Local SEO is one of the most powerful search engine optimization tools available today, and a great way to reach highly qualified prospects in your area.
You’re probably already taking advantage of the invaluable — and free — Google My Business (GMB) tool as a part of the Google Local Search (GLS) platform. But if you’re located in a large metropolitan area, you may have a hefty amount of competition, particularly in crowded industries.
For a big local SEO boost — and to gain an advantage in the organic search results — consider adding service area pages to your website.
When Local Search SEO Strategies Falter
Some businesses pose a greater challenge than others for local SEO optimization.
If your geographic location (your physical business address) is in the middle of a large city — especially if that city is surrounded by multiple suburbs and exurbs — getting noticed can be more difficult.
The puzzle becomes even more complex if you’re in a highly saturated industry, like real estate, medical or dental care, or construction. If you’re between two cities, it can present an even bigger hurdle. Google might not display your business info to someone in the adjacent city, even though you’re close by and fit their needs.
Google is working on these challenges, and we are starting to see some improvement in the local SEO algorithms. However, if you have any of these issues, you may want to consider some alternative strategies for local SEO.
This is also true if you have multiple locations within a metropolitan area.
Fortunately, service area pages, or SAPs, offer a simple and effective way to address these challenges.
What Are Service Area Pages?
One of the most effective strategies that we have discovered for boosting local SEO is the use of service area pages on your business website. Also known as “areas served” pages, service area pages (SAPs) are a hybrid of sorts that combine content marketing strategies and landing pages.
Service area pages, depending on how a prospect searches, can serve as an alternative to your homepage. In other words, with good local SEO practices, someone searching for your services in their area may find your corresponding SAP before they find your homepage.
You can create SAPs for each city or town you work in as well as for neighborhoods, districts (The Avenues, South Temple, Daybreak) or even prominent landmarks. The more of these pages you add to your site, the bigger the SEO boost you’re likely to get.
The purpose of SAPs is to highlight the products or services you offer, provide a little information about your company and your unique value, and motivate visitors to take the next steps down the path to purchase, helping you increase conversions.
How Can Service Area Pages Improve Local SEO?
A well-crafted service area page will gain traction in the search engine rankings as long as the page is optimized for the location in question.
Bear in mind that this may require a healthy dose of keyword research, because each area has different data. For example, a common, industry-specific keyword or key phrase may have a ton of competition in one nearby city, but very little in another. This means that you will need keyword research for each area that you serve to improve your chances of ranking highly for that location.
If your areas-served pages address the primary objectives, challenges and questions of your prospects — and they meet all of Google’s demands — the algorithms will reward you by presenting your page to a prospect (hopefully more readily than your competitors’ sites).
What Should Your Service Area Pages Include?
Because they may take the place of your homepage depending on how Google ranks you in the SERPs, your SAPs must provide the same user experience, menu structure and calls to action as your site’s main page, in addition to informative, engaging and original content.
If you work in multiple cities or towns around your physical location, add an area-served page for each one.
Start by identifying the local areas you serve and create a unique page of content for each one. For example, if your physical business location is in Taylorsville, Utah, your customers likely come from West Jordan, Murray, West Valley City, Salt Lake City and maybe even Sandy and Cottonwood Heights.
Once you have a list of all the local areas you serve, rank them by most populous area or by where most of your customers come from. Then simply go down the list in order and create an SAP for each one.
The most important information to include in your service area pages is what your business does.
You can include some language on the benefits of working with your company, but remember what your prospects will be searching for if they need your products or services. (Hint: it won’t be “friendly plumber.”)
Incorporate your keywords and phrases into each SAP, but also work in a variety of long-tail keywords based on geographic locations.
If your business is listed on other websites or directories for that specific location, include a link to that resource whenever possible. If you have customer reviews that reference a specific area that you serve, you can link directly to those as well. Also use images and other visual elements, each optimized for geo-specific local or hyper-local SEO.
One word of warning: Each of your SAPs must contain original, well-written content. You cannot simply duplicate these pages and substitute the city name each time because Google does not tolerate duplicate content. At best, the algorithms will ignore your SAPs. At worst, they could penalize your site and eliminate you (or severely demote you) in the rankings.
Using Areas Served Pages Doesn’t Substitute for Local SEO Best Practices
Service area pages do not take the place of the Google Local Search and Google My Business platforms — they only serve to augment them.
In fact, if you haven’t claimed your GMB profile or kept your GMB listing updated, you won’t get many of the benefits you could otherwise. And as Google offers these tools at no cost to you, you have no reason not to put them to their fullest and best use.
Finally, make sure you add local business schema to alert Google of the connection between your company and that location.
If you aren’t sure how to use these tools to help you build your business, an internet marketing expert such as Be Locally SEO can help.
Our team of local SEO experts can assist you with all your digital marketing needs, including web design and development, business blogging, pay-per-click campaigns and social media marketing. Contact us today to learn more about how service area pages can help your local SEO efforts.