How to Appear in Search Engines for Multiple CitiesPosted: December 2, 2013
A question I get from most of my clients is, “How do I show up in search engines for different cities in which I do work?” For instance, if your widget business is located in Medford, New Jersey, but you install widgets throughout all of South Jersey, how do you get your website to show up if someone types in, say, “Mount Laurel widgets”?
If it were easy to do, every local company would be doing it!
You should appear in search engine results for the city in which your office is actually located since your company address (or at least city) should be on every page of your website. If you want to concentrate on this city, make sure you mention the city in the text on all of your pages, especially the home page. However, you may not want to pigeon-hole your company into one particular city either. For instance, if you mention “Medford widgets” throughout your website, then Medford is the only city in which you will appear. However, if you mention “South Jersey widgets”, you’re encompassing a much larger area. Although it’s more likely that someone living in Medford will search for Medford widgets rather than South Jersey widgets, you’ll be more likely to appear if someone does search for South Jersey widgets.
Some of my clients have asked me to list on their website ALL of the cities in which they do work. This “could” help to a point, but search engines are wise to these tricks and will probably filter out all but the first two or three cities. Plus, listing every city on your site looks tacky to visitors and takes up valuable page space.
MORE WEB PAGES
The fact is, you’re not going to rank at the top of Google for every city in which you do business. Therefore, you should concentrate on, say, 3 or 4 cities. If you have addresses in these cities, your job will be much easier. If not, it will take some creativity to show up in search engine results for those cities.
Once you’ve selected 3 cities, you’ll want to create web pages on your website targeted to each of these cities. Include that city name in the website title, description, body text, and image alt tags. It’s also a good idea to include a link to the “main” website where all of your company information and project photos are located. The page should have the same look and feel of the main site, but should not be an exact duplicate. Pages with too much duplication will be ignored by search engines as it’s considered cheating the system.
PROMOTING THE NEW PAGES
The next step is to promote each of these new pages on the various free listing sites such as Google Places, Yahoo Local, Bing, Manta, etc., exactly the way you did with your main site (this is a very important step in getting your website noticed). The problem with adding your company information to these listings is that almost all of them will require you to enter a physical address and phone number.
The phone number must be different from the one you used for your main site, or the new listing will be considered a duplicate and will not be added. You can get a free phone number through Google Voice and have it forwarded to your main number; however, I’ve had mixed success with Google Voice and have found it to not be very stable. The best alternative I’ve found is MagicJack, a $40 device that plugs into your computer. You can get these at any Target, Walmart, Radio Shack, etc. Once you register the device, you do not need to keep it plugged in; you can choose a phone number and have the phone number forward to your main number. The cost is around $40 per year.
The address will be trickier. Many of the sites will not verify an address, so although you could technically get away with “making one up”, I would not advise this. The bigger, more popular sites such as Google, Yahoo, and Bing, will verify that an address is valid. They may also send a postcard to the address you’ve entered. The postcard will include a verification code that you will need to enter into your listing account before the listing goes public. If you have close friends and family that live in the city, you could use their address. You could also get a P.O. Box, but then you will want to show only the city and not your complete address (if the site gives you that option); this is because prospective customers tend to distrust companies that use P.O. boxes. The third option is to get a box at a UPS store in that city. UPS stores offer boxes that look like “physical” addresses. However, they may require proof that your company is legally registered to that address. And if you get a P.O. Box or a UPS box, you will need to check your mail from time to time.
For more details on how to rank for multiple cities, search for the following on Google: seo multiple cities. Click the “Search tools” link under the search field, and under “Any time” select “Past year”. Search engine algorithms are always changing, and techniques that worked years ago may no longer work or, worse, may cause search engines to actually drop you in their rankings!
The following pages have some useful information about how to rank in multiple cities:
- Get Your Multi-Location Business Ranking in Multiple Cities With One Domain
- Site audit: How can a local limousine service get found in dozens of cities?
- Local SEO: How to optimize for multiple cities on website