It’s bae’s birthday and you forgot until now. You don’t want to be banished to the dog house on a frosty Chicago night so you gotta act now. You punch in “3.5 star restaurants”—it is a special occasion, after all—into your phone and badabing badaboom! The top result is nearby and you’re able to snag a rezzy for 5PM at the Applebee’s across the street. Google saves the day.
By now, users have grown accustomed to Google’s personalization of the SERP. What once startled and disturbed searchers, with the ever-expanding concern over Big Brother, is now viewed as helpful. We see relevant snippets, enhanced targeting for paid advertisements, and location-specific results. For users, this results in carefully tailored results--but it might not be to the benefit of individual businesses.
Imagine you’re the head of education marketing at a law school in Virginia. You notice that most of your traffic for non-branded searches such as “law schools” and “part time law schools” come from areas within the state, but you really want to expand the geographic makeup of your future classes to include additional states. Unfortunately, you’re going be battling localized search results and may have a difficult time showing up in other locations.
So what do you do next?
The logical response would be creating pages for every location in which you want to show up. Churn and burn, baby. Atlanta, Philly, Youngstown, San Francisco…you simply can’t be subdued. Well, except you can. By Google. G-Daddy has caught on to these ways and responded with algorithm tweaks and even statements on these pages. The key is that there is a very distinct difference between a local doorway page and a solid, well-crafted location-specific page.
These two types of pages will see vast differences in performance. A local doorway page is like riding a donkey into a race. You can use it and, on a fluke, it might perform. Would you bet on it? Nope. Conversely, a good local service page is like a fabuluxe unicorn. Not only can it outrun the competition, it will soar over any obstacles in its way. Read on to learn more about the differences between local doorway pages and local service pages.
The Donkey: Local doorway pages
A local doorway page acts with the purpose of solely nabbing the traffic, then piping it along to the actual relevant or useful page. These pages may be characterized by a few aspects:
- Boilerplate content
- Duplicate content
- High link-to-text ratio
- Keyword stuffing
- “Borrowed” local content (irrelevant local information just to make the page seem localized)
The Unicorn: Local Service Pages
By comparison, a local service page is a unique, helpful page for an organization that actually does business or provides service to that location. These pages normally contain some of the following aspects:
- Unique, relevant and location-specific content
- Includes a video or capability unique to that area
- Resources that may be useful for users in that area
- For example, a local page for a law school might include common placement sites, prominent alumni from that area, or upcoming classes in that area.
Next time you’re considering building out location-specific pages, take a moment and consider whether you want to be a donkey or a unicorn. With careful planning and content crafting, you’ll be soaring over the competition while it trots along below.
For more SEO smarts, check out my definitive guide to duplicate content.