When we talk about local SEO, “traffic + prospect/lead/customer experience + conversions” make up the trifecta of what it takes to run a successful local website.
These three items feed off each other—powering rankings, visibility, user engagement, and experience. And the hub of this process is the local landing page.
Local landing pages drive visibility in specific areas, and for specific products or services. They work to engage the user and deliver information on what they’re looking for, where they’re looking for it.
And ultimately they facilitate contact and ongoing communications to get you down the lane towards a conversion.
This article will lay out a blueprint to gathering and structuring information for a local landing page, so that it helps both users and search engines understand what it is you do, and where you do it.
Determine the What and the Where
Before we put a single word down on paper, we need to understand what the client wants to gain from their website by undertaking keyword research.
It’s also helpful to discuss any regional colloquialisms you should be aware of…things like “Tribeca” in NYC, or “SFO” for San Francisco.
Combine this knowledge with solid keyword research tactics (like those outlined in Claire Carlile’s course, How to Master Local Keyword Research), and you’re headed down the right path!
It’s imperative you talk to your client and understand what types of work they desire and which products are important to them. I’ve built landing pages based on keyword data only to be told, “Yeah, I don’t really want any more of those jobs!”
They might have the content on their website when you start, but that doesn’t mean they want it emphasized in the future. Have the conversation before you build out your content plan.
Once you’ve talked to your client and compiled your keyword research, look at the data you’ve gathered and pick out the highest volume keywords that match your “where” and/or “what” opportunities. These can help you prioritize which locations—and which products and services—can offer you the biggest wins, first:
Now that you know what you need to write about, and the locations to focus on, it’s important to figure out the best place to insert this new content on the website.
You may have to do some cleanup and redirecting before you actually start publishing content, but doing the legwork now instead of after you’ve published a bunch of pages can save you a lot of time down the road.
When building out architecture, I like to follow a few rules:
- Keep URLs short, 1 keyword mention if it makes sense.
- Fewer folders are better. A location folder and a topic folder are probably not necessary. Decide if you want to organize content by topic or by location (hint: location usually works better in these instances). If at all possible, 1 folder per URL.
- Just publishing the content is not going to do much, internal links are CRITICAL. Be sure you’re not building an orphaned page that doesn’t integrate with the rest of the site. You need to build internal links with great anchor text to your new pages and from your new page.
Find Some “Fast Wins”
It’s also helpful to look at what we call a “striking distance” report. This is basically Google Search Console data on which keywords are within striking distance of the 3 pack for your client.
If you can combine good keyword phrases with just a bit of effort on an existing page, fast wins make you look good while you work on the harder stuff by building out new content.
What Information Should I Include?
This is where the modular nature of content comes into play.
For some markets, you may get the best visibility with an ordered list towards the top of your page. In others, an embedded map or FAQ might get you where you want to be.
Here are some of the sections I love to place on my local landing pages:
- Brand. You’d think this is a no-brainer, but I’ve seen pages that only mention the brand in the logo. Reinforce who you are—from brand mentions to content on the people actually doing your work.
- Address/contact info. Again, not rocket science, but it’s pretty common to have this information in an image or way down in the footer. Put the address and contact info towards the top of every page—usually we like to see the phone number in a consistent position. If you have different phone numbers for different locations, then coordinate which phone number shows for that location.
- Embed a map. Along with your address and contact info, an embedded map can help users understand where you are and where you do business. They can also easily get driving directions if they need them. If you embed the map right, it also shows your brand and your review stars within it—which never hurts conversions (unless you have a low rating!)
- Add a local image. Users are becoming more and more skeptical about the validity of a business in their cities, towns, and neighborhoods. Taking photos of your service vehicles or employees near recognizable landmarks, or out to lunch at a local eatery, can lend that trustworthiness to your page. Please don’t just use stock photography of a monument or building—make this personalized to your business and team.
Local Landing Page Content
At last! Here’s where you talk about the work you do, and where you build on the modular content above to test and refine.
You might see different results based on where on the page this content lives, so consider building out content for every single point below—you’ll rarely be sorry you did everything, but you might be sorry you didn’t do enough!
- Why you? Do you know the area? Are there special rules like quiet hours or gate access that you know about? This knowledge can tip a lurker over into a lead, so include anything that will give you a leg up on a competitor.
- Share reviews. A great tip here is to include a point of contact (phone number/form) next to great reviews from past customers or clients.
- Pricing. Even if you can’t give a solid estimate, a pricing range can make the difference for someone looking for a specific product or service.
- Talk about your guarantee. How do they let you know they have an issue? What’s the minimum guarantee of your competitors compared to your own guarantee?
