City Pages SEO in 2021
Hyper-Localized Web Pages for Geo-Specific Web Traffic
“City pages”, or pages that target specific locations for businesses that serve multiple locations, still work, and when built with care and intent, they can serve a valuable purpose.
In today’s connected world, many businesses serve clients outside of their physical location or address.
This can apply to a digital marketing agency, consultancy, plumber, attorney or even a doctor that sees patients by Zoom from surrounding localities or nationwide.
A business who wants to serve clients from locations miles away from their physical address can potentially increase their search engine traffic in two ways:
- Register with Google My Business (GMB) as a “Service Area Business” (SAB)
- City Pages SEO
Generally speaking, Google would like you to enter your business information into your GMB and leave all the rest of the heavy lifting to them. In many cases, this is a perfectly fine strategy.
However, the reality is that city pages can often still rank well for important search terms. In addition, many service businesses that regularly do work through the web, Google Meet, email, phone, and other means, need visibility into these surrounding cities.
You can tell Google you’re an SAB by removing your address off your listing, but you still tell Google your address. To give some indication as to your whereabouts, GMB allows you to enter various locales as your “Service area” as you can see here.
The trouble is, it’s extremely difficult to rank either in the organic results or in the “map pack” as an SAB.
City Pages are one of the best alternatives, and you can see plenty of examples of this working by typing in any hard-fought niche (attorneys, roofers, hvac installers, etc.) and noticing their businesses showing up in the organic SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages), if Google feels they provide a decent search experience.
Geo-Specific Searches Rock
It’s important to note that searches that mention specific city names have high buying/hiring intent.
The searcher is more likely to want to do business with a specific business that appears in a search if they included a city or locale name in their search.
Therefore, being able to take advantage of this type of traffic can be very beneficial to a business.
What Exactly are City Pages?
As you’ve already guessed, city pages are web pages that target potential clients in different cities or locations.
These highly-customized pages are often built by SEO (Search Engine Optimization) agencies who understand that search engines want to present the most tailored content for their visitors to answer their questions and provide solutions to their problems.
An example of content optimization is a photo of the Golden Gate Bridge shown below on a city page targeting clients in San Francisco.
Including this very familiar photo on a highly-customized city page can increase San Francisco residents’ visual recognition and engagement levels. And increased engagement often results in generating new leads and more revenue.
For a city page to stand out amongst its competition, it needs to have solid foundations and customized content.
Figuring out what city pages you should create depends on the type of business you have and the needs of your local and neighboring communities.
Solid Foundations: City Pages SEO
Your city landing pages need the following fundamentals to attract local search engine queries.
1. Powerful Title Tag
The first element necessary for city pages is a robust title tag.
A title tag comprises the text within the links that people see when they see a website for the first time in the Google organic search results. The local searches display these title tags as hyperlinks that take the searcher to the website shown.
Title tags should be 50 to 60 characters long to attract visitors to these landing pages.
There are three things to include in a title tag:
- The target keyword
- The city of location name
- The business name or brand
For example, a good city page title for a DUI attorney might be:
DUI Attorney in Pleasanton | John Stevens Law Offices
It is also essential to keep this title tag unique to differentiate yourself from your competition. Your brand name, the city/locale and your service or product will do just that.
2. Clear Meta Description
The second step is writing a custom meta description, the text located below the Title Tag.
The objective of a meta description is to describe one’s business and compel someone to click on the link. Meta descriptions, like title tags, are actually measured in pixels, but in general, they should be no more than 160 characters long.
An excellent example of a well-written and concise meta-description for a DUI attorney in Livermore could be this:
We have sophisticated DUI lawyers with years of experience in DUI law. Many satisfied clients in the Livermore area. Call today for your free consultation.
From this example, five characteristics to include are:
- An active voice
- One focus keyword
- A hook to keep people reading
- Ending with a call to action
3. Simple URL Structure
The next step is to include a simple URL structure that features a keyword and location. The user is more likely to click on a simple link instead of a complex one.
