Local SEO: How To Rank For Surrounding Cities Near You
As a local business, local SEO (Search Engine Optimization) plays a pivotal role in getting your business noticed and keeping you on top of the search engine results pages (SERPs).
Ranking locally is great and all, but are you hoping to be found in the search results of your surrounding neighborhoods, cities, and counties, too?
If so, know that when they say “local” SEO, they mean “local” SEO. Your location is exact and precise.
Wherever your physical address is located, that’s where your local city is, and that’s probably the only place your local SEO is paying off because you only show up in the city that you’re geographically close to.
This is a great starting point.
But since your plan is to go cross-state (or at least rank for cities / areas in your target market) with your local SEO campaign, today we’ll go over how to get you there.
So, let’s discuss the best ways to get your business ranking in your surrounding areas through some proven local SEO techniques.
A few notes before we dive in: If you still haven’t mastered ranking for your city + keyword, you’ll want to tackle that before diving into trying to rank for additional city areas around your business location. The strategies shared here are a little on the advanced local SEO side. There are many local SEO strategies that can help you gain traction in surrounding areas, but in this post we’re only diving deep into one: creating local SEO city pages.
Woo hoo. Alright… Let’s dive in.
Your Guide to Local SEO City Website Pages
First a Note about Google My Business
Being up-to-date on your Google My Business (GMB as the cool kids call it) listing is the first important step for your local SEO campaign.
This tells Google where you are and in turn, Google with offer up a Google Map of your location.
This will also contribute greatly to your business being listed in your local industry / service 3-pack map results.
Because Google prides itself on giving out the most valuable and relevant information to its users, GMB lumps you in with only those searches that are made in your area.
That means that only the customers closest to your physical location will see you.
The fix? City website pages.
These long form content pages that sit on your website will allow you to rank in all the surrounding areas you desire.
Unlike other location website pages, a city website page has no physical address in the city you hope to rank.
When you design a city page that’s specific to an area, you’ve created a way for the search engines to know that you belong in that area.
And why would you want to do that:
Because you have one location, but will travel to serve clients in other cities
Because you don’t have a physical location and travel to serve clients in several cities
Because you want to rank in cities where you don’t have a physical location
How a Local SEO City Website Page Works
You all know the benefits of a quality website page, your city website page needs to be optimized for the market / city in your service area in order to help you rank organically for your search keywords.
So, if you want to rank in four cities, you will be creating four separate and completely different city website pages. Why completely different? Because Google doesn’t like when you duplicate your work. No boiler-plating.
Test the waters with this approach. Start small and then you can build out. Pick 1-3 additional locations that you want to target. Don’t take on 20 at once.
Also, your pages need to be distinct to the city in which you’re servicing.
You need to understand your target in order to make a page that’s relevant to your market in that specific location.
Yes, friends, it’s no quick task and you’ll need to come prepared.
How to Create a City Website Page that Works
As we stated, you need to be proactive when making your city website pages.
It will require thought and quality long form content, just like with every other SEO strategy.
Your city website page should have several elements in order to make it truly awesome, beneficial, and Google-desirable.
Let’s talk about ‘em:
These are all the items that you want on your web page that’s hoping to target another area:
Title tags– each page should have a title tag that includes the location, top keyword, and your business name, and should be around 50-60 characters.
Meta description– create a user-friendly description of your biz and what it is you offer, don’t fill it up with keywords, be compelling and around 160 characters.
URL construction– your URL needs to make sense and should consist of your top keyword (one keyword only) and the name of the city.
Organize with headings– if your pages are copy heavy, headings will create easy flow for your users and don’t forget to optimize each heading to benefit your overall SEO.
Internal links– if relevant and helpful you should absolutely link to existing pages on your website from your new city page. This will automatically give your new page more credibility and you’re sharing its ranking power.
External links– linking to relevant and informative sources in the city you wish to start ranking for will provide a fast affiliation with the area and give your customers a sense of connection. Do not just link out to city related pages that have nothing to do with your service or match the content on the page.
Navigation– it’s imperative to have your city pages easily accessible in your navigation, if you have a slew of areas you cover, consider adding a tab dedicated to those: “Areas We Serve”.
Provide Useful Localized Information About YOU
In the past, companies often designed their city pages around the city, but didn’t talk enough about their role within the area. Yes, this may get people from the area on your page, but what are you giving them once they’re there?
