With the onslaught of algorithm updates coming from Google lately, how in the world are you suppose to keep up with all the changes and make sure your local or small business reaches the top search results in Google?
First of all, you can’t – so stop chasing algorithms.
Secondly, there are just a few fundamental variables that carry the majority of the weight in Google’s algorithm. There are even fewer variables that carry the most weight that you have any control over for influencing your rankings in Google.
Think of it as the 80 / 20 rule to SEO: 20% of the variables that you can actually control carry 80% of the weight in influencing your rankings.
But there is one variable, or strategy if you will, that could mean the difference between not being found, to being ranked #1 in Google for your locally targeted search phrase.
Metro Targeted Landing Pages
I have a client who runs a relatively small insurance agency in metro Atlanta. And according to Wikipedia, the greater metro Atlanta area consists of 84 different cities.
When my client said he wanted to reach the greater metro Atlanta area in Google search, I had to come up with a strategy that would allow him to connect with people at those individual city / metro area levels.
So my job was to figure out a way that he could maximize his exposure in each individual city, but then do it for all 84 cities – actually we are up to around 40 cities at this point… but still.
The answer is to produce metro targeted pages for his products and services.
Here’s how it works – for each individual city, you are going to produce a landing page optimized for their targeted products.
Basically, the formula looks like this: “product or service keyword” + “targeted metro area” = landing page.
So for example, let’s say he wanted to promote auto insurance in Smyrna, Georgia.
We would proceed with creating a landing page specifically optimized for the keyword phrase “auto insurance in smyrna ga”.
This means the title <h1> tag would include the phrase “auto insurance in smyrna, ga” as well as the description tag and on site content in the form of subtitles.
And any images that were embedded in the page would also have alt tags optimized with the phrase “auto insurance in smyrna ga”.
You can take it one step further and include an embedded Google Map showing directions from the target city (in this example, Smyrna, Ga.) to his physical office location.
How this tailors to Google’s local algorithm
One thing very few people realize is that Google’s algorithm is very localized in the sense that it looks for pages that are relative to the metro area within proximity to the IP address of the person who is searching.
What’s an IP address you ask?
An IP address is assigned variable given to any computer (desktop, laptop, etc…) or device (iPhone, Android, iPad, etc…) that connects to the internet.
An IP Address is equivalent to the street address of your house. Except in the case of your house, the address never changes because your house is stationary. The IP address given to your laptop or mobile device will change based on your location.
And because of the IP address assigned to your computer or mobile device, Google’s search algorithm knows exactly where you are when you conduct a search and can determine what major metro area you are located in.
As such, Google will make every effort to present pages that are tailored (or optimized) specifically for that city, based on the product or service you are search for.
Here’s an example to help you understand this better…
Using my client who’s an insurance agent in metro Atlanta as the example, lets say he wants to promote his auto insurance products in Smyrna, Ga., one of the cities that make up metro Atlanta.
In order for Google to know there is content available that talks about “auto insurance”, and the content is targeted specifically for “Smyrna, Ga.”, we have to create landing page optimized for “auto insurance in Smyrna, Georgia”.
So I’ll create a landing page within his website optimized for “Auto Insurance in Smyrna, Ga.”
And as I mentioned above, the phrase “Auto Insurance in Smyrna, Ga.” will be present in his title <h1> tag, description tag, image alt tags, and throughout the on page content in the form of subtitles.
I’ll also pay close attention to using topically related phrases and phrase variations throughout the content. Something that’s vary important so that you don’t over-saturate the page with one specific keyword phrase, and so you bring balance around the topic of auto insurance.
Some topics I might consider including are auto insurance for teens, cheap car insurance, ways to save on insurance for your vehicle, etc…
Again, the goal is to bring balance your overall targeted keyword phrase that is optimized in the title, description, and alt tags.
Now, whenever someone located in Smyrna, Ga. does a search for “auto insurance”- which Google will know based on the IP address of the person searching – Google will instantly search their database to see if any pages are optimized for that local area.
In fact, even if the person doesn’t include the word “Smyrna, Ga” and only types “auto insurance” into the search bar, if the IP address shows they are physically in Smyrna, Ga., then Google will automatically try to find pages optimized for that city.
So the local SEO secret to capitalizing on Google’s local search algorithm is to make sure you are producing landing pages that are highly optimized for your targeted city.
Doing so will allow your landing pages to compete in the search results for those locally targeted searches.
And again, even if someone who’s located in your targeted city only types the product or service into Google (i.e. “auto insurance”), having a landing page optimized for that city will increase your chances of gaining exposure on the front page of Google.