It was not long ago that location pages were one of the most valuable, most easily forgotten parts of SEO. It was something that we prioritized here at Great Leap Studios, because it helped overcome one of the most common problems with Google search optimization: location relevance.
We’re in Folsom. Folsom is a 5 minute drive from El Dorado Hills, Rancho Cordova, and Granite Bay. It is a 10 minute drive from Fair Oaks and Roseville, and it is a 15 minute drive from Sacramento – one of the largest cities in California. We also provide a service that takes place almost entirely online, which means that we are close enough to these cities that we should be considered “local” for all intents and purposes.
Yet Google has a tendency to pay too much attention to a business’s physical location. We ranked for Folsom, but we didn’t rank well for any of the surrounding cities, because even though we are only 5 minutes from El Dorado Hills, etc., we do not have a physical location there.
So to get around this problem, we created what are known as “location pages.” We write landing pages – similar to homepages or service pages – but focus on what we offer directed specifically at a location. For example, we write a page for our site from scratch that talks about all of the services we offer businesses in a different city, like South Lake Tahoe, which may be more than an hour from Folsom but is still close enough and can use our services.
SEO Companies Call Location Pages Dead
Google announced in about 2016 that it was going to stop thin keyword targeted pages from ranking well in search engines. This caused SEO companies to start claiming that location pages were “dead.” And indeed, over the course of the next few years (As of this writing), many of the location pages that these SEOs created began falling in search. Some of them have disappeared altogether.
Yet all of the pages Great Leap Studios created for our clients are still doing just fine. Indeed, very few if any have lost any of their search ranking.
We’re not here to toot our own horn, although it is a big horn and we do love tooting.
The reason we’re bringing this up is because the way that we write location pages vs the way that most SEOs crafted these pages is vastly different.
What They Do
Traditional SEO companies have a tendency to take as many shortcuts as possible. Rather than create a 100% unique page that targeted a specific location, they simply cut and pasted the same exact page from another location, changed a few words, and re-posted it. Some may add an short blurb about the location that they rewrote from Wikipedia, but they otherwise had a weak page that wasn’t much different from any other page on site.
What We Do
When we write location pages, every single word on the page is unique. We also try to take different approaches to each page so that even though they talk about the same services, they are written in such a way that the focus is on different things. Every word is still relevant to the searcher’s query, because we’re talking about the service that they needed with the search.
For example, we did a project with a Cincinnati locksmith that gladly traveled to some 15 different cities around the Cincinnati area. At first, their only location keyword was Cincinnati. We added these location pages, utilized some data on the cities themselves, and then made sure to list all relevant services for that area with phone numbers and contact info easily visible.
Every page was unique, and that’s why every page still ranks today.
We also only recommend location pages when the competition isn’t fierce, usually for small businesses whose competitors are less likely to invest in SEO themselves. With no competition for the keyword, it is still the most relevant search result that Google can bring up. This helps us steal visitors away from the company’s competitors easily.
What We Recommend
Now, none of this is to say that the other SEO companies are wrong. Indeed, location pages aren’t some magic key, and we do agree with the following:
- There are better ways to make location pages. A long, detailed page that goes in depth about what you offer the location and why, how to get to your storefront, and other information that easily answers the queries of the user are going to rank much higher than a 400 word page that has the same information as any other page. But those tend to be pricy for small businesses, and so we only recommend them when budget allows.
- In situations where there is a lot of local competition, a simple page about a location isn’t going to be enough to beat all of the people that have been investing much more into marketing to that location.
- You should still always have the user in mind when writing anything. Every word should always be written for the person reading it, not for search engines. Search engines is just the supplementary benefit.
These other SEO companies claiming location pages are dead are not entirely wrong. They’re not some guaranteed way to rank highly for relevant keywords, nor can they simply be thrown together without a second thought. There is also no guarantee it will be a useful tool forever, as it wasn’t that long ago that Google used to reward things like “keyword density” which it has since eliminated altogether.
But writing a unique page that is geared to a user that targets people in a specific location still works, and is likely to keep working in the near future. Google knows that companies don’t always need a physical location in a city to be relevant for that city, and landing pages for each location are an easy tool that SEOs have that makes sure you are able to reach that audience.