Here’s an example of what your page SHOULD do: say you’re an interior designer and your office is in West Palm Beach but you also service Miami. Create a city page that focuses on jobs you’ve done in Miami, using testimonials from Miami-based clients and images from local spots.
Another example: say you’re a chiropractor and you work in Denver, but you travel all over Colorado giving lectures, teaching students, hosting events, maybe your partner with a gym, etc. Creating a city page for the places you go is an awesome way to showcase your talents and gives you some street cred, not to mention advertising.
Likeable, Unrivaled Content Creation
We talk about it a lot, we know, but your content truly needs to be stellar on all counts.
It should be informative, relevant, unique, show personality, and give your customers a reason to want to work with you.
What it should definitely never be is created in a template. No one likes that. Especially the search engines.
They’re really smart now and they don’t want to see your redundant pages trying to trick them.
Using tools for the benefit of the search engines such as LSIgraph.com will help you in providing excellent keyword phrases that are on-topic and relevant to your business, while making you easily accessible to the user.
And don’t forget about your images and videos. Sooooooo important.
These things tell your story and offer access to who you are to those customers who don’t have the time or patience to read your super thought-out, quality copy.
Show a video of what you do. How it’s made. Your customer’s reaction. Doing this will not let you down.
Imagery also shows the faces behind the brand and offers personification, personality, persona, a personal connection.
You see where we’re going with this, right? People want to interact with people. So, be a person to your customer.
Who Are You and What Are You Offering?
Ask yourself a few important questions before you start creating the content for your pages and in these questions you should try to identify your brand, your business, your story.
What does your company value most? Do you have a mission statement? What are your beliefs and goals?
Have you been working in this area long? Why would you like to move into this area?
What do you offer this area?
Are your offers better than the competition and if so, how? Why? What makes customers choose you?
Do you have a dedicated team for this area? If so, explain who each team member is and add an image with a quote that references this area.
Have you won an award in the area? Have you hosted an event in the area? Are there venues or ventors you use in the area?
Answering these questions will allow you to write to that specific community without using generic information.
Who Is Your Customer and What Are They Looking For?
You have customers, so let them tell you how you should speak to them. What are their most asked questions? If you can answer these questions with city-specificity, that’s a huge win.
And because we live in an image-centric world, like we stated above, show off some of your work through images or videos.
When possible, detail your local successes through case studies that tell the story of how you provided value to a customer.
Taking advantage of all of these tips will tell your customer exactly what they need to know about your business.
All Those Rave Reviews
When creating your city website page, it’s no time to get bashful. Plug yourself as much as you can.
If you have local testimonials and reviews, play those bad boys up. Not only are you helping to solidify your brand, but when customers see a great testimonial, they trust it. That means they trust you.
Bonus Local SEO Note: When you collect all those testimonials and display them on your website, don’t forget to include the person who provided the testimonial’s location since it’s a location you hope to rank for.
“We love working with blah blah blah,” – Jane. D, Company Name, Boca Raton, Florida.
This is a great big win for your SEO campaign, too. The search engines love this unique content.
Getting a good review these days plays a huge role in your local SEO, so you’re making everyone happy when you get those customer shout-outs.
Build the Trust
While we’re on the subject of trust, there are a few other ways to display that you’re trustworthy to those potential new customers.
Highlighting your guarantees will let people know that you stand behind your product or service and gives your customer base a sense of comfort. Everyone loves comfort. So, if you offer guarantees, be sure it stands out on your page.
You should also mention any awards, associations, and / or relevant memberships on the page. This will only help your credibility. If you can be seen as an industry insider or leader, the customers will want to work with you.
Telling your community that you think highly of recognized associations within your industry, and that you either contribute to or are part of them, you’re stating that you believe in your industry.
People like to work with people who show passion and commitment for what they do.
Have you given a podcast? Have you given a lecture? These are great trust-builders. Have you been included in a press release? A news story? If so, do NOT hide this information- your customers will eat it up!
You know what else people eat up? Being able to reach you. Don’t let this simple task get away from you. You should have your contact info on every page and it should be a quick find.
Be sure to include all contact numbers if you have more than one, all the differing email addresses (if applicable and be sure to tell the user what email goes with what service), your hours, directions, and payment options.
Getting Local With It
Now you’ve got all the must-haves to create your city website pages. But can you offer even more to your target area?
Here are some great ways to keep your local area in the know about you and all you have to offer:
A “Resources” section–are there documents you can provide a specific area that will benefit them? Maybe you can create a calendar here, or a list of terms, or statistics.
