You probably already know the benefits of having city pages (aka community pages or location-specific pages) for your service or chain-style business. Whether it’s carpet cleaning, real estate, legal services, plumbing, electrical or HVAC, if you’re seeking clients in multiple cities, you want to have a unique page of content for each location. The key here is to make them unique.
Too many websites have city pages with the exact same information and simply swap out the location name. That’s a mistake. Google may consider them “doorway pages” and penalize you for it. Not only that, they don’t provide any real value to the user and won’t rank well (if at all).
That’s why you need unique and high-quality city pages for each service or business location. It’s not easy, but the effort to make each page different and highly targeted will pay off in spades.
So, now we know that city pages should be unique, but how do you do that when you are basically offering the same thing to each city? Keep reading.
10 Ways to Optimize City Pages for Local SEO
Keep the number of city pages to a minimum
Try to avoid having hundreds of city pages. That will make your job a lot harder and won’t result in any significant advantage. Keep city pages to 12 or under if possible. Beyond 12 and you run into the law of diminishing returns.
Do this by coming up with a list of cities you serve and then only create pages for those with the largest populations or the most customers.
And don’t even think about coming up with different city pages for each of your services, for example:
That’s how people end up with hundreds of unnecessary city pages.
If you want to include all of the small cities and towns you serve, list them on your main service area page—or, you can just embed a Google service area map. For service areas that aren’t within a simple radius, you can create your own map shape on Google My Maps.
The 80/20 rule
After coming up with your list of around 6-12 cities, determine which ones deserve the most attention. This relates to the Pareto Principle (also known as the 80/20) rule, which states that 20% of the action generates 80% of the results. It basically tells you to spend more time and energy on the things that are most important.
Not all city pages are created equal. Determine which 20% of your city list is driving most of the results and then put in the extra work to give those pages special treatment. If you serve 12 nearby cities, most of your customers probably come from only 2 or 3.
Make a connection to the city
Do you live there? Have you completed any big projects or community service in the area? Do most of your clients live there? Do you sponsor a local team or event? Include photos or details of the events, projects, sponsorships if possible.
Think of a genuine connection you can make with the area and write about it. If you can’t make a good connection, maybe it shouldn’t be on your list of city pages.
Research the area
Research the city. Wikipedia is a great place to start. How do locals refer to the area? What are the neighborhood names? Is the city known for anything in particular? While having a local person do the writing is probably best, a little bit of research goes a long way.
Find ways to make the page unique and useful for potential customers. Mention specific landmarks, features, zip codes, historical attributes, and current issues related to your industry. For instance, if you are a plumber, you should know if the area has hard water, drainage issues, frozen pipe risks, and other relevant problems that you can help solve. Make the page valuable to the user.
It’s also a good idea to look at other local businesses’ city pages for the target city. See what you can learn (either what to do or what not to do). Make your city pages better than the competition.
Include local reviews and testimonials
Don’t know what to write? Find reviews and testimonials from customers in the city you are targeting. Customer testimonials are a great way to add unique content to your city pages.
In addition to testimonials from past customers in that city, try to include pictures from jobs and projects you’ve completed there. If you have video testimonials, all the better.
Personalize the page as much as possible
In addition to reviews and research, there are other ways to personalize the page, such as team photos, videos, completed projects, newspaper clippings, and whatever else you can dig up. Include photos of projects in the city if you have them (don’t forget to feature the city and state in the title and alt tags).
If you have enough photos, consider putting them in a portfolio or gallery structure. Take great before and after photos to enhance your marketing strategy.
Have you been featured in a local newspaper, online magazine, or blog post? Are you a member of the local chamber of commerce? Include any local news and mentions as a resource.
Add accurate outbound links as applicable. It gives you a small SEO boost and can be useful to the reader. It’s also important to be honest about citing your sources. Set the target attribute to “_blank” so the link will open in a new tab.
If no images or other personalizations are available, at least include an image of the city.
Implement SEO best practices
- Include internal links. For instance, if you mention a particular service on the city page, link it to the main page on the website where the service is described in more detail.
- Include the city and state in your title tag, heading(s), URL, content, alt tags, meta description, and embed a Google service area map.
- Add relevant videos and images.
Format the page correctly
Title Tag: keep under 60 characters and give every city page a unique title.
Meta Description: keep under 160 characters, write to encourage someone to click, and do NOT keyword stuff, but do try to use the keyword/city once in a logical sentence.
Page Name: example.com/city/
Menu Title: [City]
Title Tag: [Main Service] (Ex: Air Conditioner Repair) + (in/for) [City, State] | [Company Name]
Meta Description: Since [year], [Company] has provided prompt and professional [service] to [City] area residents and business owners.
H1/H2: [City] [Service] (Ex: Expert New York Air Conditioner Repair)
Integrate city pages into your navigation
Integrate city pages into the website’s navigation (service area drop-down, footer navigation, somewhere).
Consider using call tracking and contact form tracking for each city page to help gauge their effectiveness. Consider adding city-specific coupons or special offers as well.
Make it mobile
Provide a good mobile experience. You already know that over 50% of Google searches are made on mobile. Make sure your website is mobile friendly and your city page navigation is also on the mobile site, not just the desktop version.
Questions for Coming Up with Valuable City Page Content
- Are there any services, tips, or advice that are unique to each city (such as different requirements based on laws, weather, terrain, style, precautions, codes, etc.)?
- Are there any laws or city ordinances that residents should know about?
- Is there one specific problem that nearly every caller from the city seems to have?
- Is there something you like or admire about the city or its people?
- Were you or was your business in the local news for any reason?
- Are you a member of the chamber of commerce there? If so, display the logo and link to the membership listing on the chamber site.
- Do you have any photos or videos of projects you’ve done in the city or area?
- Do you have any photos of you in the city?
- Do you support any charities or other community efforts?
- Do you have a physical office location in the target city?
- Is there a story behind how you got your first customers from the city?
- Do you have reviews or testimonials from people in that immediate area?
- Are there any local classes or events that you can showcase?
- Did anyone in your organization go to school there?
It’s never too late to start adding or optimizing city pages for local SEO. Take a look at REI’s city pages for inspiration.
Ensure Optimized City Pages for Your Website
Creating relevant, high-quality city pages that rank well is easier said than done. Consider hiring professional copywriters with years of experience writing successful, SEO-optimized city pages.
A digital marketing company like VitalStorm can take ownership of your website and city page strategy for the best results. We have a team of writers that can come up with fresh ideas to make all of your location pages unique and engaging. And with a single point of contact, just let us know and we’ll update the page with city-specific news, events, and photos to continue building the page over time.