Here is an example of a URL structure that is not appealing to users:
An example of a great city page URL structure would be:
Test How Your SERPs Will Appear for your City Pages
If you’d like to test ideas for reasonable title tag and meta description lengths, you can check out technicalseo.com. This tool will demonstrate how your title tags and meta descriptions will appear in search engine result pages:
Internal Links and External Links
Internal links can help to info consumers and search engines about their services. An internal link typically points to a service or product page on the same website.
An example of an internal link on a city page might be:
Do you want to learn more about DUI attorney services in the San Francisco Bay Area?
This internal link should point to a page on this site that deals with DUI attorney services. That might sound obvious, but you need to inform Google, at every opportunity, what it is that you do.
External links are links to another website that can provide contextually relevant information that relates to your city page. They can add authority, because Google believes that any truly authoritative resource would also include these outbound links.
Here is an example:
Want to get a one-time discount on the installation of a new water heater for Dublin, CA residents only?
The outbound link above points to the City of Dublin page.
These links should always be strictly informational.
Obviously, we’d rather our visitor doesn’t click on them and leave our page.
Things to Leave Out When Building a City Page
Now, let’s identify what not to include when creating a new city page.
Excess Keywords – Keyword Stuffing
The first thing to avoid is having excess keywords on your city page.
Putting too many of the same keywords on your city pages can cause Google to designate the page as spam, leading to lower search engine rankings and the city page being less appealing to the reader.
Multiple Cities Targeted on One City Page
Second, a city page should only target one city or location. For example, a city page for Dublin should only include customized content for that city instead of its neighboring towns, Pleasanton and San Ramon.
Using this method will help clarify the geographic location the business is targeting, leading to a sense of clarity amongst the consumer.
Lastly, you should take great pains to ensure that the textural content on each city page is unique. You have an opportunity to enable this uniqueness by diving into what makes each city special.
One obvious example is the same visuals and formatting you use on a San Jose city page should not be on a Livermore city page.
How to Create High Quality and Customized Content for Your City Page
Creating city-specific content is critical for having customized and high-quality city pages.
This unique content must be tailored to the people in the geographic region specified.
How can this be done?
One way is to share a personal story in the area you are targeting.
A story needs to be interesting, informative, engaging, and relevant.
For example, if a business owner was a former long-distance runner who ran in Boston, that should be included on a city page located in the Boston area.
In addition, you should complete some research on the city based on what residents value in the town or local landmarks.
Engagement with local community and city events can also clear up some initial skepticism about a business or service.
It is also important to be aware of specific Google algorithms that could penalize your city page for excessive duplicate or thin content. Naturally, you need to have some duplicate content, as you are going to offer your products or services on these pages. However, whenever possible, try to rephrase things as naturally as possible.
1. Resolve Visitor Doubts
As you write content and stories for your city pages, you must always be sure to answer these three questions:
A visitor’s initial skepticism is also known as FUD’s (fears, uncertainties, and doubts), which you can resolve through methods including:
It is also vital to have contact information including:
Depending on the type of business, some consumers may want to speak to someone immediately, so the company should display the phone number on the landing page.
With these strategies in place, it is vital that every piece of information stated on a city page is valuable, specific, and communicates value to the visitor who may have a specific reason to be searching on Google using a city name in the first place.
2. Include City-Specific Testimonials and Reviews
As mentioned previously, potential customers need to have their FUD’s resolved.
The most critical strategy to solve the initial skepticism of your local business is to include reviews and testimonials on your city pages. Utilizing testimonials is a fantastic way to gain credibility with your local business and add personalized content to each city page.
Here is an example of testimonials utilized on a web page:
Another method to gain credibility is to include projects from past local clients that you may have completed.
An example is a gardening business showing an image of a plot of land from the city, and what it looked like before and after the gardening business transformed it.
3. Include different Types of Content
When writing content for a city page, it is essential to remember the difference between long-form and short-form content.
Long and Short-Form Content
Long-form content consists of 2,000 words or more, while short-form content is usually 1,000 words or less. Many city pages don’t even touch 1000 words, but with Google, the more distinct and well-written content you can add to your city page, the more unique it will appear to Google.
