Geographic SEO, or Geographic Search Engine Optimization, is the practice of targeting website content toward very specific geographic regions. It can be a powerful method for marketing location-specific products and services, like home window repair. When used creatively, it can also be effectively used to market non-location-specific products and services, like lawnmowers or lawnmower parts.
The concept revolves around creating geographically targeted content that is not seen by search engines as spam, and therein lies the challenge. It is important to do this correctly so that you don’t get your site banned from Google’s index, or otherwise penalized by their search algorithms.
Geographic SEO is accomplished using several different techniques together:
- Using geographic keywords in the URL
- Using geographic keywords in the page title
- Using geographic keywords in the heading and meta tags
- Writing unique content for the geographic area
- Using geographic keywords in Alt tags
This can best be accomplished by using a geographic area in your domain, and structuring your URLs in a directory format. Ideally, you want the broadest category of the directory first (e.g., the state), followed by narrower geographic areas (e.g., counties or cities). So when someone is searching for home window repair Salt Lake City, you might want your URL to look something like this:
Notice the highlighted geographic keywords. An added benefit of using geographic SEO techniques at the URL level is that not only is Google likely to rank your site better for those keyword searches, but your click through ratio will be better when your site does show up in the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages). This is because Google has a practice of highlighting the searched keywords when they appear in the URL. This draws the eye to your listing, making it stand out on the page ahead of other non-geographically optimized URLs.
Using geographic keywords in the page title
As any search engine optimization expert can tell you, page titles are of the most important aspects of SEO, and it is no different when it comes to geographic search engine optimization. Your page title is like the title on a recipe card. If you labeled all your recipes “Recipe,” you wouldn’t be able to find “Brownies.” This is parallel to what many website owners do by mistake: not titling their page with unique and relevant page titles. If your page is about window repair in Salt Lake City, then the title of your page should be Window Repair Salt Lake City.
Using geographic keywords in the heading and meta tags
Likewise with the meta title, heading, and other meta tags. All should contain the phrase you are targeting for geographic optimization. Your H1 tag in the above example should contain the phrase window repair in Salt Lake City, as should your meta title, keyword tag (though decreasingly relevant), and meta description. The description tag is not so important for ranking, but can be very important for click-through. The description tag is what Google uses in the “snippet” it places in the SERPs. If it contains your geographically targeted keywords, it will be in bold, and more likely to stand out on the page as a relevant search results worth clicking on.
Writing unique content for the geographic area
This is perhaps the area where most webmasters who try geographic optimization stumble. The content must be unique enough not to be considered “spam” by Google. In other words, simply throwing up 30,000 city-named landing pages for the whole country with identical content will not get you ranked well. You must do your best to provide unique content, as targeted as possible to the geographic region you are wanting to focus on.