Local SEO is a constantly evolving practice. What was very effective a few years ago is often no longer effective now. And in some cases, what was effective a few years ago will actually get you into trouble now. It is very important to stay up to date so you know the best practice for improving your local search results. Here are a number of local SEO tactics that are still quite common but I will dissect the SEO tactic and show you that there is a better way of achieving the same result.
Local SEO Tactic 1 – Exact Match Domains with a Location Qualifier
Exact match domains with a location qualifier are urls which use a combination of service-keyword + location in them, as opposed to the business name or brand. This Local SEO tactic was very common a few years ago but we still see it today. An example of this is:
While url optimization does carry some SEO benefit, if a boost in local search results is your SEO goal, then it makes more sense to focus on using location-specific keywords throughout your site content and structure. It is much better to use a brand-led domain. Google likes it more and it conveys more trust because it doesn’t look spammy.
Brand-led domains also make it easier for you to expand geographically. Think about it this way. If you have a region-specific domain, then you’re narrowing your business to one location.
The best-practice approach is to use a brand-specific domain and then create localized landing page content. This approach builds trust and credibility, provides location-specific content, and doesn’t limit you to one geographic location.
Local SEO Tactic 2 – Region-Specific Top Level Domains
Region-specific Top Level Domains allow you to end your website domain with a specific geographic location. Like www.mylocalbusiness.boston. While this looks cool, Google confirms that it carries no additional SEO weight. The best practice Local SEO approach is to choose a brand-specific domain name and then build region-specific content in your website.
Local SEO Tactic 3 – Local Doorway Pages
Local doorway pages are similar to landing pages except for the key fact that landing pages are designed to funnel real visitors who search for a unique keyword and then “land” at your site and come in through a page that’s not the home page. Local doorway pages have urls like yoursite.com/plumber-washington. You can have a page like this if there is truly unique content on that page and it’s a page that’s part of the site structure.
Local SEO Tactic 4 – Focusing Link Building Only on High Domain Authority Websites
If you’re a small local business, it’s important to get links from small local directories and websites. From a local link building perspective, these are links from sites involved in your community, e.g. hotels, bed and breakfasts, city information, libraries, churches, etc. As long as these websites provide actual value to your local community, they will also bring inherent SEO value to your local business. Once indexed, these links will show Google that your business is actively involved in its surrounding community.
Local SEO Tactic 5 – Setting up a Huge Service Area in Google My Business
Google My Business gives users the ability to set their radius of service around their physical address. This allows customers to see how far a business is willing to travel to visit a customer.
Some business owners set their radius to its maximum in the hope of ranking across several locations. Unfortunately, this doesn’t work and you’re still only likely to rank around the actual, physical location of your business.
The radius setting should be used realistically & needs to accurately show the area of your business. If a huge service area is correct then that’s fine, just don’t expect any cross-location ranking boost to come from it.
The reality is that if you want to rank across several locations and make the most of local SEO, you need a physical site in each major city that’s actually used and occupied by your team.