Local Landing Pages SEO: How To Rank For Local Search
Local landing pages are must-haves for any business that is located or offers its services in more than one area; whether it’s within the same city or across multiple continents. With a local landing page, you want to gain organic traffic to your service areas or brick-and-mortar business.
And know: 58% of smartphone users search for local information every day - you definitely want to be showing up when your users need you the most.
Local Landing Pages SEO
2 locations? 10 locations? 800 locations? It does not matter how many locations you have, local landing pages help you to show up for local searches. Let’s take a look at how to craft the perfect local landing pages for SEO.
(In this post I’ve used the local landing pages from car rental provider www.sixt.com to give you examples. I think that they’ve really nailed their local pages, and therefore function as the perfect guideline for any local landing page out there to be constructed or optimized.)
It all starts with a good keyword research. A localized keyword research.
Being in Istanbul and searching for a car rental nearby, I might type those exact words on Google, “car rental nearby”. This is called a localized search. Google knows where I am and therefore also, what’s near me. But: being away from Istanbul and still looking to rent a car there (or just making sure Google really knows where I am), I’d rather write something like “car rental turkey”, “car rental istanbul”, or more specific “car rental istanbul airport”. These are localized searches as well. Simply said: localized searches include a location-indication.
Knowing what a localized search is, you try to research different variations of your service keywords in combination with the location. Once a list of possible keywords is created, you want to pick out that true ‘gem’; your most valuable keyword. A valuable keyword would be one with high search volumes + low competition. A keyword, that isn’t so difficult to get a high ranking for. Whereas keyword tools give you the average search volumes, you can determine the competition for each keyword by using the allintitle-command.
With that research in your hands, you can start your local landing pages SEO quest.
Website, URL Structure
Each local landing page should target one location. And each location needs its own URL. Creating a local landing page therefore requires a clear URL structure. Logicallity, consistency, and simplicity here, are key. The location should always be mentioned in the URL slug; in fact, the location on itself would make a good URL already. The way you determine your URL structure (somehow) depends on the number of local landing pages you have.
- You have <15 local landing pages.
With just a few locations, it makes sense to keep a simple structure. Whether it’s with or without a dedicated locations page following the domain. If you decide on a dedicated locations page, that’s where your users can find a list of the locations you serve.
/ /locations/ /locations/berlin/ /locations/munich/ /locations/hamburg/
With just a few locations, you could also think of adding keywords to your URL slugs. Having your main keywords in your slug helps Google to determine what your page is about. But, keep your eyes on the future; if you have plans to expand to other locations at some point, make your URL structure future-proof.
- You have >15 local landing pages.
If you have multiple locations within a city, multiple locations within a country, or even multiple locations across the world, your URL structure requires a more detailed structure.
/ /locations/ /locations/germany/ /locations/germany/berlin/ /locations/germany/berlin/berlin-train-station/ /locations/germany/berlin/berlin-airport/ /locations/germany/ /locations/germany/munich/ /locations/germany/munich/munich-train-station/ /locations/spain/ /locations/spain/barcelona/ /locations/spain/barcelona/barcelona-city-center/
On the dedicated locations page, your users see all the countries you are located at. Clicking through; on the dedicated countries page, your users see all the cities you are located at within that country. Clicking through again: on the dedicated cities pages, your users see the branches that are located within the city - and by clicking one of those, your user then will land on a page with more information about the branch.
Now each of these pages is a local landing page. And each local landing page has a purpose; to rank for localized searches. When playing the local landing pages SEO-game right, you can win big time.
How Sixt does it: they sure played the SEO game right. Each country, city, and location landing page is optimized in such a way that they rank for whatever localized search the user is making:
‘car rental germany’ - their Germany landing page shows up
How do you want your users to find your local landing pages? Where are you going to put these pages on your website?
Adding your local landing pages to your main navigation is a good idea. The main navigation is usually the first place someone looks when they want to find more information about the services you offer and the locations you’re at. You can maybe add a button in your main navigation menu with ‘locations’ - redirecting to your dedicated locations landing page, or listing the individual locations as a dropdown below.