- Introduce your team. Content around your technicians or staff can be great for these pages. You can talk about their expertise, how long they’ve been in the area, training, procedures for coming into your home, and more. This is one of the hardest pieces of content to get small businesses to put on their website. They cite turnover and lack of photos—but there are ways to get around this. Have new employees write a few sentences about themselves during the onboarding process, and if they’re camera shy then have a quick caricature drawn by someone on Fiverr or a local artist.
- Frequently asked questions. If you planned ahead, you asked about these when talking to your client. If not, then go and talk to the technicians and customer service representatives. They’re the people who speak with customers the most, so they know which questions they answer on a repeat basis. And that’s great content for your website! You can also glean frequently asked questions from your Google Search Console account by doing a regex filter by query for [who|what|when|where|why|how]:
Get the Basics Right
You have your content, and you know where you’re going to put it on the website. But don’t overlook the basics of on-page SEO!
There’s no magic wand that creates rankings for posting words on a website. What holds true for on-page optimization in a national/international market still holds true for local landing pages:
- Page Title. Optimized with your phrase, and including the brand.
- Meta Description. Use your value proposition, the keyword target, and a call to action.
- H1. Optimize this, especially in light of Google’s new propensity to rewrite title tags using H1 elements.
- Internal links. You can’t just publish an orphan page and expect it to work. Linking to and from your pages is critical in all types of SEO, not just local SEO.
- Images. Get those filenames and alt text items optimized—sometimes alts are being pulled in as a page title.
- Break down the wall. Paragraphs of words don’t generally get read. Help consumers find the content they need by offering headings, bullet points, informational graphics, etc.
- Jumplinks. For longer-form content, offer quick links at the top of the page—these are fundamentally just on-page anchor links.
Done? I Don’t Think So…
Just when you thought you were done…it’s now time to actually test your work.
It’s really easy to say “Google says” about content and technical SEO, but what Google says does not always match with what Google does. By running tests on content positioning, internal links, market relevance, etc. you’re ensuring you’ve got the best version of the page possible.
Here’s the thing about testing—you have to be humble (and prepared to be wrong!) but the insights you’ll gain will be invaluable.
Before I ran the test below using Google Optimize, I was convinced that adding a “make an appointment” button would increase phone calls/conversions. I was wrong:
As Joy Hawkins always tells us, “My data doesn’t care about your opinions.”
Your success lies in the tests you perform…what works for a lawyer in NYC may not work for a dentist in Denver.
That’s why I introduced this as a modulated concept, so that you can test tweaks to measure ranking/visibility improvements, contact forms/SMS/live chat interactions, or even scroll depth and engagement.
Local Landing Page Myth-Busting
There’s a lot of misinformation about what actually works and what doesn’t work for local rankings.
We’ve done a lot of testing and research to separate fact from the fiction, and here are just a few that we’ve debunked:
- Duplicate content is always bad. Fiction! While unique content is best, you can sometimes get away with boilerplate content for locations that have no chance of competing with each other (i.e different states/counties/regions.)
- You need citations for every location you target. Fiction! You don’t need citations built to a location where you don’t have a brick and mortar, and you don’t really need many citations at all for brick and mortar locations. While they do matter a bit, as proven in this article from Darren Shaw, the emphasis is on quality citations over quantity of citations in most cases. This tactic is a one-time touch, only needs to be updated when you move locations.
- Justifications help rankings. Fiction! Justifications are influenceable, but they don’t increase ranking. We want them because they improve conversions and they are an indicator that Google understands what you do and where you do it.
- Link building helps rankings. Fact! Yes, links still matter to local SEO, as much as Google would like us to stop talking about it. I like the explanation that external links from authoritative sites are votes for your website in the “ranking popularity contest.” If an authoritative site links to you and says you are a dentist, and another authoritative site links to you and says you’re located in Denver, then those reinforce what you’ve told Google with your GMB listing and website.
- Local landing pages help SEO only. Fiction! These pages can serve many purposes, for example, GMB, PPC/Ads, or email landing pages. You can also land local directories or chamber of commerce links to give the visitor a glimpse into your local area authority. While the homepage of a website is generally the most powerful page ranking-wise, it’s not always the best page to convert visitors from other channels.
The Final Word on Local Landing Pages
Will following this plan for local landing pages guarantee a top spot in the map pack or search results? No, and frankly anyone who says they guarantee a tactic will get you top rankings in every scenario is lying.
What this blueprint will do is give you a framework to gather information and put it together in a format that delivers quality information to website visitors.
You can rewrite and rearrange and modules as needed, while the underlying content—the data you provide to the search engines via these pages—improves the understanding of what you do and where you do it.
And then…fingers crossed…the leads will follow the breadcrumbs you lay before them!