Local search is different from general search. Your rankings for “mammogram near me” depend on a different set of factors from your rankings for a post discussing mammogram controversies. Nonetheless, we know that optimizing a website for local search and then leaving it alone doesn’t get great results.
Local or not, the value of your website is increased by regular, fresh content. The trick is to tailor that content for local search.
Using geotargeted keywords
Sometimes in these cases you see companies writing things like, “Your Fayetteville businesses needs for Fayetteville business exposure can be met fully by our Fayetteville business services.” Even if this gets you to the top of the SERPs temporarily, it makes you look silly when people click through — and you do want them to click through. In fact, if they’re at all savvy, your visitors will think you’re sneaky, which is probably not the image you’re going for.
This will also backfire, from an SEO point of view, when Google smacks you down for overoptimisation.
The trick is to use your geographic terms often enough to help the search engines figure out where you are, without creating unnatural language for your visitors.
Four ways to geotarget your content
Put your geographic keywords in places where it’s natural and proper to put them:
- Use geotargeted terms when you talk about your company. Phrases like “a Salt Lake city based biotech firm” or “your Fayetteville SEO specialist” are completely normal English. You can also say, “We serve Fayetteville, Springdale, Rogers, and the surrounding area in Benton and Washington counties.” Just don’t get carried away. “Serving …” followed by a list of 47 towns and neighborhoods is keyword stuffing.
- Put geographic terms where someone might naturally use them to clarify place. It’s appropriate to say, “Jacksonville therapists” when you’re talking about therapists in Jacksonville. Even things like, “Come on, Kansas City, let’s get ready for WordCampKC!” make sense. Don’t sprinkle place names in randomly, though, or use them in every sentence. No one talks that way.
- Use place names in your meta tags. For meta descriptions, alt text, and titles, place names are completely appropriate and useful. When we built a site for a roofer, we identified the photos with alt text specifying that one was a “Johnson County church” and another was a “Grain Valley office complex.” This is appropriate, since it gives information about the photo. Remember that your meta description may be read by humans, and keep it natural sounding.
- Use local color in your blog. You can use your blog to talk about local places, local news, and local clients. You can also drop in phrases like, “Over a bottle of Anchor Steam beer at Fisherman’s Wharf” and be confident that search engines will put two and two together while your human visitors will feel a bit friendlier toward you once they’ve imagined you enjoying their local hangout.
This kind of geolocation will communicate with Google without lessening the value of your site to your visitors.