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As many of you local SEO consultants know, our business clients almost always serve multiple cities - especially if they are located in large urban areas like where I live in Minneapolis.

I'm really struggling on what is the best SEO practice to target multiple cities on a website. For a couple of my clients we created individual pages for each city with 100% unique content.

While all of these pages are ranking well, something isn't sitting right with me. If you read Google's guidelines on Doorway Pages, we're straddling the fence for sure with these pages. The fact that my stomach is turning over the issue is probably enough to indicate I'm doing something wrong and should change my strategy. But then again, it could just mean I'm a nervous Nelly and I'm worrying about nothing. After all, the pages are ranking well and life is good - for now.

I'm calling on all local SEO pros to give me their input. How are you targeting multiple cities on your clients' websites? And by multiple I'm talking more than 5 and as many as 25 (our metro area has several suburbs). And should I keep my city specific pages up or should I have a talk with my clients and change strategies?

Travis Van Slooten
 

Linda Buquet

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Hey Travis, you get the award so far for best thread starter so far! :p THANKS!

And this is another good one! I have lots to say but don't consider myself an expert on this topic. Need to go blog and curate some news so can't comment right now. Hope some others weigh in with their opinions.

How do you guys handle this?
 
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Travis,

I've had some success with this for a dance studio client and a cleaning service using somewhat similar approaches.

The dance studio is located in a smaller town in the area, but draws from many surrounding cities and towns in both NH and Massachusetts. After racking my brains out on how to do it I came up with the idea of having a section of the website used to feature the different dance families that are enrolled at the studio. Each family would provide 2-4 paragraphs of how they came to the studio, how they are enjoying it, etc and also included a picture. So..it really is all legite as far as Google might be concerned since they are not doorway pages but family bios.

I created a category called "Dance Studio Families" for which my slug (I use Wordpress) is simply "Dance-Studio" and include each family in that category.

What I do is then optimize the URL:

businessname.com/dance-studio/townorcitywherefamilyisfrom-dance-lastnameoffamily

The title consists of "Townorcitywherefamilyisfrom Dance Studio" or "Dance Studio Townorcitywherefamilyisfrom"

I then use H1 tag for title of content "Meet the Smith Dance Family from TownorCity StateAbbrev"

So just doing this I've been able to rank on the first page of Google for something like "Dance Studio Town/City" for the ones I've done. I guess my greatest distance is coming up 3rd ( on a page with a 2-pak Local listing ) for a dance studio in a different State and 25 miles away from where the search is set for. (The dance studio in NH ranks 3rd when searched on from that particular town in MA 25 miles away.)

For the cleaning service, we set up pages with images of properties in the specific city or town that someone from there would recognize, added content that targetted what service the client wanted to push in that area and also added a testimonial or two from clients in that town or city. Optmized the URL's, titles, headings accordingly. For this we also added keyword anchor text in the footer navigation. That too seemed to work enough to get page one ranking, though perhaps not above the fold in all instances.

Haven't yet attempted to use this same process to rank in Local though, if not in the same town or city. Still waiting to learn a few more tricks from our Community Mastermind to do that. Definitely still more to learn.

Not sure if this lends itself to any of your clients, or sparks any ideas for you based upon the types of businesses you might have.
 

Linda Buquet

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Wow thanks Don. Great tips!

There might be some good points in this post. Don't remember for sure, just scanned it awhile back, but I think Kathy sometimes has some good tips.

<a href="http://katandmouse.com/kat-s-meow-blog/seo/local-search/local-business-marketing/google-places/site-audit-internet-marketing-help-for-a-limousine-service">Site audit: How can a local limousine service get found in dozens of cities? How can it stand out in the crowd?</a>
 
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@Don:

Awesome ideas! You're a pretty creative guy;)

It sounds like I'm on the same track with just a few missing pieces. I don't have any navigation to my city "landing pages" so I should address that first. Then I think I need to make each of these landing pages more unique and "useful" by either adding testimonials, images, etc. relevant to each city page.

Is there any chance you'd be willing to PM the links to the two sites you cited? If not, I understand. I'm a visual person when it comes to this stuff so if I can actually see what you're doing, it helps. Thanks!

@Linda:

Thanks for posting that. I actually read that a while back and was looking for it because I remembered her talking about the idea of having city landing pages. She highlights many of the same things Don pointed out - make each city page totally unique and relevant to the city.

Travis Van Slooten
 

Shaun

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Don,

Great post, really good idea.

In your advice on targeting cities, how would you set up the website?

In your example:

businessname.com/dance-studio/townorcitywherefamilyisfrom-dance-lastnameoffamily


Would the actual file be of the targeted city:

businessname.com/dance-studio/townorcitywherefamilyisfrom-dance-lastnameoffamily.php (or html)


Or would that become the directory:

businessname.com/dance-studio/townorcitywherefamilyisfrom-dance-lastnameoffamily/index.php (or html)

I am trying to target smaller cities with the Los Angeles area.

Cheap-Wedding-Photography|Budget-Wedding-Photographer|Los Angeles

Thanks,

Shaun
 
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Dave

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Travis:

I take it you are targeting suburban towns and cities for single city. Is that correct?

We've done that also.

Don's idea is great. We've done some variations on that theme, wherein we have a major city but we also want pages for the major suburban towns around it.

Here is one idea wherein we targeted a larger more remote suburban community into the hub of the metro area (wherein we are located).

We wrote about our services and wrote a piece about commuting to our service from this larger more remote suburb. There were 3 significant commuter choices.

We contacted all of them and also tried to get them to link back to us. We gave each a link. We offered to remove links from the others...with the first one getting a link from us and the others not getting links. ;).

Didn't get links from anyone of them. :D Meanwhile though the combination of town name and service vaulted that page to the top for rankings for town name/service or service/town name.

it works well.

I try and do things like Don suggested. Just have to find a unique town by town "hook" to your regional service and how it applies to each particular suburban community. Then create a page with an H1 title that includes both the service and the town name.

Those do work very well.
 

Ralph

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I have seen websites where the communities served by the business is listed in the footer. Is this a viable option?:eek:
 

Dave

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Studied that in the last 6 months for one of our smb's.

Got no traffic from combo town names service names via seo from google. did get traffic on that combo via bing.

Looks like it still works in bing but not in google.
 
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