Google Places ImageThere are a number of local businesses who provide services within a wide radius of their office location. They use Google Places to target their local market, and if competiton is limited, to target prospects in nearby localities. But what if their industry is competitive, how do they reach their market in nearby locations?

They resort to using a website that is comprised of pages each targeting specific cities or localities. But often the problem is that the pages used for each locality are exactly the same, albeit with the city name changed.

How does this affect the business in terms of duplicate content, and how can the quality of the SEO be improved?

Let’s say you run a florists in “Serpstown” and are able to deliver within a 30 mile radius. You’ve designed and developed a full web page which outlines your actual location, and which looks great. Now you want to copy that page and change the town name to a different town name, but keep the rest of the page the same. Rinse and repeat several dozen times. It’s a practice (known as madlib spam pages) that’s been going on for years, but it’s also one which is fast going out of fashion.

Obviously we all know that Google doesn’t have any duplicate content penalties, but at the same time the search results will always show a variety of content, and so whilst one of your pages may rank well, the others are likely to be all but invisible. Optimising for the town name alone isn’t going to be enough to get the page ranked for things such as ‘florists in Serpstown’, so what is needed?


Businesses on the travel


One of the tactics used by several businesses facing this dilemma is to have articles written which describe the town, including its history, geography and notable landmarks. The problem is though that such content usually fails entirely to optimise for what the business is actually about.

This means that whilst a great article like this might well mean the page is ranked high up the search results for anyone looking for information on Serpstown, it may remain invisible to anyone looking for a florist there. Not only that but once all those people who were looking for tourist information realise your site is just a florists, they’ll head back quickly to the search results, increasing your bounce rate and decreasing the rank of your site.

There are however several tips which you can implement to get around this:

1. Include customer testimonials

By including sentences such as ‘Read testimonials from our happy customers in Serpstown’ the language is less likely to be considered too similar, especially if the testimonials really are from people in each town.

2. Use internal linking to keyword anchor tags which include the local town name.

Internal links and anchor text links are a particularly powerful way of optimising local business sites in this way.

3. Use dynamic content from social media platforms.

If you can embed Twitter feeds, blog feeds and other social media platform content feeds then you can really help increase the local optimisation. If you can include a Twitter feed or blog post feed for each town’s page, making sure that each feed is very much localised, this will help greatly. So if the Serpstown Daily Chronicle has a Twitter feed, get this embedded in the page.

But if you have the time or the budget there really is only one guaranteed way of making sure that each of your town’s pages ranks better, and that is to have unique, original content specifically written for each page, making sure that it’s still focussed on what your business is offering, whilst still making sure that localised references are included.

Have you faced this problem? What advice would you recommend? If you have any suggestions, comments or questions please use the comments box below.

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