Optimization for search remains a critical element for every web marketing strategy. While Google continues to shape best practices with their algorithm updates, the core aspect of site optimization for local visibility remains a vital starting point. The effort for the primary business location is a relatively straightforward task and hinges on the setup and optimization of local accounts with Google, Bing and other platforms. However, there are many instances when a business provides services to a large area that contains many geographic qualifiers at the neighborhood level. With only a single physical location it can be very challenging to crack into those local results. Specialty lawyers, plastic surgeons, as well as trades like roofers, plumbers and HVAC contractors all need to rank well for many micro-markets where they will not be able to lean on the map based local listings that search engines display.
So what is the best approach to ranking in multiple geographic areas with only a single location?
The approach we use is; core macro, landing micro. The core site is optimized for the greatest geographic area that is used as a search term for the target area (macro) and the smaller markets (micro) that exist within that area are optimized using landing pages.
What Does This Approach Look Like?
For example, a divorce lawyer that provides services for all of Northern Va would develop a site with a core of quality content about their practice that was optimized for Northern Virginia. The geo targeting in title tags and semantic language in the content would position the firm as the premier option for clients throughout Northern Va. However research shows that the search volume for an area like Northern Va, while extremely valuable, typically come in on the low end. The majority of consumers search based on convenience in relation to their lives. They tend to search for an option that is convenient to either their home, their office or something on their commute in between. This means that to remain competitive in organic search that will convert into actual business, our example lawyer will need to rank for “divorce lawyers in (insert town or neighborhood)”.
To do this, a layer of content will need to be developed beyond the core content for search purposes. Remember, content is always king so simply making pages with duplicate content marked up for a specific geographic area will not help. This additional layer of content needs to provide value and be unique. In other words it needs to provide a compelling narrative as to why your firm is the right choice for someone that is looking for a divorce lawyer in, for example Reston Va. It may be because you have worked there you entire career, or it may be because you haven’t so you have an unbiased approach, whatever the reasoning is, it needs to be clear that your firm is the best choice for the consumer seeking your services in that location.
Local Search Impact
Once this approach is deployed, it will help in two distinct ways. First if consumers add a geographic qualifier in their search query, like for example divorce lawyer in Reston VA, then you will be well positioned to rank in the organic results around the local (map) results, sometimes even before them. Second, if consumers search without a geographic qualifier, the search engine will use the automatic localization to present the most relevant results. When this happens, authoritative sites that contain geo-related content can push the circle of local results outward and get your site listed in the local results.
Once that structure is established it will do amazing things for local search rank. When paired with a quality internal and external link building efforts (yes link building is alive and well, but it’s based on quality links not volume), local results will begin to increase and generate click-throughs.
Only a Part of a Complete Search Marketing Approach
The battle for local search will always be highly competed but with a strategic approach to maximizing your exposure in relevant geographic areas, you can cover more ground and capture more traffic than your competitors. However it’s important to note that modern search marketing requires a holistic approach. While local search tactics will create many opportunities, there are many other elements needed to form a complete search strategy. Content Marketing, strategic link building and a continuous investment in your site’s core content are all important and should be included in your overall approach to get the best results.