An events calendar– are you hosting anything? Are you going to an event that your local customers would be interested in? Detail the events and give yourself credit and advertising if you’ll be leading or hosting one.
Sponsorships– are you involved in the community and sponsoring a team or a road-cleanup, maybe you’re part of a run for charity? Let the people know.
Specials– are you offering specials that are dedicated to this area only? We all love a special. Tell the community that because you reached your 100th customer in the city, everyone gets a deal! It’s a cause for celebration!
Many of these tools will provide ample link-building opportunities as well, so keep that in mind as you design the page.
How to Create a City Website Page that Doesn’t Work
You’ve just done so much goodness for your surrounding area SEO campaign. It looks good on you! But here’s how you’ll mess it up:
Creating too many pages. Yep. You know what they say about too much of a good thing, right? If you go overboard, the search engines could actually penalize you. And you won’t rank on dozens and dozens of local areas anyway, that’s a lot of time wasted in creating top-notch pages. So, stay under 10. You’ll be able to really concentrate on each of those areas without spreading yourself too thin on an SEO level.
Forgetting to track your progress. This constitutes both call tracking and contact form tracking. You should know which customers are reaching you and how they’re reaching you. Are they coming from your city website pages? It’s important to pay attention to what’s working and how it’s working, learn from it, and move forward.
Writing the copy yourself. Okay, okay- I hear all of you that are awesome copywriters, but MOST of you are not. Don’t kill yourself trying to be. It’s a waste of valuable time. Hire a copywriter who knows all the tricks, has all the tools, and can quickly assemble an amazing, resonating, effective, high-quality page.
Ignoring your competition. Hey, they may totally have it going on. And while you don’t want to copy them (you can’t copy them), you can certainly learn from their wins and their mistakes. If they have a killer site that’s getting killer business and killer rankings, you know you gotta step it up.
Stuffing it with keywords, trying to hide text in a footer, having an outrageous number of cities, towns, or zip codes on the page. It won’t look good and the search engines will see right through you.
Putting way too many links on the page– yes, link when and where appropriate, but don’t get crazy, this reads like spam to the search engines.
Providing useless information in order to reference your target area in an effort to create localized content.
Using redundant, duplicate content.
We really want to be sure you understand that your pages need to make sense for you and your industry.
Meaning, don’t create some kind of tourism-y page. You’re not advertising for the city you’re creating the page for, you’re advertising for YOURSELF within the city you’re creating the page for (see ‘Provide Useful Localized Information About YOU’ above).
So now you have the tools to really make or break your city website pages. But that’s not the only thing you can do to help yourself get rank in your surrounding cities.
Your Guide to Paying for Rank
If you’re not willing to put all of the above-mentioned efforts into creating spectacular city website pages, your best bet is to pay for your ranking.
Even if you create city website pages that follow this guide to the fullest, you may not rank as high as you’d like.
There are so many factors that can work for or against you here.
Maybe your industry is saturated in your target marketplace. Maybe your competition has created a huge following in that area. Perhaps your target area isn’t searching for your kind of business just yet.
The point is, it’s gonna be a challenge (most likely). Paid advertising is here to help. In our opinion, you should use paid advertising in conjunction with creating city pages that meet all the criteria we went over above.
In doing both, you’re only getting ahead faster. And believe it or not, you won’t break the bank paying for ads.
Why a Local Service Ad Will Help
Local service ads are paid through leads, not clicks, like your pay-per-click (PPC) campaign is. So when you buy ad space on Google in this way, your business will be at the top of the search results.
When someone clicks an ad, they’re sent to a new page that shows all of the businesses in the area who offer the service the searcher is looking for.
It’s important to know that not every area or every industry has the capability of creating a local service ad.
Here’s what your local service ad will do for you:
Place you right on top of the results pages, even above PPC ads
Give you a Google Guaranteed badge, because Google has done its due diligence regarding your company prior to letting you buy these ads from them
Include voice search results
Allow ratings to be viewed in the ad that links to your GMB listing
Alleviate all that pesky keyword management and optimizing
Give you true leads
If you’re not sold on local service ads for some reason, implementing a PPC campaign should definitely be part of your budget.
This PPC campaign only runs on your city website pages and will provide valuable feedback about your pages and whether they’re effective.
Now you’re ready to start showing your stuff in all the areas you do business (or hope to!).
Create those compelling and unique city website pages and your efforts will be rewarded with ranking! And if you combine your page with some paid advertising, even better!