form here.
Creating City Pages To Rank for City + Service Keyword Phrases
Post update from: October 16th, 2016
#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
Avoid 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 metadata…
The title tag on this page is as follows:
Computer Repair Wilmington NC | Fast Same Day Service
However, one look at the their homepage meta 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.
Let me know if you have any questions.
Or if you are ready to sign up for City Pages now, you can simply click the link below.
For the “Youtube Auto Accident Videos” section, I could include several relevant Youtube videos. This would also help improve the relevance of the city page since it now includes media rich content.
For the “Auto Accident Checklist” section, I could easily include 5 or 10 points that make up an easy to use checklist or guide. I could take this one step further and put together a free guide that people could download in exchange for their email address…. and now I’m building our a targeted email list!
The point is, as you implement your LSI related keyword phrases, use them to drive your sub titles and then use content to dive deeper into each topic.
Using this strategy, you can easily come up with 2,000 or more words of content for your city pages. And your content will be full of high value topically related keyword phrases (LSI keyword phrases).
2019 City Page Strategy: Conclusion
In my experience, locally targeted businesses want to reach customers who are located outside of where their my Google business listing is verified.
However, you cannot go around verifying your business in Google Maps in all of the surrounding cities where you want to reach customers.
So instead of trying to spam Google Maps, you can take a more strategic approach and create high quality, highly relevant city pages to reach those customers.
We’ve been implementing city pages for clients in mass here at Bipper Media, and in some cases, our clients are ranking #1 in Google in their surrounding cities within a matter of days.
Of course, this always depends on the city size and level of competition.
But when focus on creating a high quality, highly relevant page of content, you dramatically increase your chances of reaching the top search results in Google.
And this applies to virtually any combination of product or service, and surrounding metro areas.