by Brittany McSorley
Small business owners live and die by their local reputation, especially on Cape Cod and the Islands. You can have the fanciest website this side of the Mississippi, but it won’t do much good if Linda is always bad-mouthing you at the farmers’ market. (Seriously guys, be nice to Linda. She’s an absolute savage.) Town- and village-specific marketing is extremely important, particularly during the off-season, and an integral part of that strategy is local SEO, or search engine optimization.
As this blog explains, “Local SEO is a deliberate effort that you make to help local customers find you,” and it’s all about the keywords you use in establishing your online presence. An example of implementing local SEO is using “Cape Cod custom landscaping” in your website heading instead of simply “custom landscaping.” By specifying your location, you’re going to appear in web searches conducted by people looking for help as close to home as possible. (Which is just about everybody—I mean, have you gone outside lately? And spoken to other people? It’s… a lot.)
Local SEO is worth some extra time on your part, because consumers purchase at higher rates after doing local searches compared to those who perform general searches. And as Google incorporates more features, including reviews and business Q&As, people are engaging more with their local providers. As of July of this year, “The average number of reviews on Google for top local ranking sites are up 30% from 2016,” according to this helpful local marketing infographic.
Where am I going with all of this useful, eloquently presented information? Thank you for asking. My point is this: Your website needs local landing pages.
Local landing pages are town- or city-specific pages on a website highlighting the services a business offers in those areas. These pages make sense if your business has multiple physical locations, of course, but they’re also very useful for businesses that service a broad geographic region—caterers, builders, mysterious traveling haberdashers harboring dark secrets, etc.
What this ends up looking like, ideally, is a prominent area of your website featuring a menu of pages covering the different locations you serve. Garner enough traffic on these pages, and they will show up more prominently in local searches. If you have a page specifically dedicated to business you do in Brewster, for example, your site will rank higher in the results when people Google “Brewster caterers,” “plumbers in Brewster,” or, “Brewster haberdasher? Is that even a thing anymore? I feel threatened by the very existence of this person.” Give him a break, Linda. He has a troubled past!
To use local landing pages most effectively, you need to know where your online audience is. Google Analytics (and similar tools) will track where visitors to your website are physically located, with breakdowns by country, state, and city. This will likely correlate with the business you already do. If you have a bunch of clients in Orleans, your website traffic should reflect that. But you could have people visiting from neighboring towns that you might not be marketing to quite yet. Linda may have told her awful friends about the great job you did grooming her dog or something. Thanks, girl!
Once you know which local areas you’d like to target, it’s time to update your website accordingly. According to my research, some people use fake addresses on their local landing pages so they’ll seem legit to Google. To this I say… stop it? Stop it. If you have only one brick-and-mortar location but service many areas, people will grasp that concept. I promise.
Search Engine People does point out that you need to have “a legitimate connection to the other locations” you mention on your site, so use your best judgment, by which I mean don’t make a landing page for every town to which you could conceivably drive. You don’t need a separate page for every place you can possibly do business. It would be madness. Linda would complain. Focus on those areas you feel are most important and where you’d like to engage more.
As for content, fight the urge to just duplicate your homepage content and throw in a new town name each time. For Cape-based businesses, there are a lot of fun specifics you can incorporate when discussing how you serve different areas. You can let customers know how your business caters to the Nantucket Sound or Cape Cod Bay side, the Upper Cape or the Lower Cape, the Montagues or the Capulets, and so on.
In this same vein, tell your audience what makes you a local expert. Maybe you’re a builder intimately familiar with historical board requirements in Sandwich. Maybe your catering company has firmly established relationships with wedding venues along the Outer Cape. Maybe you’re just trying to move on following a devastating incident you never speak of as you peddle sewing needles and buttons. Who am I to say? Just make sure you’re using your landing pages to inspire confidence in your readers/potential customers.
KDC has made use of local landing pages for several clients, including C.J. Riley Builder of Osterville. Check out the company’s website to get a taste of local SEO at work.