When determining the length of content on a city page, it depends on your business.
Long-form content is often appropriate for:
A small business can utilize short-form content for:
While it is essential to be concise on a city page, the content should be reasonable in length with much depth. In addition, and I hate to keep repeating myself, but the content written for city pages needs to be specific about the details of the business and details of the city!
A well-optimized city page, suitable for local SEO, is usually around 2500 to 3000 words long. In practice, this is usually a bridge too far but ideally, you’d be able to create a rather large and unique piece of content for that locale.
Visuals for Local SEO City Pages
A business owner’s city pages also need to be visually appealing for optimal user experience, using photos from the specific city targeted and keywords most relevant to the search.
Below is an example of a city page that is visually appealing.
So What Makes City Pages Visually Appealing?
A Clear and Strategically Designed Layout
City pages for local SEO should ideally include the broadest explanation of services or products a business provides while relating to the city targeted.
For anyone searching for a specific business to handle a particular problem in a particular city, you will want to present them with a clear call-to-action right at the top to let them take action immediately. Please don’t put your phone number or contact form at the bottom of the page where the visitor would need to scroll, scroll and scroll some more to find it.
Bottom line: essential information should be at the top or “above the fold” section of the page.
Much of the rest of the “best practices” for creating different city pages will be similar to creating any standard web page.
A Simple Web Design
While it is vital to have excellent images, color, and typography, the most crucial aspect of a visually appealing web design is keeping your design simple and straight to the point.
Here are four benefits to having a simple website:
For more information on how to create a visually appealing web page, see our web design page.
How can I keep my local city pages simple while keeping conversions high?
1. Limit Main Navigation Options
While you may have many services to offer, it is vital to stick to the essentials of this part of city page design.
Including a drop-down menu under particular tabs on your city landing page will be more effective than listing all of your services that could make things overwhelming for the user.
Here is an example of a drop-down menu used on Boomcycle’s landing page.
2. Place Emphasis on the CTA (Call to Action)
A “Call-to-Action” is a marketing tool that can prompt an immediate sale or response from the consumer. Typically, this is a clearly labeled button or hyperlink that immediately enables visitors to contact the business in the target city.
The CTA is accompanied by text using words or phrases to incorporate into a sales pitch or an advertising message along with a button. Punchy words like “Get” or “Grab” incite more action than “Learn” or “Contact.”
This button can consist of 3-5 words, with 1-2 action verbs paired with your service.
For reference: (Action Verb) + (Business Offering)
The CTA must be placed correctly on your city pages because it can bring a high amount of conversions to your website.
Here is an example of a compelling call to action for a city landing page:
If you need some inspiration with forming your CTA, check out this website.
How to Format your City Page Correctly
So now that you know what elements to include on your city page, you may be wondering where to place every aspect of your city page to boost local SEO.
Here is a city page format my current intern created to put you in the right direction.
To clarify, you can put multiple services on your city pages, but put the ones you believe will be the most important for that specific locale.
Also, remember to put a background image of the city you are targeting behind the CTA button and supporting text.
Optimizing Your City Pages for Mobile Devices
In the first quarter of 2021, around 55% of global web traffic came from mobile devices.
What this means is that your city pages NEED to be optimized for mobile devices or tablets.
While it is important to cater to a specific audience, keep in mind that most of your audience is often searching for their wants and needs by using a cellular device and may even be on the move.
For more information on how to keep your city page mobile-friendly, look here.
In Summary, SEO City Pages need to include:
However, City Pages Should Not:
Customized content on City Pages should include:
When creating a city page, it is essential to know and tailor it to a specific audience who lives in that city, or close to it!
Just as large corporations adapt their marketing strategies to appeal to a particular audience, city pages have the same principle in mind.
Consumers and business buyers have an array of needs that can be met by having the right strategy for your SEO city pages.
Although it requires more work to cater to specific local markets, the higher engagement levels from visitors to your website will benefit your business in the long run.
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