Adding your local landing pages to your footer is a good idea as well. If the main navigation is complicated or it takes too much effort to find something, for me it’s a natural thing to go straight to the footer. But it’s only a good idea when you have a few locations. If you have lots of locations, don’t add every single link in the footer - Google might devalue seeing lots of links, and they won’t be given any weight. Instead, add a link to your dedicated locations page.
How Sixt does it: with so many locations, Sixt gives links to their top car rental locations in the US, and in Europe and worldwide in the footer. In their main navigation menu there’s a button to their dedicated locations page, where the user then can search for the countries.
The title tags are the most important place to have your keywords: title tags, are a ranking factor for Google. They are also the first impression people have from your page in the search results. Include both the location and the service you offer - your title tag than will not only tell Google and your users “this is where you can find me” but also “this is what I do in that location”.
The general industry recommendation for title tags is between 50 to 60 characters. Anything longer than that, might be cut off by Google (and it’s a bummer when Google cuts it off right before you mention your location).
How Sixt does it: Car Rental in [location] - Rent a Car deals with Sixt
What you want is a title tag that’s easy to read, understandable, and that stands out. Instead of just using your first and main keyword, add a second component to your title tag (like Sixt did; ‘Rent a Car deals’). With this extra touch, you can differentiate yourself from your competitors and increase your chances of being clicked on. Though: make sure to avoid keyword stuffing.
A meta description is the description of your local landing page. When clicking through to your website, what are users going to find on this page? Is your page going to answer their search query? To answer these questions within your meta description, you may want to add your main keyword or any second valuable keywords here as well. But again, don’t overstuff. Write it in such a way that the user wants to click on your snippet.
As well as for meta descriptions, there is a general industry recommendation. Don’t write more than 160 characters; anything longer than that, may again be cut off and won’t be shown.
How Sixt does it: [location] Car Rental! SIXT makes the drive as enjoyable as the destination. Rent Luxury Cars, SUVs, Convertibles, Minivans and more!
Google is vague on whether it considers keywords in the meta description tag for ranking or not. However, when you add keywords to your meta description and someone searches for them, you’ll see that Google marks these words as bold - still, this doesn’t explain if it's being used for ranking, but those search results sure draw in the attention of the user. (And if it’s secretly being used for ranking - good for you).
And don’t forget to add a call-to-action, too.
Some say that for SEO, you have to have just one h1 tag, followed by a h2, that again has a couple of h3 tags under it. And some say that for SEO, the order doesn't matter; in fact, it doesn’t even matter how many h1 tags you have. So, what’s true?
In reality: many pages rank well with ordered h-tags, and many rank well with unordered h-tags. (Many pages even rank well, with zero h-tags). But following SEO best practices, you should have at least one h1 tag including your main keyword; ideally the one that you’ve also used in your title tag. Other than for SEO, having one h1 tag anyway is a good idea for semantic correctness and accessibility requirements.
How Sixt does it: their h1 tag (which includes their main keyword) is followed by a h3 tag that has a h5 tag under it. Below, a little lower on the page, you’ll find their h2 tag.
Generally speaking; h1 is the largest heading on your page, and the h5 is the smallest. Though semantically it’s better to have an order of headings; visually you can do whatever you want. You can make your h5 tag larger than your h2 tag - as long as it makes sense for the user, and the structure of the page is clear to them. When the user is happy, so is Google.
Keyword research: done.
Opened new webpage: done.
Created SEO-friendly URL slug and structure: done.
Thought of navigation: done.
Wrote title tags and meta descriptions: check.
Decided on headings: done.
With that all done, let’s get started on the content. First up, contact information.
There are a few basic things that you should include in the contact information section on every single local landing page of yours. Simply put, you want to show ‘how’ and ‘when’ people can reach you.
If you have a physical address, consistency is key. You would want to write your NAP (name, address, and phone number) exactly the same on your local landing page, as you did on other online directories, including Google My Business. NAP consistency is important when it comes to ranking on Google’s local pack.
