consultant

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[FONT=&quot]Our business is in 10 cities. We offer identical services in each city, there's absolutely nothing different about the services we offer based on location. We have a contact page for each city with a bit of unique content (phone, address, photo of city, list of counties we service). It really would be a grey area to create subsites for each city and try to rewrite the service description content 10 times. However, we want to improve organic results. We of course have Google Places listings for each city. [/FONT]
[FONT=&quot]From an on-page SEO perspective, wouldn't it only have the possibility of benefiting, not hurting local SEO but add the city name linked to that city's contact page in the footer? I've seen arguments against it, and could see maybe if you were in like 50 cities instead of 10, but is there really any observed downside to doing that in the footer for every page? We can't title the difference service pages with the city name in the headings or page title, so at least we'd have anchor text in the footer.[/FONT]
 

billbean

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Google's been ignoring footer links like that for some time. There's really no SEO benefit. If you're going to link from your home page to all the city pages, then do it in the main body.

You can make those pages better. Check out Phil Rozek's great article on this: 25 Principles of Building Effective City Pages for Local SEO | LocalVisibilitySystem.com

And if you have a physical location in those cities, then link to their corresponding location page on your site. Do the same from other listings or profiles. If you're a service area business, then never mind that advice.
 

Phil Rozek

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@Consultant

I’d add the footer links, provided two things:

1. You can think of a plausible reason visitors might want to click on those links, and benefit from doing so. (In other words, does it help your UX at all?)

2. There’s a reasonable limit on the number of city-page links you’ll add down there.
Even if you make 30 meaty, useful, well-thought-out city pages, having 30 links is a little crazy. Avoid the slippery slope.

I have never seen a downside to working the footer, within those two parameters. It’s just one part of being thorough in your internal linking, and I have seen good results from helping my clients do that. (That means, of course, that you should also link to relevant subpages in-line, in the “guts” of your content, where appropriate.)

Google is not as allergic to internal and footer links as you might think. For instance, check out the footer on Zillow.com. Click the “more” links for the full experience. (Can you dig how most of those links aren’t even visible unless you click the “more” link?)

Now, you might say, “Yeah, if you’re ZILLOW you can get away with that kind of thing - but not if you’re Louie the one-truck plumber,” and you might be right. Google is more forgiving of overblown optimization when you’re a giant like Zillow. I hope you don’t do exactly what Zillow does, because it probably won’t work out for you exactly the way it has for Zillow. But it does go to show how good SEO often is a matter of degrees and of using your judgment, not of absolutes.
 
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