TLDR: It’s important to consider how local or national your SEO strategy should be to maximize your SEO investment. This ensures that you properly align your content, site structure, and keyword strategy effectively.
- Before creating content for a keyword, check if there are any local or city-specific results and check the keyword’s ranking in multiple cities
- If there are no city-specific results, focus on creating pages that focus on national search intent versus local search intent
- If your keyword has city-specific results, focus on building city pages to capture local results and include your business name, address, and phone number using the local business schema
- Create city pages with as much unique and category-specific content as possible to improve your chances of ranking
Karl Kleinschmidt, VP of SEO Strategy at LSG, recently appeared on the podcast Search entries to talk about how to better understand local versus national search intent. While businesses that sell their products nationally can benefit from a national SEO approach, ignoring local SEO could leave potential customers out. Therefore, it is in a company’s best interest to determine whether the keywords they intend to target have local or national intent before developing any content.
Some of the topics covered in the podcast included:
- The differences between local and national intentions
- Positioning for local intent keywords
- How to create specific pages for cities
The differences between local and national intentions
With national intent, you will likely receive the same content no matter where you are in that country or region. There are several terms for which Google automatically assumes local intent and provides city or state-specific results. For purposes of this retention, search intent falls into the following categories:
- National intent
- Semi-Local Intent or Semi-National Intent
- Local intent
One way to figure this out is to check the Google results for your keyword to see if there are any city-specific ones that are classified as local-intent queries. With semi-local intent, you’ll see results from the national website with a local package. However, with Nationals, there will be no map packs and only National results on the website.
Positioning for local intent keywords
If you can pull ranking data from multiple cities, you can see domains showing up in many other cities and determine your top competition for those terms. Include five to ten of the largest cities in your analysis to get a better perspective of the market for that specific search term.
If you span multiple cities, you’re also likely to find more opportunity in title tags or related keywords, particularly in smaller cities where there’s more variety in page 1 placement.
This is especially important for companies such as directories or multi-venues looking to rank in every possible city.
Also, it’s crucial that you provide your name, address, and contact information on any pages that reference real locations. Otherwise, it will be difficult to prove that your business is local.
For Local Business Scheme best practices, use the required fields to enter your name, address, phone number, and Local Business URL. When you write specific city information and your actual location is not the main focus of the website, please put it at the bottom of the page and declare the whole page as local business scheme.
Google has started showing local packs on formerly national keywords like “shoes” and online e-commerce or internet companies have a big challenge where Google now shows google maps especially on mobile devices. However, physical websites may feature products in their Business Profile on Google or link to category pages.
How to create specific pages for cities
Decide whether you want to rank with a search page or a listing page. This will depend on the intent of the keyword you want to rank for. For example, if you’re Yelp and a user searches for “pizza,” the intent will likely be a listing of pizza chefs, but with “dave’s pizza place,” the intent is geared toward their listing page. So, you have to ask if the searcher is looking for a list of positions or a single position.
If you have multiple locations and don’t want to be in competition, create city-specific content pages that link to your listings page.
Typically, the page structure it should look like this:
All of these should link to each other. Then, state pages link to cities and city pages to directories. If you have priority listing pages, you can also link to them from your status page.
Furthermore, you can have search pages for each city structured in a “Category + City” way. So, in our example Pizza could be “Pizza Restaurants in New York”.
Add category-specific content
Adding category-specific original content will help you rank higher, but don’t duplicate your content if possible. Zillow is a great example of city pages with rich content like average house costs and such that help make the city-specific pages unique.
Try to make it as dynamic and specific to the city as possible without making it duplicate of other cities or other categories.
If you don’t have the content to make each city page unique, you may be creating too many city pages. You’ll increase your chances of ranking for the few city pages you have, but each city page allows you to tap into a new market. So, this is a balance you should think about all the time.
When a service is provided in several cities, create a page with excellent content so that each page can list the locations where the service is provided. Also, avoid using other people’s reviews, especially if you feature reviews from Google Maps.
If you’re interested in capturing local intent, check out ours guide to store locators to get all the details on optimal structure, copy suggestions and content suggestions for location pages.