Aside from the NAP, add things like your opening hours and email address, or get into more detail with holidays and seasonal opening hours, payment methods you accept, contact form, and so on.
How Sixt does it: to make it even easier for the user to understand where in the city their branch is located, Sixt added a map to the contact information field.
Yess: when you have a physical address, you do want to embed a Google map as well. Not only will this help your users to understand where in the city you are located, it will also help you to get a better ranking in the Google local pack. Well hello local SEO jackpot.
You local landing pages have a mission; to inform your users about the locations you serve. And once your user reaches your local landing page, you then want them to take action (and not just look at your page and leave). For this, you need a call to action button.
Call now. Contact us. Sign up. Buy and save. See deals. A CTA button is the convert-or-bounce factor of your page. You can have 1 call-to-action button, or multiple. You can place it at the top, middle, or bottom; or all over your website. Or: to define what’s the best optimized place on your local landing page, make an A/B test.
How Sixt does it: at the top of the page the user will immediately find their call-to-action; ‘show offers’. Clicking the CTA brings the user to the selection of cars available at the location, on their specified dates.
The content you are about to write should be unique on every local landing page you open. It has to be unique so that you won’t be penalized by Google - and if you have lots and lots of local landing pages to prepare content for, this can be a tough cookie. For now, start with the locations that have the highest search volumes; the rest comes later.
On your local landing page you would want to write about your business, but you also would want to provide content that your customers are going to benefit from.
- Write about your business.
Think of what your customers want to know about your service location. Tell them what makes your business location unique. The additional services that you offer there. Location-specific news. Your mission and vision statement. An intro about the local team they’ll meet there.
- Write for your customers.
Think of what you want to tell your customers about your service location. Tell them any practical information they should know about. Tips and tricks you want to share. The directions to your location. Parking details. A list of top frequently asked questions and answers related to the service location. Showcase projects and case studies in the area. Photos and videos. Testimonials and reviews.
How Sixt does it: at first there is a small introduction of the branch. Here they generally share what types of cars they offer at the location, where to find their branch, more information about the location. If there is a unique service they offer specifically at that location, it’s also mentioned right there under a new header or in colored content block.
But they provide more, hidden under the ‘view more’ button. After ticking, the page expands and short paragraphs with information like sightseeing tips, directions to the branch, additional services, or advantages of the location are shown.
Top tip: add customer testimonials and reviews for your locations. Online reviews matter to your customers; they can help to build trust. To take it even further, use structured data. By adding the ‘aggregateRating markup’, your star rating can show up in the SERPs too.
Look at that gorgeous starry snippet. And although Sixt isn’t ranking position 1, it sure does stand out. CLICK!
Note: Google just updated its rules for displaying star ratings in the search results last Monday; on September 16th, 2019. When your reviews are considered ‘self-serving’, it won’t show your star rating in the search results any longer.
Now that the content is done too, you need to amp up your internal linking game. Internal links will help you to have these new pages faster indexed and crawled by Google - and also, it’ll boost your local landing page SEO rankings. You need to link from and to your local landing pages.
FROM your local landing pages: on your newly opened page you want to link to existing pages that make sense when it comes to your location. Having a case study on your site that was executed in that location? Link to it. Having a page with more in-depth information on the service you offer in that location? Link to it.
TO your local landing pages: most of the time, this step is forgotten. You’d also want to link to your newly opened local landing pages from existing pages on your website; especially from the ones with high rankings. These high ranking pages will then pass value to your local landing page by sharing their existing ranking power; and so, spread its authority around.
(Yes, true: by setting up navigation in the top and footer menu you are already linking out to your local landing pages. However, linking to pages from within the content of other relevant pages on your site, is generally more valuable).
How Sixt does it: besides linking back-and-forth the local landing page sub-folders, Sixt links from their local landing pages to the services, and to their local landing pages from the blog section on their website.
