Localized content, or content that it is specific to users in specific geographies, has never been more important to search engine optimization (SEO) success than it is today. Search engines like Google and Bing have made localization a huge part of their ranking algorithms.
When you perform a search at Google or Bing, the results are significantly influenced by your physical location, even on queries where you don't specify a location. So if you're in New York and you search for [pizza”, or [hot tubs” or [DMV”, your results will be very different than if you do the same searches in San Diego.
Therefore, if you want your website to appear in search results for users in specific cities, it's very important to create content and link connectivity that sends the right signals to the search engines, telling them your site is relevant for users in those geographies. Here are some ideas on how to do that.
Creating Content Relevant for Local Searches
The idea in a localization content strategy is to identify what content segments are unique to each geographical area and highlight those on a state level, city level, and even micro local level by building dedicated pages for these audiences.
Here are a few excellent strategies for creating these types of pages. Highlight:
- Shipping rates.
- Sales tax differences.
- Warranty repair locations.
- Dealer locations.
- Different uses for different climates.
- Any other information that is specific to audiences in different locations.
The key is to provide true value to these end users by surfacing very relevant information that is specific to them based on their city or state. By doing so you not only increase your propensity to show up in organic search queries in those places, but you also potentially improve your conversion rate by creating a more custom experience for those users which speaks specifically to their needs. The higher value the information presented on these geo-centric pages, the more viable this strategy is.
Local Link Connectivity
Once you have content that is pertinent to the regions you're targeting, the next step is to create link connectivity to these pages (as well as the root domain) from sites that are relevant to those regions.
A number of potential types of sites that can be targeted within each location that will help the engines understand what regions your website is most relevant to including regionally focused directories, such as:
- The local versions of Yahoo.
- Local business directories.
- Local bloggers' business websites.
- Informational sites about specific regions.
If you want to make Google believe that your site is a great resource for people in New York, they expect to see sites that are relevant to New York linking to you.
Directories are often an easy way to start establishing this type of link connectivity. However, some of these directory sites won't list sub-pages, or require you to have a physical address in the city or region you're submitting to, or limit you to one listing per business.
But these sites are especially helpful if your business targets a specific region. Here's a list of local directories to jumpstart the localization efforts for your primary domain:
- Google Places
- Yahoo Local
- Bing Local
- Best of the Web Local
After you submit your site to these directories for your root domain, you'll still want to pursue link opportunities on a per city basis to your localized content pages. Having a high quality of localized content that is valuable to your users will help facilitate getting these kinds of links.
These geo-centric pages must not appear spammy, and must show exceptional value to users. They should become a seamless part of the user experience of your site for the best results.
The creativity that you use in identifying what content segments you will provide on these pages is oftentimes the competitive advantage that leads to more links and higher rankings.
Executing an Effective Local SEO Campaign
The goal of executing a local SEO campaign is to let the search engines know that you're one of the 10 best resources on the Internet for users in these localities, who are interested in topics that are relevant to your website. Make content that is good enough to rank in the top 10, and facilitate the kind of link connectivity that Google expects to see around that type of resource.
The end result will be a website that provides a better user experience based on targeted content and one that ranks well in search engines for relevant keywords. It's a win-win situation.
Meet Your Favorite Search Engine Watch Contributors
Many of SEW's leading expert contributors will be at ClickZ Live, the new online and digital marketing event kicking off in New York (March 31-April 3). Hear from the likes of: Thom Craver, Josh Braaten, Lisa Barone, Simon Heseltine, Josh McCoy, Lisa Raehsler, Greg Jarboe, Dan Cristo, Joseph Kerschbaum, John Gagnon, Eric Enge and more!