If you are a small business, geography can play a very important role in getting yourself found on Google. Even if you are not restricted in the area you cover, it will often still pay to optimise your website for specific locations.
Why it’s important
Over the last few years we’ve seen Google search results become increasingly dominated by big brands. The sort of brands with the track record – and big budgets – to produce large quantities of quality content and get it linked to across the internet. Small businesses simply can’t compete on a national scale.
Unless you operate in a VERY small niche, getting onto page 1 of Google for high volume keywords is going to take a lot of time and effort with no guarantee of results.
But adding geographic locations can drastically reduce the competition and make it much more likely you’ll make it onto that coveted first page.
Choosing which terms to use
It is vital, however, to choose the right geographic term(s) to target.
In many cases you will need to compromise between search volume and ranking. There is little point in being on page 7 of Google for a highly popular search term. You will likely get more website visitors from being on page 1 for a less popular term.
What do people search for
Start by researching the terms people use when searching for your product or service.
Is it a town, village, suburb, county, region? It may be by postcode – quite common for services like domestic cleaning where people want someone who is very local to them.
Is it important that they find someone who is close by or is that not really important as long as they cover that area?
What’s the competition like?
Now do some searches adding those geographical terms to your main keywords & phrases. This will give you an idea of the levels of competition (remember that Google personalises search results so use the results for guidance only).
If, like me, you are based in a large city (Manchester, in my case) then optimising for that location may still get you nowhere near page 1 of Google. So think about whether to use a specific suburb or area. Using compass points for example, (e.g. South Manchester) lets you qualify the phrase but still include the key term.
Decide which location(s) to target
You should now have an idea of the geographical locations you want to target.
You may want to target more than one location – it’s very common for big brands to do this and create specific web pages for different cities and towns.
Or you may decide to focus on a single place and use it across your site.
Getting your terms into your website
Having chosen your targeted locations, you now need to optimise your website to include those terms.
There are several things you can do:
Add locations into your page meta titles. This is the most important. Instead of “John Smith Wedding photography” you want something like “Wedding Photographer Thirsk, Yorkshire”.
Include the locations you cover in the text of your pages.
Make sure you include your full address on every page.
Think about creating separate web pages for each individual location. I recently spoke to a business who had done this very successfully and seen their enquiry numbers rocket. However, you can’t simply duplicate the page and change the location – you need different content on each page.
Avoid cramming every page with your geographical terms – it just looks spammy. Visitors won’t like it and neither will Google. Ensure everything reads very naturally and always think about your potential customer first.