Another interlinking technique is using breadcrumbs. Breadcrumbs are one of the best internal linking opportunities you have. It helps the users to understand where exactly they are on your site. And it helps the search engines to better understand the relationship between the pages, to determine the importance and value of each page. They are especially useful when you have multiple sub-pages going on; if you only have a few pages, check first if it makes sense for your site’s structure.
How Sixt does it: Sixt does a good job by using different colors to distinguish the links from the non-links; the clickable links are black, while the non-link (the page you’re currently at) is white.
It’s also smart to use keywords as a breadcrumb link. If it’s related to the pages’ content, it’ll help your SEO - but keep in mind: when using keywords as the links’ anchor text, make sure that it looks natural. Eg. ‘Turkey Car Rental > Istanbul Car Rental > Istanbul Airport Car Rental’ won’t do your SEO much good. (Having a natural anchor text does not only count for your breadcrumbs, but also for your in-content links in general).
Images & Image Names
Local landing pages have content & internal links - done.
But hey, just content is boring. You’d want to spice up your local pages with images. Add before-and-after project images. A storefront image. A photo of the local team. Maybe even a video.
Also a good idea: add an image of the city at the top of the page, including the name of the city as the title. When someone is searching for your service in a certain location and lands on your page, the image directly tells your users ‘hello, you came to the right page’. But: what does a nice city image tell Google? Google can’t see them anyway.
Well they can’t see; but they can read. Images with descriptive, keyword-rich names, that’s what Google needs. When your image has a filename that says something about the image, Google is able to understand what it is about; ‘IMG_9384.jpg’ says nothing, ‘black-suv-car.jpg’ does. And when Google knows what your image is about, it can make them appear on Google Images for related searches - perfect for increasing organic traffic to your pages, via visual search. Besides the image file names, you’d also want to optimize your image alt-text; if your image for some reason can’t be displayed, this text will be shown instead.
How Sixt does it: mainly on the US car rental location pages, Sixt gives the users a 360-degree view of the branch (embedded via Google Maps).
Tip: take a look at the image sizes as well. Images that are too large slow down your page speed - and load speed is an important factor of how search engines view your website. When a page takes forever (or at least: more than 3 seconds) to load, 53% of the users leave again. You don’t want that to happen!
Yess, almost done. Last thing to do; updating your sitemap.
Now that you have newly opened pages on your website, you would want to resubmit your sitemap (or add another one) on Google Search Console. This, to make it easier for Google to find and crawl your pages for indexing - and to make sure that the search engine really finds all of your new content.
If you do not have a sitemap, build one and submit it. Sitemaps are especially great to have when your site is large, when it has a lot of content, when it is new, or when it's using rich media content.
Local Landing Pages SEO - Done
That’s all! It seems like a lot, but opening up local landing pages for each and every location of yours is definitely worth the effort. Before making your pages go live, make sure to double-double-check one last time that you do not have any duplicate content on your pages. Duplicates are dangerous: the pages cannibalize one another as they both try to rank for the same keyword. This will affect the overall impact of your site in the SERPs.
Also make sure that your Google My Business listing for each location is updated and 100% complete - this is the information Google uses and trusts (and so, your local SEO is highly dependent on it). And don’t forget to keep your NAP consistent!
Structuring your local landing page is totally up to you. If you want your contact information to appear at the bottom, go for it - there’s no one who says that you can’t. Just let me share some SEO best practices on what generally goes above- and under-the-fold, in no particular order:
- A strong photograph of the location, including city-name in the title.
- A keyword-rich h1 tag.
- Contact details.
- A call-to-action.
- An introduction to your company.
- Reviews & testimonials.
- Additional content; case studies, tips, FAQ.
- A location map & directions.
Now that your local landing pages are ready and online, there are some tips, tricks, and tactics you can do to boost your traffic. Whether that traffic is organic or paid, focusing on local SEO and SEM campaigns can help you to get noticed faster and rank higher on Google; pimp your Google My Business profile, do off-site activities, use Google’s brand new Local Campaigns. Let’s do this!
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