How can we target many towns from one office location and one website?
This is a question we get asked a lot by clients we are working with. They have one office in a particular town – let’s say Swindon – and want to get their website found for their products and services in multiple other towns within a set radius from their HQ, such as; Bristol, Gloucester, Cheltenham, Cirencester, Oxford, Abingdon, Newbury, Marlborough, Devizes, Chippenham, Bath etc.
Using a Pay Per Click PPC campaign to do this, like Google AdWords for example, would be a fairly simple and straightforward thing to do – assuming you know what you were doing with AdWords – but if this is to be done through a long term and sustainable Search Engine Optimisation strategy, it becomes much more of a challenge. However, getting it right could make a seriously significant contribution to sales and ultimately to your profits.
So how would we go about achieving this objective with an SEO campaign?
Perversely let’s start by looking at some things that we definitely would not do!
- We would not try to claim fake business addresses in the target towns and cities. Google takes a very dim view of this practise and as a consequence your website could be suspended or removed completely from search results.
We can only use a legitimate address to describe your business location. In Googles own words;
“PO Boxes or mailboxes located at remote locations are not acceptable.”
Learn more about this here.
And you certainly can’t use a relative’s flat in Bristol or an employee’s house in Chippenham as local offices! Google is aware of where a given address is and while Google does appreciate that many small business do legitimately operate out of a residential address on a housing estate, claiming to have a string of branch offices, each one in a residential area, will look very dodgy and don’t forget how much information Google can access via Street View!
- We would not go and create a stack of new pages with the exact same content on each page simply substituting one town name for another.
You might think this is a perfectly reasonable thing to do but if you want to get these specific town and city pages indexed by Google (and the other search engines) this tactic will not work. The reason is that all those new pages you created will be seen as duplicate content and in that case Google will only ever index one of these pages – the others will effectively be ignored.
- We would not build any new pages that simply feature lists of city and town names that we are trying to target. This practise is known as “Keyword Stuffing” it might have worked once – 10 years ago maybe – but will only harm your site now.
Ok so having said what we wouldn’t do let’s look at what we would do to get the campaign moving.
Which Locations, What Services?
The first thing to be done is to sit down with the client to gain detailed information about which towns and cities are to be targeted and exactly what services or products can be sold in each of these locations. It is going to be critical to the future success of the campaign to get as much information about the services being provided and your existing involvement with the target towns and cities. For example do you have clients or customers in these towns already? Can we identify any employees who can be directly linked with these target locations? Do you work with any partners who have premises in the target towns? Are all the products and services going to be available in all of the target locations?
Who is your Audience?
Your target audience would be a key part of our initial investigative work. It is highly beneficial to understand as much as possible about who you are trying to reach through the website and what their key characteristics are. The more we can understand about your target customers the more able we will be to relate to them and engage them through the website.
Incidentally there is a great site which we regularly use to understand more about how people search for specific services or products. It’s called answerthepublic.com (I think their home page is excellent – that alone is worth a visit!) This site allows you to put in a target keyword related to your business and it will give you scores of questions that were asked by people who were searching for that particular product or service. We are working with a Windows Doors and Conservatories Company in Swindon and a search on Replacement Windows returned over 120 different questions! This information can then be used to develop relevant, valuable content for our new towns and cities pages.
Who are you competing with?
We would also need to understand who your main competitors are in each of the target towns and cities. We would then spend time checking out their websites to see what they might have been doing to get their businesses found in that locality. If there are things that they have done that we can capitalise on we’ll happily take that. The more we can discover at this stage the better. It will all be used when we come to start creating individual location specific pages for the website.
Prioritise and Focus
At the same time as part of this information gathering exercise we would also be looking to prioritise the list of towns and cities. This prioritisation process is important for many reasons, not least because unless a large budget is available then we won’t be able to do everything all at once, but also because there may be compelling reasons why you want to target Bristol and Chippenham over Bath and Devizes. We might also look to prioritise on profitability too. If the services sold into Bristol, Gloucester, Cheltenham and Cirencester are more profitable than those sold into Oxford, Abingdon, Newbury and Marlborough then it makes sense to start with them first.
Creating New Landing Pages
The next stage in the campaign process will be the creation of the individual ‘landing pages’ ideally one for each target location. To avoid the duplicate content issue we need to make each one of these pages as unique as possible. We will however, use the same content elements or content ‘building blocks’ for each page but within these blocks the content will be as unique as possible and highly focussed on the target location.
Content Building Blocks
Our building blocks might consist of some or all of the following;
- An introductory text block – explaining what you do, what you offer, why people should use you etc. but very location relevant.
- A Google based map of the town/city
- Testimonials from existing clients based in the location
- A case study from a relevant city based customer
- Local news section
- Local Partners text block
- An invitation to leave a review
- An Image Gallery – all images in the gallery and any used elsewhere on the page would be correctly geo-tagged.
- Video – if there is an opportunity to get video onto the landing page you should definitely take it (assuming it is good quality). For example a short 30 – 60 second ‘talking head’ message or a customer testimonial, or a before and after video, would be a great piece of rich content and help boost the page. Of course the video must be town specific.
We would arrange these content building blocks in different ways on the different town landing pages so that, as far as possible, no two pages looked the same in terms of layout. Depending on the number of pages to be created this may not always be possible but as long as the content in each of these blocks is different then the duplicate content problem should not arise.
Once the pages have been launched there would need to be ongoing management and development of these pages over time, for example we would look to build links back into these landing pages and keep the content refreshed and up to date, just as you would expect to do for the rest of the website too.
So this is how we at Pink Fish Associates would go about the process of optimising a website for client with a single ‘bricks and mortar’ presence but who needs to be found in multiple other specific towns and cities.
If you have any questions at all or if you would like to discuss this subject in more detail please don’t hesitate to contact us. Call Steve on 01793 886294 or email him firstname.lastname@example.org. We would be delighted to talk to you and to help you achieve your website marketing objectives.